The arXiv has made it easier to settle questions of priority, since all papers are date-stamped.

However, it hasn’t made the problems go away. See

for a depressing story.

Will this kind of thing push us to a situation where incomplete papers are posted on the arXiv just so as to claim priority? That would not be in anyone’s interest. But how to deal with the question otherwise?

About Peter Cameron

I count all the things that need to be counted.
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8 Responses to Priority

  1. Yemon Choi says:

    This does remind me of another story/debate but I think I’m not really at liberty to go into details here…

  2. Yiftach says:

    Peter, it is the first time I see this website Pubpeer, what is it?

    • I’d never come across it before either. Wikipedia says “PubPeer is a website that allows users to discuss and review scientific research”, and the name apparently suggests “post-publication peer review”. The site calls itself an “on-line journal club”.
      Probably this kind of thing will become more common in future. Some electronic journals already allow post-publication comments, but among the more radical suggestions I have seen is the idea that refereeing will be replaced by a system where readers vote a paper up or down, and its score determines its trustworthiness…

  3. Yiftach says:

    I feel that the maths community is quite amicable. Such websites could damage this atmosphere. Making disagreements public usually magnify them. However, I must say I am not aware of any other way to deal with such problems. Are there ethical committees say in the LMS and the AMS? If so, do they only consider complains about members of the these organizations?

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