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Prior publication: PNAS policy

Stevan Harnad harnad at cogito.ecs.soton.ac.uk
Fri May 7 14:14:28 EST 1999

On Fri, 7 May 1999, D. R. Forsdyke wrote:

> Since a paper on the WWW can always be altered electronically by
> someone with access to the file, it is not "fixed content". 

If you are speaking about physical possibility, paper and CD-Roms can
also be altered by someone with access to them. The protective, in all
cases, is redundancy, back-up, public date-stamping, distributed coding
and encryption.

> It may or may not have been reviewed by others, in a formal or informal
> sense.

Correct, and if it has been, it can be so tagged, in as secure,
official and encrypted fashion as you deem necessary as "JX"
"Officially refereed, accepted and published in Journal X," or, if not,
as "U" Unrefereed preprint.

> It may or may not contain sufficient detail to permit replication of
> results.

As always, this is something for the referees to judge and ensure. See

> Until we can make an electronic form "hard" like GenBank (which
> exists at at least three independent sites)

Redundant, distributed archiving is the obvious method.

> an electronic publication is a non-publication as far as PNAS is
> concerned.

The classical criteria of refereed journal publication are as readily
met by eprints as paper.

> More importantly, it has to exist in a citeable form.

See, for example:


Stevan Harnad                     harnad at cogsci.soton.ac.uk
Professor of Cognitive Science    harnad at princeton.edu
Department of Electronics and     phone: +44 1703 592-582
Computer Science                  fax:   +44 1703 592-865
University of Southampton         http://www.cogsci.soton.ac.uk/~harnad/
Highfield, Southampton            http://www.princeton.edu/~harnad/
SO17 1BJ UNITED KINGDOM           ftp://ftp.princeton.edu/pub/harnad/

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