Web publishing and Peer Review?

Mike Clark mrc7 at cam.ac.uk
Thu Oct 17 09:08:26 EST 1996

In article <01bbbbc1$9a2949e0$1bc07182 at MyHost.McMaster.ca>, Jim Smith
<URL:mailto:smithjw at fhs.mcmaster.com> wrote:
> Dawn Capp <dmc2115 at tam2000.tamu.edu> wrote in article
> <325A63CE.8C8 at tam2000.tamu.edu>...
> > Capp Scientific offers a free WEB service to research authors who have
> > difficulty getting their work published in scientific journals.
> I find it insulting that Dawn Capp would offer to publish articles which
> had been rejected by peer-reviewed scientific journals on a web site that
> had the word "science" printed anywhere on it.   Journals must employ a
> peer-review process in order to assure themselves, their readers, and
> possibly more importantly, the NON-scientific community ie. the media, etc.
> that what is published is as close to the truth as possible in light of
> today's knowledge.   Any scientist worth his buffer expects to have his
> works rejected or criticized.  This is probably the most important part of
> the scientific process!  
> No "scientist" would have his/her work "published" on such a page as
> suggested by Dawn Capp.   It would lead to erroneous, false, and misleading
> information being placed into the hands of people who would not have the
> background or skills to evaluate it.   No article that has been repeatedly
> rejected by peer-reviewed journals deserves to be published under the
> heading "science", no matter how important the author might think it to be.
>     Jim
Nobel sentiments, and I only wish that they were put whole heartedly into
practice in all situations. However what is fairly obvious from reading the
literature is that the peer review process frequently fails. It is sometimes
hard to contemplate how some papers manage to get published, in reputable
journals, with obvious flaws within them. At other times it is infurriating
when a good piece of work gets rejected for seemingly trivial reasons or
because the referees weren't able to agree.

I think there is a place for publishing on the web but perhaps refereeing is
still called for. I have seen an excellent experiment by an Australian
Medical Journal (sorry I haven't got the URL to hand) whereby they publish
articles on the web together with the referees comments and the authors
responses to these comments. I think making referees fully accountable for
their statements is an excellent idea!

Mike Clark, mrc7 at cam.ac.uk          http://www.path.cam.ac.uk/~mrc7/
  o/ \\    //            ||  ,_ o   Dr. M.R. Clark, Division of Immunology
 <\__,\\  //   __o       || /  /\,  Cambridge University, Dept. Pathology
  ">    ||   _`\<,_    //  \\ \> |  Tennis Court Rd., Cambridge CB2 1QP
   `    ||  (_)/ (_)  //    \\ \_   Tel. 01223 333705  Fax. 01223 333875

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