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  • Web Publication of Papers

    Like many conferences, the recent XVth Congress of the
    International Society of Biomechanics (Jyvaskyla, Finland) included
    an assortment of excellent keynote and award lectures. These ISB
    presentations have traditionally been collected as papers published
    in the Journal of Biomechanics (usually with a delay of about 1.5
    years from the time of presentation).

    At the ISB general meeting in Jyvaskyla, David Winter raised a
    question about such papers: they are usually review papers dealing
    with several or even a lifetime of research projects and don't fit
    the typical model for "original articles . . . entailing an
    exploration of some explicit hypothesis or reporting original but
    substantial observations of data" (J. Biomechanics instructions to
    contributors).

    Winter's question about the written format of such review papers
    and the nature of the peer review of them raised some important
    issues which the biomechanics community might contribute to. I
    personally find listening to such presentations to be a wonderful
    way to update my understanding of general biomechanical topics.
    Part of the attractiveness of such reviews is that they are very
    current but also can impart a sense of history about the scientific
    endeavor.

    With the above as preface, I would like to raise a question for
    discussion:

    Is it time for the ISB to move to other media for
    "publication" of papers of general interest to the
    biomechanics community?

    Would electronic publication of keynote lectures using hypertext on
    the web perhaps provide a better service to the biomechanics
    community than does the relatively slow process of traditional
    print publication. In addition, "publishing" such papers on the
    web would allow multimedia presentation--including video or sound
    clips where relevant. For example, Stuart McGill's
    videofluoroscopy recording of a low back injury actually happening
    could be included as a visual supplement to the text describing his
    work.

    My impression is that the hypermedia format could perhaps retain
    more of the interactive feel of the live presentations and could be
    available in a more timely manner than can traditional print
    publication. How do others view this idea? What are the costs/
    benefits of changing to a more interactive form of publication for
    papers of general interest to the biomechanics community?

    Regards,

    Gerald Smith
    Biomechanics Lab
    Oregon State University

    email: smithg@ccmail.orst.edu
    phone: 503-737-5928
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