Tuesday, May 30, 2006

PLoS One

Relevant to the long thread about ArXiv, etc., is an article in the current issue of WIRED magazine about Harold Varmus, the mastermind behind the Public Library of Science, and his battle for open access to science. It's pretty standard stuff, and if you're a biologist with a pulse, most of it isn't news.

Except for this.

"This summer, Varmus and his colleagues will launch PLoS One, a paperless journal that will publish online any paper that evaluators deem 'scientifically legitimate'. Each article will generate a thread for comment and review. Great papers will be recognized by the discussion they generate, and bad ones will fade away."

Sounds good to me. But I hope the sorting process is more complicated than that. A crappy paper might generate a lot of discussion because it's so bad. One the flip side, some papers are so clear and compelling that there's not much to say besides, "Yep, you got it." Since any idiot who has spent five minutes online can perceive that this might be a problem, presumably the PLoS folks have thought of it and have a solution.

I also wonder if the comment threads will be open to anyone. This is a big chance for creationists to be a real nuisance, then get kicked off, then complain that science is slanted.

Oh well. We'll find out soon enough.

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