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Source link: http://archive.mises.org/4673/shifting-balance-of-academic-power/

Shifting Balance of Academic Power

February 10, 2006 by

At one time, when the important editor of an important journal killed an article, that was that. Not now.

{ 9 comments }

Stephan Kinsella February 10, 2006 at 11:02 am

Great piece. The article in question, Peter Lawrence’s “Men, Women, and Ghosts in Science”, can now be found online
here.

R.P. McCosker February 10, 2006 at 11:43 am

I imagine the Donald Kennedy in this article — who appears to be the chief villain — is the same Donald Kennedy who was once president of Stanford University (where he notoriously persecuted Steven Mosher and pushed all manner of “political correctness”) and, before that, a particularly destructive Carter administration official.

Kennedy’s last-minute rejection, after earlier acceptance, is obviously disingenuously political. The reasons Kennedy gives, if reasonable, would’ve been apparent many months earlier. It’s revealing, however, that this slimeball lacks enough courage of conviction to state his real concerns.

As good as it is that Lawrence was able to publish his paper on an easily and freely available online source, it’s also true that in the past rejected papers could always to resubmitted to other periodicals. So the whole idea isn’t exactly revolutionary.

The real innovation is that it could go online so very quickly and be read without astronomical subscription prices having to be paid — indeed, no payment at all is necessary. That trend is what is slowly changing the face of science.

Steven February 10, 2006 at 12:09 pm

It is possible that scientific journals who begin to censor in favor of political correctness become less relevant, and that we will begin to see a shift towards sites like The Public Library fo Science Biology. We may see more “long tail” research published on the web.

Tim Swanson February 10, 2006 at 12:39 pm

Not to be too self-gratuitous, but I used the PLoS as illustration of an emerging competitor and viable alternative to the Establishment journals in: Will the University Survive?

Stephan Kinsella February 10, 2006 at 3:46 pm

I suspect we’ll also see a shift toward journals that publish their content online, instantly, and for free, since this offers a benefit to authors over more traditional journals which impede or delay the audience for the author’s paper.

R.P. McCosker February 10, 2006 at 8:41 pm

Stephan Kinsella writes, “I suspect we’ll also see a shift toward journals that publish their content online, instantly, and for free [...].”

True enough, and all the better for scientific progress.

But this begs how university science (and other) departments will adapt their hiring, tenure, and promotion procedures. Since scientists tend to have very restricted knowledge outside their specialties, even within their own academic disciplines, they’ve accordingly tended to rely heavily on the publications records of their colleagues in voting on the latters’ careers. The hurdles, delays, politicking, and hierarchies of the journal world made it relatively easy to tease out survivors from losers in academe.

With the rise of rapid online publishing — and the increased tendency of good-but-heterodox scholars to bypass the prestigious journals and just put out their research for all to see — it will become increasingly less tenable for academics to rely on secretive peer reviewed journals to assess their colleagues. The gatekeepers are losing their advantage, and the world of ideas will be increasingly up for grabs.

R.P. McCosker February 10, 2006 at 8:53 pm

Here’s a link to an old alternative newspaper article that discusses some of the financial and IP aspects of the peer-reviewed scientific journal racket:

http://www.eastbayexpress.com/issues/2004-09-29/feature_8.html

Kimmo Kuusela February 11, 2006 at 4:07 am

PLoS Biology is a part of the so called open access movement.

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