Learned Inquiry and the Net: The Role of Peer Review, Peer Commentary and Copyright

Abstract
Peer Review and Copyright each have a double role: Formal refereeing protects (R1) the author from publishing and (R2) the reader from reading papers that are not of sufficient quality. Copyright protects the author from (C1) theft of text and (C2) theft of authorship. It has been suggested that in the electronic medium we can dispense with peer review, "publish" everything, and let browsing and commentary do the quality control. It has also been suggested that special safeguards and laws may be needed to enforce copyright on the Net. I will argue, based on 20 years of editing Behavioral and Brain Sciences, a refereed (paper) journal of peer commentary, 8 years of editing Psycoloquy, a refereed electronic journal of peer commentary, and 1 year of implementing CogPrints, an electronic archive of unrefereed preprints and refereed reprints in the cognitive sciences modeled on the Los Alamos Physics Eprint Archive, that (i) peer commentary is a supplement, not a substitute, for peer review, (ii) the authors of refereed papers, who get and seek no royalties from the sale of their texts, only want protection from theft of authorship on the Net, not from theft of text, which is a victimless crime, and hence (iii) the trade model (subscription, site license or pay- per-view) should be replaced by author page-charges to cover the much reduced cost of implementing peer review, editing and archiving on the Net, in exchange for making the learned serial corpus available for free for all forever.
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