Re: PostGutenberg Galaxy

From: Stevan Harnad (harnad@soton.ac.uk)
Date: Fri May 12 1995 - 03:05:49 BST


Submit a commentary on this exchange to be considered for inclusion in
the THES's Web archive and possible paper publication in THES, with
responses from the authors:
mailto:thescat@timsup2.demon.co.uk
(Tim Greenhalgh, Multimedia, Times Higher Education Supplement).
Also branch a copy to:
mailto:harnad@ecs.soton.ac.uk
to have it considered for the Hypermail archive at this Web site.

----------------------------------------------------------------------
        THERE'S PLENTY OF ROOM IN CYBERSPACE
        Response to Fuller
        Stevan Harnad

Here are my replies to Steve Fuller's commentary on my Times Higher
Education [THES] essay (long version, archived on the THES Web Page):
"The PostGutenberg Galaxy: How to Get There From Here" (Friday May 12
1995). Most of our differences can be traced back to Fuller's failure
to observe the trade/non-trade distinction I stressed in my
introduction. Nothing I said applied to the trade literature; I was
addressing only the non-trade literature, and an even narrower part of
it, namely, non-trade periodicals.

In the longer version of my essay, which Fuller had in hand, this
distinction was even more explicitly stated as the "esoteric vs. trade"
distinction, and some clear criteria were given for whether or not a
given article was esoteric, chief among them being (1) whether the author
wrote with the intention or expectation of selling his words (if so,
the article was trade) and (2) whether that article's specific
readership was large enough to constitute a market (if not, the article
was esoteric).

I had warned that none of what I was saying would make any sense if one
failed to observe this distinction and instead treated these two
categories as if they were one, and Fuller's commentary has fully
confirmed this. [Quotes from Fuller are preceded by FULLER:]

    FULLER: "the "Faustian bargain"... is very much part of the folklore
    of academic life. Its image of the profit-driven publisher provides
    a convenient scapegoat and remedy for academics who feel that they
    never quite get their message across to all who could potentially
    benefit from it."

I don't know about academic folklore, but in the Faustian bargain I was
referring to, the publisher is as much the victim as the the author.
The demonology (irrelevant to the thrust of my THES essay, as we shall
soon see) was spelled out more explicitly in another paper of mine:

"So both the trade author and the esoteric author had to be prepared to
make a Faustian bargain with the paper publisher (who was not, by the
way, the devil either, but likewise a victim of the bargain; the only
devil would have been the Blind Watchmaker who designed our planet and
its means of publication until the advent of the electronic publication
era)" [Harnad 1995a, paragraph 2].
ftp://cogsci.ecs.soton.ac.uk/pub/harnad/Harnad/harnad95.quo.vadis

The devil, in other words, is the technology of paper -- its cost and
cumbersomeness -- not the publisher. And here too, remembering to make
the esoteric/trade distinction is critical:

"But in a sense the bargain is really only Faustian for the esoteric
author. The trade author and publisher share the desire to restrict
their product to those who will pay for it. The esoteric author would
just as soon no one had to pay, but he himself is prepared to barter
his words' copyright in exchange for the immortality only his publisher
can confer on them" [Harnad 1995a paragraph 4].
ftp://cogsci.ecs.soton.ac.uk/pub/harnad/Harnad/harnad95.quo.vadis

    FULLER: "The prototype of the Internet, ARPANET, was thus launched
    in 1969 to connect Defence Department researchers working all
    across America... this history highlights the basic point that if
    there is, indeed, a "Faustian bargain" in the life of the mind, it
    is the one that academics strike with their sponsors that buys them
    the leisure to collectively pursue their studies."

Several things fail to make sense in the foregoing passage:

(1) Yes, the Internet happens to have begun (in part) with ARPANET,
but that's history; the Internet is not controlled by the US Defence
Department. Nor could it be: It's too big, distributed, and
international, involving millions of computers, local area networks,
wide area networks, dedicated phone lines, satellites, etc.

(2) The National Science Foundation still pays about 10-20% of the cost
of the US "backbone," but that will soon be privatised. (I'm not an
expert on these figures: Steve Goldstein [sgoldste@nsf.gov] knows the
exact numbers, and the timetable for the privatisation.) Most of the
rest is paid for by a consortium of Universities and other
Institutional Users, who pay a flat rate so they can then let their staff
and students use it essentially limitlessly. That's the special nature
of a Network. It's a distributed entity, all interconnected. Analogies
are hard to find. It's NOT like a highway, with tolls per axle, nor
like a phone, with charges by distance or message unit, nor like cable
or satellite TV, with individual subscriptions, nor like a mainframe
computer, with connect and processing time charges, nor like ham or CB
radio -- though the Net involves bits and pieces of all these technologies.

And the irony is that right now it is the Universities and the NSF that
are subsidising use for all of us: in other words, the Net's current
commercial uses are getting a free ride from academe! Once the Net is
privatised, however, and commercial products and services start to flow
on it for fee, my prediction is that all of society will be better off
if the Net's remaining academic uses (especially esoteric publication)
-- by then merely the flea on the tail of the dog -- continue to get a
free ride.

(3) If by academics' "sponsors" Fuller means the Universities that
pay their salaries and the Government sources (like NSF) that support
their research, yes, it is in the interest of both of these not to put a
price tag where none is needed, and nothing is gained. Universities do
not charge their staff library fees, or metre their reading, much less
their writing. Rather, they pay them to do these things (and they don't
call it leisure).

So the military origins of the Internet are irrelevant to the point
being discussed (which is: Should esoteric electronic journals be free
to all readers?). It is in the interests of both the Universities
and taxpayers that scholarship and science should be pursued without
imposing unnecessary costs on the scholars and scientists for doing
so. Paper was a necessary cost; it is no longer necessary. (Nor should
the much more general social question of whether we should have
scholars, sciences, research, universities, etc. at all> be mixed up
with the specific question of whether it still makes sense to charge
scholars for reading one another's work when there is no longer any
need to do so.)

    FULLER: "over time professors and students alike have taken full
    advantage of its free facility, so that the Internet is on the
    verge of becoming the umbilical cord of academic life. Many know
    first hand that academic productivity is definitely enhanced by the
    new regime. What better time, then, to privatise the entire
    Internet, putting its virtual real estate on the market to the
    highest bidder among those -- including publishers -- who have an
    interest in promoting academic work! As the Internet evolves from a
    mere convenience to an outright necessity, it invites thoughts
    about how much academics -- or their sponsors -- would be willing
    to pay to continue feeding their technological fix."

Privatising the Internet is one matter. That would simply entail
Universities' adding 10-20% to the flat rate they already pay for
allowing the free read/write access to the global electronic "library"
for all their users. Switching to a fee-for-use model within the
University would, as I suggested, be tantamount to charging students
and faculty for using their library or for writing papers. Or would
Fuller suggest "privatising" University Libraries too, and letting
market forces decide who uses them according to how much he's willing
to pay?

And what do publishers have to do with any of this? If the Internet WERE
like a paved concrete highway (which it isn't), that still would not
make the publishers the highway-owners! As far as I know, publishers'
specialised expertise (which is in controlling the quality of the form
and content of the written word -- hitherto on paper, but, in principle,
in any medium) would not make them especially apt for information
highway service work. Computer science and information science sound like
better backgrounds for that domain of expertise...

    FULLER: "governments will welcome the privatisation of knowledge
    production as a way of quickly relieving their overburdened
    budgets. In that case, academics should start worrying more about
    how intellectual property law might apply to forms of knowledge
    traditionally regarded as 'public goods'."

Not much budgetary burden relief to be had there! But since there
are so many more consumers in secondary schools than in Universities,
why not ease the strain on government budgets by having all of them,
pupils and teachers alike, pay by the peek for access to their books
and blackboards? and an extra surcharge for the right to write an exam?
On the other hand, to tap inelastic demand, privatising access to the
school loo might be an even better source of revenue, our demand for
knowledge being notoriously rubbery.

    FULLER: "Harnad's strategy of locating a medium beyond the reach of
    economic considerations is no more than a temporary solution, one
    akin to having everyone who lives in a high-rent district move to a
    less expensive neighbourhood. It will not be long before the latter
    locale acquires the property values of the former. The metaphor is
    telling."

As long as we're telling metaphors, I think it's more like having
everyone take public transport, rather than private limousines...

    FULLER: "Harnad gives the impression that paper-based production
    costs provide the main economic barrier to free inquiry, when in
    fact the cost of renting channels and licencing broadcasters may
    pose even greater barriers in the long term. In other words, Harnad
    may be naive in assuming that the Internet is more like a
    publication without paper than, say, a television with text."

The TV analogy does not work either. Both sending and receiving are
involved. There are no assigned frequencies. According to what I've
heard, with sufficient demand, more than enough bandwidth can be
created to handle all conceivable academic uses till 2020 -- and
commercial uses will of course pay for themselves. (Right now, the
biggest bandwidth is used to transmit porno-graphics; surely that
should get a price tag before Fermat's Last Theorem...)

    FULLER: "Is it fair to portray publishers as Mephistophelean agents
    in a Faustian bargain with academics?"

No it is not, and I have not done so. See above.

    FULLER: "To begin with, it is misleading to suggest, as Harnad does,
    that authors -- even esoteric ones -- and publishers have had
    opposed interests throughout the Gutenberg Era. Only in the late
    18th century do "authors" come to be regarded as more than just the
    first stage of the book production process. After chronic book
    piracy forced publishers to cut authors' commissions and, in some
    cases, replace them with cheaper scribes, authors retaliated by
    claiming a special legal status for the kind of work they do that
    transcends the medium in which they do it: The print may belong to
    the publisher, but the words are the author's own. A cynic could
    say that modern copyright laws were thus designed to ensure against
    low demand by upgrading the quality of what the author supplies. A
    more positive gloss was the Romantic image of the "misunderstood
    genius" whose works appeal only to an esoteric clique. Though it
    first applied to poets, philosophers and scientists soon adopted
    this image as their own."

I have difficulty finding a focus in the preceding paragraph, but one
thing is clear. It hopelessly conflates the esoteric and trade
literature and is hence not relevant to the points I was making in my
essay. This general history of the printed word is not relevant to the
kind of periodical publishing I am talking about; only the short
history of the modern refereed learned serial is.

    FULLER: "Now consider the 'self-organizing" form of academic life
    known as "peer review". It was designed, not to allow academics to
    hide from their sponsors in esoteric splendour, but to dictate the
    terms on which academics accounted for their use of their sponsors'
    resources. When the first scientific journals were founded in 17th
    century Britain and France, editors were cast in the role of
    trusted correspondents with the leading scientific minds, whose
    letters they would edit for gratuitous metaphysical jargon and
    personal nastiness. Thus scientific writing was first standardized.
    Eventually the single correspondent was replaced by the editorial
    board and more specialized referees."

Interesting, but nothing relevant to the points under discussion
follows from it. At present the system is roughly this: A great deal is
written by scholars and scientists for fellow-specialists. No one else
(including "sponsors") is interested in reading it, even though this
exchange of information is (in the case of biomedical and technological
research) of potential immediate benefit to us all, and in the case of
other areas of scientific and scholarly research it is regarded as
contributing to human knowledge and culture.

The quality of this vast and growing esoteric literature is maintained
by a system of peer review
ftp://cogsci.ecs.soton.ac.uk/pub/harnad/Harnad/harnad95.peer.review
-- adjudication (including guidance in revision) by fellow-specialists,
implemented and mediated by specialist Editors. This is how an article
finds its own level in the hierarchy of journals in any given area
(almost everything eventually gets published; the only question is: in
what form, and where?). And this is how a specialist reader can
calibrate his finite reading time by restricting it to as much or as
little of the hierarchy as he wishes (top-down). No one has yet
proposed an equivalent or superior substitute for the (imperfect,
human) peer-review system for validating and triaging this huge,
no-market corpus. Peer review is a medium-independent means of quality
control serving authors, readers, and sponsors alike.

    FULLER: "While standardization is often said to be a prerequisite
    for genuine knowledge growth, a more pressing historical reason for
    disciplining scientific communication was to ensure that the
    scientists' aristocratic patrons were not unnecessarily confused or
    offended. The aristocrats supported scientific societies in order
    to be amused, edified and, in some cases, technically empowered.
    Peer review instituted the decorum needed to persuade patrons that
    their money was well spent."

Today it is not the few aristocrats but the taxpaying multitudes who
support research and education. In cancer research, for example, the
taxpayer does not wish to be amused or edified, but to be cured of his
ailments. Medieval studies are not supported for technical empowerment
but to continue to foster our common heritage of learning. The taxpayer
does not seek decorum for his dollars, but assurance that the work
being supported is of the best feasible quality of its kind, as judged
by those who are able to read and judge its quality: those who have
devoted their lives to becoming specialists in the subject matter in
question.

    FULLER: "In these developments, publishers have often functioned as
    correctives to the pursuit of esoteric inquiries fostered by peer
    review. They continue to encourage academics to write books that
    are suitable for either students or general audiences."

No doubt, and a valuable service that was, and will continue to be, both
in paper and on the Net. But my essay has nothing whatsoever to say
about it, because it concerns no-market esoteric periodicals, not
wide-market books, with which they should no longer be conflated, now
that the PostGutenberg Galaxy is within reach.

    FULLER: "Of course, publishers have also expedited the
    specialization of academic journals. But that would not have become
    such an attractive financial proposition, had academics not been
    allowed to set their own paths of inquiries, and hence settle into
    ever narrower domains whose state-of-the-art is defined by one or
    two journals. Once academic specialists agree that a certain
    journal is "essential reading" for their field, they deliver a
    captive audience to publishers that is too good to resist."

But the captive audience is not the readership of the journals, it is
the institutional library that must have the entire journal in hand for
the few, if any, who ever consult any particular article. This was all
well and good in the Faustian era, with the diabolical cost of paper
publication, but it is no longer true in the PostGutenberg era, when
the captives can at last be set free.

    FULLER: "The result has been to place at risk the future of the most
    creative aspect of publishing: Marketing. Academics tend to see
    publishing as little more than a matter of editing manuscripts and
    printing books and journals. Such dualistic thinking breeds the
    kind of "Us versus Them" rhetoric with which Harnad discusses
    publishers. However, in their search for new markets, publishers
    have been leaders in giving voice to groups whose interests cut
    against those of the established academic fiefdoms. Prominent
    recent examples include women's studies and cultural studies, two
    fields that received considerable attention from publishers before
    receiving formal academic recognition."

Again, I had difficulty finding a focus in this passage. Bravo for
publishers who find markets for their books and journals. Bravo for the
promoters of women's and cultural studies. But what have these to do
with the matter at hand? One needs creative marketing (I doubt
publishers will agree that that's their craft's crown jewel) only where
there is a product to be sold and a market to be created. Anyone and
everyone with access to the Internet is already an esoteric author's
potential "market." [Please do not raise the issue of lack of access
for all to the Internet: that is a rationale for redoubling efforts to
ensure access for all on the Internet, not for restricting the
literature to paper, or for adding a price-tag to Internet access.]
Finding that "market" is surely better entrusted to the growing
armamentarium of powerful new informational tools (indices, specialised
and cross-specialty classification systems, search tools, knowbots,
etc.) that are unique to the electronic medium, rather than to the market
economics of the trade literature.

    FULLER: "Here it is worth recalling that not all academic fields are
    constituted in the same way. Sociologically speaking, there is
    little reason to think that the success of journals in fields as
    different as high- energy physics and Harnad's domain of cognitive
    science can be explained in terms of their common characteristics.
    Whereas high-energy physics is probably the most intellectually
    focussed and socially stratified specialty in science today,
    cognitive science is a very active, but relatively amorphous,
    interdisciplinary field. The elites in high-energy physics
    coordinate their activities to dictate to the rest of the field,
    and sometimes to the entire physics community. By contrast, the
    success of Behavioral and Brain Sciences
    http://cogsci.ecs.soton.ac.uk/~harnad/bbs.html
    may be better explained in terms of the bandwagon effect caused by
    several elite cognitive scientists from different parts of the
    field publishing early in the journal's history."

Interesting conjectures here, but one would like to see the evidence
supporting them: (1) There is a literature on the differences in peer
review and publication practices in different fields (e.g. Hargens
1990). (2) The Ginsparg Archive ain't just high-energy physics any more.
http://xxx.lanl.gov/
(3) The interdisciplinarity of the Cognitive Sciences will be a
useful next step in extending and generalising Ginsparg's revolution to
the rest of the scholarly/scientific universe. (4) And I'd wait for the
findings of some intellectual historians who actually look closely at
the data before drawing my conclusions about what was responsible for
the success of BBS...
http://cogsci.ecs.soton.ac.uk/~harnad/bbs.html

    FULLER: "If one wanted to take Cyberplatonism deadly seriously, then
    not only should paper publishing go by the wayside, but also the
    whole idea of seeking personal credit for as many articles as
    possible in peer-reviewed journals. This idea is not intrinsic to
    pure inquiry, but the result of academics having to account for
    their activities in a competitive environment involving the
    allocation of scarce resources. The aristocratic patrons may be
    gone, but, as Harnad himself admits, the Research Assessment
    Exercise is just around the corner."

Again, this is too scattershot for me: Must one be for overpublication
if one is against the trade model for esoteric publication? Publication
quantity and quality are a medium-independent matter, and depend on peer
review as well as the indirect reward system (both medium-independent)
described in my essay.

As it happens, I do believe (and applaud) the fact that the more
interactive form of publication the electronic medium will make
possible -- over and above merely duplicating the classical peer
reviewed journal hierarchy in cyberspace -- will make scholarly
contributions more collective and distributed than they were in paper
(Harnad 1990
ftp://cogsci.ecs.soton.ac.uk/pub/harnad/Harnad/harnad90.skywriting
1991
ftp://cogsci.ecs.soton.ac.uk/pub/harnad/Harnad/harnad91.postgutenberg
1992)
ftp://cogsci.ecs.soton.ac.uk/pub/harnad/Harnad/harnad92.interactivpub
with new, more sophisticated electronic/computational measures of
scholarly productivity replacing publication counts and classical
citational analysis. But my essay was only about launching the
classical peer-reviewed literature into the PostGutenberg Galaxy, not
about optimising the process by which Universities review and reward
the peers of their realm.

    FULLER: "Who, then, will most likely benefit from Harnad's brand of
    Cyberplatonism? If we grant Harnad's (big) assumption that the
    future owners of Internet will subsidize all of today's networkers,
    the answer seems to be the very same people who currently thrive in
    print."

The beneficiaries of a free, instantly and constantly accessible
scholarly/scientific literature will be the scholars themselves, their
productivity, and the rest of us, to the extent that we continue to hold
scholarly inquiry to be a worthwhile use of human resources. (The
Internet-subsidy issue is, as I've noted already, a red herring.)

    FULLER: "Consider Harnad's call for everyone to post their articles
    on the World Wide Web. "Knowbots" notwithstanding, this would only
    strengthen the system's elitist tendencies, which sociologist
    Robert Merton has euphemistically dubbed, "the principle of
    cumulative advantage". Faced with a plethora of titles on a common
    topic, an author's name recognition will count more than ever. The
    sheer availability of a work by no means guarantees that it will
    get into the hands of the people who could most benefit from it.
    Here marketing can make all the difference, thus providing a fresh
    challenge for the 21st century publisher."

It is very hard to put a sensible construal on the foregoing passage.
Perhaps it's just extreme naivete, but does Fuller really think that
marketing would get my research results to my fellow-specialists
better, faster, or cheaper than the navigational tools of the Net
would, once the entire literature was up there? And why would one
resort to name recognition in cyberspace, with all the other powerful
search options available up there? What, for that matter, prevents one
from using, as a default option, exactly the same selection criteria as
one used in the paper literature (only with a lot less wear and tear on
the feet)?

The connection between following my subversive proposal (that all
scholars should, as of today, archive all their papers for free public
access on the Web) and "elitism" entirely escapes me, particularly as
the Net has so far proved to be the Great Equalizer. In principle, it
gives everyone access to a global vanity press that they could not
possibly afford in paper. And if following my proposal did bring down
the paper house of cards, the result would be a migration of the
peer-reviewed literature to its own bit of cyberspace -- a bit the size
of the flea on the tail of the dog, as it is in the paper world: nobody
is talking about a wholesale takeover -- where, first, the status quo,
the refereed journal hierarchies, would merely be duplicated (no net
loss or gain in elitism). Then, the unique power of Skywriting --
interactive publication -- could continue exerting its equalizing
effect, with the possibility of rival peer hierarchies fighting it out
in cyberspace (Harnad 1990).
ftp://cogsci.ecs.soton.ac.uk/pub/harnad/Harnad/harnad90.skywriting

    FULLER: "Nowadays, a relatively democratic cross-section of the
    academic community can be found on the "listservs" and "usenets"
    that populate the Internet. Teachers, administrators, and students
    do not merely consume the knowledge that cutting-edge researchers
    generously deposit on the World Wide Web. They are themselves
    knowledge producers, and often incisive critics of what passes for
    quality in the print and electronic media. The result is a
    multiple-registered, rough-and-tumble atmosphere that has put off
    some elite inquirers but has empowered many more. Admittedly, women
    and minorities remain underrepresented, but cyber-activists like
    Sadie Plant are endeavouring to change that."

More apples and oranges: Who disputes or devalues the remarkable
communicative developments that have been occurring in chat-groups on
the Net? Adding a quiet corner to vast cyberspace where peer review
prevails is not at odds with this. To see this clearly, ask yourself
whether you would rather have a loved one treated for a serious illness
on the basis of information from peer-reviewed medical journals, or
from one of the chat-groups where teachers, administrators and students
are on a par with specialists. I am not discussing the virtues of
supplementing an expert opinion with chat-group advice and experience,
I am just talking about the form the specialist medical literature
should take on the Net. I assume the serious replies on this will be
univocal -- that for treating serious illness in the family, the
background research should take the same peer-reviewed form on the Net
as on paper. Well then, ask yourself whether there is a branch of
knowledge about which we are less serious than this, about ensuring that
only reports validated by experts prevail? For if there IS such an area
of learned inquiry, I would like to see what its paper journals look
like, in particular, how and why they differ from those of a call-in
radio show...

    FULLER: "Cyberplatonists like Harnad tend to downplay the
    heterogeneity of the Internet, perhaps hoping that it will
    eventually come under the decorous thumb of peer review. However,
    if we took Plato's Socratic dialogues as a model for "free
    inquiry", anyone would be allowed to participate in any line of
    thought wherever it may lead. A discrete publication would result,
    if at all, only after considerable discussion, by which time it
    would be difficult to identify who deserves credit for which idea.
    Crackpots and ignoramuses -- assuming we know who they are -- would
    be given their say, but then one would do the obvious: refute,
    ignore, or delete. The filtered world of anonymous refereeing would
    thus dissolve into open commentary."

First, as one must keep repeating, the decorous thumb of peer review is
only intended for one small region of the Net, the same region, as a
matter of fact, where it prevailed in paper. In addition, the Net
offers much richer competitive possibilities for thrashing out who
counts as a "peer," and which journal hierarchy is the definitive one.
It also allows the added dimension of open peer commentary (Harnad 1990)
ftp://cogsci.ecs.soton.ac.uk/pub/harnad/Harnad/harnad90.skywriting
-- in sanctioned as well as renegade peer groups -- to strengthen
the self-corrective function of learned inquiry. Publications may
indeed go through more incarnations, and become more collective than in
the Gutenberg era. That's all well and good. But don't imagine that if
there is no peer-reviewed region at all, to serve as a quality filter
and marker, that any high-powered cyberspace navigational tool will be
able to replace it. You will have no idea what is worth reading -- and
if you base your choice on the results of the opinion poll resulting
from the samplings and judgments of those who have nothing better
to do with their time than to forage into such a vast unfiltered
literature, then you do so at your own peril.

If there is anyone on this planet who is in a position to say so,
surely I, having had a chance to compare peer review with open peer
commentary for almost two decades in a paper journal, and over half a
decade an electronic one, can state unequivocally: peer commentary is a
supplement to not a substitute for, peer review (Harnad 1979, 1982,
1984, 1985, 1986, 1995b
ftp://cogsci.ecs.soton.ac.uk/pub/harnad/Harnad/harnad95.peer.review

    FULLER: "authors read referees' reports pretty much as editors do,
    namely, as a red or green signal for publication."

Incorrect: Editors do not read referee reports this way (especially
since referees often disagree). Mostly referee reports serve to rank-
order submissions as to those that are likely to be acceptable if
revised (and how to revise them) and those that are not. (The rejected
papers usually end up published in some form or other, usually lower down
in the refereed journal hierarchy, or sometimes in the unrefereed vanity
press. Moreover, authors usually revise in response to referee reports. So
peer review is far from being just a red/green light. It is an active
feedback mechanism for quality control.

    FULLER: "Harnad's enthusiasm for quick turnaround times from
    acceptance to publication only nurtures this mentality."

Why does (everyone's!) enthusiasm for fast turnaround after successful
revision and acceptance foster the red/green mentality? Editors and
referees are, and are meant to be, brakes on the system, preventing
weak, wrong, unclear, incomplete, irrelevant or unoriginal results from
being published. But after the quality has been controlled?

    FULLER: "However, the reports may wind up playing little or no role
    in shaping an author's thought, at least as long as there are other
    journals to which the author can submit a rejected piece with
    minimum alterations. No wonder referees find theirs to be a
    thankless lot."

This is true in some cases, but irrelevant to the issue at hand (which
is -- to remind us, amidst all these digressions -- whether esoteric
periodicals should be electronic, whether they should continue to be
sold on the trade/subscription model, whether peer review should be
retained on the Net, and whether authors should publicly archive
their papers electronically now). Most accepted authors have revised
their papers in response to the feedback from the referees.

    FULLER: "The source of the problem is simply that authors are
    encouraged to submit their work in a finished form. By that time,
    they have normally become so attached to it that they are
    psychologically incapable of grappling with substantial criticism.
    However, because there is so little to which one can become
    attached on the Internet, authors are more prone to submit drafts
    with holes that others may be better positioned to fill. Thus, a
    genuinely collaborative inquiry may be fostered."

I suggest that Fuller look at the literature on peer review rather than
just speculate about what authors do and don't do (Harnad 1982, etc.).
(That, at least, is what I would have said if I were refereeing his
essay...)

Finally, the thrust of Fuller's Socrates/hemlock metaphor was, I must
admit, entirely lost on me. What is it that "cyberplatonists" are going
to be forced, by whom, to drink, and to what end?

        BIBLIOGRAPHY

[Most papers from the last eight years are machine retrievable from
http://cogsci.ecs.soton.ac.uk/~harnad/intpub.html the Harnad public
e-print archive. See also the
ftp://cogsci.ecs.soton.ac.uk/pub/harnad/Psycoloquy/Subversive.Proposal/
discussion archive for the Subversive Proposal encouraging all scholars
and scientists to create similar public archives for their articles.
This discussion will shortly appear as a book edited by Ann Okerson:
mailto:okerson@cni.org
http://www.cni.org/CNI.homepage.html

Ginsparg, P. (1994) First Steps Towards Electronic Research
Communication. http://xxx.lanl.gov/blurb/
Computers in Physics. (August, American Institute of
Physics). 8(4): 390-396.

Hargens, L.L. (1990) Variation in journal peer review systems: Possible
causes and consequences. Journal of the American Medical Association
263: 1348-1352.

Harnad, S. (1979) Creative disagreement. The Sciences 19: 18 - 20.

Harnad, S. (ed.) (1982) Peer commentary on peer review: A case study in
scientific quality control, New York: Cambridge University Press.

Harnad, S. (1984) Commentaries, opinions and the growth of scientific
knowledge. American Psychologist 39: 1497 - 1498.

Harnad, S. (1985) Rational disagreement in peer review. Science,
Technology and Human Values 10: 55 - 62.

Harnad, S. (1986) Policing the Paper Chase. (Review of S. Lock, A
difficult balance: Peer review in biomedical publication.)
Nature 322: 24 - 5.

Harnad, S. (1990) Scholarly Skywriting and the Prepublication Continuum
of Scientific Inquiry. Psychological Science 1: 342 - 343
(reprinted in Current Contents 45: 9-13, November 11 1991).
ftp://cogsci.ecs.soton.ac.uk/pub/harnad/Harnad/harnad90.skywriting

Harnad, S. (1991) Post-Gutenberg Galaxy: The Fourth Revolution in the
Means of Production of Knowledge. Public-Access Computer Systems Review
2 (1): 39 - 53 (also reprinted in PACS Annual Review Volume 2
1992; and in R. D. Mason (ed.) Computer Conferencing: The Last Word.
Beach
Holme Publishers, 1992; and in: M. Strangelove & D. Kovacs: Directory of
Electronic Journals, Newsletters, and Academic Discussion Lists (A.
Okerson, ed), 2nd edition. Washington, DC, Association of Research
Libraries, Office of Scientific & Academic Publishing, 1992); and
in Hungarian translation in REPLIKA 1994.
ftp://cogsci.ecs.soton.ac.uk/pub/harnad/Harnad/harnad91.postgutenberg

Harnad, S. (1992) Interactive Publication: Extending the
American Physical Society's Discipline-Specific Model for Electronic
Publishing. Serials Review, Special Issue on Economics Models for
Electronic Publishing, pp. 58 - 61.
ftp://cogsci.ecs.soton.ac.uk/pub/harnad/Harnad/harnad92.interactivpub

Harnad, S. (1995a) Electronic Scholarly Publication: Quo Vadis?
Serials Review 21(1) 70-72 (Reprinted in Managing Information
2(3) 1995)
ftp://cogsci.ecs.soton.ac.uk/pub/harnad/Harnad/harnad95.quo.vadis

Harnad, S. (1995b) Implementing Peer Review on the Net:
Scientific Quality Control in Scholarly Electronic Journals.
In: Peek, R. & Newby, G. (Eds.) Electronic Publishing Confronts
Academia:
The Agenda for the Year 2000. Cambridge MA: MIT Press.
ftp://cogsci.ecs.soton.ac.uk/pub/harnad/Harnad/harnad95.peer.review

Harnad, S., Steklis, H. D. & Lancaster, J. B. (eds.) (1976) Origins and
Evolution of Language and Speech. Annals of the New York Academy of
Sciences 280.

Hayes, P., Harnad, S., Perlis, D. & Block, N. (1992) Virtual Symposium
on Virtual Mind. Minds and Machines 2: 217-238.
ftp://cogsci.ecs.soton.ac.uk/pub/harnad/Harnad/harnad93.symb.anal.net.hayes

Odlyzko, A.M. (1995) Tragic loss or good riddance? The impending
demise of traditional scholarly journals, International Journal of
Human-Computer Studies (formerly International Journal of Man-Machine
Studies), to appear. Condensed version to appear in Notices of the
Amercan Mathematical Society, January 1995.



This archive was generated by hypermail 2b30 : Tue Feb 13 2001 - 16:24:07 GMT