Fine Structure

Initial Thoughts on Refereeing

I picked up Arjendu's Confused on a higher level blog the other day from Chad and made a little comment on a post about refereeing for expensive journals. I'm still a little conflicted about the fact that high-profile journals seem to effectively do the same job as record companies; controlling their clients' work because it's in their own "best interest" whereas they'd get a lot more eyeballs on their work if it wasn't behind such an absurd paywall. That's not to say I don't recognize the positives behind having a random[1] selection of qualified people commenting on the merits of any particular paper - there's no way a small number of people could understand or even read all the contents of everything submitted to the most popular journals. Similarly, the referee and journal system should make it possible to have a completely unknown author break out with a really excellent paper since we're evaluating based on merit alone. Unfortunately I don't think this is the case for reasons I'm not completely clear about right now.

I'm still trying to come up with specifications for a system that's effective where the current one fails. And this includes my first complaint[2] as well: referees are volunteering their time for free and journals still see fit to charge absurd amounts for subscriptions.

[1] I'm actually unsure if the process is random, I'm just assuming that it would be to weed out any referee stacking in favor of a particular author with influence.
[2] Posted as a comment on Arjendu's blog here