Re: Etymology of "Eprint"

From: J.W.T.Smith <>
Date: Tue, 22 Aug 2000 14:09:48 +0100


I stand corrected in the light of your more detailed knowledge. It appears
from your description that 'pre-prints' were not printed. Neither were
they advanced copies of material to be printed (in their current form at

In summary - pre-prints were neither 'prints' nor 'pre'.

No wonder I was confused :-) .


John Smith,
University of Kent at Canterbury, UK.

On Tue, 22 Aug 2000, Fytton Rowland wrote:

> John Smith wrote:
> >This clashes with my definition of a 'pre-print'. As far as I am aware
> >this term arises from the provision by many journal publishers of printed
> >copies of papers in their final form to authors in advance of the formal
> >publication so they could distribute them to colleagues. So they were not
> >unrefereed or unaccepted just not formally published. The act of
> >distibuting papers in advance of submission for publication I would
> >describe as the circulation of 'working papers' or 'work in progress'.
> >
> >This provision of paper 'pre-prints' may still happen. I have some
> >provided by an Indian journal which published a paper of mine in 1996.
> >
> >Regards,
> >
> >John Smith,
> >University of Kent at Canterbury, UK.
> John,
> I'm afraid I don't agree with your definition. Having worked in scholarly
> publication in hot-metal days, I can say that it was not possible to
> produce offprints of the accepted papers very long before publication. The
> way they were produced was to print extra copies of the journal but not
> bind them. The unbound sheets were then stapled up into offprints of the
> individual articles and supplied to the authors. But they went out at more
> or less the same time as the actual journal copies went off to libraries.
> Authors called them "reprints", but actually nothing had been reprinted, so
> properly they were offprints. They weren't preprints.
> But in the USA thirty or so years ago an effort was made to organise a
> preprint exchange, which really did distribute paper (photo)copies of
> as-yet unaccepted typescripts. It eventually collapsed for two reasons:
> many scientists objected to the distribution of non-refereed material as
> debasing the currency; and the costs involved, especially postage costs for
> pritned materials in large quantity, became too high. I think there was
> also a feeling that it created a privileged class of people who were on the
> mailing list, leaving others unable to get hold of the material so early.
> Yours, Fytton.
> **********************************************************
> Fytton Rowland, M.A., Ph.D., F.I.Inf.Sc., Lecturer,
> Deputy Director of Undergraduate Programmes and
> Programme Tutor for Publishing with English,
> Department of Information Science,
> Loughborough University,
> Loughborough, Leics LE11 3TU, UK.
> Phone +44 (0) 1509 223039 Fax +44 (0) 1509 223053
> E-mail:
> **********************************************************
Received on Mon Jan 24 2000 - 19:17:43 GMT

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