Re: Are things otherwise in France?

From: J.W.T.Smith <J.W.T.Smith_at_UKC.AC.UK>
Date: Tue, 1 Jun 1999 17:36:24 +0100

Professor Harnad,

On Sun, 30 May 1999, Stevan Harnad wrote:

> > Christophe Pallier <> wrote:
> >


> > The best would be if some publishers endorsed the idea of free
> > scientiific work, and have the authors pay the copyediting & formatting
> > job.
> That is indeed the target, but the hope is that these will be the SAME
> publishers that now publish the established journals, but restructured
> for this new online world.


> > It seems obvious that a very small amount of the funds that are devoted
> > to research could be invested in paying the few people needed to
> > maintain scientific electronic journals, which content could be
> > accessed freely by anyone. I am not against private enterprise and
> > indeed, this job might very well be done by private publishers, if they
> > can offer a better service than public agencies. (Why not have the
> > source, that is the author(s) pay a reasonable amount to have the paper
> > published. The price would pay for the few hours (or less) of work
> > needed to format the paper for electronic publication, and maintain
> > servers).
> There is no need for new entities to take this service over from the
> established journals; they have the experience and expertise; they need
> only restructure for the new circumstances, which are indeed likely to
> entail scaling down to online-only, and selling, instead of the journal
> itself (which will be archived free for all), only the service of
> implementing peer review and certification:

Why don't we just drop the idea of 'publishers' and 'journals' altogether?

You have argued in recent papers and in notes to VPIEJ-L_at_LISTSERV.VT.EDU,, Elib List EJ
<> and Lib Serials list <serialst_at_LIST.UVM.EDU>
(most recent 1 June 1999) that in the future distribution of acdemic
papers will be via the authors' own Web pages or a central, freely
accessible, archive server. It follows therefore that the publisher will
no longer 'publish' (in the sense of 'making public'). Further, the
'journal' as the sole carrier or source of a given paper will also be
redundant since it will be available via the archives. As you point out
in the paragraph above all that is left for these 'journal publishers' is
to organise the 'peer review' activity. So why not call them 'review
organisers' or 'evaluators' as I do in ?

Using old names for new roles only serves to confuse.

Note - I know peer review is not new but separating it from *journal
publishing* is. (Well it is newish - there were proposals before the
Second World War for central archives of research papers chosen by
independent committees of academics).

The paper cited above is quite long (8000+ words). A much shorter paper
(Prolegomena to any future e-publishing model) that outlines some of the
ideas in it and my approach to thinking about new publishing models can be
found at:


John Smith,
University of Kent at Canterbury, UK.
Received on Wed Feb 10 1999 - 19:17:43 GMT

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