Re: Electronic archiving and IIS talk

From: Steve Hitchcock <sh94r_at_ECS.SOTON.AC.UK>
Date: Fri, 8 Sep 2000 13:51:04 +0100

At 10:46 08/09/00 +0100, Chris Armstrong wrote:
>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
><>. 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

Chris, You underestimate your authorship, but you are in danger of
emulating a common misapprehension.

>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?

Stevan Harnad replied to the specific points, but there is a more general
misunderstanding implied in your comments. It has never been the role of
those who provide access to information, librarians or publishers, to FIX
content, i.e. to select a particular version, but to enable users to MAKE
SENSE of it. In the e-environment that includes versioning, allowing
updates, creating links to subsequent and related works, etc. It's a
continual process. Fixing versions is an artefact of print.

So, you ask legitimate questions, but have selected the wrong target. Why
seek to diminish the role of eprints when these issues apply to all
electronic publishing? People on this list are finding solutions to these
questions, acting on just these issues, and building new services: they are
not a road block.

>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

This is not 92/3. There is substantial experience of eprint/electronic
publishing now, so we don't need to invent problems. What real examples are
there of this?

>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

No, managed eprints supported by managed QC publishing is the opportunity
to make things a great deal clearer. More access is better, not worse.

>, at least to
>the extent that indication of authorship and corporate source will no
>longer necessarily help to define authority, accuracy or currency.

Again, it's not clear if you are pre-judging this, or whether there are
real examples of this problem. It is possible to build authoritative
sources on top of submitted data.

>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.

The old framework needs to change, not the other way round.

>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.

Who knows how long it will take. Users have a choice and need to be
convinced, but we shouldn't pretend that it will be easier for those who
stick with 'tried and tested' .

Steve Hitchcock
Open Citation (OpCit) Project <>
IAM Research Group, Department of Electronics and Computer Science
University of Southampton SO17 1BJ, UK
Tel: +44 (0)23 8059 3256 Fax: +44 (0)23 8059 2865
Received on Mon Jan 24 2000 - 19:17:43 GMT

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