April 13, 2005

Publication and the Internet: Where next?

Publication and the Internet: Where next? in the most recent APS News by high engery physicist Michael Peskin is causing a bit of buzz in the scitech community. Basically, Peskin advocates an online publishing system for physics where most commercial publishers and indexers are mostly cut out of the process and what libraries are currently spending on those organizations be used to fund an expanded and more comprehensive version of what currently exists in arxiv and the SLAC HEP database. Peskin does see a role for products like Google Scholar in joining up the various physics community data & metadata repositories. There are also some really good insights into how physicists view their field and it's literature in the article.

How close are we to making this a reality? I think physics is already well on its way: who knows how much longer the journals will continue to play an important role in providing peer review services if the actual articles are mostly read in the eprint servers. I suspect that the kids who are now physics ugrads will ultimately see very little reason to use the journals at all. By the time they are the senior figures in the field, the landscape could be very different. Is this model going to translate well to other fields? Perhaps CS will slowly develope a highly decentralized version of the same basic idea. Other fields? I think it's an inevitable evolution. Whether we librarians like it or not, the kids we see at the reference desk are just going to be less wedded to the concepts of peer review and centralized, commercial publishing than preceeding generations. When they inherit the academy, things will change. via pamnet: Robert Michaelson for mentioning the article, Carol Hutchins for the link to full text.

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