Journals, conferences and preprints
Lance Fortnow has an interesting post on why conferences and conference proceedings are so much more important in CS than in older fields like physics.
Lance’s post started me thinking about a topic I wonder about from time to time: the role preprints play in science. At the moment, the main role journals seem to play in physics is resume-building: for grants, hiring and promotion it’s important to get into the so-called “best” journals, like Science, Nature, and Physical Review Letters. Peer review is often mentioned as another function of journals, but there are other ways that can be accomplished (see, e.g. Daniel Gottesman’s sadly defunct preprint review site.) Resume building does not seem to me to be a sufficient justification for the incredible amount of money spent on journals.