Implementing Peer Review on the Net: Scientific Quality Control in Scholarly Electronic Journals.
Peek, R. and Newby, G. (eds.)
Scholarly Publishing: The Electronic Frontier
Electronic networks have made it possible for scholarly periodical publishing to shift from a trade model, in which the author sells his words through the mediation of the expensive and inefficient technology of paper, to a collaborative model, in which the much lower real costs and much broader reach of purely electronic publication are subsidized in advance, by universities, libraries, research publication grants, and the scholarly societies in each specialty. To take advantage of this, paper publishing's traditional quality control mechanism, peer review, will have to be implemented on the Net, thereby recreating the hierarchies of journals that allow authors, readers, and promotion committees to calibrate their judgments rationally -- or as rationally as traditional peer review ever allowed them to do it. The Net also offers the possibility of implementing peer review more efficiently and equitably, and of supplementing it with what is the Net's real revolutionary dimension: interactive publication in the form of open peer commentary on published and ongoing work. Most of this "scholarly skywriting" likewise needs to be constrained by peer review, but there is room on the Net for unrefereed discussion too, both in high-level peer discussion forums to which only qualified specialists in a given field have read/write access, and in the general electronic vanity press.
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