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Friday, December 03, 2004
 
Google Scholar as paradigm shift ::

Alan Meckler, a scholarly publisher since 1969, has a fascinating piece on how Google Scholar could be the first sign of a sea change in how such publishing works. (I came across it in On Google Scholar)

Meckler concludes that Google Scholar:
...is yet another example of how the Internet can turn a traditional industry on its head in a flash.
He argues that the crisis in monograph economics is a consequence (in part) of journal prices:
The reason being that as journal prices rise, libraries are forced to cut back on purchasing books and other materials so that they can maintain a journal subscription that is needed by a certain department (which might have only a handful of readers per year). Journal prices rise much more rapidly than book prices. Therefore the percentage of a library budget going to research journals expands yearly to the detriment of the book budget.
Currently even the big aggregators each only cover some of the relevant journals. By aggregating at the search level Google Scholar changes this, and offers:
..an inexpensive means for scholars and scientists to make sure that their papers and articles are distributed inexpensively and throrougly.
It may help bypass one of the main causes for the failure of many electronic publishing ventures:
...the difficulty of making sure that these materials are easily findable and then readable.
By turning electronic scholarship into a "vertical industry", and offering a centralised search of only scholarly (quality assured) material, Google Scholar opens the possibility of:
...a cottage industry developing (both for profits and non-profits) who can use Google's reach to rapidly and efficiently find wide circulation.

By combining the reach of the web with the selectivity of a traditional research library, Google Scholar could make small scale, and even non-profit, publishing truly competitive!


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