Re: form for listing URLs in bibliography

Stephen Turner (
Tue, 14 Nov 1995 10:16:26 +0000 (GMT)

Tony Barry, quoting me, wrote:
-> We carry with us the expectations of print and forget that these
-> expectations may be limitations.
-> > [A paper in an electronic journal] should not be altered
-> >or corrected after publication.
-> Not being able to update and correct publications if a fault of print not a
-> virtue that should be emulated. If I as an author publish something on a
-> server I want to be able to improve it or withdraw it if I no longer feel
-> that it represents my views. If somebody has archived a previous version
-> so that they can cite my views at a previous time the maintenance of that
-> copy become their responsibility but the currenmt version belongs to the
-> author.
-> >Although electronic means provide an excellent
-> >medium for adding later notes and referring to later papers, there should be
-> >a page that refers to the paper and which also links to later notes.
-> Electronic means provide an excellent medium to link to _current_ material
-> even though the citing paper may be years old. You can break the time flow
-> limitation of a static medium like paper.

I agree that electronic means allow citing from old work to later work and
that this is an advantage; in fact, I explicitly say so. However, I disagree
that "Not being able to update and correct publications [is] a fault of
print"; I think it IS a virtue. I am not going to archive a copy of every
paper I ever reference, and if people read my work in 10 years, I expect them
to be able to go back and find the original references easily, and that those
references will not have changed, otherwise they won't know what I'm talking
about. Similarly, if I read somebody else's paper, I need to be able to go
back and read what they were reading at the time, not some later version of
it. By all means add notes to a paper, even issue an updated version, but
keep it with an intact version of the original otherwise chaos will ensue.

(Incidentally, there seems to be quite a lot of resistance in most of the
academic world, even most of the scientific world, to electronic journals,
and one of the main reasons seems to be the fear that the work will not stay
around. I am convinced that electronic journals are the way forward, but I
would never publish in one that did not give a guarantee of permanence).

Stephen R. E. Turner
  Stochastic Networks Group, Statistical Laboratory, University of Cambridge
  e-mail:  WWW:
  "I always keep one big file in case I run out of space." A colleague of mine