Education And Debate

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BMJ 1997; 315 doi: (Published 20 December 1997) Cite this as: BMJ 1997;315:1696
  1. Richard Smith, editora
  1. a BMJ, London WC1H 9JR


Electronic publishing will turn scientific “papers” from dead documents into live ones. Vitek Tracz, founder of Biomednet and one of the contributors above, has called scientific papers “quasilegal documents.” They are written not to be read but for scientists to defend, justify, and support what they have done. They may even deceive in that they suggest an order that almost certainly wasn't there in the research itself. And once published they are frozen. Many criticisms and suggestions may be offered, but these appear months after the paper is published, and the paper itself cannot be modified as a result. The best we can manage in paper publishing is a correction and linked correspondence, perhaps with a response from the authors of the paper.

Nobody can know with confidence what …

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