Education And Debate

The electronic future: What might an online scientific paper look like in five years' time?

BMJ 1997; 315 doi: (Published 20 December 1997) Cite this as: BMJ 1997;315:1692

Length—and other strengths

  1. Lisa Bero (, associate professora
  1. a Institute for Health Policy Studies, University of California, San Francisco, 1388 Sutter Street, San Francisco, CA 94109, USA

The main advantages of online publication are less concern about page limits, the possibility of hypertext links to other sources of information, the ability for interaction, and imagery.

So, in five years' time, scientific papers may be very long. With a click of the mouse button, the real data behind the tables could appear and readers will be able to critically appraise a paper on the basis of more complete information. Overall, reporting should improve because all methodological details of the published research will be available. An unanticipated side effect of better reporting may be that fewer papers are accepted by journals, as peer referees will know …

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