Monday, June 18, 2007

Nature Preceedings - WTF?

Nature Precedings They say:

Nature Precedings is a place for researchers to share documents, including presentations, posters, white papers, technical papers, supplementary findings, and manuscripts. It provides a rapid way to disseminate emerging results and new theories, solicit opinions, and record the provenance of ideas. It also makes such material easy to archive, share and cite. We accept submissions in most areas of biomedicine, chemistry and the earth sciences. In particular, we will not accept submissions describing the results of clinical trials or those making specific therapeutic claims. (More general claims, for example that a certain line of basic research may have clinical potential, are usually acceptable.) The reason for excluding such material is that Nature Precedings content is not peer-reviewed before publication, and the consequences of potential misunderstandings or misinformation are obviously more serious in clinical medicine than in other fields. Once again, Nature Precedings content is not peer reviewed before publication. This service is intended to provide a more rapid and informal communication system than that enabled by scientific journals, and in this sense is complementary to them. Many of the findings you read here may be preliminary or speculative, and remain to be confirmed. Please bear this in mind when deciding how seriously to take them. Content that we consider to be non-scientific or pseudoscientific will also be rejected. We will only accept genuine contributions from qualified scientists. This will usually require submitters to have a recognised academic affiliation.

I say:

Is this progress? It's easy to understand why Nature Publishing is panicking over open access publishing, and might want to spin out a web 2.0 site like Scintilla, but Preceedings feels wrong. Not peer reviewed? OK, I'll just post to my blog then ...

1 comment:

  1. Nature Precedings needs to have a good rating system for open, community-based review to work well. Currently, submitted articles can be voted for, but that does not tell one how many would have voted against it. Nor does one get to know the negative points unless they go through the whole article themselves. Such negative points may have been mentioned in some comments but they are not easy to spot. Further, one is usually disinclined to write textual comments unless one has a strong interest to do so.

    With open preprint systems, being able to find useful and reliable ideas and data in articles is perhaps more important than being able to submit one. This becomes apparent as the number of articles increase, when searching can return hundreds and thousands of articles. One can’t go through all of them, and a few ‘bad’ articles can easily cause frustration and distrust in the quality of the submissions.

    But if search criteria can include objective measures of article quality, then one can indeed easily find valuable material. Nature Precedings should therefore opt for a point-based rating system where different aspects of articles can be appraised.

    Thus, instead of just letting one vote for an article, one should be allowed to rate its different aspects on, say, a 1-5 scale. Such aspects can include:

    1. clarity
    2. originality
    3. novelty
    4. presence and quality of experimental data
    5. logical procession
    6. depth
    7. proper referencing

    In effect, this would be a proper peer-review system.

    The ratings, both their average and their spread, should be displayed alongside articles.

    A good review/rating system will discourage submission of bad articles, build trust in the usability and reliability of content in Nature Precedings, and encourage quality submissions.

    (similar comments posted elsewhere on the web by me)