March 30, 2005

Advances in Financial Cryptography

I'd like to develop the idea of a forum for peer-reviewing papers, introduced in a previous post. To recap, I suggested a sort of pre-publication review circle, which was basically derived from Adam's thoughts on non-academic peer-review.

I've found there are about half a dozen papers out there that would enjoy this process. That's a promising start! Each of these papers lacks the polishing gained by peers, and I know myself that I can get my own thoughts down fairly easily but it takes the critical attention of skeptics to move from muddle to polish.

I think there's a definate need. Here are some trial guidelines, but they are just some notes I jotted down. Comments definately demanded!

  • As this blog is about FC, I'll state the obvious and say we're interested in matters financial cryptographic.
  • Let's not rewrite the academic rule book all in one blog posting: the forum is for pre-publication review by peers . That is, our mission is to thrash out your draft document, and help you to present it to some more formal forum. Or not, as the case may be.
  • Let's go with that prior-mentioned stake in the ground and say the presentations should be licensed with some Creative Commons licence or equivalent. At least, that which makes it good enough so that all of us can click on a link, read it and work the content without tripping over the rights issue. Now, this doesn't mean that the author is limited: the author still owns all the work and can re-licence the final paper to whosoever under any open or closed licence as appropriate.
  • HTML preferred. That's just a practical issue, any other format cuts your chance of coments.
  • Comments given are usable! And comments used should be acknowledged according to normal academic principles. (Small comments maybe not. Large comments - at least a "thanks to CutThroat for many Incisive Remarks....".)
  • Submission - mail me as editor with an abstract and a link to the draft. You post it, I'll announce it and we'll talk about it. I'll create a box on the FC blog and list the current contenders. I'll add a category, maybe even a page with abstracts.
  • Content. If it falls into some definition of FC, we'll go with it. People who know me from EFCE recall I have a pretty open definition when it comes to others presenting their work. Also, no slavish attention to academic quality stuff; if you have an article or a whitepaper or somesuch, let's try it.
  • And finally a name: I'm toying with FC++ , with a subtitle of "Advances in Financial Cryptography". Does that slice like cold steel or slap like cold fish? Or perhaps it should be called "Increments in FC" with ++FC ? Any other ideas?

Posted by iang at March 30, 2005 08:28 PM | TrackBack

Great idea. Looking forward to using the forum; there's a lot of stuff to dust off in my digital drawer, and I'm pretty sure that I'm not alone.
"FC++: Advances in Financial Cryptography" sounds good enough to me. "Increments" is a bit forced, IMHO.
Thanks for taking the initiative!

Posted by: Daniel A. Nagy at March 30, 2005 07:16 PM

Great idea I will not contribute because I'm not able to but it would be a great source for learning.

Posted by: Jimbo at March 31, 2005 09:32 PM

Peer review is hard. It takes a major commitment of time and energy. The field is fragmented and only a tiny fraction of even specialists will be interested and qualified to review a given paper. Chances are you will have an easier time getting people to offer papers and ask for reviews than finding people to read them and provide useful comments.

Posted by: Cypherpunk at April 1, 2005 03:21 PM

Cypherpunk, you've stated the problem... we know peer review is hard. When someone sends me an essay to review, it takes me minimum one hard hour to turn it around, more like a day.

What I've suggested is one way to get more peer-review, by opening up to a wider audience. Of course these reviews will lack the stamp of respectability of the academic conferences but that's not their intention. I've found more summed value in (my) peers reviewing my work than I have found from the comments by academic committees. That's perhaps because the academics are looking to signal to other people the quality of what they see, whereas people who comment without incentives and deadlines are more looking to improve the quality rather than signal it to others.

Posted by: Iang at April 2, 2005 01:26 PM

It would be interesting to take a closer look at a very similar project over at D. D. Friedman's website:
The Journal of Interesting Economics

Do you think it was a success or a failure? It surely succeeded in bringing some very interesting economics to my attention. To a large extent, it was D. D. Friedman who made me (and some of my friends) interested in economics and, as a consequence, in financial cryptography. JIE was certainly something that I've always read with interest. However, I don't know how useful it was from an author's point of view. Maybe Nick Szabo, who, AFAIK, is involved with FC as well, could comment on his experience with JIE as an author.

Posted by: Daniel A. Nagy at April 2, 2005 09:57 PM
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