I am forwarding this message to everyone because the information in it looks
so cool. I haven't checked out the system described in it yet. but it
might prove really useful for on-line discussion of papers particularly in a
>The following is a Chronicle of Higher Education article about on-
>line, interactive system for scholarly publishing.
>Chronicle of Higher Education
>Tuesday, May 25, 1999
> An On-Line Format for Scholarly Papers Lets Critics
> Aim Their Barbs Precisely
> By KELLY McCOLLUM
>An interactive system for publishing scholarly papers, created by a
>professor and a graduate student at the University of Illinois at
>Urbana-Champaign, offers instant gratification for critics and
>precise feedback for authors.
>The system, called the Interactive Paper Project,
>(http://lrsdb2.ed.uiuc.edu:591/ipp/) is an electronic format that lets
>readers insert comments within scholarly papers as they read.
>Forms at the end of every paragraph encourage readers to
>comment on specific ideas or points, rather than to give a broad
>critique at the end of the paper, although they can do that as well.
>The project was created by James Levin, a professor of educational
>psychology, and James Buell, a graduate student.
>Mr. Levin likens the format to a printed draft that a scholar might
>photocopy and pass around to a few colleagues for comments or
>suggestions. While photocopies might come back with notes
>scribbled in the margins, the scholar would look at Mr. Levin's
>version in a Web browser, where comments would appear following
>each paragraph of the text. Readers can comment on the
>comments of others, too.
>Mr. Levin says the format allows readers to participate in a
>discussion that is structured by the ideas in a paper, but not
>constrained by it. He also says the format could be useful in the
>peer-review process for scholarly journals.
>"You would have a more-collaborative review process," he says.
>"Right now the review process is pretty much individual -- you send
>out end copies to end reviewers, and each one reviews it in
>isolation." He adds, "You may still want to do that, but this gives
>you the opportunity to make it a collaborative thing."
>The project's Web site has a handful of papers, mostly articles on
>issues in education and technology by professors at the university.
>The site is open to anyone who wishes to read and respond to the
>papers. If a journal were to use the format, Mr. Levin says,
>password protection could be added to limit who had access to the
>Mr. Levin says the technology behind the archive is relatively
>simple and could be duplicated by anyone who wanted to set up a
>similar system. The texts of the papers and the comments are
>stored on a server using Filemaker Pro, a common data-base
>Readers can choose either to see other readers' comments
>inserted directly into the text of papers or to have the comments
>appear in a separate file linked to the text. Authors can easily drop
>the comments if they choose to submit their articles for print
>without making changes to their work.
>But choosing to leave comments in could also be useful, says
>Nicholas C. Burbules, a professor of educational policy at the
>university who has posted papers to the archive. Comments added
>to the papers "become not only communications from the reader to
>the author, but part of the archive of the text itself," he says.
>"Subsequent readers may react more to that material than to the
>In an electronic-only publication, there's no reason why readers
>couldn't continue to add comments to papers indefinitely, he says.
>Authors could then revise their work, and readers could continue to
>comment. Then, says Mr. Burbules, "the distinction between a
>draft and a final version is no longer a sharp distinction." He adds,
>"The idea that something is only a draft until it is published -- that's
>an artifact of a particular kind of technology of producing papers."
>That distinction has already been tested by "e-print" servers and e-
>mail lists in which scholars have distributed their work on the
>Internet to seek comment from colleagues. In some cases,
>however, such electronic distribution has disqualified papers from
>"How is that different from the person who made 10 or 20
>photocopies of a paper in draft form and sent it to people for
>feedback?" asks Mr. Burbules. "Is it just a question of numbers?"
>"We're using some outmoded categories that really don't help us
>come to grips with what's different about this particular medium,"
>Mr. Levin also sees uses for the interactive-paper format outside of
>scholarly publishing. "Everyone we show this to comes up with a
>new idea for using it," he says. Among the works already on the
>university's server are a proposal for a new instructional program
>and notes from a faculty meeting.
>"You could put a paper up in this format for a class and have
>students respond to a paper," he says. "You could encourage a
>class discussion structured by a particular reading."
>Copyright © 1999 by The Chronicle of Higher Education
>Mark Rosenfeld, Ph.D
>Community and Government Relations Officer
>Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations
>27 Carlton St., Suite 400
>Toronto, Ontario M5B 1L2
>e-mail: [log in to unmask]
>tel: (416) 979-2117, ext. 34
>fax: (416) 593-5607
Catherine F. Schryer
Dept. of English
University of Waterloo
Waterloo, Ontario, Canada
(519) 885-1211 (ext 3318)