A recent meeting (May 4 through 7, 1982) of the Council of Biology Editors featured a panel entitled "Symposium Proceedings—Publish or Let Perish?" The description in the program announcement of the panel included the following comments: Although some scientists find these volumes constitute useful syntheses or state-of-the art summaries, others view them as compendia of unvetted results, untested hypotheses, and rehashes of already published material. Proceedings offer a source of revenue to beleaguered small societies and commercial publishers alike, but may enshrine inferior material.
Do the medical sciences benefit from distribution of proceedings, and what are the dangers attendant to publication?
Every few weeks I receive inquiries concerning possible publication of proceedings from a seminar, symposium, or postgraduate course. The requests come from pharmaceutical firms, manufacturers of medical devices, government offices, and foundations. In the great majority of instances, I decline these offers—even though they entail full financial subsidization of