The survey as sent to the members of the plant-tc listserv:
From: "R. Daniel Lineberger"
Date: Fri, May 3, 1996 1:21 PM
Subject: Web Readiness Survey

In preparation for a presentation at the Internet workshop at the World Congress on In Vitro Biology on June 22, I am surveying tissue culture professionals to determine their interest in and readiness for research report dissemination via the World Wide Web. Please take a few minutes to respond to the following questions. Delete the answer that you do not want to send and return the message to me (make sure my email address ( rather than the listserv address is on the to: line. The results will be presented in San Francisco and on the plant tissue culture information exchange Web site ( Thanks!
Dan Lineberger, Department of Horticultural Sciences, Texas A&M Univ.

1. Have you ever used the World Wide Web? YES NO
2. Do you connect to the Internet through a modem? YES NO
3. Have you used a Web site to obtain a copy of a research paper? YES NO
4. Should papers on the Web be peer reviewed? YES NO
5. Are you recognized and rewarded for publishing on the Web? YES NO
6. Are you a member of the Society for In Vitro Biology? YES NO
7. Would the availability of a journal site on the Web influence your decision to join a professional society? YES NO

Other comments:

Summary of comments as they were received. Unedited!

I think that there are still problems w/ ways to cite information from the www. Also URLs come and go and change w/ sufficient frequency that the source may become very difficult to find. Stability is needed, as is a way to cite the literature.

I am concerned that if papers are not peer reviewed on the Internet site for the journal, then a minimal standard of quality could not be maintained. There are many other avenues for sharing non peer reviewed information such as on thetissue culture listserver.

1. I'm a little embarrased not to have used the WWW yet, plan to learn how any day now.
2. Have used email. This company has other Internet access only through certain terminals (not every office).
6. Am a member of IAPTC. Have been a member of SIVB during years when I attended the annual conference.
7. I would like to be able to join societies without receiving a "paper" copy of the journal, since I have access to journals through my employer. All I want as a member is the Newsletter of professional/trade information. I feel strongly enough about this to restrict myself from joining organizations. The last thing I need is more paper-mail to wade through!

It would be useful if a web page could be created to which all interested parties could link their own pages, or even provide space for a fee to host these pages. The pages could be indexed by subject, or searchable. Research, ongoing work, protocols, recipes, etc, could be posted on these pages, available to all for downloading. As for peer review, I believe that a formal system would slow the process to the point of making access to the Web pointless. All should submit their work and ideas on a web page (or, as stated above, linked to such a page) and allow peer review to occur naturally, as people well-versed in a topic review the various new submissions. They could post their criticisme directly to the author, or in a public forum, such as this list. My 2 cents...

I have not obtained research papers through the web, but I have gotten references which I retrieved on my own. I have downloaded reference materials from agricultural co-ops.

Papers on the web must be peer reviewed or they are worthless and cannot be used. In a recent email conversation I was told, "the hydroponic WWW is not very scientifically very interesting..."

A web site full of nuggets without the usual dross would be valuable and very welcome in my list of bookmarks.

One must work out copyright and archiving issues before this can be used widely.

The PEER REVIEW question is an interesting one. I think the peer review process is an extremely important part of publishing results. It ensures that adequate controls were in place, presentation of the experiments is coherent, and keeps our natural tendency to over-interpret and over-speculate in check. But then again, straightforward methods papers, and rapid communication type papers, may not need review. Or perhaps the Web is a good place to present papers FOR review.

1. in the long run, I think the cost of publishing will be less expensive
2. this way, people (subscribed member - cheaper membership due maybe) can decide which articles they want and pay a minimal charges to get it. It saves a lot of space on your book shelves and file cabinet.
3. for articles that are not peer reviewed (some monitoring will be good) should also be published on the web for the purpose of getting the info around faster.
4. copyright should be taken care of carefully

I haven't used the web much but I do take time once in a while. There is an overwhelming amount of info available right now. In my opinion, a transfer of media might be a good idea (i.e. instead of getting a 'hard copy" journal issue, just call it up on the web page), but not an additional source.

In my opinion, a rapid information exchange medium such as Internet, and therefore the World Wide Web, offers an unique oportunity for creation of a new type of publications: short and concise research reports ("papers").

Such reports can be published even on the day data where gathered.

The author should take reponsibility for information published. Possibility of rapid access to information and its evaluation by a wide forum of readers is the best warranty againts scientific fraud.

Homepages ("publications") concerning related subject should be interlinked (citations) for rapid referencing.

I would like to translate the above words into an example and elaborate more on this subject in the next few weeks on our homepage: htpl://

I think that "traditional" publications (journals) should be placed on Internet just for mere feasibility of access to information. But the future is in dynamicly interlinked sites (homegages) of people (also producers) involved in particular domains of research and production.

Other comments: The main problem with web material is quality assurance. A quality rigorously edited International journal such as Cell provides that quality assurance.

The answer to question 4 is a difficult one and my answer doesnt really reflect my complete views on the subject. It should probably be NO but there should be some measure of quality control. This is certainly something that should be debated more widely, especially as electronic publishing is surely the way things are going.

I am glad that you are collecting this data. I will be interested to see the results. My guess is that age (or just the extent to which they use computers) will be a significant factor in whether or not respondants are willing to work in this medium.

Peer review is very important to insure that information available on the web meets the same criteria and standards as for professional publications. Another desire is the ability to search and find the article of interest.

One of my big concerns about papers on the Web are the issues of tampering, archiving and copyrighting. If research papers are available on the Web how is one going to guarantee that an original paper not be edited by another individual and passed to others in an unoriginal form? Since electronic media are so easily manipulated and redistributed, how will authenticity be maintained? With a printed document in a bound journal you can always go to the original source and know that the document is the original. Another related issue is archiving. Articles now are kept in libraries in bound journals. One can imagine that in the not-to-distant future, many journal articles may be available on CDROM. With a system like this the CDROM can be stored and referenced. If it is a non-writable CD, this maintains the article in its original form that can not be edited. What provisions will be made to take Web-based articles and download them to a medium that can be stored, archived and retrieved in the future? Who will do this? Where will they be stored?

On the issue of copyrighting - we have all seen the many comments on this and other listserves that this topic evokes. I don't feel qualified to comment on this issue, but it seems to me that this will have to be resolved before many publishers embrace Web-based publishing. It is a topic that generates fear in many publishers, libarians and lawyers! These are just some thoughts I've had on the subject.

I hope to use my web site here at URI as a vehicle for research publication. I would prefer to publish electronically at alternative sites as I have not solved the problem of archiving published results. However, I suspect this problem will be solved in the near future either by porting my material to appropriate sites or establishment of an archive at URI. I do not plan to copyright my material, but will have it peer reviewed and reviewers comments appended to the publication. I am not sure how I will advertise availability of publications (probably release titles to various use groups or esablish links with other web sites.

I am not sure how a peer review system might work for the web. As an Associate Editor and now a Managing Editor of Plant Cell Tissue and Organ Culture, I am surprised at the appalling quality of some of the papers submitted and by the very superficial comments of reviewers. The amount of editorial work required is large and this is all a voluntary activity. To be successful, I think there would need to be a list of approved reviewers whose names would be acknowledged, e.g. like the system used by Theor. Appl. Genetics.

Some thoughts on your posting on the PLANT-TC list.

1) Yes. A couple of hours each week is spent looking at the recent postings in various BIOSCI Newsgroups. Many sites are bookmarked a are few are looked at weekly. Mostly these are about biotech (and cooking).

2) I gather so. All staff in our department has access to the Internet but I don't know the details of how we are connected. I just point and click at my Netscape icon and I'm away.

3) No. The only paper I've seen is the one you arranged to post on setting up a commercial lab. Now I think about it the PLANT GENE REGISTER from Plant Phsiology is available electronically.

4) I'm an advocate of peer review, mainly for quality control, to reduce duplication and give us less to read and digest.

5) If publishing on the Web was recognised (like journals) it would be accepted. I think its only a matter of time before all journals will be electronic. Peer reviewed, posted but accessed electronically through your library which takes a subscription.

6) No. Was a member a number of years ago but resigned as there was very little plant stuff. This has obviously changed and I need to reconsider.

7) To early to respond. The International Society for Plant Molecular Biology (I belong to it plus the IAPTC) has recently set up a web site and I understand the Newletter will be posted. IAPTC should ditto?

Other comments: Presently the main thing I use the Internet for is to source information (eg patents, biotech permits from the USDA and sequence data), keep abreast of developments (reports, discussion groups).

What I really find beneficial is:

a) how I store and retreive information. More and more electronically,

b) how a single posting can be sent to hundreds of like minded people simultaneously.

Like most I am still learning but my confidence and faith is getting better. This has been one of the big breakthroughs and a opportunity we should all grasp.

I typically connect at work with an ethernet connection and use the modem with my home computer. Using a ethernet connection on a slow computer (386sx) or the modem over a phone line really limits what you can effectively browse on the web. More sites need to have text only options on their pages. Some pages won't even display unless you are using the latest version of Netscape. Another question I would ask would be what browser are people using.

It is about time that the whole issue around publishing on the net is adressed properly. It can be of great help fot researchers in lesser develop countries who have access, or easier access in some cases, to the web but not to all the Journals.

Rather than peer-review for on-line publications, an appendix containing on-going comments from all interested readers would provide a dynamic and thought-provoking forum for issues. It would also provide an immediate feedback (good or bad) to the authors, and also give readers an easy way to see whether or not a paper is held in high regard by other authorities in the field.

I do not think the opinions of committes reviewing for tenure and promotion are ready yet to count publications on the WEB as valid. If they are ever to become valid it is imperative that they be peer reviewed. Because of all the junk on the web I think it will be difficult for many to consider the WEB a valid source for peer reviewed articles. I wish that I could be more positive, but I know too many faculty who don't even use the WEB much less have any faith in its being a responsible site for peer reviewed publications.