Electronic Journals in Biology -- Is it time?

Dan Diaz bl275 at cleveland.Freenet.Edu
Wed Apr 29 18:36:09 EST 1992

A recent issue of Nature has an editorial discussing the
inevitable movement of journals from print to electrons.  I have
not seen any discussion of this subject on the Bionet, and
wonder why it is that we have to wait until the publishers of
journals decide to go electronic when those in other sciences
have forged ahead in a grass-roots effort.

Our bretheren in physics have taken to electronic communication
of results, especially in the rapidly advancing area of
superconductivity research, but also in cosmology and string
(if you can call string theory a science).

Who needs damned peer review so that the Journal of Aren't We So
Hot can charge you for each page and publish it two years later.
Without peer review, a lot more shit might get published, but
perhaps people will take the initiative and send manuscripts to
respected colleagues before submitting them to the Bionet Open
International Electronic Journal of Biology?  Or, you can post
a message announcing that you have submitted a paper to a print
journal but will send copies of your unpublished manuscript (or
make them available via anonymous FTP, etc) to anyone who
wants a copy.

The gurus can take care of details like grouping papers into
catagories, etc.  Searching for topics of interest should not
be difficult.  As I said, the physics types have been doing this
for years, and we're smarter than they are.

Electronically published papers would be considered as equivalent
to printed ones in consideration for promotions, etc.  Phaps
this will make tenure committees look deeper into the
quality, and not the length of your CV.  It would also be
accepted that publishing results in electronic form denotes your
willingness to share materials described (including plasmids,
cells, coordinates, etc) with those who ask.  Violators would
be promptly announced to the entire community on a bulletin
board of naughty hoarders of information and reagents.

The time has come for scientists to take control of the 
transmission of scientific data away from greedy publishers who
care nothing for science.  We are mature enough to deal with
peer review our own way.  Electronic journals are not far
away;  we can decide their future, or have someone else decide
for us.

Dizzy Dan
Dizzy Dan   ddiaz at cwru.bitnet   bl275 at cleveland.freenet.edu
Department of Buy-Oh Kemus Tree and Political Satire
(Get off my) Case Western Reserve University & Singles' Bar
"First prize: A week in Cleveland! Second prize: Two weeks!"

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