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  • Re: Web Publication of Papers

    Dear Biomch-L subscribers,

    Gerald Smith raised an interesting question:

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

    My answer is yes. The question is: which material should be
    distributed through the net? The ISB is, in fact, looking for
    possibilities to start using the Internet. I don't expect that
    this will include publication of review papers, but who knows...

    The general question of electronic publishing and to which extent
    it will replace traditional journals is of much wider interest.
    Some discussions have, apparently, been held on other E-mail
    groups. Some of this (well-written) material was collected by
    Stevan Harnad and placed on the web:

    http://cogsci.ecs.soton.ac.uk/~harnad/intpub.html

    The following points are relevant (some were already mentioned by
    Gerald Smith):

    advantages
    - multimedia (photographs, video, sound)
    - speed of publication
    - easy access - no more trips to library or photocopier
    - lower cost - about 75% less than paper publishing
    problems
    - peer review is necessary to ensure quality control
    - electronic publications do not have the same 'status' as
    journals

    Of course, anyone can distribute material through the web. In
    physics, there is a web site (http://xxx.lanl.gov/) where
    preprints are distributed. As explained by Paul Ginsparg (the
    organizer of this site):

    "The rapid acceptance of electronic communication of research
    information in my own community of high energy theoretical
    physics was facilitated by a pre-existing 'preprint culture,'
    in which the irrelevance of refereed journals to ongoing
    research has long been recognized. At least since the
    mid-1970's, the primary means of communication of new research
    ideas and results had been a preprint distribution system in
    which printed copies of papers were sent via ordinary mail to
    large distribution lists at the same time that they were
    submitted to journals for publication. (...) These papers
    could then take typically take six months or a year to appear in
    a journal. (...) The small amount of filtering provided by
    refereed journals plays no effective role in our research."

    (see http://xxx.lanl.gov/blurb/ for full text). From this
    description, I get the impression that they still publish these
    papers in conventional journals, perhaps only to get the
    recognition that electronic media don't provide.

    Once proper peer review is implemented, recognition of electronic
    publishing may grow. Until then, I don't think many authors
    would want to spend time preparing hypertext material. But
    preprints could be efficiently distributed through the web, as
    I've done through my own web page. Analogous to the physics
    site, the ISB could, maybe, organize a web site where authors can
    submit their preprints. With sufficient participation, that
    would make it easy to find out about recent developments.
    Imagine how this would speed up the progress in our field! But
    note that the physics site is funded by NSF; it is no trivial
    task.

    Electronic publishing could actually replace journals, if done
    professionally. Volunteer work will not do, IMO. Perhaps the
    existing publishing companies will start such a development
    whenever they feel that the technology is sufficiently mature.
    Maybe their problem is the lack of a mechanism by which
    publishers can get paid for their work.

    -- Ton van den Bogert
    Human Performance Laboratory
    University of Calgary
    E-mail: bogert@acs.ucalgary.ca
    Phone: (403) 220-7028
    http://www.ucalgary.ca/~bogert
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