Wednesday, April 07, 2004

Copy editing wins!

The Treasury Department has ruled in favor of a scientific journal that protested the department's restrictions on editing articles from four embargoed nations. (Yes, that's right, fixing even the smallest of spelling or grammatical errors was forbidden.)

The Scientist reports:
The Department of Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) said that "style and copy editorial changes" made in accordance with the standard practices of the Institute for Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE) in its 100+ journals are exempt from OFAC rules regarding Iran, Cuba, Sudan, and Libya.
Other academic groups are not sure whether the ruling applies to them, as well. And many want more answers -- on why the government thinks it's OK to intervene in scholarly publishing, for example.

The New Jersey Star-Ledger reports: "By approving IEEE editing practices -- practices that may differ from those of other publishers, who fear they still could be singled out -- the government is crossing the line and stepping on press freedoms guaranteed by the First Amendment, said the Association of American Publishers, the Association of University Presses and the PEN American Center, in a joint statement."

The Star-Ledger also says that the department said spelling and grammar corrections, along with certain formatting and labeling procedures, are allowed. The IEEE's copy editing is allowed because it doesn't "constitute substantive or artistic alteration or enhancement of the informational material and is intrinsically related to and necessary for its dissemination through publication."

The Treasury Department made clear that the ruling does not apply to peer reviewing or editing done differently than described by the IEEE, which seems to underscore how limited this ruling could be.

>US reverses journal embargo [The Scientist]
>Group allowed to edit articles from embargoed nations [Star-Ledger]


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