Here's a short tale about scientific journal editing, to complement my lament about the lack of Editors in Web2.0.  At the risk of being a scientific pariah, I believe some works can be overedited.

After much polishing at my home institute, I submitted a paper for consideration to a scientific journal.  We then went through a quite reasonable set of 3 stages of edits before they declared the paper was accepted for publication.  It then went through one more round of editing by a different editor to match house style.  Then it went to the proofers, for one last round, and I was told it was ready and final.

Oh, and there's 'just one more' set of edits needed.  And after I submitted that, one more set of new edits came while I was offline for a few days.  This caused a brief panic at the journal, because they needed a response right away!

I can accept that things accelerate near the end, but I still find it humorous that responses are needed right away, within 48 hours, on an editing process that spanned over 6 months.

Fortunately, my co-author was able to step in with the final coup de grace.  I didn't check the actual edits requested, since he handled it so ably, and also because his email response told me everything:

I reviewed your suggested corrections and they look perfectly fine to me. Just for l.398, I would put a ":" instead of the ";"  after  "line".
Ah, the dreaded colon-semicolon debate.  All is now clear.

I have the highest respect for the editorial process-- my upcoming
Physics Today opinion piece (August issue) is far stronger than my original submission
because of the work my editor and I put into it.  But I do think things
can be carried a bit too far.

What makes this so utterly ironic is the entire paper has been available as a preprint from arXiv  since it was officially accepted... back in April.  Studies have shown papers in arXiv get cited more than papers with no online preprints because they are more easily available and searchable.  I fear that the actual print publication serves more as imprimatur than anything else.

Alex, the daytime astronomer

The Daytime Astronomer, Tues&Fri here, via RSS feed, and twitter @skyday