The Opinion article “Dangers of over-dependence on peer-reviewed publication” presents an interesting perspective on an important debate (Nature 401, 727; 1999). It refers to a study on the problem of ‘defining a publication’ carried out by an international ad-hoc group under our joint chairmanship at the request of the science, technical and medical publishers, and presented to their recent meeting in Frankfurt. Far from blurring the concept of a publication, our proposals attempt to impose some order on the continuum of publication that has become possible in the electronic environment.
We acknowledge the variety of forms of scientific writing found on the Internet, and offer criteria for distinguishing among them, thereby giving readers a clearer basis than now exists for evaluating the status and credibility of whatever they are reading. We invite your readers to examine our discussion document (at the website http://associnst.ox.ac.uk/~icsuinfo/aaas-stm.htm ) and to contribute to the refinement or rebuttal of these ideas.