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re: Monopolies in publishing: defining quality

While I broadly agree with David, I think his use of the word "informal"
is unfortunate, as it would imply to many people that the work is not
peer-reviewed, perhaps not fully and rigorously described or not edited
for presentational quality.  The small-circulation, highly specialised
journals that need subsidy are prime candidates for conversion to
electronic-only form, but it is essential that their quality (both of
intellectual content and of presentation) is maintained in the process,
oitherwise they will lose credibility in the eyes of the academic
comunities (however small) that they serve.

Fytton Rowland

Quoting David Goodman <dgoodman@phoenix.Princeton.EDU>:

> Heather Morrison appropriately raises the very important problem of
> providing adequately for the publication of research in fields with
> relatively few workers. These subjects has never been adequately
> provided for by the commercial publication system in the past, nor will 
> they be in the future; they have always required subsidies. The subsidy 
> has come in many ways: publication by museums or by institutes, direct 
> publication grants, publication at a loss but cross-subsidized by other 
> titles, or publication at very high prices paid by a very few 
> institutions.
> I would suggest that in the future these publications would be 
> essentially published as open archives or other informal publication 
> pathways. This is already the case in some fields such as plant 
> biogeography, where the most valuable sources are now organization web 
> sites.
> I would never say that only widely read or cited material is of high
> quality. I would say that within a field where there is hghly cited
> and read material, the least widely read and cited items within that
> particular field are likely to be of very low quality.
> I would similarly never say that only material likely to be widely
> read deserves dissemination. I would say that commercial or
> quasi-commercial publication makes economic sense only for such 
> material. I think Heather's examples demonstrate very well why we need 
> alternative publication channels; as I see it, we are in fundamental 
> agreement. I agree that there are many possible alternatives for such 
> publication, and I do not mean to suggest that I know which ways will be 
> best.