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February 10, 2008


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Interesting speculation in light of your blog survey results. I would think that in general blog authors would agree, but blog readers might not, at least not yet. So the question becomes, are the blog authors the same people as the journal article writers? Is the professional as a whole ready for this shift?

I'd certainly support the change. One of my big frustrations is the gap between research or project and publication or presentation. What we read in our journals and hear at our meetings is usually at least a year old. Can we continue to afford that much time lag?


Great points Jane. We're looking at a years-long transition to blogs being accorded the same status as journals, I think. But blogs are already hastening professional conversation--or at least the sharing of news--which is a good thing already.

James Jacobs

Hi Marcus. I'm on the publications committee of ALA's Govt Documents Roundtable (GODORT), the group that leads the publication of our roundtable journal, Documents to the People (DttP). This is an interesting thought piece, and something that's I've been mulling about as well. Let me say first that I wholeheartedly agree that a blog could make a group's publication more lively, collaborative and timely.

While I agree with your conclusion overall, I think you sold the issue a bit short by skipping a couple of compelling arguments and perhaps missing the point on your pre/post publication peer review argument.

First, pre/post review. you seem to think that publishing in a blog format means that the process of peer review shifts from pre- to post-publication. Actually the blog format could allow for *both* and could speed up the process to publication. The blog could be used for article submission, with for example, votes from the community (ala reddit.com) for which submissions are worthy of review/publication. It could also be used to manage the process of editing and peer review

And some things you didn't mention:

  • blogs cut down the costs of publication/distribution (and can, if one chooses, be a revenue stream with google ads, sections for highlighted vendors etc.)

  • blogs are more easily found and searchable in popular search engines

  • blogs speed up community input, which makes articles all the more interesting, lively, and contextual.

  • blogs are closer to the ideal of "scholarly communication" than paper journals with necessarily long publication cycles.

  • blog could be used *in addition to* a traditional journal (paper or digital) to highlight TOCs and important articles, add content to articles that couldn't be published in paper, post responses to articles and timely items of interest to the community.

  • --LC allows for ISSN's for blogs

As you can see, I'm not thinking of a blog as an either/or proposition but rather a both/and or a hybridization of traditional publishing model. I'd be interested to hear if you know of other society publications that have shifted to a blog format or have used a blog as the traditional journal's splash page.

Thanks again!


James Jacobs

bummer. my formatting showed in the preview but not in the final version of the comments. sorry about that. j


Thanks so much James. I agree with all your arguments--perhaps I stated the issue too baldly as "journals vs. blogs."

We're fairly innovative at Biomedical Digital Libraries--all production processes are online, and peer review is "open" (i.e., the reviewers and authors know whom the other is.) But nevertheless, a paper doesn't go up until it's gone through multiple rounds of review. Looking back at everything we've published, I can see no harm in getting those papers out earlier--philosophically, at least. Practically speaking, people don't want to injure their reputations by offering up less than polished work. Who can blame them?

I'm calling for a professional shift that values speed of new ideas over polished presentation (while recognizing that the polish has a place too). This will be a long time coming, but I think it's worth it.

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