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Re: Critique of OA metric

I repeat:  your beef is not with me.  If you are advocating that 
various machine processes take the place of formally edited 
material, then your beef is with certain elements of the OA 
community (Harnad and Suber in particular), who argue that OA 
should have all the trimmings of traditional publishing, but 
without cost to the user; and among those trimmings is the kind 
of editorial work you are skeptical about.  I repeat my point: 
whether or not one values such editorial effort, PLOS One is not 
providing it.

I wrote about this in 2004:


Joe Esposito

On 11/8/09 7:13 PM, "Bill Hooker" <cwhooker@fastmail.fm> wrote:

> 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
> components.
> 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.)
>   Bill.