publication of EGC-1 papers?

Barry Hardy bhardy at convex.ox.ac.uk
Mon Mar 20 17:50:48 EST 1995

Jerry Thomas (jerry at ruucj1.chem.ruu.nl) wrote:

> 'Normal' conferences have only posters (and talks), with abstracts
> published either as a book or by a journal.  If we just want to 
> have a virtual conference, then we need only do the same.  

Many good conferences include the publication of the papers
either with extended abstracts, preprints, books of conference
papers, special journal issues etc.  This can actually protect that 
credit is made to a conference author by ensuring that a permanent 
record is made of their presentation.  Also refereeing becomes less 
hostile and more transparent between scientists who are interacting
on a social as well as a professional level.  The discussions at the 
EGC-1 are planned to be open evaluation and debate of papers.

> On the other hand, the presentation of full-length, refereed papers 
> gets us into the realm of publishing.  If this is the goal, then
> of course we should strive for the 'quality that would be expected 
> from a normal journal'.  But whether we have to legitimize ourselves
> by publishing in a 'normal' journal or in book/CD-ROM as well is an 
> open question.
I think we do have to legitimize ourselves.  People may be 
reluctant to present their work if we are too experimental.
We are creating a balance by allowing a maximum of choices:
presentation on the Web AND paper format AND CD.  We are ensuring 
that presented research will count as a significant publication.
We are mixing the old and the new for now as we get our feet wet.  
(We can also allow people the choice of keeping their presentation 
on the Web only or presenting a poster.  But why limit
the other choices also?) 

> not allow all papers to be 'published', i.e. made electronically 
> accessible, but also include *all* public discussion of it.  Let the
> reader make up his of her own mind about the paper after reading it
> and everyone's comments.  Peer review by public discussion, made
> possible by the Internet.

This is what has been planned so no debate is needed here.
I think we should have public discussion as well as direct
assigned refereeing.  The question is whether people prefer
open transparent refereeing to anonymous refereeing.
Either way the refereeing comments could be made part of the
record and allowed an rebuttal by the author.

> Accessibility is not necessarily increased by creating yet another 
> book or CD-ROM that libraries, expecially those in poorer universities 
> or coutries, must buy.  Wider dissemination is made more, not less, 

I think its hard to argue that if we allow all formats (Web,
paper, CD) that we are not maximizing accessibility.  The more subtle 
question is how to practically go about achieving as close to optimal
a solution as possible.  Its going to be some time for Web access
alone to be equivalent to universal access.  If we solely have Web
publication, who is going to fund and maintain the sites
that present the material?  Bionet?  Our own funded sites?
Also, the Web is not yet ideal for publication: links are often
broken, mathematical symbols not yet standardized, transfer
rates (especially intercontinental) can be very slow during peak
use periods, etc.  

On the other hand if we involve regular publishers we probably have 
to be willing to negotiate electronic distribution rights.
Maybe another criticism of publishers is the hard financial
deal they give authors while they do quite well, :)!
Certainly we are organizing revolutionary methods of conferencing
and publishing that will rapidly become ubiquitous.  However we 
have a lot to gain by also including the better established methods,
by gaining allies to the project, by making EGC-1 attractive
to all levels of scientists.  We are trying to emphasize flexibility
and inclusiveness.

I encourage others in the group to air their opinions 
on these issues.  We are listening to what you all say.


Barry J. Hardy
An Oxford_Attraction: http://alcyone.pcl.ox.ac.uk/people/barry.html

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