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Re: Scientific Literature
> Date: Mon, 3 Sep 2001 12:11:27 EDT
> From: MKIRKALDY@aol.com
> < The article also discusses a boycott of established journals which
> do not make their contents immediately and freely available on the
> I don't see anyone passing up the opportunity to publish in Nature
> or Science just because the full content is not available to
Not yet, no, because these journals carry so much weight. Whether
that will remain true if/when the internet journal comes on-line (with
proper peer reviewing etc.) remains to be seen.
> < End of copyright restrictions on at least one class of
> information, it seems. No more reliance on interlibrary loan or
> unaffordable cost for a single book (eventually) or journal. >
> _Someone_ will have to pay for this, though. If print journals get
> no revenue, why would they continue to publish?
Why indeed. Maybe they won't. Would that be such a disaster?
I am serious, not just playing devil's advocate. Traditional journals
have played a wonderful role in advancing scientific knowledge in the
pre-internet era, just as hand-copied manuscripts did in the
pre-printing press era; but we must be careful not allow ourselves to
fall into the trap of thinking just just because things have been done
a certain way in the past (paper publishing) they will, or should be,
done that way in the future.
Folks, the medium is _not_ the message. The message is the message.
The reasons that internet-based information is generally mistrusted on
this list -- sometimes emphatically -- are two-fold. One is just the
purely psychological barrier of accepting that legitimate, reliable
scientific information can really be found on this upstart medium --
and that objection will fold when the second one is addressed. That
second objection, the "real" one if you like, is the lack of a
trastability infrastructure in web-based publishing -- the absence of
sites that are known and trusted in the way that the senior journals
are trusted. Looks like the new initiative might be addressing this.
However, there remains the issue of who will pay for "free" material.
That needs to be addressed, and will be. The costs of hosting a web
site -- even a really big one -- are much less than those of creating
and distributing a paper publication, but they do still need to be
One possibility is that people downloading the material will pay for
their copies. That works for me -- so long as it's quick and easy to
do it, and I can pay for only the papers I want, I have no problem
with this model. (Of course it's _much_ easier to provide this sort
of selective subscription on an internet service than a paper-based
I would guess more likely, though, will be annual subscription to the
archive, with unlimited downloading allowed and invited. That's the
route BioOne is going. I hope, though that whatever emerges in this
larger initiative is more flexibile than BioOne which (so far as I've
been able to discover) has NO facility for individuals to subscribe --
only organisations. Which creates a real problem for unaffiliated
individuals such as myself.
> The authors may end up with an electronic page cost that equals
> current print page charges, or there may be a fee to access the
> "free" information service.
Whatever happens, I hope we can stamp out the ludicrous practice of
charging authors for the right to give away the fruits of their
research! "Vanity publishing" must die! :-)
Bottom line: this is not a threat, it's an opportunity.
/o ) \/ Mike Taylor | <firstname.lastname@example.org> | www.miketaylor.org.uk
)_v__/\ "Thou shalt run `lint' frequently and study its pronouncements
with care, for verily its perception and judgement oft exceed
thine" -- Henry Spencer's 1st Commandment for C Programmers.