The gap between Open Access and Editorial Quality
Sun Dec 21, 2008
I'm reading a great article by Joe Esposito on Open Access. You can read
The article's main claim is that attention is the barrier to
disemination rather than access. Another claim of this article is that
paid for publishing platforms are good for readers in that they act as
an attention filter.
One of the main claims of the article is that Open Content in a sea of
other content will exist beyond the scope of peer review and editorial
review. That is certainly the case at the moment for the most part.
Beyond Google's search rank, there are few other effective ways of using
machines to rank the quality of content, and certainly none at the
moment that apply specifically to academic content.
I think that one of the issues is that the volume of signals about the
quality of data that can be data mined compared to the data that needs
to be mined is still tiny, and the tools to do this mining almost non
existant. Social signals from tools such as Connotea are only just
beginnig to create traces, but they are still small.
There is a hope that automatic data mining of sources will push out the
need for manual editorial control, and there are platforms out there
with enough computational power to do this, it's just that these
platforms at the moment have much more important jobs to do.
Even when hardware and storage really are commodotized (and the
existence of S3, EC2, AppEngine should leave no doubt in our minds that
this is the way things are going), who is going to write the algorithms
to review papers for us. Perhaps we only need a few people to do this,
and so I shouldn't worry too much about that, but I still don't see this
kind of thing happening for a few years yet.
There is another interesting aspect of Open Access that springs to
mind while reading this paper.
The article does not address the machine redability of published work,
and how restrictions on that type of access can hinder auto-mining of
facts and figures, the aggregate results of which may command
signifigantly more attention than the individual componenets.
Finally Joe has a nice little analysis of the kinds of costs associated
with building new publshing platforms to market.
Alltogether I really liked this paper.