Disaggregating quality judgements
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The notion of quality is analysed for its functional roots as a social heuristic for reusing others’ quality judgements and hence aiding choice. This is applied to the context of academic publishing, where the costs of publishing have greatly decreased, but the problem of finding the papers one wants has become harder. This paper suggests that instead of relying on generic quality judgements, such as those delivered by journal reviewers, that the maximum amount of judgemental information be preserved and then made available to potential readers to help them find papers that meet their particular needs. The suggestion is that: multidimensional quality data be captured on review of papers, this information is stored on a database, and then used to filter papers according to the criteria set by the searcher—personalising the quality filter. In other words the quality judgements and subsequent use are maintained in a disaggregated form, maintaining the maximum informational context of the judgements for future use. The advantages, disadvantages, challenges and possible variations of this proposal are discussed.
KeywordsQuality Heuristic Bottlenecks Commonality Search Filtering Judgement Customisation Academic publishing
Thanks to all with whom I have discussed these ideas, including all those at the “Quality Commons” workshop in Paris, as well as David Hales, Dirk Helbing and Mark Jelasity. Steven Harnad must be credited with launching the debate concerning changing how academic ideas are disseminated (Harnad 1998) but he argues with me concerning the importance of the traditional editorial process.
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