Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Harvard Crimson PLoS One "Commentary"

Well, the newspaper of Harvard has posted an editorial about what they call "Science in Print." The editorial is disappointingly a confusing mashup of ideas, facts, and flasehoods regarding PLoS One. The Crimson folks criticize online science journals under the idea that none of them are peer reviewed. They take issue in particular with PLoS One because they think it is to have no peer review at all. Fortunately, Chris Surridge, Pedro Betrao, and others have already posted messages to the comments section online about this correcting many of the mistakes in the editorial.

What is most disappointing to me about my undergraduate institution's newspaper's actions is that they seem to have written this editorial without even taking the time to read anything about the system they were criticizing. In doing some google searches I cannot even figure out where they got some of the misinformation they cite regarding PLoS One.

I completely understand people being uncomfortable with some aspects of the PLoS One system. Any change is scary to scientists and to supporters of science. But the experiment PLoS One is carrying out is not about replacing peer review entirely. It is about modifying the peer review system slightly (basically - papers will be reviewed for techincal quality only and not things like novelty) and also about adding a better evaluation system for scientific publications. I confess, I am not sure it is the perfect idea. But the world is a very very different place than it was when the current scientific publishing paradigm was established. We need to try some new ways of publishing if science is to take advantage of the internet driven, blogging, podcasting, mashup, [insert favorite technojargon here], world.

1 comment:

  1. While I think PLoS One is an interesting experiment, I wish it hadn't been done now or by PLoS.

    Having PLoS do it (even for just one of their journals) is asking for confusion to occur among the public. It's radical enough to be open access, let alone open peer review. Let's change one convention at a time.

    Once people realize that the open access movement doesn't mean the end of scientific publication as we know it, then the time will be riper to start questioning whether the current model of closed anonymous peer review is as wonderful as we often like to say it is when we defend the rigor of science over pseudoscience to the public

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