On 12/31/2013 5:55 AM, Platonist Guitar Cowboy wrote:

On Mon, Dec 30, 2013 at 11:53 PM, Telmo Menezes <te...@telmomenezes.com <mailto:te...@telmomenezes.com>> wrote:

    Hi John,

    > as a former ed-in-chief of a science magazine (Ion Exchange and 
Membranes) I
    > know the difficulties one can run into if trying to get peer-review 
    > on "NEW" ideas that do not fit into the conventional scientific fabric of
    > college courses. I was a risk-taker and provided space for several new 
    > that made sens - to me. ('Let the readership decide and debate').

    It's interesting to read this. I agree that the current model of
    peer-review leads to too much conservatism, and "me-too" papers are
    much more likely to get approved than the ones with novel ideas. On
    the other hand, there's only so much time to keep up with the
    literature, so some amount of filtering is required.

I see 2 problems: everybody wants to publish + the peer groups that control certain domains and their journals are too often specialized cowards, that have to make bread, and fear "losing face" for publishing something crackpot style, like those nonsense articles that get through the peer process into publication from time to time. But the only way for journals to become more robust and earn scientific merit beyond popularity contests is to allow the wrong to be read, expose to criticism, and to right the wrongs or point towards the open problems that were formulated.

They're not going to win popularity contests by publishing everything that crosses their desk. The main service they provide is screening. So if you don't like arXiv's standards you can go find some other site with different filters. But what you can't do (at least I can't) is read everything. One of the advantages of being on a good mailing list like this is occasionally getting pointed to interesting papers.

Everybody is expected to learn... But not scientific journals. And everybody smells the irony. This strangles debate and promotes much more dependency "journal x said blah, so that must be right". The focus shifts from the questions, the work on them, towards results. Reactions to novelty become "crackpot" by default, instead of sharpening scientific attitude of wrestling what somebody new might have to say.

One of the important filters is to make sure that the somebody new actually says something new and definite.


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