www use

David R. Hershey dh321 at PGSTUMAIL.PG.CC.MD.US
Sat Feb 22 22:32:05 EST 1997

In regard to the peer review system, there is no incompatibility with the
internet. The current peer review system could pretty much remain in
place, the only difference would be that the accepted manuscripts would
become available on the internet almost immediately instead of the 
current delay of many months to a year until they are printed and mailed.

The slow, or no, adoption of the internet as a more efficient method of
distributing and archiving journal articles is mainly an issue of money
and to some extent control. Private publishers and many scientific
societies have made substantial profits with paper journals, profits that
they are not willing to part with even though the internet would make the
literature much more widely accessible, easier to use, and instantly
correctable. Imagine, all you would have to do is click on a citation and
you could see a related article. Corrections could also be instantly
appended to articles found to be flawed. Use of internet journals also
would allow almost any small group of scientists to "publish" a refereed
journal for a particular research speciality which would tend to minimize
the power, and membership, of large science societies and private 

David R. Hershey
Prince George's Community College
Largo, MD 20772-2199

email:dh321 at pgstumail.pg.cc.md.us

On 22 Feb 1997, Scott T. Meissner wrote:

>  Dr. Koning and I seem to have a few differences
> of opinion on the appropriate use of the internet.
> 	 I appreciate his sharing his thoughts on this subject.  
> 	My impression that we basically agree on the 
> value of the internet for making connections and 
> its likely importance IN THE FUTURE.  But that we
> disagree somewhat on how quickly will be its rise
> to prominance and to a position where it is equal with 
> the printed journals.
> 	I see the internet as a new type of 
> telephone system.  Part of its strength is its 
> shifting vital nature.  It is able to respond to 
> issues and challenges very quickly.  It also,
> unfortunately, pulls in every opinion no matter how
> irrelavent or informed.  You have only to view the 
> e-mail messages on plant-ed to find evidence of this.
> Plant-ed is a fairly narrowed focused group, with some
> very valuable discussions (like this thread) but there
> are always large percentages of "do you want
> money" or "do I need to water 
> this plant?" sort of messages.  Other regions of the 
> net are even worse.  
> 	Part of the purpose for adopting the peer
> reviewed published literature as the standard for 
> references in our field, in my view, is to attempt
> to filter out lots of the noise and poor quality 
> thinking.  For all its faults, the peer review
> system does improve the literature's quality.  The
> internet does not have peer review as its standard.  
> At the moment it seems to be peer review by the 
> masses, this only worsens the "signal to noise ratio"
> in my view.
> 	The internet can make for discussions at one level
> that are more accessible and perhaps more relevant to persons
> who do not have the technical background or are not
> prepared, or do not want, to deal with the published
> literature.  But is that the standard we should be 
> setting for our students?  In some cases perhaps, but
> for biology majors I think a higher standard than a 
> "village green" discussion is an appropriate 
> expectation.
> 	Further, if students are told that they can 
> cite web sources, when will they ever stand up from 
> their terminals and use the published journals?  
> Also, as I have pointed out, I have yet to find any
> instructions to authors that includes information on
> how to cite a web source.  It is just not acceptable
> TODAY (I agree that this is likely to change) for
> students to cite web sources any more than it is 
> appropriate for them to write a paper in which all 
> their information is from telephone discussions.  The
> standards of publication are higher than this, and 
> i want to be preparing my students for that standard.
> 	The internet assignments I give my students 
> always lead back to the published literature.  A source
> that is referrable, citable, and verifiable.  I do this
> not because I check that they have spelled every author's
> name correctly (though I insist on having this option 
> available to me) but because this is what the current 
> standard is in our field.  And so that I can have a tool
> to help me better guide and evaluate their learning.
> 	I do not wish to imply that it is wrong for 
> students to use the internet to collect information.  
> Nor do I want to suggest that there are not valuable 
> exercises students could do using the internet.  Far
> from it, it is a valuable bridge between a question and 
> an answer.  And, of course, I agree that other professors
> might have differing views on what should be citable.
> I see this as a healthy diversity of views and 
> approaches, part of what makes higher education strong.
> But until the scientific societies, and their editors, 
> come to a consensus on this topic and tell me what 
> sort of web sites can be used as citations in research
> articles I am not willing to accept these sources in the 
> place of peer reviewed published articles that are 
> permanently accessible.  
> 	In order for the concensus to shift it will take
> detailed discussions by the scientific societies on 
> issues of copyrights, access, funding, oversight, and many
> other issues.  Some of these are very complex, and while 
> I expect that they will all be sorted out in time, but 
> this process may take 
> a decade or more.  
> 	So while I totally agree with Dr. Koning that 
> students should learn to use the internet, and how to 
> access information on web pages, I respectfully 
> disagree with him on using web pages as citable 
> sources.  That may come in the future.
> (  Sorry Ross,  [:)      Viva la difference!  )
> Scott T. Meissner, Division of Science and Mathematics
> 	McKendree College, 701 College Rd, Lebanon, IL  62254
> 	Tel: (618) 537-6934 
> 	E-mail: smeissne at a1.mckendree.edu
> Aure Entuluva!

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