Re: ClinMed NetPrints

From: Jim Till <till_at_UHNRES.UTORONTO.CA>
Date: Wed, 23 May 2001 11:55:07 -0400

On Tue, 22 May 2001, Stevan Harnad wrote:

[sh]> An eprint archive is analogous to a library, not to a journal.
[sh]> (Indeed, journal articles are archived in eprint archives.)

I didn't intend to infer (if I did so) that an eprint archive is analogous
to a journal. There are a number of models for the role of eprint
archives. One is to regard such archives as analogous to libraries;
another is to regard them as analogous to databases.

For example, in a model proposed by Paul Ginsparg, "The three layers are
the data, information, and knowledge networks--where information is taken
to mean data plus metadata (i.e. descriptive data), and knowledge
signifies information plus synthesis (i.e. additional synthesizing
information)", see:

In this model, the arXiv eprint archive is located at the "data" level.

Rob Kling and Geoffrey McKim have suggested that: "Different scientific
fields have developed and use distinctly different communicative forums,
both in the paper and electronic arenas, and these forums play different
communicative roles within the field", see:

That different models may be preferred by those in different fields
probably stems in large part from differences in historical experience
(see, for example, my article on "Predecessors of preprint servers" in
Learned Publishing 2001; 14(1): 7-13; a version in HTML is available via:

About the biomedical field: the editor of Perspectives in Electronic
Publishing (Steve Hitchcock), has commented that: "Biomedical researchers
have been among the most eager to exploit the features of electronic
publishing allied to freely available data services, yet at the same time
acting to protect the formal structure and discipline imposed by
journals", (see:

This comment is in agreement with my own experience in this field.

[sh]> In the new era of distributed, interoperable eprint archives, it
[sh]> shows only what happens to appear in one arbitrary fragment of the
[sh]> global virtual library into which the eprint archives are all
[sh]> harvested.

Agreed. But, the individual eprint archives must be designed to permit
harvesting of their contents in this way. In my previous message, I
referred to Greg Kuperberg's suggestion that a main criterion in
evaluating an eprint archive should be "its suitability as part of the
envisioned universal archive". Whether or not one prefers to regard this
"universal archive" as a "global virtual library", this criterion still
seems to me to be an appropriate one.

[jt]> Another criterion (it seems to me) should be its suitability for
[jt]> obtaining citation data. An example, based on the arXiv archive, is
[jt]> provided by the Cite-Base search service
[jt]> (

[sh]> Correct. But cite-base is not measuring "archive-impact" but paper-
[sh]> or author-impact. And it is measured across multiple distributed
[sh]> archives.

Agreed. But, again, the eprint archive must be designed to permit such
measurements across multiple distributed archives. This second criterion
also seems to me still to be an appropriate one.

[sh]> What's needed now is more archives, and the filling of them. The
[sh]> quality measures will take care of themselves. The more papers are
[sh]> up there, digitally archived, the more new measures of productivity
[sh]> and impact they will inspire.

Agreed. But, will these additional eprint archives always be designed
such that the above two criteria are met?

Are there additional criteria that should also be met - especially ones
that will help to ensure that "the quality measures will take care of

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

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