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Scholarly Journals at the Crossroads Ann Okerson 14 Jun 1995 22:56 UTC

The following is an announcement about a new book from ARL.  It
features a long discussion about the future of scholarly journals,
in particular the potential for a re-conceptualized system driven
by and controlled by scholars.    Please excuse any cross-postings.

Ann Okerson/Association of Research Libraries

June 15, 1995

        Book Explores a Subversive Future for Scholarly Journals

        ARL's Office of Scientific and Academic Publishing announces the
publication of Scholarly Journals at the Crossroads: A Subversive
Proposal for Electronic Publishing.  This book captures an Internet
discussion about scientific and scholarly journals and their future that
took place on a number of electronic forums starting in June 1994 and
peaking in the fall.  Subsequent electronic conversations between the
principals and interested parties continue until now (the last message
captured in the book is dated March 21, 1995).  Given the powerful
opportunities that electronic networking technologies offer to scholars
and scientists, the future of publishing will be debated for years to
come.  This book is one attempt to capture a key conversation between
the stakeholders in scholarly communications.

        Six principal discussants and about two dozen others advance
radical and traditional views; they argue for overhaul of journal
publication systems or advocate careful preservation of traditional
values and roles.  Will electronic technologies save us from the
economic pressures of the current papyrocentric publishing system or
will they be more expensive than we dreamed? In his "Overture to the
Subversive Proposal," Stevan Harnad (Cognitive Scientist, University of
Southampton) writes, "For centuries, it was only out of reluctant
necessity that authors of esoteric publications entered into the
Faustian Bargain of allowing a price tag to be erected as a barrier
between their work and its intended readership, for that was the only
way they could make their work public at all during the age when paper
publication was their only option."

        Lorrin Garson (pioneer and leader in electronic publishing at
the American Chemical Society) responds, "I would like to suggest that
publishing electronic journals is in fact going to be more expensive
than printing.  The collection, maintenance and dissemination of these
data will be more costly than printing, but the information will be much
more valuable to the scientific community.  Of course, when we get to
this point we won't be publishing journals; the output will be called
something else." Paul Ginsparg (Los Alamos National Laboratories),
Bernard Naylor (Librarian, University of Southampton), Andrew Odlyzko
(AT&T Bell Labs), and Frank Quinn (Virginia Polytechnic Institute and
State University) also offer thoughtful essays and provocative

        Scholarly Journals at the Crossroads makes publishing history.
It is the first time that a book derived from a series of wide-ranging
Internet discussions on a scholarly topic recreates (insofar as
possible) an e-mail experience for a general academic and publishing

        In their Conclusion, Ann Okerson (ARL) and James O'Donnell
(Professor of Classics, University of Pennsylvania), the editors of this
9-month long networked conversation write, "This is a book about hope
and imagination in one corner of the emerging landscape of cyberspace.
It embraces passionate discussion of an idea for taking to the Internet
to revolutionize one piece of the world of publishing."

        The book includes a detailed table of contents, specially
written introductory and concluding chapters by the co-editors, a
"hyperlink" bibliography showing where materials in the book can be read
on the Internet, and a glossary of terms used by the discussants.

        The Association of Research Libraries is a not-for-profit
organization representing 119 research libraries in the United States
and Canada.  Its mission is to shape and influence forces affecting the
future of research libraries in the process of scholarly communication.
ARL programs and services promote equitable access to, and effective use
of recorded knowledge in support of teaching, research, scholarship, and
community service.  These programs include annual statistical
publications, federal relations and information policy, and enhancing
access to scholarly information resources through telecommunications,
collection development, preservation, and bibliographic control.  The
Office of Scientific and Academic Publishing works to identify and
influence the forces affecting the production, dissemination, and use of
scholarly and scientific information.

        The book is produced in 7 x 10 format, paperbound, in 250 pages.
Its ISBN number is: 0-918006-26-0

        The raw source files from which the Subversive Book is derived
can be found on the Internet as follows:

        ftp to the site
        cd pub/harnad/Psycoloquy/Subversive.Proposal

To contact the editors:

        Ann Okerson (
        James O'Donnell (

To receive detailed order information by e-mail:

All other inquiries:

        Patricia Brennan
        Information Services Coordinator
        Association of Research Libraries
        21 Dupont Circle, NW, Suite 800
        Washington, DC  20036
        phone:  202-296-2296
        fax:  202-872-0884