New practices for electronic publishing 1: Will the scientific paper keep its form?
Discussion about the value of electronic documents is often hampered by starting from what is usual in the paper world and attempting to impose that on an electronic environment. In order to grasp the impact of the current electronic revolution, and formulate a policy for the future, we examine the aims and content of scientific communication. We then critically discuss the recommendations of an International Working Group [see Learned Publishing 2000:13(4) Oct. 251-8], and show the tension between these very reasonable recommendations and the reality of electronic publishing. We conclude that the scientific article will change considerably but that, in its new more composite form as an ensemble of various textual and non-textual components, it will retain many of the current cultural and scientific requirements with regard to editorial, quality and integrity.