Re: Peer Review Reform Hypothesis-Testing

From: Heather Morrison <>
Date: Wed, 11 Aug 2004 21:23:23 +0100

    MODERATOR'S NOTE: Because it is mainly about peer-review
    reform, the posting below has been re-directed from
    the prior "Eprint versions and removals" thread to:

    Peer Review Reform Hypothesis-Testing

    A Note of Caution About "Reforming the System"

    Self-Selected Vetting vs. Peer Review: Supplement or Substitute?

    See also:

    "Copyright: Form, Content, and Prepublication Incarnations"

While I fully agree with Stevan that we need to proceed with OA given what
we have immediately, and not wait for all the nuances to be perfected,
I would like to second Ted's suggestion that "full green" be reserved
for publishers who provide the final pdf version of an article for OA
archiving and Open Access, according to the BOAI definition:

    By "open access" to this literature, we mean its free availability
    on the public internet, permitting any users to read, download,
    copy, distribute, print, search, or link to the full texts of these
    articles, crawl them for indexing, pass them as data to software,
    or use them for any other lawful purpose, without financial, legal,
    or technical barriers other than those inseparable from gaining access
    to the internet itself.

While intermediary steps, as Stevan points out, are most welcome and a
huge improvement over not having access, it is important to recognize
that the final, peer-reviewed version is the ideal.

If there is no problem at all with having people access preprints rather
than final published versions, then perhaps the practices of peer review
and editing need to be rethought. A great deal of time and money go into
these practices; if the OA versions are used more, and many do reflect
the reviewing and editing - why bother?

There could be arguments that there are more efficient means of peer
review in this day and age. Send a message to this listserv, for example,
and there seems to be a very high probability that it will be thoroughly
and publicly reviewed, with counter-arguments often quickly provided
by other participants. Could having everyone working in a reasonably
narrowly defined area share in a listserv, with editorial commenting
duties revolving perhaps, with research results shared first through the
list, then posted to a final archive after confirmation by an authority
selected by this group of colleagues that any necessary changes have been
made? Couldn't a system like this be an extremely cost-efficient way to
make use of the fact that the great majority of this work is done on a
voluntary basis?

As for authors making their own corrections, the results (quality of
what people are reading) is unknown at this point in time. We don't
know whether authors will actually make the corrections, how accurate
they will be (possible sources of error ranging from simple copying
problems to disagreement with reviewers and editors and refusal to make
suggested changes), or whether authors might decide, in the course of
making corrections, to include additional changes such as updating -
which might provide new, useful information, but could also add sources
of error, if the author is adding information that really should have
been submitted for peer review. These kinds of issues are likely highly
variable from discipline to discipline - physics does seem to be doing
very well with OA preprints, for example, whereas in some areas of the
social sciences where there is tremendous potential for bias on the part
of a researcher, peer review is probably much more important.


Heather G. Morrison
Project Coordinator
BC Electronic Library Network
Phone: 604-268-7001
Fax: 604-291-3023

On 10-Aug-04, at 1:29 AM, Ted Bergstrom wrote:

> I have been wondering about the same issue that concerns Barbara Quint
> in the message quoted below. It seems to me much more satisfactory if
> an open archive contains an exact copy of the publisher's pdf version.
> Two good reasons for allowing this approach are accuracy of the
> scholarly record and convenience for authors.
> It seems to me that publishers should be given a stronger incentive
> to permit putting the publisher's pdf in their institutional archive.
> At least one commercial publisher already allows this, so it is not
> beyond possibilities that others could be induced to. Wouldn't it be a
> good idea for Sherpa and the scholarly community to distinguish
> between "full green" publishers who do allow self-archiving the
> pulisher's pdf version, and "pale green" for those who allow the
> author to prepare her own pdf version of the final copy?
> If self-archiving does catch on, authors are likely to find it
> important
> that they can archive exact copies of their final version. Accordingly,
> publishers who want to attract good authors will be under some pressure
> to accommodate this desire. Might it also be a good idea for archives
> to develop a convention that makes it clear when an archived copy is an
> exact replica of the published version?
> Ted Bergstrom
>> Do the "green light" publishers send digital copies back to the
>> authors?
>> [Some give the green light for the author to use the publisher's
>> PDF version, others only to use the author's own digital version.]
>> As an editor, I'm assuming that some of the text has been changed as it
>> goes through the editorial process.
>> [Correct, especially from unrefereed preprint to refereed postprint.]
>> So are the self-archives of the edited "final" versions or of the author's
>> initial submissions?
>> [If the green light is for the refereed, edited final version,
>> that is what is self-archived; otherwise the preprint plus
>> corrections.]
>> Or would there be more than one version, e.g. an author's edition (like
>> a director's cut video) that includes portions that didn't appear in the
>> "printed" article as well as the published one?
>> [Authors can self-archive all signitificant stages of their work,
>> including pospublication corrections, updates and enhancements.
>> The essential target of OA, though, is contents of the peer-reviewed
>> final draft.]
>>> that's what i thought. a librarian's/archivist's nightmare.-- bq
>>> [But a researcher's dream. -- SH]
Received on Wed Aug 11 2004 - 21:23:23 BST

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