In “Supplemental or detrimental?: Journals debate the value of supplemental materials”, Michele Solis reports at The Scientist (24th February 2011) on the problem material supplemental to journal publications, available only online, materials publication creates for peer review, and the bold step Journal of Neuroscience and several other journals have taken by just abolishing it:
Editor-in-chief John Maunsell argued in an editorial that the escalating amount of supplemental materials had begun to devalue the peer review process.[ … ]
“More data, in and of itself, is always a good thing — if there aren’t adverse effects,” said Maunsell, who is also a neuroscientist at Harvard University. But peer review was becoming less effective because many reviewers failed to evaluate the supplemental materials, which the journal wasn’t even required to provide, he explained. “We were taking a hit on peer review for something that wasn’t formally our responsibility.”
He calls it a “supplemental arms race.” A Cell Press editor also nixed the “limitless bag of stuff.”
That’s just the trouble. Absent anyone who wants to spend the rest of their life peer reviewing Schmoe’s Big Excellent Ongoing Project, someone needs to insert a full stop. Schmoe can put whatever he sees fit on his Web site, but no one except his grad students is expected to pay attention.