Daniel Lemire's blog

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The insane world of academic publishing

3 thoughts on “The insane world of academic publishing”

  1. In my experience, the dynamics of academic publishing hinge on academics whose careers depend on publication in prestigious journals. In this dynamic, an individual author isn’t doing the journal any favors by submitting a paper to it; to the contrary, the journal makes the decision as to whether it will bless the author by publishing it. And, collectively, the journal provides a service to the academic community by creating an infrastructure for evaluating researchers based on the quality of their submissions.

    There’s a lot to be criticized about this system, but I don’t think it’s fair to heap all of the blame on the journals, when they seem to be doing exactly what the universities want. Indeed, it’s no surprise that the journals depend on armies of volunteers from said universities.

  2. Ragib Hasan says:

    I think even in double-blind reviewing, there should be the option for rebuttals. Some conferences such as CHI and SIGMOD already have this. It gives the authors one more right of reply to incorrect reviews. In many cases, I have seen reviewers completely misread the paper and make an incorrect objection, which can be readily refuted.

  3. Cyril says:

    The criticism of scholarly publishers does not seem particularly new.

    In fact I often saw academic/professional publishers (like IEEE) be promoted as better examples than the purely commercial publishers (like Springer or Elsevier).

    W.r.t. anonymous reviewing, one interesting evolution would be to publicize the name of the reviewers for a paper, without tying them to the actual review (i.e.: Dear Author, your paper was reviewed by Dr. X, Prof. Y and Dr. Z. The three reviews are, in random order: …).

    That way it would still be hard to tell which reviewer wrote which review, but it may promote a sense of responsibility and accountability among reviewers.

    Better yet, publish the names of the reviewers (but not the actual reviews) with the paper: This would in a way provide reviewers some much needed recognition.

    Finally, w.r.t. rebuttals, that’s one advantage of submitting to journals vs. conferences: The journal process usually allows for going back an forth a few times between authors and reviewers.

    Unless the paper is turned down right away, in which case the first reflex should be author introspection rather than reviewer bashing anyway.