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Old 07-17-2006, 06:52 PM   #1
Bob Russell
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MediaCommons wants to move academia away from paper

Contrary to popular belief of freshmen everywhere, university professors are generally not there because they are great teachers. The top universities encourage good teaching, but they are focused on getting great reserachers. In the past, that was probably more in order to advance learning, but now it's also important in order to be able to fetch the revenues available as research grants.

So how does the work of a professor get judged? One significant way is to look at the research that's been published in academic journals. Especially the ones with the best reputations, who only publish the best work. They judge submissions by a "peer review" process where experts in the field look at the submission and determine whether it is worthy, or maybe provide input to the author necessary to bring it up to the publishers standards.

There are a lot of electronic versions of academic journals already, and libraries often find that the electronic versions are more used than the print versions because of the search capabilities. But we don't see large scale leaps into electronic publishing only. Now MediaCommons is making an effort to go that extra step to the electronic publishing world by bringing the whole peer review process along for the ride, hoping that the electronic journal will gain the same respect in the academic community as paper journals.

Personally, I think it will take better reader systems and permanently accessible formats to encourage the industry to completely let go of paper content. But eventually it will not be a technology issue. It's really a content issue. We just don't see it yet.

From arstechnica.com.
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