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Re: PostGutenberg Peer Review

On Sat, May 15, 2010 at 12:22 AM, Sandy Thatcher <sgt3@psu.edu> 

> In his long response to Joe Esposito, Stevan Harnad made only 
this > one passing reference to copyediting as a service journal 
publishers > perform -- 'peer review (and possibly some 
copy-editing)' > and, in the way he phrased it here, questioned 
whether indeed > it is a needed service.

To what extent copy-editing remains a needed service will be 
decided by authors once Green OA prevails, if and when that in 
turn makes subscriptions unsustainable. To the extent that 
copy-editing remains a needed service, it will be paid for 
alongside peer review (as I noted).

> He seems to think that copyediting plays > absolutely no role 
in determining a journal's reputation, and that so > long as a 
journal is highly selective in what it accepts, it could > 
publish shabbily written, error-filled articles without having 
its > reputation affected in any significant way.

No, I think this is an empirical and pragmatic question, and we 
will find out the answer if and when universal Green OA makes 
subscriptions unsustainable, thereby inducing cost-cutting and 
downsizing to the essentials.

> I think he is dead wrong in making this assumption about 

I make no assumption (though I can hazard a guess).

> I wonder if he would say > the same about book publishing, that 
authors do not care if one book > publisher provides better 
copyediting, design, marketing, etc. than > another so long as 
they are equal in terms of peer-review selectivity?

No I would not. And as I have said to Sandy many, many times 
before, this is one of the many differences between book 
publishing and journal article publishing. (But not the biggest 
difference: The biggest difference is that most authors don't yet 
want to give away their books for free online because, unlike all 
journal article authors, they do not write their books 
exclusively for research usage and impact.)

> My main disagreement with Stevan about the virtues of Green OA 
is > that he thinks people can get along just fine with an 
inferior > product.

If people cannot get along without copy-editing (just as they 
cannot get along without peer review) Post-Green-OA, then 
copy-editing will need to be paid for, just as peer review will 
need to be paid for.

(By the way, if Sandy is right about how much people need copy 
editing, perhaps that means that universal Green OA will not make 
subscriptions unsustainable after all, for the Green OA version 
is not copy-edited, and institutions will just keep on 
subscribing to journals because of this need for the copy-edited 

> If he is right about this, of course, then he must accept > the 
consequence that libraries have no business paying extra for the 
> 'value added' beyond peer review that publishers supply and 
should > discontinue their subscriptions to any journals whose 
contents are > all available in Green OA form.

I have absolutely no view on that (though again I can hazard a 
guess). Either universal Green OA will make institutional 
subscriptions unsustainable or it won't.

If universal Green OA does make institutional subscriptions 
unsustainable, then journals will downsize to the sustainable 
essentials (including copy-editing, if that is among the 
essentials) and charge for them on the Gold OA model (out of the 
windfall subscription cancellation savings).

if universal Green OA does not make institutional subscriptions 
unsustainable, then publishing and its costs and MO will stay 
pretty much as they are now.

But, either way, we will have universal OA, at long last.

(See you in Denton TX Tuesday, Sandy, where we will no doubt be 
thrashing  this out further! 
http://openaccess.unt.edu/symposium/speakers )

Stevan Harnad

>>There will be no more new publishing services, apart from peer 
>>review (and possibly some copy-editing), and no more new journals
>>either; 25,000 is probably enough already! And the cost per round
>>of refereeing should not prove more than about $200.