Re: SOC/SCIENCE: Something Rotten at the Core of Science?

From: Amara Graps (
Date: Wed Apr 25 2001 - 18:02:57 MDT

> Right now the journal system is in the
>process of change as net publications are emerging and challenging the
>traditional paper journals,

Following that thought -

I learned last Fall from an article in Physics Today (1) that several
subfields of physics almost completely bypass the paper journals and rely
on the Los Alamos Preprint Server ( In particular,
the string theorists and the condensed matter theory folks. These researchers
check the lanl archive every day for new information. They post all their
papers there, cite references by archive number, use the search engine to
find other papers, and need little or no other publication service. It costs
the users nothing, is self-organizing, and is far more 'democratic' than
the paper journal process. Apparently lanl is the biggest driver forcing
a complete reavluation of the role of journals.

The author does claim that perhaps the string theorists are not characteristic
of mainstream scientific research: their research are in a world of their own,
distantly removed from other branches of theoretical physics.

About referreeing- this author states that the large part of the expenses
of editorial offices of journals is spent in reviewing papers. The string
theory folks say that that referee effort is not necessary- that the bad
papers at the Los Alamos archive are simply ignored. The papers that are
interesting and controversial attract instant attention and thus,
effectively _intantly_ refereed. However, the author states that, even
with the problems of paper journal refereeing, the quality of the paper
is always improved, which I would agree with, from my own experiences.

The author of the article states that there is progress toward merging
journals from the American Physical Society with the Los Alamos e-print
archive, and he expects that ultimately the nonrefereed part of the system
will be the predominant mode of real-time scientific communication, and
that the refereed part will become more selective, emphasizing in-depth
analysis and reviews and providing a mechanism for authenticating the
validity and priority of research results.


(1) August 2000 _Physics Today_ (pg 35-38) "Physicists in the New Era of
Electronic Publishing" by James Langer

merging discussion between APS and LANL:

Amara Graps email:
Computational Physics vita: finger
Multiplex Answers URL:
"Whenever I see an adult on a bicycle, I do not despair for the
future of the human race." -- H. G. Wells

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