The World Wide Web Journal of Biology is an international, Publication of
Epress Inc., Copyright © 1995-1999.
Editorial: Electronic Publishing in the Sciences
Lester F. Harris
David F. Hickok Memorial Cancer Research Laboratory
Keywords: world wide web, electronic publishing, peer review, research.
Abbott Northwestern Hospital
800 E. 28th St., Minneapolis, MN 55407
Correspondence should be addressed to: Lester F. Harris, PhD.
Submitted for publication: October 1995
The hallmark for advancement of scientific research is rapid dissemination of
peer-reviewed information. Likewise, advancement in academic careers and
success in obtaining funds for research are associated with a record of publication.
However, due to space limitations, it is becoming increasingly difficult to publish
scientific findings in a timely manner in conventional journals. In addition, publication
and subscription costs associated with paper journals create hardships for many
laboratories, especially during times of limited financial resources. Furthermore,
lesser-known journals are not readily available for reference in libraries,
abstract services, or other archives leading to instances of failure to credit previous
work of other investigators as similar findings are reported. Therefore, a publishing
alternative which addresses all of these issues is sorely needed.
Electronic publishing on the internet offers a means for low cost, non-space
limiting, rapid and widely disseminated communication of peer-reviewed scientific
information. Moreover, publishing in an electronic journal expands the kinds of
information that can be presented, such as multimedia presentations, including
sound files, movies, color graphics without page charges and coordinate sets
for 3-D models. The use of electronic communications (E-mail, ftp, etc.)
for submission, review and publication will eliminate the substantial paper
costs of a conventional journal. Reprint requests can be made by E-mail to the
author and individuals can download the entire article themselves, thus
eliminating the time consuming and costly task of conventional copying from a
library or other archive. Copyright will remain with the publisher as is customary
in conventional paper journals.
An electronic journal is well suited for publishing traditional research findings
as seen in conventional journals. In addition, an electronic journal, in contrast
to conventional paper journals, is uniquely suited for in-depth communication of
research findings from informatics applied to bioscience and molecular medicine.
As an example, large amounts of inter-related data are being generated by the
national Human Genome Project which will require mass storage of information in
a flexible form for ease of retrieval and analyses. An electronic journal on the
internet is ideally suited for publication of large files which can be easily retrieved
allowing rapid computer access of information. Another example of the use of
informatics in bioscience and molecular medicine is the back and forth process using
computer models, based on results from laboratory experiments, for designing further
laboratory experiments. Research findings from these studies can be well illustrated
in an electronic journal. An extension of this type of research is the use of computer
models in molecular dynamics simulations investigating the molecular events which occur
during interactions between macromolecular molecules. These studies likewise create large
amounts of data which can be best communicated and understood by examining trajectories
resulting from the molecular dynamics. An electronic journal would allow publication of
3-D coordinates of the models as well as animated movies of the trajectories from the
molecular dynamics simulations. Finally, direct links from the electronic journal to
on-line database archives will facilitate rapid access for literature searches, genetic
sequence analysis, gene mapping, protein structure analysis and computer model evaluations
in conjunction with findings as they are reported.
The hypertext format of the World Wide Web (WWW) is ideally suited for the presentation
of scientific information. In this regard, the primary purpose of The World Wide Web Journal
of Biology is to create an international on-line open forum for rapid interactive peer-reviewed
information exchange in the biological sciences. Links from references within the body of the
articles to the National Library of Medicine's (NLM) on-line database of published research literature
- MEDLINE, will provide rapid access for the reader to earlier supporting research while reading
the article. In addition, MEDLINE is now linked to GenBank, another NLM archive managed by the
National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) which contains an array of on-line databases.
These links will allow the readership to conduct literature searches as well as similarity searches
among gene, protein and phylogeny databases. Therefore, by providing links within the body of
articles to these databases, the World Wide Web Journal of Biology is continuing the spirit of
NLM's and NCBI's efforts in "moving research ahead" by supplying "data you can compute on" with access
to resources. Furthermore, electronic communication from readers via an interactive forum of information
exchange in the World Wide Web Journal of Biology will help to foster global collaboration in science.
Statistics on the number of readers of each article are easily obtained, providing valuable feedback
to authors. The WWW Journal of Biology will be archived quarterly to CD-ROM allowing a searchable,
low cost database of past and current editions which will be available to libraries, abstract services
and individuals who wish to subscribe.
The World Wide Web Journal of Biology is now issuing a call for manuscripts; details for submission
can be found in the instructions to authors section of the journal.
Lester Floyd Harris