Electronic archiving and IIS talk

From: Chris Armstrong <lisqual_at_cix.co.uk>
Date: Fri, 8 Sep 2000 10:46:36 +0100

Dear Professor Harnad

As someone who has studied electronic publishing in some depth over the
last few years and produced a report on the subject for JISC, I much
enjoyed the rehearsal of your proposal yesterday at IIS
<http://www.iis.org.uk/events/agm2k/index.html>. I cannot claim the
eminence of writers such as Odlyzko, Ginsparg or yourself, and, it
should be said that I come to this from the library/information science
[LIS] end of the continuum, but, having followed your work for a while,
I find that for me at least, it does not sit comfortably with
fundamental LIS precepts. While I have no problem with the ethics or
efficacy of your approach, nor with the publisher reaction or Charles'
Oppenheim's corrigenda, I do have a profound worry over one issue that
neither you nor your audience yesterday addressed.

In your scenario, we would have pre- and possibly post-print versions
of a paper co-existent with the final, formally published version - and
it is here that I have to take issue with it. How is the user to know
which is the copy of record? Which should be cited - and which will HEI
authorities consider in RAE or tenure-testing exercises? Further, what
is to prevent accidental or intentional changes, not to mention further
electronic copying and publishing - again with possible unauthorised or
accidental alterations (see Graham, 1992/3) - of the electronic
original? We try to inculcate good practice which includes the
evaluation of resources in users of the WWW, but it seems to me that
your proposal, if widely adopted, would muddy the water, at least to
the extent that indication of authorship and corporate source will no
longer necessarily help to define authority, accuracy or currency.
Other issues that cannot easily be ignored are those of access (few
_formally_ published electronic papers find their way into BNB or its
equivalent) and legal deposit.

Most arguments that electronic publishing will take over from print
hinge on mechanical rather than social advantages; your imposition of a
human-originating variable is an unknown. Ginsparg has suggested 10 to
20 years before electronic supersedes conventional scholarly
publishing, others and you, I think, somewhat less. The interregnum
will prove difficult for users who are faced with such choices - I fear
that all but the most committed will remain faithful to the tried and
tested formal publishing.


Chris Armstrong
Centre for Information Quality Management (CIQM)
Information Automation Limited
(+44) 1974 251302
Received on Mon Jan 24 2000 - 19:17:43 GMT

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.3.0 : Fri Dec 10 2010 - 19:45:50 GMT