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Summary of issues [was: Re: [jox] Chaos or transparency?]

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Hi Athina, Nate, all

OK, I will have a go at mapping the main points of consensus and disagreement.
@Stefan: I tried to summarise your positions, apologies if I mischaracterised anything.
@Everyone else: comments are obviously welcome but if you have not done this already please familiarise yourself with the existing version of the review process.
I only mention problematic aspects below, there are parts which are left out. thanks. 


There should be more precise and timely accountability of editorial actions.
This should appear on list as well as on a special section of the site ("Editor's log"?).


a) Initial stage of submission process

Mathieu: community vetting (via the list) of proposal summaries helps to weed out inappropriate proposals and provide authors with key missing references
potential issues: cost of subscribing to list; cost of receiving too much email; potential misuse of ideas by outside parties before process is complete 

Stefan: authors should post proposals (and submissions?) to restricted part of the site
potential issues: providing access to site to untrusted people (increase in monitoring costs?); no potential to weed out inappropriate submissions by the community; loss of community feedback as not everyone will check in regularly to see the latest submissions

possible suggestion: creation of submission-only list? 
at the same time for me the list is an integral part of the whole project and helps bring the community (for lack of a better word) together; anyone involved should really be interested in submissions; so not really convinced by that idea.

b) posting of full submissions to site

Mathieu: project members
potential issues: none?

Stefan: anyone who wants to? 
potential issues: who decides?; providing access to site to untrusted people (increase in monitoring costs?)

c) communication of reviews to authors

Mathieu: editor acts as buffer to anonymise reviewers at this stage in the interests of maximum frankness unperturbed by hurting personal feelings
potential issues: lack of transparency; overwhelming nature of job?

Stefan: reviewers post their review directly to restricted part site
potential issues: inhibition of frank assessment for fear of offending authors

=> I think this is a core issue.

=> for authors
the advantage of our system is that we are happy to publish a not-great article as long as it is rated or signaled as such. authors may choose not to publish if they don't like their ratings. if all the review process is open from the start this key right for authors is removed.

=> role of the editor
if we want to maximise reviewer honesty there needs to be a buffer betweeen reviewer and author IMO: if reviewers and authors are agreeable reviews can be published after, anon. or not. As I wrote on the tech list this is also about trust... 
If there is too much work with submissions (three so far, including one by me - so not exactly a flood) then other people can come in to act as co-editors (already happening as Athina is editing my paper)

=> in conclusion
I guess what all this boils down to is : is this project (1) a journal about peer production which attempts to use peer production and openness as much as possible or (2) a completely peer production and open project which happens to be a journal?

The discussions we had a year ago led me to believe it was (1). I think a complete application of transparency in reviewing would be harmful to review quality and remove key author rights.
OTOH, once again, I agree there needs to better accountability and record-keeping.

Hope this helps to move things along constructively.


----- Original Message -----
From: Athina Karatzogianni <athina.k>
Date: Tuesday, January 25, 2011 2:05 am
Subject: Re: [jox] Chaos or transparency?
To: journal

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Hi Mathieu, Stefan and everyone

Reading this exchange I am wondering whether we can have a new 
beginninghere, a sort of blank sheet and restart by taking on 
board only what has
been achieved so far, without any other useless baggage.

A review process has been more or less sketched out, and it is 
clear and
feasible at this point what this is, it has been debated for 
over 30
emails. We have reviewed some papers and have sent some papers 
for review so
this is ongoing and soon we can have an inaugural issue 
perhaps.We have an
editorial board, a scientific committee and a functioning site 
we can use to
point people to what the journal is about and discover more 
things to
utilise the site for; perhaps Stefan can oblige us by 
introducing us to what
they are, so we can all use them.

For an effort which started back in March in Hull and is mostly 
done through
email, with a lot of transparent dialogue in a very public way, 
I d say
these are considerable accomplishments.

I would also like to say that we have all contributed a tiny bit 
to this
effort, and Stefan and Mathieu most of all, and thank you loads 
for that. It
would now be a shame to start throwing the toys out of the pram 
because we
are getting tired of the seemingly long and tiresome admin 
usually involved
in this type of projects.

I think it is about offering a new platform, a collaborative 
project we can
all build together, so it is not about who is chaotic and who is 
trasparent,or who is to blame for this and that, this is not a 
capitalist bureaucracy
and no one should be worried about getting it wrong really, as 
no one is
getting fired. Lets try and get along and see how we can make 
this work as
well as possible, given that it is our own time we are spending doing
something we like.

Lastly, perhaps it would help if we can get on some kind of 
videoconferencelike skype, "rebond" and rekindle our vision on 
what this journal could and
should be about for everyone involved.

It's 1 am here so excuse the sentimentality.....



On Mon, Jan 24, 2011 at 11:04 PM, Mathieu ONeil 
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Hi Stefan

I think some of this is attributable to our very different 
personalities> and styles - you are very thorough and I am very 
impatient - and
consequently to how we approach projects: you probably think 
everything> should be documented in great detail, I am happy 
with what works and
certainly don't have the same experience than you with 
software projects;
when you do a magazine or journal (I've done several) you 
don't need to
document everything in great detail; you just want to publish 
interesting> articles.

So upon reflection I agree that solely relying on the list to 
document our
process is not optimal. I will try to use the site more. 
Though to be
honest, I sometimes find it hard to navigate. What may seem 
perfectly> obvious and easy for you is not perceived in the same 
way by everyone.

----- Original Message -----
From: Stefan Merten <smerten>
Date: Monday, January 24, 2011 6:59 pm
Subject: [jox] Chaos or transparency?
To: journal

Hi project!

From all I saw so far from Mathieu he really prefers chaos. Or
do you
have an up-to-date overview over all the submissions and 
their state?

Yes, that would be my last two emails on the topic...

What we actually have is a mail by Mathieu once in a while 
where he
says what he currently thinks the state of things is. And it
feels to
me that he changes his mind every week.

This is interesting to say the least. Is there any evidence to 
back it up?

Well, I learned that transparency is not only necessary for 
democracy> > but even more so for peer production projects (like 
I thought
this one
should be an instance of). Therefore at least to me it is 
absolutely> > crucial to change the situation.

I tried to built the web site so it allows for maximum
transparency on
the one hand and fine-grained management of publicity of texts
on the
other hand. It is designed to have a comprehensible structure
and to
be easy to maintain - if you want it. From a technical point 
of view
it is easy to have all this - if you want it.

Sure. Like I said above, it may seem really easy to you, but 
to me some
aspects are quite obscure. Frankly I find it quite clunky 
compared to other
website software I have worked with such as wikis (Wikipedia, P2P
Foundation) or blogs (Wordpress); though it may offer site 
management> functionalities that these others don't.

Well, things reached a point where I need to make a personal 
decision.> > If the rest of the project agrees with this rule of 
chaos then
it is
fine with me. However, I'll stop putting energy in this project.

Guess what, I've wondered the very same thing over the last 
few months: can
I keep working with someone whose reply to a direct question 
in an email I
sent may come in a week, or a month, or more. Everyone has 
their own rhythm
and all, but this is the first time I've had that experience. 
To be honest,
I have found this incredibly frustrating at times but have 
always bit my
tongue (until now) for the good of the project. I would never 
presume to
call this method of working "chaotic", maybe you can come up 
with something?

If you would prefer transparency, however, I'll try to 
continue to
persuade Mathieu of solutions which build transparency as easy
as a
finger snip.

OK, I'm all for transparency as well, though I can't help 
noticing that you
want submissions to be non-transparent. At the same time, I'm 
the editor of
the journal, so I get to select some reviewers and to tell 
people what I
think about their papers. This seems to me pretty normal.
I will obviously also be put in a position where some people 
contact me
directly and I may acquire more information than everyone else 
over specific
issues. Then again I have always reported on everything that 
was going on.
If you look around the Internet at webzines, online 
newspapers, academic
magazines, I'd be interested for you to point me to an example 
of a
similarly open approach to editing a journal? I'm not saying 
there aren't
any, I'm just saying I really don't think I'm being that secretive.

One thing I did wrong (and I'm not saying that was my only 
mistake) was in
relation to George Dafermos' early suggestions for the review 
process: I
agree that I should have stated more clearly why I thought 
they were not so
appropriate (old, some already published elsewhere). These 
were originally
meant to test the peer review process: but since then we found 
original> stuff to work with which we can actually publish. If 
George or anyone else
has original material which they want to submit please do so.
@ George (if you are reading): sorry for not dealing with this more

So to sum up I agree to try to use the site more. For my part, 
I would
appreciate a little gesture once in a while along the lines of 
"really busy
right now, will respond to this email later".



Comments are wholeheartedly appreciated.



Dr Mathieu O'Neil
Adjunct Research Fellow
Australian Demographic and Social Research Institute
College of Arts and Social Science
The Australian National University
email: mathieu.oneil[at]

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Dr Athina Karatzogianni
Lecturer in Media, Culture and Society
The Dean's Representative (Chinese Partnerships)
Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences
The University of Hull
United Kingdom
T: ++44 (0) 1482 46 5790
F: ++44 (0) 1482 466107,_culture_and_society/staff/karatzogianni,_dr_athina.aspx

Check out Athina's work

Russian hackers

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Dr Mathieu O'Neil
Adjunct Research Fellow
Australian Demographic and Social Research Institute
College of Arts and Social Science
The Australian National University
email: mathieu.oneil[at]

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