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Table of Contents
Index
Glossary

































Table of Contents
Index
Glossary
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Next: Non-linearity Up: Electronic publishing Previous: Separating the storage from

Flexibility

An electronic  journal is more flexible than its paper equivalent. Information represented in an electronic article can be presented in such a way that the receiver can manipulate it. For example, experimental data can be presented in a machine-readable format, integrated with tools for calculation and plotting graphs.

In an electronic article, not only the presentation is flexible, but the storage as well. Whereas a printed article is fixed, an electronic article can be changed. In printed articles, effective updating is impossible, because the only instruments are errata, addenda and follow-up articles pointing back. In an electronic environment, various additions can be attached to the original article, such as comments or links pointing forward to later work on the subject. Thus, the correctness and the clarity of articles can be enhanced in an efficient way.

This flexibility can also be used to adapt the system of peer review. The essence of the certification of the information as such does not depend on the technology but on the social and philosophical ideas about science. However, it can be implemented in different ways and at different times. Nowadays, selection takes place before publication and the acceptance in that particular journal forms the certification. On-line electronic publication allows for spontaneous peer review after the article has been published without previous selection. The comments, made by referees before and after publication, can be attached to the article, giving a specific certification with all necessary nuances, instead of a simple acceptance by some journal. The receiver himself can then filter the information flow, aided by the certification of the articles or the lack thereof. The higher the status of the referee, the more convinced the receiver will be of the scientific quality.

The flip side of flexibility is insecurity. So far, electronically stored documents are less secure than printed documents. Firstly, files can be changed without authorisation. It is important to protect the integrity of the original article, to avoid confusion, e.g. by `watermarking' original copies. This problem does not occur if the information has been stored on a read-only carrier, such as a CD-ROM. Secondly, the electronic information stored on any carrier can become inaccessible if the carrier breaks down or becomes obsolete. Technical and organisational solutions must be found for these problems.



Next: Non-linearity Up: Electronic publishing Previous: Separating the storage from