Masthead CMC Magazine / May 1, 1996
 A Framework for Electronic Publishing Issues, by John December

Societal Implications of Electronic Publishing

There's not a great deal of discussion of the broad social change that may or may not take place as a result of electronic publishing. Instead, the book focuses well on the specific social changes that may shape the publishing and education industries as a result of electronic publishing. Part I of the book, consisting of six chapters, is devoted to the impact of electronic publishing on scholarly life.

Robin Peek, in "Scholarly Publishing, Facing the New Frontiers," holds that publishing institutions will remain largely the same. While scholarly publishing has been a part of academia for three centuries, academic journals have shifted in purpose from forums to foster communication and community to to vehicles for asserting the legitimacy of a scholar. The process of conferring this legitimacy--primarily through peer review protocols--should change little despite electronic alternatives for distribution.

Similarly, Larry W. Hurtado, in "A Consortium for Refereed Electronic Journals," calls for a strict, hierarchical system of academic institutional cooperation to confer status on electronic works. Stevan Harnad calls for a system of ranked publications, but a more flexible range of publishing alternatives, allowing for "scholarly skywriting" to allow room for peer-reviewed material as well as informal discussion. *

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