The scholarly self-publishing continuum. Electronic preprints, journals, reprints and the role of libraries

Document prepared for the International Summer School on the Digital Library, August 1999, Tilburg. This document gives background material for the three sessions on self-publishing planned for Monday 23 August:

  • Self-publishing by scholars: an overview / 11:30 - 12:10
  • Libraries as facilitators of self-publishing / 12:20 - 13:00
  • Workshop: participants's experiences with facilitating self-publishing / 14:30 - 15:45


  • Abstract
  • Link to slides
  • Links
    • Self-publishing by academics
    • Tilburg University projects
  • Hands-on session


The first presentation, "Self-publishing by scholars: an overview", introduces self-publishing from a historical viewpoint. Based on a functional analysis of journals in the information chain, the evolution of e-print servers and electronic journals is examined and assessed.

The second part examines the possible facilitating role which libraries can play in self-publishing ventures. This discussion is based on experiences at Tilburg University with electronic preprints in economics, the development of an electronic journal in comparative law and electronic reprints through an Internet Law Library.

For the third, hands-on session there are several options:

  • Assesment of the Electronic Journal of Comparative Law
  • Setting up a preprint server
  • Discussion: experiences with electronic publications
  • Discussion: the role of libraries in self-publishing

See below for further details.


The Powerpoint (MS 97) presentation for all three sessions is available at: tilburg ticer.ppt


Self-publishing by academics

Tilburg University projects


    Full text working papers in economics and business from Dutch Universities. Site also contains pointers to background material.

  • (EJCL) Electronic Journal of Comparative Law, http://www.ejcl,org/

    Homepage of EJCL, contains pointers to project proposal and final report.

  • Marjolein Bot, Johan Burgemeester, Hans Roes, The Cost of Publishing an Electronic Journal. A general model and a case study, D-Lib Magazine, November 1998,

    Article on cost issues of electronic journals, with a case study of EJCL

  • JIB Publicaties,

    Electronic Reprints contained in the Dutch Internet Law Library, in Dutch.

Hands-on session

There are four options for the hands-on session, two require some preparation, the other two are aimed at discussion.

Assessment of EJCL

Explore the site of the Electronic Journal of Comparative Law and make an assesment of the journal, focusing f.i. on the following criteria:

  • strenghts / weaknesses
  • use of possibilities of WWW-technology
  • unnecessary features
  • features you miss
  • economic viability
  • other factors you find important

Setting up a preprint server

Suppose you are asked to think about the possibilities of setting up a preprint server at your own institution. Make a quick overview of the following issues:

  • prerequisites
  • threats / opportunities
  • strengths / weaknesses
  • crude elements of a project plan

Discussion: experiences with electronic publications

Based on your experience in dealing with electronic publications at your own institution. list the consequences for the following issues:

  • collection development
  • acquisitions
  • cataloguing
  • accessibility
  • skills
  • organization

Discussion: the role of libraries in self-publishing

This could center on the following questions:

  • what strategies should libraries follow in the transition from print to digital, should they actively become involved in publishing, or should they stick to their traditionl tasks and see what other players in the information chain come up with ?
  • what kind of information chain should libraries promote ?
  • what should be the role of the different players -- authors, primary and secondary publishers, subscription agents, libraries -- in the information chain you prefer ?
  • should scholars become publishers ?
  • should libraries become publishers or do we facilitate scholars in their ventures ?