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Kansas Geological Survey, Open File Report 96-37

Future of Scientific Communication, part 5 of 6


The heart of science is the efficient exchange of ideas and the formal dialogue between producers and consumers of a research. For over half a millennium this dialogue has been mediated by the printed page. The advent of electronic publication can improve this dialogue and improve the efficiency of research and transfer of scientific results. The opportunities of online publication may be considerably more far-reaching, affecting every aspect of our research institutions and the communications on which they thrive.

The earth sciences are not immune from these pressures and the role of the traditional publication as the primary means of communication is rapidly changing. Electronic publications and network technology are radically altering the relationship between interpretative result and the underlying data. Research institutions can concentrate on assuring broad access to research and data with questions of the physical location of the primary research materials and final research products becoming secondary. Improving the quality and accessibility to what might be called "non-traditional" research products, everything from digital geographic information, to individual geochemical analyses, to images of thin sections, to unpublished archival material. Electronic publication provides the means to create dynamic forms of communication, that can only be displayed in an electronic environment. Forms of communication that use "hypertext" and relational database functions to provide text and graphics with which the reader can interact. Electronic publication permits reproducibility of the research and better still permits continued manipulation and enhancement of the research product to better address transfer of scientific results in a form usable to society or as unforeseen applications of technology.

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Kansas Geological Survey, Open-File Report 96-37
Placed online Sept. 1996
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