Tuesday, May 26, 2015

How many friends have we over there?
The border guards fight unconvincingly

Dear Frontiers Editorial staff
Thank you for the recent invitation to review the manuscript [XXXXXXX]. I have regretfully declined it on the grounds of my total ignorance of the field of cultural psychology, just as I have regretfully declined your eight previous invitations to review manuscripts in the field of cultural psychology.
Choosing a Reviewer
I am compelled to wonder, when researchers in cultural psychology send you a manuscript, do they know that you are going to send it out for a vision scientist to decide whether it merits publication? More to the point, if I send you a manuscript on cross-cultural colour linguistics or facial-expression perception or form-and-hue interactions in V1 processing, are you going to solicit feedback from a cultural psychologist?
So many choices!
The Frontiers Open-Access publishing company makes much of its distributed decision-making process, which (for instance) reduces the centralised role of the Editor-in-Chief of each journal. Thus the assignment of reviewers to manuscripts devolves to the pullulating hordes of Associate Editors, and from there to the intuition of authors that particular experts might be appropriate to judge their work (and the self-report of reviewers that they might be appropriate to judge specific authors), all made impersonal and impartial by concealing the process beneath Markram's Algorithmic Sauce.

This certainly has the advantage that papers such as Bradstreet et al. (2014) which might never have passed the strait gateway of more conventionally-controlled journals, have found their way into the public domain to enhance the gaiety of nations. It also allows the publishers to bypass Editors completely through the guest-editored "Special Issue" system (which to a jaundiced onlooker might closely resemble a form of multi-level marketing), resulting in the recent loss of editors en masse. However, from my perspective it has the disadvantage that I am repeatedly spammed with these spurious invitations. Perhaps Henry Markram could be called away from his day job of pissing away EU neuroscience research funds and alienating EU neuroscientists, and invest some time in adjusting his special distributed-reviewing algorithms so that they work in a halfway competent fashion?

I am given to understand that when I first agreed to look at a manuscript for the Frontiers stable, you created an entry in your reviewer database for me... which evidently lists my specialty as "cultural psychologist". I am now expected to grapple with a counter-intuitive morass of fugliness masquerading as an "interface" and edit this entry to reflect my actual areas of expertise -- without payment for my time -- rather than the editorial staff performing this task on the basis of my previous reviewing assignments and my published CV, as part of the job they are paid for.

I have a better idea, or at least one which involves less effort for me, which is that you stop asking me to review manuscripts.
Love, Smut
UPDATE: Thanks, fish


ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

I see what you're saying, S.C.

ckc (not kc) said...

from WP The main tenet of cultural psychology is that mind and culture are inseparable and mutually constitutive, meaning that people are shaped by their culture and their culture is also shaped by them.

...my shoes hurt my feet until I've broken them in (references provided on request)

Smut Clyde said...

my shoes hurt my feet until I've broken them in
You need to wear the shoes of someone who disagrees with you, and walk in them for a mile, and how are they going to catch up with you then?

New title, because Magazine.

Smut Clyde said...

I see what you're saying, S.C.

Spider colour-vision links are always appreciated but you could always help Jennifer yourself, you know.

ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...


M. Bouffant said...

I s'pose you may've seen this already, but if not ...

In her new book Outside Color, University of Pittsburgh professor M. Chirimuuta gives a serendipitously timed history of the puzzle of color in philosophy

Smut Clyde said...

Hadn't seen it, but there's nothing new there. I couldn't quite see the "serendipitous timing". Or what Adelson's monochromatic demonstration of lightness anchoring has to do with the status of colour.

fish said...

You are welcome and totally my pleasure.