Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Mario Biagioli of UC Davis on turning points in science publishing

Public Access to Federally Supported R&D Publications meeting

Fascinating overview of the twisty history of the "science article." Starting with Galileo and Newton, most publication sponsored because of high costs. There was more concern with "propriety" than "property".

Biggest concern was not theft for profit, but theft for credit. Complex systems with ciphers and secret letters were used to ensure proper credit and priority.

Two models arose: academies and journals.

The Academy
Academies, being member organizations, focused on meetings and publication of correspondence. Academic publications were both publishers and licensors. The academies also became, de facto, the creation of peer review. But done openly by members with the purpose to protect the academy and state from embarrassment.

Publication by those "inside" and "outside" the academy very clearly defined.

The Journal Article
Late 18th/early 19th century sees a change from an oral, presentation style of research to a "literature" style that focuses on print dissemination.

This change disrupts the academic model; in reaction, the academies begin to publish non-peer reviewed proceedings that are quick to market, but create citation and precedence  nightmares.

Paraphrasing Maxwell, "the book of nature becomes the magazine of nature".

Created a change from academies as authoritative judges to publishers of authoritative journals. 

The history of the article is linear and progressive, not a god-given and unchanging norm.

Technology is now rapidly accelerating in the change.

[notes taken on the fly, errors mine and not the speaker's]

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