11.0096 e-publishing innovations

Humanist Discussion Group (humanist@kcl.ac.uk)
Thu, 12 Jun 1997 12:11:27 +0100 (BST)

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 11, No. 96.
Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London

Date: Wed, 11 Jun 1997 15:56:15 +0100
From: Erik Sandewall <ejs@ida.liu.se>
Subject: ETAI - new kind of electronic publishing structure started

[The following passed on from a discussion group to which I belong. The
subject area may not be of interest to you, but the e-publishing ideas
probably will. I am intrigued especially by the notion of reviewing after
rather than before publication. This is not a new idea exactly -- as I
recall, The Medical Journal of Australia launched something quite similar
more than a year ago (<http://www.library.usyd.edu.au/MJA/mja/>). It would
be interesting and helpful to know of other examples and to have
commentary on the idea. --WM]

Dear colleagues,

I believe you may be interested in the following official
announcement for the ETAI, the main ideas of which I described at
the Stockholm meeting. Now it's official. The ETAI is a concrete
attempt to realize many of the ideas which have been discussed in
the present email exchange, including author-side payment of
publication costs, free access for all would-be readers, a re-thinking
of incentives and of reviewing structures, and at the bottom of it
all, the insight that when a new technology arrives, people's first
idea is always to transfer the usage patterns of older technology
into the new one, but after a while it starts living its own life.
Electronic publishing simply allows us to "cut the pie differently",
that is, to find new structures for scientific communication services
and for scientific knowledge management. Please take a look at it
and write back what you think!


Erik Sandewall

The official announcement follows:

Electronic Transactions on Artificial Intelligence

The European Coordinationg Committee for Artificial Intelligence
(ECCAI) announces the creation of a new forum for exchange of
scientific results, the Electronic Transactions on Artificial
Intelligence (ETAI). It is an Internet-based service which is
available at

All ETAI information is available free of charge. The editor in
chief of ETAI is Erik Sandewall, Linköping University, Sweden.

ETAI is both more and less than a scientific journal

In a certain sense, ETAI is an electronic journal. However, it is
not simply a traditional journal gone electronic. The differences
may be summarized by the following table of communication functions:

journal ETAI

Distribution major not our
of the article function business

Reviewing and major major
quality control function function

Debate about not much done major
published function

Publication of impossible welcomed and
on-line software already happening

Bibliographic not much done major
services function

To explain:

The basic service of a conventional (paper) journal is to have the
article typeset, printed, and sent to the subscribers. The ETAI
stays completely away from that process: it assumes the existence
of First Publication Archives (similar to "Preprint Archives", but
with a guarantee that the articles remain unchanged for an extended
period of time). The ETAI only deals with URL:s pointing to articles
that have been published (but without international peer review)
in First Publication Archives.

The reviewing and quality control is a major topic for the ETAI, like
for conventional journals. However, the ETAI pioneers the principle
of *posteriori reviewing*: the reviewing and acceptance process takes
place *after* the article has been published. This has a number of
consequences, but the major advantage from the point of view of the
author is that he or she retains the priority right of the article
and its results *per the original date of publication*, and independently
of reviewing delays and possible reviewing mistakes.

Reviewing in ETAI also differs from conventional journal reviewing in
that it uses a succession of several "filters", rather than one single
reviewing pass, and in that it is set up so as to encourage self-control
on the side of the authors. The intention is that ETAI's quality control
shall be considerably *more strict and reliable* than what is done
in conventional journals.

Besides the reviewing process, the ETAI also organizes *News Journals*
in each of its speciality areas. News Journals are fora for information
about current events (workshops, etc), but they will also contain
debate about recently published research results. Naturally, the on-line
medium is much more appropriate for debate than what a conventional
journal is.

Compared to mailgroups, the News Journals offer a more persistent and
reputable forum of discussion. Discussion contributions are preserved
in such a way that they are accessible and referencable for the
future. In other words, they also are to be considered as "published".

One additional type of contributions in News Journals is for links
to software that is available and can be run over the net. This is
particularly valuable for software which can be run directly from
a web page. Already the first issue of an ETAI News Journal publishes
two such on-line software contributions.

The creation of bibliographies, finally, is a traditional activity in
research, but it is impractical in paper-based media since by their
very nature, bibliographies ought to be updated as new articles arrive.
The on-line maintenance of specialized bibliographies within each of
its topic areas is a natural function in the ETAI.

Generally speaking, it is clear that the electronic medium lends itself
to a different grouping of functionalities that what is natural or even
possible in the paper-based technology. For example, the bibliographic
database underlying ETAI's bibliographic services is well integrated
with the reviewing process and with the News Journals where new
contributions to the literature are first reported. Similarly, debate
items pertaining to a particular article will be accessible from the
entry for the article itself.

The ETAI therefore represents a novel approach to electronic publishing.
We do not simply inherit the patterns from the older technology, but
instead we have rethought the structure of scientific communication in
order to make the best possible use of international computer networks
as well as electronic document and database technologies.

The ETAI now starts operation, and welcomes contributions in the
research areas and by the procedures described in the web pages
specified above.