Morally Superior File Formats

Letters from the Editors

What does a publisher contribute to a journal? We academics supply the content, and we do the curating too, as referees and editors. Does the publisher supply the website, the editorial software, and the storage of published papers? Even that’s all free now, thanks to libraries like the University of Toronto’s and the University of Michigan’s, and thanks to the Public Knowledge Project’s Open Journal System.

So what’s a publisher good for? Converting the ragged miscellany of files submitted by authors into professional, publishable PDFs. Oh, and in the process they establish the official page-numbers later authors will refer to.

It’s a surprisingly trivial contribution, but if you want your journal taken seriously, you had better produce a uniform and minimally stylish product. So unless the editors have time to convert each file by hand (!), or they can recruit someone else to do it ($), a computer…

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