Re: Etymology of "Eprint"

From: Fytton Rowland <J.F.Rowland_at_LBORO.AC.UK>
Date: Tue, 22 Aug 2000 12:15:47 +0100

John Smith wrote:

>This clashes with my definition of a 'pre-print'. As far as I am aware
>this term arises from the provision by many journal publishers of printed
>copies of papers in their final form to authors in advance of the formal
>publication so they could distribute them to colleagues. So they were not
>unrefereed or unaccepted just not formally published. The act of
>distibuting papers in advance of submission for publication I would
>describe as the circulation of 'working papers' or 'work in progress'.
>This provision of paper 'pre-prints' may still happen. I have some
>provided by an Indian journal which published a paper of mine in 1996.
>John Smith,
>University of Kent at Canterbury, UK.


        I'm afraid I don't agree with your definition. Having worked in scholarly
publication in hot-metal days, I can say that it was not possible to
produce offprints of the accepted papers very long before publication. The
way they were produced was to print extra copies of the journal but not
bind them. The unbound sheets were then stapled up into offprints of the
individual articles and supplied to the authors. But they went out at more
or less the same time as the actual journal copies went off to libraries.
Authors called them "reprints", but actually nothing had been reprinted, so
properly they were offprints. They weren't preprints.

        But in the USA thirty or so years ago an effort was made to organise a
preprint exchange, which really did distribute paper (photo)copies of
as-yet unaccepted typescripts. It eventually collapsed for two reasons:
many scientists objected to the distribution of non-refereed material as
debasing the currency; and the costs involved, especially postage costs for
pritned materials in large quantity, became too high. I think there was
also a feeling that it created a privileged class of people who were on the
mailing list, leaving others unable to get hold of the material so early.

        Yours, Fytton.

Fytton Rowland, M.A., Ph.D., F.I.Inf.Sc., Lecturer,
Deputy Director of Undergraduate Programmes and
Programme Tutor for Publishing with English,
Department of Information Science,
Loughborough University,
Loughborough, Leics LE11 3TU, UK.

Phone +44 (0) 1509 223039 Fax +44 (0) 1509 223053
Received on Mon Jan 24 2000 - 19:17:43 GMT

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