Two layers of research literature

From: Jim Till <till_at_UHNRES.UTORONTO.CA>
Date: Tue, 31 Oct 2000 14:55:20 -0500

On Tue, 31 Oct 2000, J.W.T.Smith wrote [in part, on the Subject:
Re: Workshop on Open Archives Initiative in Europe]:

> Yes, I still believe there
> will be subscription services but these services will be paid for their
> skills in locating and organising relevant information for their
> subscribers not because they 'own' any of this information.

It seems to me that one needs to bear in mind two major types of research
literature: 1) the 'primary' literature (original data and/or novel
conceptual contributions); and, 2) the 'secondary' literature (layered
over the primary literature, e.g. as editorials, reviews, meta-analyses,
commentaries, etc.). The 'secondary' literature requires skills in
locating and organizing relevant information.

I hope that the time will soon come when much of the high-quality
'primary' AND 'secondary' literature will be freely available online.

For example, many 'signpost' websites (ones that locate and organize URLs)
already exist on the web. Some have editorial boards responsible for
monitoring their contents, and some don't. It seems to me that at least
some of them could/should be regarded a valuable part of the 'secondary'
literature. There are also very many that could/should be regarded only
as 'popular' or even 'vanity' literature, and some that are in the gray
area in between. Most such 'signpost' websites are currently under a
cloud of poor prestige and/or lack of recognition (the 'clouded'
literature!) from the perspective of traditional academia.

It seems obvious to me that, as the research literature is freed from the
constraints imposed by the traditional printed journals, at least some of
these 'signpost' websites, designed to locate and organize noteworthy
online information, will make increasingly important contributions to the
'secondary' literature, as well as to the 'popular' literature intended
for non-academic readers [see also a short invited commentary, at:].

Jim Till
University of Toronto
Received on Mon Jan 24 2000 - 19:17:43 GMT

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