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One of the axioms that arise from the application of Kaufer and Carley's assumptions (see 2.2.1: Initial assumptions on page 28) to communicative transactions is that
It would seem that the added speed and reach of electronic journals would increase the ability of authors (and readers who are providing commentaries) to exert this communicative authority and thus subtly enhance their respective roles.
They also argue that the nature of professions depends on the characteristics of a group and not the medium through which they communicate. This would support the argument that moving to online hypermedia publishing would not change the nature of scholarship per se (although there is no reason to conclude that it would not alter the roles that scholars can play).
The application of the theory of punctuated equilibria to an analysis of the fossil record supports an interpretation of rapid change rather than 'phyletic gradualism'. Generalising to scholarly publishing would suggest a similarly rapid change in at least the species of scholarly journal. It is not certain that this would mean a similarly rapid change in stakeholder roles, although there are some recent signs of movement in the relative stasis of the last fifty years in scholarly for-profit publishing. One is a recent agreement from Elsevier to allow libraries to make paper copies of requested articles appearing in electronic journals and share them with scholars at other institutions (in the same way as for normal inter-library loan) [Kiernan, 1998a]. Another is the recent decision by the 81 libraries in the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition and the American Chemical Society to produce a new organic-chemistry publication that will be considerably less expensive than its leading competitor, Tetrahedron Letters , published by Elsevier Science. The coalition plans to start other low-cost journals in collaboration with other publishers [Kiernan, 1998b]. This initiative by libraries and a scholarly society to work in competition with an existing journal and publisher is a significant shift in role.
The insights provided by Agre's analysis of the role of genre (and its related terms of community, activity, relationships, and media) in the design of new media [Agre, 1995b] are relevant to every aspect of the transformation of roles. The roles that are being transformed are exercised in Agre's communities, shared forms of activity within a particular institutional logic. The communities of stakeholders in the scholarly publishing ecology are defined in terms of the activities they perform. The communities are also internally dependent on the patterns of relationships between members as well as being themselves linked via a web of relationships to other communities within the ecology. The entire ecology has been organised around the production of journals in the specific medium of print and is now reorganising around multiple media. All of this is taking place within the genre of the scholarly journal and all the expectations and default settings that this implies. All of this suggests strongly that evolving this system will require interventions and decisions by multiple players at multiple levels and is emphatically not a simple task.
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