"To those who startle at innovation..."
Technical Information Specialist
National Library of Medicine
In these times of electronic journal publishing, adopting a continuous publication model is easy: Open an issue, publish articles electronically as they flow through the pipeline, close an issue. Even print journals offer this quick access to the content, publishing online before issuing the printed publication. The goal is clear: Provide access to the information as soon as possible. These models incorporating quick electronic access offer clear benefits to the community, so it's no wonder the model is so widely adopted.
But these models aren't new to the digital age. They're not exclusive to electronic publishing. Almost 200 years ago, at least one journal publisher was facing the same struggle of how to get information to their readers quickly. In the editor's words, from January 1828, "We only ask that those printed sheets which lie from one to thirteen weeks in the printing-office...may appear...half-monthly.... To those wo startle at innovation, we put forth this plain question:—Can there be any objection, that each packet...of this Journal should go forth to those who wish to have it every fifteen days...?"
This publication model, familiar as it is, presents its own set of challenges to our modern system. The journal is being digitized as part of a National Library of Medicine (NLM) and Wellcome Library project to digitize NLM's collection and be made available to the public through PubMed Central (https://www.nlm.nih.gov/news/welcome_library_agreement.html). So our challenge now is this: How do we integrate a 200-year-old publication model in current vocabularies when we've re-invented the same model in a different medium?