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Learned inquiry and the Net: the role of peer review, peer commentary and copyright*

  • Stevan Harnad (a1)


I should begin by defining some of the metaphors I use in this paper. By the ‘Gutenberg Galaxy’ I mean the world of print on paper. Thus the ‘PostGutenberg Galaxy’ is its successor, the virtual world of bytes on tape, disk and screen — and especially dispersal in the fibreoptic cables enmeshing the globe and transmitting them everywhere at the speed of light. I also use the term ‘Skywriting,’ for the dissemination of the written word in the PostGutenberg Galaxy is very much like writing it all up in the sky, for everyone to see and to append their own scribblings onto, rather like the serial graffiti in public toilets, except on a galactic scale. Or perhaps a global Hyde Park, with the orations and cat-calls all delivered graphically rather than orally.


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This paper has been adapted from Professor Harnad's Snider Professorship Keynote Address given at the ‘Learned Inquiry and the Net: Beyond Print’ Symposium on Electronic Publishing and New Models of Scholarly Communication, Center for Instructional Technology, University of Toronto, Scarborough, Ontario, September 1997.



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Ginsparg, P. 1994. First steps towards electronic research communication, Computers in Physics (August) 8(4): 390–96.
Harnad, S. 1990. Scholarly skywriting and the prepublication continuum of scientific inquiry, Psychological Science 1: 342–3 (rephrinted in Current Contents 45 (11 November 1991): 913. http:// Harnad/HTML/harnad90.skywriting.html
Harnad, S. 1991. Post-Gutenberg galaxy: the fourth revolution in the means of production of knowledge, Public-Access Computer Systems Review 2 (1): 3953. (Reprinted in: PACS Annual Review 2 (1992); Mason, R.D. (ed.), Computer conferencing: the last word (Victoria, BC: Beach Holme Publishers, 1992); Strangelove, M. & Kovacs, D. Directory of electronic journals, newsletters, and academic discussion lists (Okerson, A. ed.), 2nd edition (Washington (DC): Association of Research Libraries, Office of Scientific & Academic Publishing, 1992); in Hungarian, REPLIKA (1994); in Japanese, in Research and development of scholarly information dissemination systems (1994–5).) http://http:// harnad91.postgutenberg.html
Harnad, S. 1992. Interactive publication: extending the American Physical Society’s discipline-specific model for electronic publishing, Serials Review, Special Issue on Economics Models for Electronic Publishing: 5861. http:http;// harnad92 .interactivpub.html
Harnad, S. 1995a. Universal FTP archives for esoteric science and scholarship; a subversive proposal, in Okerson, A. & O’Donnell, J. (ed.), Scholarly journals at the crossroads; a subversive proposal for electronic publishing: 11–12 and passim. Washington (DC) Association of Research Libraries. June. http:
Harnad, S. 1995b. Interactive cognition: exploring the potential of electronic quote/commenting, in Gorayska, B. & Mey, J.L. (cd.), Cognitive technology: in search of a humane interface: 397414. Amsterdam: Elsevier, http:// hamad/Papers/Harnad/harnad95.interactive. cognition.html
Harnad, S. 1996. Implementing peer review on the Net: scientific quality control in scholarly electronic journals, in Peek, R. & Newby, G. (ed.), Electronic publishing confronts academia: the agenda for the year 2000: 103–18. Cambridge (MA): MIT Press. http:// Harnad/
Harnad, S. 1997a. How to fast-forward serials to the inevitable and the optimal for scholars and scientists, Serials Librarian 30: 7381. (Reprinted in Christiansen, C. & Leatham, C. (ed.), Pioneering new serials frontiers: from petroglyphs to CyberSerials. New York (NY): Haworth Press.) http:// harnad97 .learned.serials
Harnad, S. & Hemus, M. In press. All or none: there are no stable hybrid or half-way solutions for launching the learned periodical literature into the PostGutenberg Galaxy, in Butterworth, I. (ed.), The impact of electronic publishing on the academic community. London: Portland Press,
Odlyzko, A.M. 1995. Tragic loss or good riddance? The impending demise of traditional scholarly journals, International fournal of Human-Computer Studies 42 (1995), 71122. (Condensed version in Notices of the Amercan Mathematical Society 42 (January 1995): 49–53. http://

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Learned inquiry and the Net: the role of peer review, peer commentary and copyright*

  • Stevan Harnad (a1)


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