On Thu, Apr 11, 2013 at 01:13:31PM -0400, John Clark wrote:
> On Wed, Apr 10, 2013  Russell Standish <li...@hpcoders.com.au> wrote:
> 
> > Lack of importance should not be a reason.
> >
> 
> That is ridiculous. Science and Nature cannot publish every manuscript they
> receive and they shouldn't even if they could because that would defeat the
> entire point of having journals. There is only room for a few articles so
> the editors pick the ones out of the pile they receive every month that
> they judge to be the most important. I don't see what else they could do.

That's rubbish. With electronic publishing, there are no resource
constraints in terms of the number of articles that can be
published. That is a consideration only for print journals.

I can understand prioritising papers going out to peer review, based
on some perceived importance, so that obvious scoops are not missed by
being clogged up in the peer review pipeline. I believe they already
have a fast track process to handle precisely this scenario.

> 
> 
> > > What is unimportant to one person, may be important to another.
> 
> 
> If you disagree with what the editors of Science or Nature judge to be
> important then read different journals, although I must say that
> historically their judgement has proven to be remarkably good; not perfect
> but damn good.

Pretty much what I already do - though not due to any cosncious
decision. The Nature articles I've actually read have been from the
'70s or earlier. I have ocasionally cited more recent Nature (and even Science)
articles, but mostly because I want to refer to a body of literature,
and that has been how other people have cited it.

Of course I do read journal articles (although I get most of my
information from arXiv preprints), but they tend to be the specialty
journals, not the general ones like Nature and Science.

Just saying.

> 
> > The thing about editorial rejection is that it is based on an editor
> > deciding that the paper is not worth looking into.
> >
> 
> Exactly, but you almost make that sound like a bad thing.
> 

Yes it is. It artificially creates a scarcity that is not there in practice.

> > If I was the editor of the (fictitious) Journal of Bees, then I would be
> > quite right in rejecting a paper about North Atlantic Salmon as being out
> > of scope.
> 
> 
> Would you publish experimental results from somebody that you know has
> performed sloppy experiments in the past showing that bees don't make honey
> and never have?

I'd still send it out to peer review. If its as obvious as that, it
won't take very long for the peers to reject the article. Presumably,
as editor, I'd feel able to be one of the peer reviewers in this case,
saving the other peers :).

> Would you publish results from a meticulously conducted experiment that
> scrupulously followed the scientific method proving that if bees are dunked
> into a bucket of blue lead based paint they take on a blueish hue and die?
> 

OK I missed that. Obviousness of the result is probably a valid reason
for rejecting an article (as it is in patents). Its different to
importance though.


-- 

----------------------------------------------------------------------------
Prof Russell Standish                  Phone 0425 253119 (mobile)
Principal, High Performance Coders
Visiting Professor of Mathematics      hpco...@hpcoders.com.au
University of New South Wales          http://www.hpcoders.com.au
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