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Hypermedia Online Publishing: the Transformation of the Scholarly Journal

1.2 Definitions and scope

The overall domain of interest for this thesis is hypermedia on-line publishing in a scholarly environment. Hypermedia is broadly defined as the combination of hypertext linking mechanisms and multimedia content [Bolter, 1991, pp. 25-7].

Hypertext can be summarised as the ability to link two pieces of text together and traverse that link in some way. In a sense, hypertext has always been with us: the well-established system of scholarly citations is a form of hypertext, defining as it does a mapping from one document to another. With conventional citations the traversal process is far from instantaneous and often involves an inter-library loan request! In the context of current computer systems, the most obvious application of hypertext is the familiar blue underlined link within a World-Wide Web document. A fuller treatment of hypertext will be provided later (see 4.4.1: Hypertext on page 59).

Multimedia is the provision of information in more than one medium. Medium is a term that is used somewhat loosely in the literature. One use is the form of the information: text, still image, moving image, or sound. A different use of the term is the mechanism used to deliver that information: paper, screen, audio or video tape, audio or video disc, and CD-ROM. These uses are somewhat interrelated; there are only certain valid combinations of information form and delivery mechanism.

In a scholarly publishing context this hypermedia publishing will appear as any form of scholarly publishing that provides text and static graphics (both of which can be done already with print) together with some or all of the following:

None of these additional features can be provided in a paper-based publishing environment.

The on-line delivery mechanism for this publishing is assumed to be via the Internet or an organisational intranet. It is true that the techniques involved are mostly applicable to CD-ROM or floppy disk delivery, but the communication mechanisms require a networked medium. In practice, all the current e-journals assume the use of the Internet for content delivery.

Electronic scholarly publishing normally takes place in the context of a scholarly journal, but may also appear in conference proceedings, an on-line book, as part of course materials or on a Web site as 'vanity' publishing. This thesis will primarily be concerned with scholarly journals.

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