Re: Web Pages: Future of Scientific Debate?

Richard Ottolini (stgprao@sugarland.unocal.COM)
25 Oct 1995 13:14:15 GMT

Scientific journals are in transit to the web.
Basically a professional society would peer-review an e-document
and assign a publication-approval number. This number would form
the legal basis of references to the work such as for patents,
tenure-citations, etc.

The professional society acts a self-regulating quality filter
to cull out the garbage from the net. They've been doing this
for a couple centuries already off the net.

The net may allow more fluidity in the formation and specialization
of professional societies. Currently they need to be a critical
size to finance their journals and annual meetings, but future
fragmentation is possible, like usenet groups.

An important asepct of publication is reproducability of the work.
E-documents could potentially include the data and computer programs
that generated the results. And the data, such as in
anthropology, could be multi-media observations of the phenomena.

The economics is not clear yet.
There is some cost to storing and distributing the e-document,
but less than for print. Print publishers who don't adapt could
go out of business. Professional societies may recover enough
in their membership dues for the priviledge of giving and receiving
that all-important citation number.
It has been suggested charging the reader to read documents,
but that is hard to enforce and contrary to the philosophy of
the net.