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Nicholson, M. (2009). A repudiation of the views on academic publication contained in vsnet-alert 11306. PHILICA.COM Article number 164.

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A repudiation of the views on academic publication contained in vsnet-alert 11306

Martin Nicholsonconfirmed user (Independent Researcher)

Published in astro.philica.com

An analysis of the views expressed on the publication of astronomical results contained in vsnet-alert 11306 shows the views expressed to be both impractical and contrary to established best practice.

Article body

The vsnet-alert list exists to "To distribute alert notices of important phenomena" [1] It is an un-moderated group but self-regulation works well and the vast majority of postings appear without generating any adverse comment. Sadly there are a few users of the facility who routinely post off-topic material. These postings vary in nature from the harmless posting of scientifically valid astronomical material that would perhaps have been better posted elsewhere right through to lengthy personal attacks with not a vestige of scientific reasoning to be seen.

In July 2009 vsnet-alert 11306 [2] was posted by "John". Although hopelessly off-topic it did raise some interesting issues regarding what constitutes publication.

It is not in dispute that the article to which "John" is referring - "Identifying Previously Uncatalogued Red Variable Stars in the Northern Sky Variability Survey" - is available to the public [3] and that the relevant community has been made aware of its existence [4].

The American Association of Variable Star Observers (AAVSO) website also clearly states that, "The eJAAVSO consists of papers that have been refereed, edited, and accepted for publication in the paper edition of the JAAVSO." This means that long term access is in place, particularly so once paper-based publication has taken place.

"John" makes some, doubtless "tongue in cheek" [5], quotes from the article ""I've submitted all this that and the other to AAVSO VSX and this is a note saying so, and here are some lightcurves of about half a dozen of the bestest ones so all the unillustrated 1200+ L: must be as good too honest, therefore I've now published these stars and they are mine despite my not having actually published a table or lightcurves (just a link to a spreadsheet somewhere) nor done any further checks of the literature for them since January 2007".

I imagine the point that "John" is trying to make here is that when 1,233 new discoveries need to be reported what constitutes publication? It is unlikely that any publication would be prepared to publish 1,233 individual lightcurves. Broadly similar papers published by the Open European Journal on Variable Stars [6], such as OEJV #105, show the issues associated with showing more than perhaps six or at a maximum eight lightcurves per page. Publishing 1,233 lightcurves would require over 150 pages!

The adopted solution - publishing a selection with links to the remainder - was the preferred solution of the author, the professional referee and the journal editor.

The final sentence of vsnet-alert 11306 reads, "But the above lot will now be claimed to be published in a peer reviewed journal, you watch and see." "John" is quite correct in this view - the results were published using any standard definition of the word - and the peer reviewed status of eJAAVSO is well established.

[1] http://ooruri.kusastro.kyoto-u.ac.jp/mailman/listinfo/vsnet-alert 

[2] http://ooruri.kusastro.kyoto-u.ac.jp/pipermail/vsnet-alert/2009-July/002914.html

[3] http://www.aavso.org/publications/ejaavso/ej96.shtml

[4] Archive Of AAVSO News 2009 http://www.aavso.org/news/

[5] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tongue-in-cheek

[6] http://var.astro.cz/oejv/

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This Article has not yet been peer-reviewed
This Article was published on 4th August, 2009 at 10:03:00 and has been viewed 3601 times.

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The full citation for this Article is:
Nicholson, M. (2009). A repudiation of the views on academic publication contained in vsnet-alert 11306. PHILICA.COM Article number 164.

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