Re:JBAA papers

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Posted by Steve Holmes2 at 01:22 on 2012 Aug 24

Excellent! Two more meaty contributions to reply to. Andrea’s first:-If the Association’s Charter does indeed refer only or mainly to the promotion of observations then there might well be reasons for certain classes of submission to be turned down. However, to have a submission rejected because it is "contrary to the Bye-Laws" is quite different from having it initially accepted and then rejected after review. Submissions in the first category should be rejected by the Papers Secretary or JBAA Editor, and of course there should be information about this in the Guidance to Authors so that prospective authors will not waste their time writing inadmissible papers. However, once a paper has passed this hurdle it has clearly been deemed "appropriate to the Journal" and thus suitable for publication if its content is acceptable.Andrea’s comment a) simply affirms the point I was making at the time: judgements of this sort about the acceptability of a submission can only be the opinion of the person making them, not of the whole membership. This is exactly the reason why perceived popularity must not be a criterion for assessing papers. His comment b) contains what I assume is just a "slip of the pen", when he refers to the popularity of "articles" when I was actually talking about "papers". However, what he ends up by saying is perfectly correct – the popularity of "articles" i.e. submissions of a general or journalistic nature, should very definitely be the concern of the Editorial team as that is what makes the Journal interesting as a whole. It does not apply to "papers" though. One does not subscribe to a solely paper-publishing Journal for the pleasure of reading the papers, but because one feels that information will be gained from them. The JBAA is somewhat different, in that it contains both "articles" and "papers" but, as I have said on a number of occasions, the two classes of submission should not be confused. And no, it is obviously not the case that merely having scientific content grants to a submission the right to be published – but then, I’ve never claimed that it does!Comment c) is, I think, covered by my preamble. Whether or not a certain class of submission is acceptable is a matter for the Association as a whole and the JBAA Editorial Team in particular, but exclusions must be made explicit, not implicit.Finally, I am at a loss to understand why Andrea thinks that amateurs attempting to measure up to professionals is "ridiculous" and "snobbish". We clearly cannot equal the volume or span of their work but we can certainly aim to equal its quality and most particularly (and this was the actual point I was making) their professional standards. The reason why we should all strive to do so may be "beyond" Andrea but I hope it will be only too obvious to the bulk of the membership.Moving on to Richard’s excellent contribution, may I say how pleased I am that someone is at last taking a constructive view of all this and accepting that, just possibly, there might be areas where process improvements can be made. I am also gratified that he found my paper interesting!The suggestions in his last [main] paragraph are all good ones which I feel should very definitely be considered by the Association. As he says, there may be other ways of doing things in this online age. His mention of the other already-existing BAA publications reminds me to highlight my view that some of these might be a better place than the Journal to publish submissions which are not really papers under the standard definition. I do recognise that cost would be an issue if the existing Journal were to be split though, so would re-iterate that publishing both papers and articles in the one Journal is fine as long as the two are not thereby confused.Finally, I would of course be delighted to publish my paper at "arxiv"! I had rather assumed that this archive was the domain of professionals but, taking my cue from my response to Andrea, I would be very keen to use Richard’s expertise to help me stand alongside them – many thanks for the offer. If he could email me some further information at we can see what might be possible.Steve Holmes