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Re: Electronic availability

As a publisher I cannot resist chipping in here. I do find the debate
between David and Tony highly realistic. I want to muddy the waters a
little with a few points about (bad) journals and (good) papers.

1. Most publishers really want to publish good journals and put a lot of
effort trying to encourage their editors, upgrading their editorial boards
and find ways of enticing good people to contribute. The result is that
some good papers go into almost all journals.

2. New journals are particularly liable to get some good papers in early
issues where the editorial board are lent on and they themselves lean on
their friends and dependents. It is interesting how much more willing good
scholars put into such journals good papers if they are already tenured or
have an assured position.

3. Many scientists in a hurry can be tempted by journals which promise
quick publication if they have something burning to get into print and
have been turned down by Nature. The word "Letters" in the title is a big
enticement - even if it means little.

Anthony Watkinson

----- Original Message -----
From: Tony Ferguson <ferguson@columbia.edu>
To: <liblicense-l@lists.yale.edu>
Sent: Tuesday, October 05, 1999 11:40 PM
Subject: Re: Electronic availability

> David, I hesitate to respond but I can't let your comment go:
> Columbia's selectors can differentiate between good and bad but I am
> commenting on the enormity of the problem.  We have 30,000 plus journals.
> Some of those journals are better than other -- but still not totally
> great.  Some of those journals are less than great, but we have them for a
> multiplicity of reasons -- and some articles in these journals are
> excellent.  Many articles simply perform the function of helping scholars
> get tenure so that they can do more research on another day.  Elsevier and
> all publishers all have journals in both categories.
> At the same time, with many thousands of researchers and tens of thousands
> of students, we can have only an incomplete picture of their needs.  Our
> scholars need information -- their job is to sift through it to find that
> which helps their research.  Librarians cannot play the part of an
> informational deity who, knowing all, can pick journals which will hold
> only the good articles.  We do the best we can -- but let's not take
> ourselves too seriously.  Researchers like big libraries because they get
> to sift through more information. Actually, most would like to own it all
> themselves but they are happy to come to us when their own collections,
> and those of their friends, fail.  Tony