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May 6, 1992

Electronic Journals and Duplicate Publication Is a Byte a Word?

JAMA. 1992;267(17):2374. doi:10.1001/jama.1992.03480170100039

More than 300 years ago, general medical journals were created to capture in print the proceedings of scientific meetings and discussions and to communicate these proceedings to medical society members.1,2 Mostly during the last century, these informal collections evolved into today's scholarly, formally peer-reviewed journals, disseminating scientific reports to readers worldwide. We are now witnessing another information evolution—the electronic journal—spreading the scientific word in tiny, invisible bits and bytes.

An "electronic journal" transmits information to readers through a computer network. This information, which includes text, tables, and figures, is produced and stored on computers, is read on a video screen, and subsequently can be printed on paper.3,4 Since one of the goals of an electronic journal is to disseminate information (usually the work of an author) to readers (albeit faster than conventionally printed and mailed paper journals), an electronic journal is merely another medium of publication, and the