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Hypermedia Online Publishing: the Transformation of the Scholarly Journal

9.5.2 Insights from research literature

Julene Butler [Butler, 1995a] found that electronic publication was serving to expand the informal contacts of some contributors, as well as to provide more (and more substantive) feedback on their work. This indicates that the combination of electronic publication and communication is increasing information flow between scholars.

One piece of evidence for transformation of citation practices among scholars chiefly comes from Harter and Kim's citation analyses (see 1.8.2: Citation studies on page 21). In their study examining citation practices among authors of e-journal articles ([Harter and Kim, 1996b], [Harter and Kim, 1996a]), they found that only 1.9% of the total references in the sample e-journal articles were to online sources of any type. Moreover, 81.8% of these online references were to just three e-journals ( Public-Access Computer Systems Review (PACS-R), Electronic Journals of Virtual Culture (EJVC), and E-journal ), and to an influential subset of all the articles within these e-journals. It is difficult to see how e-journal publishing will become more credible if even those writing in e-journals do not cite the e-journal literature more.

The respondents in Lancaster's survey of academic administrators and library directors [Lancaster, 1995a] found that in 1993 they were not optimistic about the possible advantages of networked publishing being realised. They did see the potential for faster publishing of research activities. With respect to obstacles to transformation of scholarly publishing practices, the greatest ones were "those associated with the academics establishment's ability to implement, manage, and support a publishing network" [Lancaster, 1995a, p. 744]. The academic reward system was not considered an impossible barrier with respondents feeling some hope that epublishing would be acceptable in tenure reviews.

The question in Schauder's [Schauder, 1994] study that most directly deals with changes in practices also relates to the question of academic rewards. Asked whether they believed that their institutions would rank electronic publishing equally with print publishing, 33% didn't know, 35% answered yes, 19% answered to some extent, and 12% answered no. Positive responses were correlated with seniority. With respect to whether their university should become more active in electronic publishing of professional articles, 30% didn't know, with slightly more (32%) answering yes. In this case, junior academics were the most positive and senior academics least so.

In Berge and Collins study of IPCT Journal [Berge and Collins, 1996], their respondents generally regarded its articles as of the same quality (47%, with another 37.7% indicating they had no basis to answer this question) as scholarly refereed print journals. With respect to the attitude of their superiors to electronic publication in refereed journals, only 12.7% indicated that the author would received the same points as for print publications. The other responses were somewhat less points (14.1%), and no points (10.8%). The rest of the responses were either not applicable or don't know. Obviously, very few authors would be prepared to publish electronically if this was to have a negative effect on their publishing record (at least until they had received tenure).

In their final author survey, [Gotsch and Reich, 1997] asked whether the decision to move to an on-line only version of JBC would adversely affect their decision to publish in the journal. Approximately 35% replied in the affirmative. They point out that a substantial number of authors did not use the online version at all, many because of access problems. One might conjecture that, in the light of the generally positive comments about JBC Online from respondents who did have access, improvements in access for the authors who indicated an adverse response might reasonably be expected to decrease this percentage.

In the section of the survey by Gotsch and Reich [Gotsch and Reich, 1997] that dealt with librarians as institutional subscribers to JBC, they found that the practices of acquisition were strongly influenced by cost. Their prediction was a slow and cautious move to cancel print subscriptions and substitute electronic ones if this would have an impact on already constrained serials and monograph budgets. This clearly has implications for journal publishers who are arguing for a subscription increase if libraries want both print and electronic delivery.

Last modified: Monday, 11-Dec-2017 14:41:54 AEDT

© Andrew Treloar, 2001. * http://andrew.treloar.net/ * andrew.treloar@gmail.com