Re: The True Cost of the Essentials (Implementing Peer Review)

From: Bernard Lang <>
Date: Wed, 19 Dec 2001 23:52:40 +0100

On Tue, Dec 18, 2001 at 11:52:11PM -0500, Arthur P. Smith wrote:
> On Sat, 15 Dec 2001, Bernard Lang wrote:
> > [...]
> > I have absolutely no experience with copy editing but ...
> >
> > How much of the process could actually be mechanized ? Part of it at
> > least is checking specific presentation rules, I believe.
> A good question. The answer though is only a little,
> that I am aware of. One can attempt to use "grammar
> checkers" and "spelling checkers" but they're of dubious value with
> abstruse technical information (most grammar checkers don't like the
> standard scientific passive voice for example...). You can look
> for yourself at our style guide:
> and see how much of that looks mechanical. Some is, most is not;
> the part that is not mostly requires some sort of human judgment.
> For example, "within the explanatory material of a caption include
> definitions of all symbols, abbreviations, and acronyms used in the
> figure that have not been previously defined in the text..." - how
> much of that can be checked mechanically?

sounds rather mechanizable to me

> So there is an irreducible human judgment component in this, I believe
> much more than 50% of the work needing to be done, that
> cannot be automated with any current technology.

I wonder

> > Another point is that copy editing can be paid for separately, by
> > authors (or institutions who can afford it) or by people who think
> > some pieces of works do deserve it.
> Note my discussion of this in response to Andrew Odlyzko. I don't
> think that's the right way to go, but if people are doing it anyway
> it's worth analyzing how well it is working for the furthering
> of scholarly research in these areas.
> > We can publish first, and review or copy edit later, in whatever
> > order is convenient, or never if no one wishes to do it. I do not
> > care if, when, and how reviewing has been done ... all I need to know
> > is whether it has been done, and by whom or what group, and maybe even
> > have the comments.
> > With that I am a big enough boy to make my own decisions. Choosing
> > a journal is just choosing a set of reviewers.
> Is it? I think it means much more than that. Or at least it
> has historically meant also choosing a certain style and quality of
> presentation, and a certain assessment of worth in the
> articles - a yes/no up/down judgment made by two or more people
> with real scientific experience, making a decision with
> real meaning and consequences. Just getting "reviews" from
> a particular bunch of reviewers is quite a different thing.

I just meant that all these qualities (not presentations) are
essentially embodied in the college of reviewers.

> Of course reform of peer review is a very interesting subject
> in its own right. Does it need to be considered along with
> new business models for scientific publication? I would say
> yes, but it's an area one has to tread carefully...

sure ... but not a reason to be over conservative

> > [...]
> > And why should papers have only one type of reviewing, when they
> > are so many different publics with different needs, even within the
> > not for profit litterature.
> so you want to spend more money on peer review, not less? :-)

not the issue ... there is much wasted reviewing already.
Whatever is needed will be done.

> Arthur

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Received on Thu Dec 20 2001 - 03:35:33 GMT

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