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Scholarly Reviews Through the Web

NYTimes.com Article: Scholarly Reviews Through the Web 

Scholarly Reviews Through the Web

August 12, 2002

PET food stores weren't the killer app for the Web, but peer-reviewed
scholarly journals might be.

.... the submission and assessment process for peer-reviewed articles has
traditionally involved lengthy mail delays, high postage costs and
cumbersome administration.

.... about a dozen companies have developed Web-based peer-review programs
that aim to reduce turnaround time, postage bills and workload by
automating and tracking the process. Industry observers estimate that 30
percent of scholarly publishers - which include commercial houses,
academic presses and nonprofit associations - have adopted the online
systems. Software makers and publishers themselves say that nearly all
will do so within the next several years.  ... The Journal of the American
College of Cardiology,(NOTE by CH Published by Elsevier) in San Diego,
began using an electronic peer-review system in January. Glenn Collins,
the journal's managing editor, said he and his staff of four had shaved
its submission and review cycle to five weeks, down from six to eight.  
...  This year, Mr. Collins expects to eliminate 80 percent of his mailing
costs, which had typically run between $60,000 and $70,000.  .... There
are as many pricing schemes as there are peer-review programs. Some
publishers license software and run it themselves, others hire software
companies to run it for them. In one common model, there is a set-up
charge, typically $5,000 to $20,000, and sometimes processing fees,
generally $12 to $50 a manuscript.

Even when the cost savings are minimal, publishers often install
electronic systems for convenience. "The reason you do it is so that the
authors can track the status of their manuscripts," said Catherine D.
DeAngelis, editor in chief of the Journal of the American Medical
Association, which plans to have an electronic peer-review system in place
by January.  

... Publishers say that in disciplines with younger constituents, there is
little resistance. But medical journals often work with doctors who are
older and used to dictating to secretaries.  

... In fact, publishers, known for their entrenched ways, often find the
switch difficult themselves. "The internal change process is not to be
underestimated," Ms. Wilson said. "You don't just click your fingers and
it happens. You're changing lots of people's working processes."