Beyond the PDF (and books and journal articles)


I haven’t had the time to read through all the materials of the Beyond the PDF workshop but the whole thing is very intriguing. The main premise seems to be that the popular PDF format in which scientific articles tend to be published and disseminated these days is hindering the development of scientific knowledge. These guys for example argue that

Scientific publications are becoming more imaging and multimedia intensive. Although the publication format for scientific research papers has transitioned from printed magazines and journals to digital formats in recent years, the widely used PDF digital format lacks imaging support for high-resolution images and multimedia. Papers in PDF format available on the Internet have dramatically increased the accessibility of scientific information. However, communication of complete research data is not being realized due to the technical limitations of the PDF format.

Scientific papers in PDFs only tend to contain the final output of the research process, when contemporary technologies would already enable researchers to share many other artefacts involved in the scientific process:

What is a piece of science? That is up to a researcher but in general one can think of it as an experiment or all the things done to lead to a paper. During the course of doing a piece of science, a researcher will produce many different artifacts: data, slides, papers, experiment write-ups. For all these types of artifacts, different outlets (i.e. websites) are useful in sharing and communicating these artifacts.

The links section is also worth checking out. There is an interesting summary at the bottom of the page about the pros and cons of PDF.


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