frist at ccu.umanitoba.ca
frist at ccu.umanitoba.ca
Thu Oct 4 17:47:49 EST 1990
I would like to offer my 2 cents worth concerning several threads of the
electronic journal discussion. First, the concern has been expressed that
electronic journals will be hard to start because, at first, funding agencies,
tenure review committees etc. won't rank them as being equivalent in value to
'hard copy' journals, even if they subject to the same strict standards of peer
review. Secondly, the issues of cost recovery and standardization have to be
addressed. I, personally, am rather optimistic on these points, because I think
that the following scenario is a likely one for how electronic journals will
First of all, it seems to me that rather than starting electronic journals
(EJ's) de novo (God knows we don't need any more journals!), the EJ's will
simply be electronic versions of the hard copy journals already in existence.
Much of the pieces of this are already in place. Some journals (NAR, CELL)
prefer submission of manuscripts on diskette, and can read a number of word
Indeed, many word processors have the ability to read or write in 'foreign'
formats. In a few cases, this capability even extends to digitized images.
So, to create an electronic journal, we need journals like NAR and CELL to
archive compressed versions of articles for availability via FTP. It doesn't
cost them much (other than disk space) to set up, because most of the work
has already been done! Most likely they will charge a fee for each article
downloaded, with a discount per article if you download a whole issue. At first,
the articles don't necessarily have to come to the user in the exact, final
form that they appear in the hard copy journal. If your word processor can
generate something fairly nice with the characters and graphics you get, that
will often be satisfactory.
These problems will iron themselves out.
As people start to use this service, the demand for translation software will
cause that software to be written; de facto standards in format will also
arise by 'natural' selection, as they always do. As people begin to see the
value of getting fresh, clean copy from their office computer, rather than
having to truck over to the library and use an overworked, abused xerox machine,
more subscribers will be willing to pay for access to electronic journals. As
popularity increases still further, the more innovative users will take
advantage of the fact that having journals in electronic form means that
you can easily scan large numbers of articles by keyword, to find whatever
it is you're looking for. Over time, electronic services provided by journals
will be a significant percentage of the income of these journals. Libraries can
save money too. After all, isn't it cheaper to build a shelf to hold journals
on CD than it is to build a new wing? Who needs all that paper?
By this time, the more innovative journals will have started including
hypermedia concepts into their publications. This will pave the way to
making the computer be what we really want it to be: a general purpose machine
that finds and correlates data in response to queries. Ideally, the
computer can be one big database (although I have a feeling that there is some
sort or square or cube law that makes the interconnections among all these
pieces of data get very complex very quickly).
Anyway, the electronic journal is the place to start, and it should start with
existing journals, as I have described above. In a short time, we'll
wonder how we ever got along without them.
Brian Fristensky | "... and finally, after silent minutes of
Dept. of Plant Science | reflection upon his sparkling image in the
University of Manitoba | mirror, he was forced to come to grips with
Winnipeg, MB R3T 2N2 CANADA | the shameful truth about what he had become:
frist at ccu.umanitoba.ca | an Elvis impersonator."
Office phone: 204-474-6085 |
FAX: 204-275-5128 | from TALES FROM MICKEY'S SUBCONSCIOUS
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