Why most academic journals are following outdated publishing practices

“In his Medium article “Scholarly publishing is stuck in 1999,”

Springer Nature product manager Stephen Cornelius reproaches the outdated publishing practices many academic journals are using to produce online content. He notes that, despite decades of technological advancement, “research publishing seems stuck with those that were employed when it first went online.” Cornelius points to many areas of digital journal publishing that have been designed to mirror print publishing, such as journals formatting online articles as print-based PDFs, despite there being better ways to produce and present content online….

PDFs are rife with limitations as compared to HTML because, unlike HTML, PDFs:

Cannot support embedded multi-media research files such as videos
Have a poor layout for online reading, generally using columns that require readers to scroll up and down to read content on the same page
Are nearly impossible to read on mobile devices because PDFs are a static page (whereas HTML can be made to have a responsive design)
Do not easily allow for clickable references within the text
Are overwhelmingly not search-optimized for online browsers…

A recent article in The Atlantic titled “The Scientific Paper Is Obsolete“ explores the limitations of PDFs and the need for journals, particularly in STEM fields, to adopt internet-based publishing formats in order to support more dynamic presentations of research as well as to make it easier for readers to find articles online….”

 

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