Our Readers Write to Us (and we respond)
This palaeontological journal made headlines throughout the international community of serials librarians, as it was chosen to be the 5,000th (whew, that's an awkward one to say) electronic journal to be listed on the Internet listserv, NewJour. Of course, not all 5,000 items are scholarly peer-review journals, but it's still very impressive -- especially since the list only started in 1993!
Congratulations, and best wishes for the electronic journal from at least one serials librarian!
Dissertations on the Web?
Palaeontologia Electronica is visually and conceptually a wonderful website. I was particularly pleased by its creative use of the medium; the articles are not simple, one-for-one postings of typed material. I fear that most of the older paleontologists are still unaware of what they are missing. It's hard to access the Web when you haven't learned how to type! (Ah, remember secretaries? There's an extinct species...) So PE may be undervalued by some professors, and perhaps temporarily by their students, but it is clearly the way that more and more material will be presented.
Is there any reason why an entire dissertation could not be posted as an article in PE?
PE Note: There is certainly no reason why an entire dissertation could not be posted as an article in PE. We would welcome such submissions, and pass them through our normal reviewing process.
Submit a Paper
I took a look at your journal and am quite impressed! I have heard complaints from paleontologists about how long it takes to get monographs published and the expense (especially of sending reprints). Your journal solves that problem so it should become popular.
Thank you for the invitation to submit a paper. I will seriously consider that.
S. Blair Hedges,
Department of Biology
Pennsylvania State University
PE Note: See our site for the Call to Papers.
The only problem I see is one that will correct itself over time, the need for more articles. This is indeed an excellent use of Internet technology. The capacity to reference the latest scholarship on a given topic in a forum that is immediately available to anyone is particularly exciting. This may also be an opportunity for non-vertebrate paleontologists to get exposure that otherwise would be difficult.
Negative comments? Difficulty in going BACK from some pages option not available.
PE Note: You were not alone in this problem. Our files are coded so that figures, tables, and references open "on top" of the already open image. This allows a reader to view two windows at the same time. The downfall of this coding is that the only way to get "out" of the top window is the hit the "Back" button in your browser. To help readers escape from the top window, we have added a CLOSE button at the top of each figure, table, and reference.
Oh boy--the concept is very good. Your layout and navigation bar are well thought out. The prospect of an electronic paleo-periodical that invites papers to include more than just basic imaging could be daunting to some of your potential contributors - but it's a neat idea.
You may want to give a little more consideration to viewers that aren't aware of the plugins required to view special formats. My wife was put off when she couldn't view a Quicktime file because we didn't have the viewer already installed. Your user support needs more thought.
Limeridge Mall, Hamilton,
Display the URL Prominently
I printed Jere's editorial to hang on our bulletin board. It needs to have the URL to Palaeeontologia Electronica displayed more prominently. Let' s not make PE difficult to find. Also it took me quite awhile to figure out how to get to the actual journal once I got to the introductory web page. Needs a big obvious button. Looks Great.
Make the Information Accessible
As an untrained hobbyist with no background in the sciences - particularly biology - I feel that you could do a real service by ensuring as much as possible that you make the information accessible and understandable to those of us with no formal training or knowledge in the field. Assisting us to learn would be much appreciated.
A Suggestion on Animations
Norm - and everyone else involved - I applaud your bringing this project to fruition. The authors have presented information consistent with the medium of HTML and in fine form. One minor suggestion would be to add information on the size of animations - movies in their text descriptors. Then - depending on the state of the Net at any given time - one could choose whether sufficient bandwidth was available for reasonable packet speeds. Navigation through the journal was satisfactory - but occasionally inconsistent in how the left "frame" moved with the body text. Not a problem - doesn't need repair - more my uncertainty of when I could scroll down and when I couldn't. All in all - a valuable service to the paleontological community and deeply appreciated by me - since I do not have reasonable access to most journals locally.
PE Note: A good idea regarding notes on the size of the animations. See our newest issue for movies to task the healthiest system! The size of the file is listed in the caption.
Subscription Costs and Archive Concerns
How much is the subscription going to cost for institutions, libraries? How much will the archive copies cost to obtain?
I don't believe CDs are acceptable as an archiving media for preservation. Check with the preservation specialist at your university library.
PE Note: There is no charge for a subscription. This journal is available to anyone with Internet access. You can be notified of future issues by listing your name in our Subscription list (see Coquina Press, Subscribe to PE).
Although no one has tested it, the media should last 100 years (which is the archive requirement). The problem will lay with the systems, software, and hardware of computers. The text (HTML) is a glorified version of ASCII and will last as long as the English language. This problem of CD access is being explored by libraries and archivists around the world. Possible solutions being discussed are the complete archive of a computer sytem to support the CDs.
Even as we speak (write) CDs will soon be supplanted by DVDs.
This is an extremely timely and innovative idea and I suspect the journal will be very successful. I would be very happy to review papers with dinosaurian content. Indeed, it would be fun, to chat with editors about possible innovative topics regarding Mesozoic themes - in general. The potential for rapid communication seems superb.
Less then 10 years ago access to e-mail revolutionized my academic life. The purchase of a new home computer a year ago and unlimited access to the web spawned another conceptual expansion of horizons. Electronic publishing really seems like an idea with a very substantial future. We can encourage the concept in our classes - the young people will pick it up at least as quickly as becoming familiar with traditional library use. I wonder what will become of people who do not use computer-based technology in their professional work - it is amazing to me that some of my colleagues effectively reject the use of e-mail, which is entry level to electronic academia. My heart goes out to them - they really need encouragement. And conversely, we really have to keep up with the new tools available to us.
Congratulation for your innovative spirit - it benefits us all.
Good courage and good fortune
Copyright: Coquina Press, 1 August 1998