The purpose of a working paper series is to make scientific/academic papers available to the community before they are published in their final form. This serves two purposes:
The first is to get useful information out as soon as possible. Readers who are aware of the politics of publishing in areas related to tobacco and harm reduction will know that worldly politics, not scientific validity, typically determines what gets published. Thus, authors writing in heterodox areas (e.g., suggesting that reducing the risk from using nicotine is a useful public health intervention, rather than just telling smokers they are doomed to die if they do not just quit) often find their papers rejected for being "politically incorrect" numerous times before they are published. A working paper series ensures that the world will have access to the research results sooner, rather than eventually.
The second purpose is to provide readers with a chance to comment on the papers before they are finalized. Please send any comments you have to the author of the paper or post them to the discussion forum (linked from each working paper's page). We will try to incorporate useful suggestions into future drafts and offer acknowledgments for the suggestions where appropriate. Once a paper is published, we will note that on its page, at which time there is obviously less that can be done with comments, but they are still welcome.
Anyone familiar with standard practice in most sciences will be familiar with working paper series, or just informal circulation of working drafts of analyses, being used to solicit comments. In many areas of scholarship, it would be unheard of to submit a paper for publication before soliciting comments from many readers and making additions and corrections based on them. Unfortunately, in health science there is a tendency to rush papers out to journals as soon as the data is available. Even when public health research is presented at conferences (a potentially great opportunity to get feedback), it has typically already been submitted to a journal for publication and thus is unlikely to benefit much from comments. Thus, the quality of health research is constrained by the knowledge, imagination, and available time of one or two authors, two outside reviewers who may or may not give it much thought, and perhaps a journal editor or two. This explains much about the typical quality of publications in the field.
Note that as part of a broader effort to do something about this problem Some of us are developing a broader health research working paper series that will cover other topics. Contact us if you would like more information.
The TobaccoHarmReduction.org working paper series welcomes papers from anyone writing on relevant topics, not just those affiliated with our working group. If you would like to post a paper in the series, please contact us through this email. We will screen it only for effective communication and basic coherence; we impose no requirements about the authors' affiliations or credentials, and since this is a scientific collection, not propaganda, we certainly impose no requirements about the conclusions that are reached (i.e., so long as it is a coherent and substantive analysis and on topic, we will post it, even if we do not like the conclusions).
Back to Working Papers Main Page.