Eos, Transactions American Geophysical Union

Opportunities for Innovative Publishing in the Electronic Age?



I recently experienced difficulty with a peer-reviewed article in an open access electronic journal when I requested some quite simple but important changes. The article had been put online and identified as “provisional” by the publisher. I took this to mean that it had been accepted through peer review but that further revision was possible before formal acceptance. My coauthors and I wanted to add some authors to an already quite long list, and the science content of the article was unaffected. We provided evidence that the contributions of the new authors met the normal standards for authorship. The publisher was, however, reluctant to make the change, stating that such a policy was standard throughout the scientific publishing world, and instead suggested that we publish an electronic erratum. The details of this case are not of concern, but it struck me that some of the protocols of the print age were being unnecessarily transferred to the electronic age. In a more general way there are opportunities for innovation in electronic publishing. Policies and practices that appear to be due to the constraints of print are being inherited by electronic publications for no good reason.