Why Hasn’t the Web Revolutionized Scholarly Publication?

Michael Giberson

When Tim Berners-Lee created the Web in 1991, it was with the aim of better facilitating scientific communication and the dissemination of scientific research. Put another way, the Web was designed to disrupt scientific publishing. It was not designed to disrupt bookstores, telecommunications, matchmaking services, newspapers, pornography, stock trading, music distribution, or a great many other industries.

And yet it has.

[…] The one thing that one could have reasonably predicted in 1991, however, was that scientific communication—and the publishing industry that supports the dissemination of scientific research—would radically change over the next couple decades.

And yet it has not.

The article offers a detailed assessment of why the web has changed scientific publishing in some small ways without fundamentally disrupting the pre-existing system.  You may be tempted to say that it is just because academia is fundamentally a conservative, status-driven institution, but would not the same be true of many other industries that have been reshaped by the internet?

HT to Marginal Revolution.

One thought on “Why Hasn’t the Web Revolutionized Scholarly Publication?

  1. One could argue that the web has recently begun to revolutionize “scholarly” publication, as evidenced by the scientific cesspool known a “climategate”. 🙂

    Some scientists have begun publishing papers to their own and others’ websites because they have discovered that there are a number of fully qualified peers among the regular visitors to and commenters on these sites.

    Many non-peers have recently been exposed to the current state of the peer review process, at least in climate science; and, to efforts to exclude certain positions from peer review. They have also been exposed to efforts to use the web to silence dissent.

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