Over at Jabberwocky Ethan White has a nice summary of some new ways of publishing. He has a lot to say about collaborative publishing where the reviewers become part of the file. It is interesting. He leaves out Peerage of Science and doesn’t much discuss what is for profit and what is not.
Here is what I wonder. If these things make it easier, will we have more factoids out there in the literature without proper frameworks? Some people are not clear in their papers as to what their data mean. Referees might have useful opinions on this. There may be disagreement and discussion that might be worth seeing in the literature. But so often the referee is simply pointing out that the authors have not put their paper in context. They have not read the literature. They have not cited appropriately. These sorts of things should be fixed. There is no point in hearing about them, or making them public.
So, the review process may be iterative in helpful ways that no one gains by seeing. Even the best authors need to be informed if there are articles they have missed important for framing. Publishing is a tricky business, sometimes controversial, sometimes sloppy. Lets share the controversy but clean up the sloppiness privately.