According to Lang (2010), we could ask the question whether hardcopy scholarly journals are near the end. I know, I know. This is kind of an elephant in the middle of a room.
Lang raises the question based on the following bullet points:
1. Forty-page Articles Are Dead.
2. Survey Articles Are Dead.
3. Journal Issues Are Dead.
4. Page Numbers Are Dead.
5. Copy Editing Is Dead.
6. Peer Reviewing Might Be Dying Too.
7. The Article as a Unit of Publication Is Dead.
Lang then concludes with a question and call to action.
A New Beginning for Scholarly Publishing?
“So let’s abandon all the 20th-century baggage of traditional journals, and move to a more rational model for scholarly publication, with no copy editors, no reviewers, no redundancy, and no unnecessary delays. A concrete step would be to give each ACL member a DOI for a unipaper, and then ask them to non-redundantly populate this with a sequence, or a tree, of numbered paragraphs that consolidate all their work on a topic. Then, to get things moving, the present journal could insist that some proportion of citations be to paragraphs within these unipapers, with hyperlinks embedded right there in the citations. What are we waiting for?”
Feel free to take issues with any of the above points.
My opinion? Lang has very good arguments. However, …. I would say that due to the changing times -read here smart phones, I-tablets, blogs, social networks, etc- many hardcopy scholarly journals are actually evolving while the weakers or unfit to changes are dying as a natural e-phenomenon observed in online ecosystems. This is not unique of scholarly journals. Actually the same is true for any piece of hardcopy journal, newspaper, magazine, newsletters.
With more retailers giving discounts and even freebies just for showing a tweet about their products or services at their store, who knows what will be the fate of flyers, coupons, etc.
Publishers that don’t adjust their business models to the changing times are deemed to become the next LPs, 8-tracks, cassette tapes, etc.
Lang, N. (2010) Are We Near the End of the Journal. Computational Linguistics Volume 36, Number 4. Retrieved from http://www.mitpressjournals.org/doi/pdf/10.1162/coli_a_00019