3.563 electronic journals? (131)

Willard McCarty (MCCARTY@vm.epas.utoronto.ca)
Tue, 10 Oct 89 20:58:43 EDT

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 3, No. 563. Tuesday, 10 Oct 1989.

Date: Mon, 9 Oct 89 16:16:49 PDT
Subject: [DCGQAL]A0234!Electronic Journal Pilots

The Scholarship and Technology Study Project (STSP) has been established as
a unit of the Division of Library Automation at the University of California,
Office of the President. Its mandate is to provide electronic publishing
capabilities within the university, using the existing MELVYL network as a
carrier for electronic resources. In addition to providing database resources,
such as the MELVYL bibliographic database, MEDLINE, CURRENT CONTENTS, etc., we
wish to mount pilot electronic journals which could, inter alia, provide
empirical data about their use, acceptance, procedures, and characteristics.
Such data might be of value to institutions who might wish to mount their own
journals, or to establish an electronic publishing capability alongside (or
within) existing print-based publications groups.

The subject of electronic journals most often yields conservative reaction.
Barriers, both technical and psychological, are manifold. Yet, various
pressures seem to indicate that the times are ripe for another experiment in
electronic journals publication. A larger group of scholars is now comfortable
with computer use in research. A growing number of textual databases are
available and widely consulted. Scholars are increasingly involved with
computer methods and strategies in their humanities research. There exists a
crisis of considerable magnitude stemming from the pricing policies of a
relatively small number of commercial journals publishers, currently supplying
univerisity communities with scientific journals.

To be sure, this latter crisis is largely confined to the Sciences. The
ramifications of similar commercialism in humanities publishing are that a
number of specialized disciplines are finding it harder and harder to publish
in traditional print form. One effect of publishers looking only "to the
bottom line" is that economic viability frequently conflicts with
specialization, and the lack of publication channels for certain fields
threatens the lifeblood of scholarly exchange in those disciplines.

"Electronic Journals" are decidedly different from electronic dialogues of
the kind that take place in this forum. The implication is a greater degree of
formalism, considered thoughtfullness, and procedural standards. These
characteristics exist comfortably in the print media which has had a 500-year
gestation. The application of such standards to the electronic medium will not
be an easy one.

My own background includes 17-years in traditional scholarly publishing:
first at Stanford University Press, and, for the past 13-years, at the
University of California Press. So, I come to my new task with some
diffidence, but with a certitude that electronic modes of communication are
becoming more mature and common within scholarly circles. I am eager to
participate in harnessing the new medium to scholarly requirements.

Towards that end, I solicit any conversations on the topic that may be of
interest to my fellow HUMANISTS.

Our definition of electronic journals includes an assumption that maximal
use will be made of electronic communications and pathways in the submission,
review, editing, and publication of such journals. We are endeavoring to put
together a "Scholar's Toolbox" which will be a collection of software programs
to assist the scholar in tagging, preparing, submitting, and accessing
electronic journal articles.

We've identified two extreme "models" or forms for electronic journal
publication, and at least one hybrid.

Model 1 - Fully-Reviewed:

The one closest my heart is the fully-reviewed electronic journal. In this
model, submissions are to be received by the Editor, and routed electronically
to peer reviewers, who would conduct a traditional anonymous exchange with the
editor, and - through the editor - with the author, until an article was found
worthy of being granted an "imprint" and be actually "published."

In the implementation of this model, a bibliographic citation indicating
the submission of an article would be mounted on the system within 24-hours of
submission. The bibliographic citation would provide, in addition to standard
bibliographic data, a "status indicator" which would inform readers of the
appropriate stage of the review process, in which an article was to be found.
Upon satisfactorily passing through the review process and being judged
"publisheable," the full-text of the article would be attached to the
bibliographic citation, making it available to researchers.

The model takes many of the established quality-control and gatekeeping
functions established for print, and transferrs them (perhaps
unsympathetically) to the new medium, preserving anonymity, editorial boards,
and an institutionalized granting of an "imprimatur" to the published work.

Model 2 - Post publication review

Although it has many apparent difficulties, the second model takes slightly
greater advantage of the additional powers of an electronic medium of exchange.
Under this model, we plan to release the full text of all submissions.
Functionality would be provided in the database for at least two levels of
annotation: casual, and "inspected." Casual annotations and comments could be
appended by any reader, and would be included with the article for all future
readers. "Inspected" annotations are ones which the author has reviewed, and
found sufficiently compelling to include in the authorized text of the article.

Additionally, one would like a facility to send blind comments directly to
the Editor, to the author, and/or to an earlier reader who may have appended a
comment to an article file.

Model 3 - Mounting Electronic Versions of Print Journals

The third model sounds unexciting compared with the first two, but it
permits experimentation with a number of not insignificant issues having to do
with converting typesetting files to generically tagged format, dealing with
citational problems, addressing image reference and delivery issues, and the

I would be eager to hear from any HUMANISTS who would like to participate
in these projects as reviewers, authors, catalysts, or commentators.


Chet Grycz
Scholarship and Technology Study Project
University of California | AppleLink: A0234
Kaiser Center, Eighth Floor | MCI Mail: 345-0354
300 Lakeside Drive |
Oakland, California | Phone: (415) 987-0561
94612-3550 |