Paper Journals and Peacock Feathers


Shawn Daly suggests that paper versions (and other high-dollar services) from journals have the same purpose as colorful peacock feathers and large antler racks: to demonstrate the owner's superiority and hyper-fitness

In response to GG Ganesh’s comment that paper versions have no purpose in the modern electronic age:

I couldn’t help thinking of a metaphor to the animal kingdom.  There is apparently much research (for me, admittedly gleaned from the Discover Channel and the popular scientific press) that high metabolic investments in boldly colorful feathers and exccessive antlers is a sound evolutionary strategy.  That is, the female of the species can recognize a superior male by the very fact that he can afford the extra food (antlers) or is agile enough to avoid the hightened threat of predators (vivid plumage).  Thus, the more expensive and difficult the hardship the male takes on via his non-functional body parts, the more fit he must be — and worthy of mating with.

By metaphoric analogy, the more investment the journal makes in (arguably?) useless activities, the better it must be.  For example, the paper versions of established journals vs. electronic-only ones.  Highly styled and multiple revision cycles.  Huge and imposing computer entry systems.  In other words, the more difficult the journal is to publish in, the more arcane the system, the more vestigial the processes, the more we subconsciously figure the journal must be good. 

Just a thought out of the ordinary…


Shawn P. Daly, Ph.D., P.E.

Dean, H-E-B School of Business and Administration

University of the Incarnate Word

4301 Broadway

CPO #12

San Antonio, TX 78209