Consensus journals

T80SMS1%NIU at PUCC.PRINCETON.EDU T80SMS1%NIU at PUCC.PRINCETON.EDU
Tue Nov 27 10:55:00 EST 1990


Comments on Stodolsky's proposal for _consensus journals_:

The notion of needing consensus to publish is exactly the
WRONG way to do science.  All that you achieve is the freezing
of current opinion.  Some of the biggest advances in science
have come from those willing to buck the consesus (eg. Pasteur
and germ theory; Wegener and continental drift).  The great
strength of the present system is that almost any idea can
get published somewhere.  Some journals make it a practice to
publish articles that defy the consensus (eg. Evol. Theory).
The review process is useful in bringing out errors of fact and
analysis, unoriginality, or bad writing.  But beyond those
functions, a good editor knows how to separate valid criticisms
from prejudice.  The other problem I see is with the problem
of resolving issues where consensus is lacking.  The thorniest
issues may take years or decades to resolve as typically new
data is necessary for the resolution.  Is the system that you
are proposing able to deal with arguments on this time scale?

I suppose that I have just participated in your review system.
It is an interesting idea, one which I think should be studied
and argued despite the fact that I disagree with it.

Samuel M. Scheiner
Department of Biological Sciences
Northern Illinois University
DeKalb, Illinois 60115
Phone:  (815) 753-7847
Fax:    (815) 753-0461
Bitnet: t80sms1 at niu



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