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Dear Sourendu,

Read with interest Tanmoy and your comments on e-journals. I think he misses a crucial point in the discussion regarding who archives what etc. But then so do you in your remarks about tokens. It seems to me that the key point is that:

A journal is a selected collection of links.
These links are to be sifted out of a number of submissions by a bunch of referees and editors. It is up to the author to ensure the readability and portability of these links.

As regards volatility--perhaps the real solution is to let the original documents stay on the disks of the writers. As regards the possibility of tampering with a paper the magic-cookie idea could be used here to authenticate a particular version of the paper.

An author could then also re-locate his link by sending a message to the corresponding journal which could then check (via magic-cookie) that this re-located paper is indeed the original one. (Is there a possibility of having some redundancy built into the HTML stuff so that if one can't reach one node then another can be made available?)

The advantage of this scheme would be that:

  1. The onus of maintaining the paper in distributable form would rest with the author-as in my opinion it should be.

  2. The onus of verifying the paper's authenticity and scientific content would rest with the journal-again as in my opinion should be.
In addition, there is no reason (other than copyright) why a paper should not appear in many journals. A paper could simultaneously be of interest to Number Theoreticians and Algebraic Geometers and could appear in the Journals for both these areas so that specialists in either discipline would not miss it. Since the actual link would be the same non one need be confused into thinking that there are two papers. As regards publishing the same results in a number of papers, well it can happen even now and has to be weeded out by the refereeing process.

The main problem as yet un-addressed is that the idea here is being mooted by a bunch of young(?)sters. How does one get a sufficient number of accepted seniors to agree to be referees? How does one ensure that such "publication" will be given sufficient value in the schemes of evaluation? Perhaps the answer is that this could be run as a duplicate system (in addition to real (rain forest) paper publication) until it acquires sufficient strength--this can only work if the electronic journals do not insist on "copyright".

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Kapil Hari Paranjape