we're in trouble! - (2 points)

U58563 at uicvm.uic.edu U58563 at uicvm.uic.edu
Wed Jul 6 00:53:59 EST 1994

   Once again I thank the other responders, whose arguments, again, are better
than my own!  But I never could bear to let someone else have the last word...

In article <199407051407.HAA21644 at net.bio.net>, SCHLOSSER at ciit.org (Paul
Schlosser) says:
>Copyright laws are set up so that someone will have the insensitive to produce
>the 1st one.  And it is unreasonable to expect the individual buying that 1st
>copy to cover it's entire cost--better to spread the cost out over all
   Ahem... Aren't you forgetting who is producing the first copy!  How much
money do -you- get for your articles?

>Or, you can have the government (via NIH and/or NSF) pick up the tab, in which
>case everyone pays for it thru taxes.
   They already do.  But why should they be asked to pay, so that a few
specific researchers will have the right to read the research they are also
paying for?  [Well, come to think of it, you're partially right.  Some of the
cost they pay instead in the price of life-saving drugs!]
   In response to your other comments on fees:  I feel that both research and
education are worthy causes, and closely related at all levels.  If a program
must needs offer service for both purposes, and increases efficiency at the
same time, I see no disadvantage to this!  Why should we be eager to fund the
sequencing of a new tyrosine kinase, yet be ashamed to fund the operation of
computer servers sufficient to make this information universally available?
(aside from the sequence itself, that is --- Many thanks to the NCBI server!)

>BTW, one important aspect of journal publication is the peer review process--
>when you find something in a reviewed journal you have some additional
>confidence in it's accuracy.  To replace this we will need electronic
>services where only reviewed articles appear.  While NIH might insist that
   I don't think that we need to hold the review process to be sacred.  The
existing format assumes that only a few reviewers can see the article, and that
an article, once published, can never be changed.  In electronic publication,
it would be possible that anyone could "follow-up" to an article with comments
about it --- and as a bonus those comments would only concern the quality of
the science and the logic of the paper, not whether it is of sufficiently
general interest for the journal.  Also, existing problems with dishonest
reviewers who reject a paper and then publish identical research would be
avoided completely.  Yes, a less rigorous system such as this would leave the
possibility that some uninteresting papers would escape scrutiny entirely; but
how many of us have never considered the data in a preprint until it was
suitably reviewed, or have never had reason to doubt the methods used in a
peer-reviewed paper?  Such a minor loss would seem well compensated by the
increase in speed, and the author's option to amend, explain, expand, or
retract the data after the first "publication".
   Finally, the review process could also continue exactly as it is now in
electronic form.  The "editor" of a journal would choose a list of "reviewers"
who he trusts, who would choose, or review upon request, papers in the database
and make recommendations.  But the only content of the "journal", and their
communications, would be a list of article numbers!* Since these people are
researchers also, I suspect that they would all be willing to do it entirely
for free (as reviewers do now), since the power involved would be well worth
the work.
* Well, and perhaps a few marginal comments by the reviewers, if they really
have more to say than yes or no about the article.

"Get a horse!"  --- Early twentieth century advertising campaign...

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