Israel Scholar Communication Scrolls

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December 05, 2006

Tenure Online

Gary Shapiro, Tenure Online, New York Sun, November 3, 2006. (Thanks to William Walsh.) Excerpt by Peter Suber (Moving online and OA, OA News):

[M]ore scholars — particularly younger ones — are posting their research online before publishing it in refereed print journals, said [Sylvain Cappell, professor of mathematics at New York University]. "It's an opportunity to get response and reaction from other frontline researchers."

The Internet, which has made the cost of distributing information virtually vanish, Mr. Cappell said, has also exacerbated the overlapping tensions of online versus print, open access versus paid, and refereed versus non-refereed. Formerly, editorial boards controlled the distribution of research results. Now, he said, "Electronics is bringing disintermediation to the world of research as much as to the world of travel agents."

In the old days, scholars might mimeograph and circulate copies of their work to a handful of colleagues before it appeared in a refereed print journal. Now scholars can post research in an open-access archive and then publish it in an online or print journal, Mr. Cappell said....

The senior director of open-access and journal publishing at Springer, which publishes about 1,300 scientific journals, Jan Velterop, said that peer-reviewed e-journals and print journals were not essentially different. The electronic format is just "the post office," he said, describing how that content is delivered....

Societies and publishers have also begun to wade into open-access publishing. Two of the APS journals are available only in open-access electronic format. Mr. Blume said APS retains copyright in its journals, but gives authors of an article the right to "do what they want with it, as long as a fee isn't charged. If a fee is charged, they need our permission." ...

Many articles submitted to open-access repositories like arxiv.org, which are not peer reviewed, are ultimately published in peer-reviewed journals such as those of the APS, Mr. Blume said. The physics community sees such prior preprint publication as an extension of the tradition of widespread distribution made possible by the Xerox revolution, Mr. Blume said. But he said there are other science journals that will not accept articles that have been previously posted on open-access archives.

Still, "one could speculate that over time, the shift from print to electronic distribution of research results will shift the emphasis from refereeing to reviewing," Mr. Cappell said. In an electronic age of instantaneous delivery, he said, "there may be less an issue of control and more an issue of reception and reaction."...

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