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Science Article on Electronic Publishing among Physicists

David Kristofferson kristoff at net.bio.net
Wed Mar 10 17:37:27 EST 1993

FORSDYKE at QUCDN.QueensU.CA writes:

>In article <Mar. at net.bio.net>, kristoff at net.bio.net (David
>Kristofferson) says:
>>>  But my overall feeling is that the proposers are not really biting the     t
>>> Why not set up a fully fledged primary electronic journal?
>>Find us some editors (who could convince authors to submit manuscripts
>>too!) and we'd be glad to.
>          Whether you have Abstracts or a fully-fledged electronic journal
>          you are still going to have readers who want to CITE what they
>          read. Perhaps the first step is to agree on some way of citing the
>          electronicmedia which is in line with the way we cite the paper media
>          Authors will submit IF they know that their work will be cited. They
>          will NOT submit if there is no simple way of citing their work in the
>          paper media. You will recall David that I have previously suggested a
>          citation format by which a day is a "volume" and a second is a "page"
>          This communication could be cited as:
>               Forsdyke, D.R. (1993) Bionet.jrnl.note 308, 1729est.
>                                      (The est should be corrected to gmt.)
>                        Sincerely,   Don Forsdyke

First a note to everyone before commenting on the matter above.  I
have held some discussions with Don Gilbert behind the scenes on
splitting this abstract/preprint newsgroup effort between BIOSCI and
IUBIO and will come up with a proposal for discussion soon.  I'm still
listening to everyone's feedback through the end of the week instead
of injecting myself too frequently into the debate.  Having said the
above I just couldn't resist injecting myself again on this one 8-).


I would suggest that, for an abstract newsgroup, the citation would
properly be to the paper journal in which the actual article appeared.
The citation to the newsgroup posting of the abstract would not

If we are talking about a complete electronic journal, I'm not
convinced that the people will refrain from submitting simply because
there is no standard reference format.  There are two key problems.

(1) If there are no recognized leaders in the field using the medium,
it will not be successful.  Obviously if the leaders decide that they
want to publish electronically, the reference format would be solved
as an aside.  The main issue in determining where a paper is submitted
is the prestige of the forum.  When a new journal is launched it is
far more critical to gather a distinguished editorial board which is
hopefully interested in using the vehicle for their own publications
as well as for those of others.  Given that BIOSCI is networked-based,
it would make the most sense for a group of theoretical biologists who
like computers to coalesce on this for starters.  There was high hopes
for BIO-MATRIX a few years back but this effort fizzled.  EVeryone
loved to talk about electronic publishing but no one wanted to stick
their neck out and **do it**.  This group would not need pictures and
would probably be more likely to agree on a standard format for their
word processors.  In summary, we need a critical mass of recognized
users for a journal to succeed.

(2) It is still a bit of a problem for most biologists to include and
view high resolution pictures on their computers; this is less of an
issue for physicists I believe (the number of pictures in Physical
Review Letters is far less than in Cell - I worked in a low
temperature physics lab many moons ago as an undergrad 8-).

Regarding the format itself, even among paper journals, different
journals use different formats.  As long as your format conveys the
relevant information to allow a person to find the article, why not
just start using it?  If people find it useful it will catch on.  My
format suggestion was somewhat different from yours, but I do not see
it as my individual role to impose a citation format on everybody.  We
can, of course, put out several alternatives to a vote if you wish
(but I'm already running three votes simultaneously right now so
perhaps a bit later 8-).


				Dave Kristofferson
				BIOSCI/bionet Manager

				kristoff at net.bio.net

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