Re: Information Exchange Groups (IEGs)

From: Jim Till <till_at_UHNRES.UTORONTO.CA>
Date: Sun, 21 Jan 2001 10:14:17 -0500

Last year, some messages were sent to this Forum about the early adoption
of a 'preprint culture' by some researchers, especially in high-energy
physics (HEP), but not by those in the biomedical sciences. In both HEP
and the biomedical sciences there were early experiments, in the 1960s, on
the distribution of preprints of research articles. The experiments in the
biomedical sciences involved the 'Information Exchange Groups' (IEGs).

For example, on 25 Feb 2000, in a message with the subject heading: Re:
Medical journals are dead. Long live medical journals, I wrote:

>[jt] It's still far from clear (at least, to me!) why members of the
>[jt] physics research community seem, in general, to be more comfortable
>[jt] with eprints than are (as yet?) many members of the biomedical
>[jt] research community.

In response, on 28 Feb 2000, Andrew Odlyzko wrote, in part (same subject

>[ao] That is an excellent question that has been puzzling many people.
>[ao] There are no definitive answers, but much seems to depend on the
>[ao] culture of each field.

On 4 Mar 2000, I wrote, in part (same subject line, but about the IEGs):

>[jt] It appears that this initial controversial experience with a
>[jt] 'preprint culture' may help to explain why an 'eprint culture'
>[jt] has been rather slow to develop among biomedical scientists.

There were also other posts about the experiments with IEGs. I've written
an article which had its origins in this exchange of messages.

The article has recently been published in the journal Learned Publishing
[2001; 14(1) 7-13], with the title: 'Predecessors of preprint servers'.
The article is freely available (e.g. as a PDF file), via (see page 7):

Some kudos:

In praise of editors: The article arose out of an invitation from the
editor of Learned Publishing to submit something on this subject.
Members of the editorial staff were responsible for the initiation of this
project, and they provided very helpful constructive criticisms of early
drafts. (Not really 'peer review', but much more helpful than many of the
comments that I've received from conventional peer reviewers in the

In praise of librarians: Especially, librarians currently (or previously)
associated with the SLAC Library. They responded promptly and very
helpfully to email messages that contained my requests for information.
They also provided very valuable 'peer review'.

In praise of this Forum: Without it, this project wouldn't have happened
(thanks, Stevan Harnad!).

Jim Till
University of Toronto
Received on Wed Jan 03 2001 - 19:17:43 GMT

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