Select Committee on Science and Technology Written Evidence


Annex

  Dear Dr Varmus,

  I am anxiously awaiting the implementation of E-biomed for the following reasons:

    i.  It is going to save us an awful lot of wasted time now spent pursuing the conventional publication process.

    ii.  It has the potential to bring inter- or multi-disciplinary work, work on unusual systems, and other non-conventional findings to the attention of a broad audience.

    iii.  It will provide an excellent opportunity for distributing images and film sequences that are difficult to include in conventional publication although some effort is now being made by journals to accommodate data of this sort.

    iv.  Electronic publishing could in fact be a way to archive full data sets, research film collections, image collections and the like, in contrast to the tip of the iceberg that now appear in conventional papers.

    v.  New discovery and new ideas are becoming more and more difficult to publish in most specialized journals. The tendency is to favour conventional experimental approaches and results that are in the mainstream. Submission of E-biomed postings through the general repository would provide an excellent way for something different to get a hearing. I suspect many future directions that go beyond current trends will make their appearance in these postings.

    vi.  Have you considered having all submissions posted to the general repository and passing the job on to the journals to bid for the papers they want instead of having authors do so initially?

    vii.  My colleagues in physics and maths frequently post their papers in an electronic data base at Los Alamos either prior to sending them to print journals or as the sole means of distribution. Putting a paper on the net in E-biomed before submitting it to a print journal in biology would probably violate the "has not been published elsewhere" constraint. This might be a talking point with the journals however, particularly if they see that something like E-biomed is likely to obsolete them and their profits.

  I have said too much already. The main point is that after 35 years of conventional publishing, and 20 years of working across disciplines to learn something about bacterial cells, E-biomed would be a welcome and significant advance. I suspect there are others with the same opinion.

January 2004



 
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