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  1. In the realm of open access, peer review, endorsement, and notability are pure lies.

    Peer review does not work properly. The reviewer has an impossible task. He can only cover a restricted area properly. So, outside that area he works on the base of intuition rather than on knowledge or fair expert judgment. Thus, many articles pass peer-review in an unjustified way. On the other hand this situation creates the danger of unjustified rejects and stimulates the creation of clique communities.
    The mechanism inhibits the spread of new fresh ideas. Imagine what notability does to Wikipedia. Wikipedia does not contain unorthodox or new fresh ideas.

    This discussion did not yet mention www.viXra.org. It was set up out of annoyance about the endorsement rule and clique-like filtering that is applied by the owners of www.arXiv.org. If you talk about real open access publishing, then it is provided via viXra.
    The future way to earn money for journals is to search such open access sites and report about the real diamond papers, and criticize less trustworthy papers.
    In this way the quality of real free open access sites may increase and open-science gets a chance.

    Lots of scientists work outside large institutions. They are deprived from easy access to articles that are hidden behind the iron walls of publishers that exploit their unrightfully position by requesting high prices for the view of a few pages of an article that in many cases did not bring the quality that was expected.
    For solitary scientists the open discussion sites, such as ResearchGate.com, LinkedIn.com and Science20.com offer a replacement for the communities that are formed by large institutions. Together with the capabilities of internet this is introducing a new trend that might replace the power of current scientific institutions.

    The fact that someone's career depends on citations is becoming an increasing farce. This takes away the importance of the role that publishers have until now. They must start to define a new more positive role.
    • CommentRowNumber2.
    • CommentAuthorScott Morrison
    • CommentTimeMar 6th 2012
    • (edited Mar 6th 2012)

    My limited experience of vixra so far is that it provides an excellent service, by clearly identifying cranks. Obviously this paints with a broad brush, and I haven’t looked at it since shortly after it was founded, but that was my initial impression.

    • CommentRowNumber3.
    • CommentAuthorScott Morrison
    • CommentTimeMar 6th 2012
    • (edited Mar 6th 2012)

    Looking again, at, for example, the topology or geometry sections, I remain pretty confident that submission to vixra is highly correlated with crackpottery.

    • CommentRowNumber4.
    • CommentAuthorPhilGibbs
    • CommentTimeMar 6th 2012
    Scott, congratulations for completely missing the point.

    Yes there is a strong correlation between papers in viXra and low quality work, that's because people would rather publish in arXiv and only use viXra if they have problems there. But that does not mean that there is nothing good in viXra. Many papers in viXra get published in peer review journals. Some are even published in very good peer-reviewed journals. Here is an example that has just been accepted in PRD http://vixra.org/abs/1110.0003

    arXiv also has rubbish papers among its good ones, so what? The real point of viXra is that publishing and peer review are separate things and should be treated as such. There is no reason why any (legal) scientific paper should not be published online. Peer review should be an independent process that then allows work to be reviewed, judged, categorised or rated so that other scientists can readily find good quality work in their areas of interest without having to plough through everything published. This can be done without suppressing controversial papers which some moderator acting on behalf of the scientific community decides is not suitable for consumption.

    arXiv makes the mistake of thinking they need to do this to defend science from crackpots. People then think that because arXiv has an endorsement system and moderators that papers there have some credibility, yet no peer review has taken place. This is all part of the blinkered view that comes from years of treating publication and peer-review as synonymous.

    I'd like to think that the movement to replace greedy journals with a new system will change this attitude but it is clear that many scientists do not appreciate these issues and have a misguided idea that works of science can easily be divided into "crackpottery" and "good science" with just a cursory check. The history of science proves that this is not the case see e.g. http://blog.vixra.org/category/crackpots-who-were-right/ . These are just the extreme examples where discoveries changed the way we see the world, but the same is true in everyday science and the present peer review system is not up to the task of evaluating papers reliably. This is true for many papers written by professional scientists as well as those who submit to viXra. So long as recruiting scientists depends on scanning their CV to see which high impact journal they have managed to get their work in, science will progress like it has a ball and chain attached.
    • CommentRowNumber5.
    • CommentAuthorScott Morrison
    • CommentTimeMar 6th 2012

    Hi Phil,

    sorry, I should have been clearer that I was addressing specifically the claim above ’If you talk about real open access publishing, then it is provided via viXra.’ I think this is nonsense, and viXra as it exists today offers an awful model for how open access publishing should work (specifically, because its signal to noise ratio is so low). Of course I am very keen to move towards a system where people wanting to read research are not faced with paywalls. Personally, I don’t think that the filtering (censoring, however you want to describe it) the arXiv currently does is problematic. Thus I think that the simplest and best way to ensure free access to research is to work really hard to get the entire mathematics community to use the arXiv consistently and effectively.

    If you allow me the claim that the arXiv’s filtering is not a problem (which I know you vehemently disagree with), does viXra bring anything further to the table?

    best regards, Scott Morrison

    (full disclosure, Phil Gibbs runs the viXra blog, and perhaps viXra too?)

    • CommentRowNumber6.
    • CommentAuthorPhilGibbs
    • CommentTimeMar 6th 2012
    Scott, for most people signal in mathematics and science publishing consists of a very small percentage of the whole that is of interest to them. The problem of papers that are low quality is just one small part of that and not one that can be solved easily.

    viXra does not pretend to tackle the problem of trying to help people find the papers that are of interest to them or which they would consider good enough quality. That is something that would require a new form of open peer review. I would love to see that happen. viXra just serves the purpose of making some papers available in a permanent form that could otherwise only exist on peoples blogs where they would have no proof of priority. It has no need to "bring anything further to the table"

    The number of papers going onto viXra is only 1 or 2 percent of what appears on arXiv and for most people there is already a much higher percentage of material on arXiv that they are not interested in, so it would not really affect the signal to noise ratio much in that sense. I find it amusing that scientists often protest that there is too much being published. That is nonsense. They don't even come into contact with more than a tiny fraction of what is published and there is very little of it that is of no interest to anyone. As I said, what is really needed is a system for categorizing, and rating papers so that people can customize their interface to arXiv so that they only see what they want to see. Ginsparg was given a substantial grant a few years back to study possibilities of that sort. A few papers were written but nothing went into practice as far as I know. This is partly because it is difficult, but I don't think it is impossible if the will is there.

    I think what Hans meant is that viXra is open access and free to all authors as well as readers. If you regard publishing as separate from peer-review (as I do) then viXra provides everything that publishing needs. In that sense Hans is right. Peer review is something else that is required but peer-review comes in many forms. The traditional system of journal peer-review is becoming less important compared to pre-publication review or post-publication assessment of citation rates (for example).

    Of course maths is different from sciences such as physics in that it is usually possible to decide whether a paper is right by checking the proofs. There have been fewer controversies in maths than other sciences (although Cantor's work comes to mind) For this reason peer review in maths is a fairly simple process. In some other subjects peer-review may only be able to say that a new idea is viable and consistent but it may still be wrong. We may have to wait for a future experiment to answer the question. This means that a more open system of peer-review can have more benefits. Your point of view may be quite reasonable for mathematics but less so for the wider areas covered by viXra. Personally I would like to see a new system that works for all of science as well as mathematics. The problem of over-priced journals is the same in all fields.

    (yes I was the originator of viXra.org)