LINGUIST List 12.1516

Thu Jun 7 2001

Disc: Ethics of Web-based vs Paper Publications

Editor for this issue: Karen Milligan <>


  1. Lotfi, Disc: Ethics of Web-based vs Paper Publications
  2. Dr. Ali Aghbar, Disc: Ethics of Web-based vs Paper Publications

Message 1: Disc: Ethics of Web-based vs Paper Publications

Date: 6 Jun 2001 18:46:24 EDT
From: Lotfi <>
Subject: Disc: Ethics of Web-based vs Paper Publications

Dear Linguists,
I join the discussion on the ethics of Web-based vs Paper
Publications pretty late as the body of the discussion has
already shaped around the advantages and disadvantages of
each mode of communication with specific reference to the
accessibility of each one. I'm afraid the advantages of
web-based publication are so overwhelmingly numerous that
can hardly be controversial. There is something I wish to
draw Linguists' attention to, however: the importance of
web-based papers in shaping the politics of the field.
Even in an endeavor as sacred as scientific truth-seeking,
power structure is still there with some pepole high enough in
the power hierarchy to exert some sort of control over the
route and rate of scientific development: people in charge
of universities, faculties, departments, executive/academic
councils, conference organisers, and also the editors of the
major technical journals of the field. Although the refereeing
process seems to be there to make the process of article
selection as unbiased as possible, any editor of any small journal
knows how easy it is to have an 'unwanted' paper rejected simply
through sending it to the 'right' reviewers!
Web-based papers raised a lot of hope among researchers, esp.
young and unorthodox ones, as the internet was (and still is)
viewed as a facility to free the researcher from the political
bonds of any field of research. After all, web unrefereed
publication is always available as an option to publish papers
that have never been given the chance to see the daylight!
And this advantage has actually turned into one of the limitations
of web-based publication, too:
There are thousands and thousands of such papers available
electronically to the effect that putting your paper on the web is
sometimes like throwing it in the sea: people may find it (if they
do) just by accident!
A second problem is that paper publication is usually assumed to
be more authoritative and higher in academic prestige for the very
reason that paper publication is more difficult and selective.
I think refereed e-journals are not a good solution to this problem
either as it just helps politics to re-enter through the window.
I think we need a more democratic and reliable evaluation device
to the effect that while it cannot prevent one from publishing
one's work, it still provides some index of quality to distinguish
it from weaker ones. Perhaps a more effective system of peer review-
ing and also rating by readers can take care of this problem to some
extent. But perhaps even more important than this is change in our own
attitudes towards this mode of publication. If we try to use more
<http//...> references in our papers, and if we (esp. VIPs among us)
don't reserve our major works only for paper publication, scientific
developments will be accelerated, and as a result, the potentials
of the web will serve scientific goals more effectively than this.
Then and only then the internet will turn into some sort of
'scientists parliament' where the major decisions with regard to goals
and strategies of scentific work will be made. Otherwise, the inter-
net will remain a research tool (though a very effective one) and
nothing more.
Ahmad R. Lotfi
- ------------------------------------------------------------
 Ahmad R. Lotfi, Ph. D
 English Dept, Chair
 Azad University (Khorasgan)
 Esfahan, IRAN.
- -----------------------------------------------------
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Message 2: Disc: Ethics of Web-based vs Paper Publications

Date: Thu, 07 Jun 2001 13:32:13 -0400
From: Dr. Ali Aghbar <>
Subject: Disc: Ethics of Web-based vs Paper Publications

I am getting into this discussion in mid-course, so please forgive me if
I raise a point that has already been covered. I find the idea of
online publishing very appealing. I have two questions:
1. How do I, as a reader, ascertatin what I have accessed is worthy
material and not junk. (Mind you, I have seen a mountain of junk in
print. I guess I am beginning to answer my own question... At least
online, I have not dished up $80 before I realized I have got
junk....what else?)
2. How do we convince institutions that make decisions about tenure and
promotion of the quality of work we publish online.

Ali Aghbar
Indiana University of PA
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