Magazine article Information Today

Final Article? Are You Sure?

Magazine article Information Today

Final Article? Are You Sure?

Article excerpt

Recently, it seems that the field of scholarship, which has already converted to digital, has moved toward new offerings from digital vendors that could prove confusing to future content users. OA, open source, open peer review, and collaborative services are the latest things. Announcements of new services and features seem to appear weekly.

But do these online products provide readers with content they can trust as the definitive final output from known authors? It's all part of the advance of the cloud and how it serves as everyone's archive, hard drive, notebook, and, with social networks, everyone's family and friends.

We Can Never Be Sure

But how can readers be sure that they are seeing the considered-final judgment of a scholarly problem when cloud services are fogging the picture? With the collaborative environment, you might not even know for sure who wrote the article you're reading.

And with cloud services moving to dominate scholarly online content, can you know for sure that the article you've read remains stable? Could a citation in a footnote lead a scholar's readers to a "more final" version, one that the scholar citing it may not have read?

Format can't protect you. PDFs can be revised or resubmitted. This explains the importance of citations, including the date the scholar looked at the cited URL.

And the problem goes both ways. What if altered versions contain substantive improvements? Can scholars sign up for updates--something similar to a Google Alert for scholarship? Can they specify which articles merit that service, at least for their individual needs? Or can they ask for universal updating, perhaps narrowed to specific sites?

A Brave New World of Constant Updates

It's not an insignificant concern. This year, eLife announced eLife Continuum, a new platform to replace the one provided by HighWire Press. …

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