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Peer-Editors and Peer Review

> Dear Steven,
> I believe what is missing from nearly all conversations about scientific
> publishing, including the [editorial cited] below, is the importance of editors.

Johnston, Mark (2009) Editorial:  Reclaiming Responsibility for 
Setting Standards. Genetics 181: 355?356 DOI: 

Dear Mark,

I agree completely that a qualified and conscientious editor who 
reviews the submissions, selects the peer reviewers, and 
adjudicates the reports and revisions -- the "primus inter pares" 
to whom both authors and referees are answerable -- is an 
essential component of peer review, as you state in your informed 
and impassioned editorial, cautioning against journals run 
instead by professional editors rather than practising scientists 
and scholars.

> Everyone bows to peer-review, but few seem to understand or acknowledge the
> importance of editors to distill those reviews and adjudicate the reviewers"
> opinions.? That is the real (and essential) role of journals.

You are absolutely right. Peer review is only as effective as its 
editor. (And once text-generation, access-provision and archiving 
is offloaded onto institutional repositories, peer review -- 
including the crucial role of the primus inter pares -- will be 
not only the real and essential function of journals, but the 
only one.)

Harnad, S. (1998/2000/2004) The invisible hand of peer review. 
Nature [online] (5 Nov. 1998), Exploit Interactive 5 (2000): and 
in Shatz, B. (2004) (ed.) Peer Review: A Critical Inquiry. 
Rowland & Littlefield. Pp. 235-242. http://cogprints.org/1646

> The lengthy thread [here] only alludes to (quite briefly) the importance of
> editors for marshalling fair and effective peer review:
> > SH:
> > "what"s important is that it really provides answerable, interactive peer
> > review, as a precondition for certification at the body"s known quality
> > level"
> I attach my [editorial on] the importance of (peer) editing to science.? I
> sincerely believe peer-editing is the foundation of science and must be
> defended.

Bravo for your editorial. I think Open Access can help restore 
the peer-editor to the role they had played in the best journals 
(and, in a few, still do), by focusing journal publication on its 
sole essential function in the online/OA era.

Harnad, S. (2009) The PostGutenberg Open Access Journal. In: 
Cope, B. & Phillips, A (Eds.) The Future of the Academic Journal. 
Chandos. http://eprints.ecs.soton.ac.uk/15617/

Stevan Harnad

> Sincerely,
> Mark Johnston
> Mark Johnston
> Editor-in-Chief
> GENETICS (the peer-edited journal of the Genetics Society of America)
> http://www.genetics.org