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Re: Critique of OA metric

I think it worth considering whether we are talking about the 
review process (which is where we started out) or the editorial 
process.  In my experience as author and reviewer, editors seldom 
review, but instead rely on ("oversee" might be a more palatable 
term) peer review provided by authors.  I second the request for 
lurking editors to speak up at this point!

The review process has two components: validity filter (is the 
science sound?) and quality filter (is the science "sexy", worthy 
of this fine journal, etc?).  The editorial process seems rather 
more complex, just as you describe.  For this reason and because 
I have never been an editor, I am focusing on review and the 
desirability of clearly and explicitly delineating its two 

But since you bring editors into the mix, let me continue your 
analogy: why would I let you (an editor) choose my meal (my 
reading) for me?  When journals were printed objects and 
information delivery required physical delivery, there was 
tremendous value added by an editor who could, by creative 
action, make his or her journal into a comprehensive overview of 
the most important aspects of the field.  Now that scientists 
have search engines at their fingertips, there is much less need 
to rely on such editorial oversight.

That's not to say that such oversight is no longer valuable -- I 
still appreciate some expert guidance on which wine to pair with 
which meal, or whether I am likely to enjoy a dish I have never 
tried.  But there's a limit to how willing I am to express that 
appreciation with money, now that I can read the whole menu for 
myself (and "Fine Dining Magazine" on my iPhone besides).

The analogy wears thin, so let me be clearer: I think that 
digital delivery and search have rendered the creative aspects of 
an editor's job somewhat obsolete, since they can be partly 
replaced by search and recommendation algorithms.  Opinions will 
of course differ on the weight to be accorded my "somewhat" and 
"partly", there; my point is that journals which trade on their 
reputation for such creative work (the quality of their editorial 
oversight) can expect customers to ask increasingly pointed 
questions about the basis for that reputation, and just how much 
we should be paying for it.

This is the value (to me, as a consumer) of separating validity 
and quality filters: I am happy to pay for the former, but anyone 
who wants me to pay for the latter must convince me it's worth 
the price they're asking.

(At the risk of being targeted by People for the Ethical 
Treatment of Analogies, let me finally suggest that I am no 
longer stuck in a single restaurant, but instead have 
instantaneous room service: to the extent that I want or need 
help in choosing my meal, why would I not prefer that such help 
take into account *all* the fare available in *all* the 
restaurants there are?  One of the ways that editorial creativity 
might regain some of its former value is perhaps by casting a 
wider net: if all published work had passed only the validity 
filter, there might be a place for an overarching quality filter 
-- the scientific equivalent of an investment advisor, where what 
the customer is investing is his or her time and attention.)