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re: Monopolies in publishing: defining quality

There is quite a lot of published evidence, mostly from the medical
publishing community, and most especially from the staffs of the BMJ and
JAMA, of the flaws in traditional peer-review.  However, it may be that,
similar to Churchill's view of democracy, it is a bloody awful system but
all the others are worse.

So far as presentational quality is concerned, I know of little evidence
other than the anecdotal.  In print, traditional publishers tended to be
rather obsessive about it; whether users cared is a moot point.  In the
electronic medium, we tend to teach our students that attention to the
criteria for good web design is important - and such attention will
typically imply some degree of cost on the part of whomever mounts
material on the web.  If that's publishers, they will probably have to pay
for it explicitly; if it is an institutional server the cost may be hidden
among the institution's IT overheads.  This is often the way when we try
to compare the costs of different models.

Fytton Rowland.

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

> I basically agree with JFR. Such publications should have the essential
> quality features, but will presumably also require economies in other
> directions. Merely discontinuing print is not savings enough. I also
> recall that there is still no reliable demonstration whether peer
> review--either as currently practiced or in any alternate form--is
> effective. Nor is there any work at all, to my knowledge, demonstrating
> other than as an opinion what technical features of publication are
> necessary. I have fairly definite opinions myself on both subjects,
> but they are no more reliable than anyone else's.