Posted by David Basey at 13:52 on 2012 Aug 02
I had been thinking of posting my thoughts here for a while and in some respects Pauls last post has done that for me. However there is a little more I would like to add as one of Steve’s Silent Majority. First off let me say I have been a member of the BAA for several decades and have consequently read quite a few Journals, usually from cover to cover. That fact alone indicates that I at least am very happy with the mix.Taking Steves two points in turn.THE REFEREEING PROCESS.I have never submitted a paper so I cannot comment on the process first hand but as a customer I have expectations, specifically that whatever is published in the Journal is honest, accurate and true. Not only this, but it needs to be demonstrably so, without this the Journal clearly loses credibility. In practical terms this need translates into some form of refereeing process which is what we have irrespective of whether it is a scientific paper, a review or a Section report on an apparition.Ideally as a customer I would like to see all papers published in a timely manner but we have to accept that in most distributions there will always be a long tail. Now we may never know the reasons for the delay as that lies between the author, the referee and the Papers Secretary. There are I suspect plenty of good reasons for delay, for example illness and lets not forget the fact that all of these individuals have day jobs and give of what spare time they have on a voluntary and unpaid basis.While I understand the reason for Council not entering into discussions on a rejected paper, nonetheless in the interests of fairness there ought to be some method by which disgruntled authors can appeal if they feel they have been unfairly treated. A simple statement of their grievances for consideration by say the Papers Secretary should suffice. It seems unjust to risk losing a valid paper because of say, poor refereeing.SCIENTIFIC PAPER.To my mind we are getting hung up on terminology. But at the risk of being pedantic here are my thoughts.First off, I would agree with the definition that Steve offers of a scientific paper. Clearly within the Journal we have papers that do add to the sum of scientific knowledge and equally we have papers that do not. That really is my point, there are different types of paper all of which have value and nowhere does the BAA state that the Journal publishes papers only of the former kind. The Journal itself only refers to refereed papers not specifically scientific papers. Also, to quote from the Journal page of the BAA website:For 122 years the Journal has published the observations and work of BAA members. It also contains many other articles and items of interest to all amateur astronomers.The Journal is not debased by having a mix of articles rather that is its strength given its function. Do we need to separate them into categories? I think not, surely the Membership is capable of reading an article and telling the difference between one type of paper and another.Apologies for the length of this, the little more I wanted to add in the first paragraph seems to got out of hand.