Dynamic Publication Format—General Concept

Science as a whole is constantly developing. Novel insights, results, and data are permanently being found. The prevailing current publication system is dynamic, but its changes and iterations are too slow. The publication system developed long before the Internet. With the Internet came new possibilities for publishing, transporting results, and defining the nature of 'a publication'. Dynamic publications can adapt to the development of knowledge. Just as Wikipedia is developing towards completeness and truth, why not have scientific publications that develop in pace with the body of scientific knowledge?

Dynamic Publication—Challenges

In the past a modality of publication was mainly shaped by the prevailing medium (paper) and its distribution (mailing). New scientific results had to cross a certain threshold to be publishable. This threshold was defined by the amount of effort that was necessary to produce this publication and to distribute it. A publication had to be somewhat consistent and comprehensible by itself. The forms of publications that were available in the past are abstracts, talks, papers, reviews, and books (Fig. 3). Since the Internet, the available publication methods are no longer limited to this list. It became possible that virtually everybody can publish at very little or no

Fig. 3 Classical publication formats before the Internet

Fig. 4 Today's publication formats

cost. The limiting factor of the medium of paper and its distribution vanished. Novel publication methods such as blogs, microblogs, comments, wiki updates, or other publication methods complement the prevailing publishing methods (Fig. 4) (Pochoda 2012).

Aspects of Dynamic Publication Formats


Dynamic publication formats are—as the name says—dynamic (Fig. 5), meaning that no static version exists. Dynamic publications evolve. The changes can be done on several formal levels, from letters and single words ('collaborative authoring tools', 'wikis'), to a few sentences ('status updates') and whole paragraphs ('blogs', 'comments'). Changes include deletions, changes, and additions. However, implementations vary in terms of how permanent a deletion may be.

Fig. 5 Dynamic publications: Working and public versions. The working versions are collaboratively edited by a small group of authors. The authors can decide when a version or a revision should become widely available. Depending on the platform, a formalized 'gatekeeping' mechanism (consent among authors) and/or 'peer-review' as organized by a qualitygranting authority (journal) has to be passed. Working as well as published versions can be reused by other authors


In collaborative authoring tools it is quite technically easy to precisely trace who typed which text and who drew which figures. However, authorship in a scientific publication currently represents much more than just an actual textual contribution. It defines whose ideas and theories lead to it, in addition to the actual work that was necessary to gather the scientific results. This is not adequately represented by the actual contribution of the text. Authorship is a guarantor of quality and here the personal reputation of a researcher is at stake. Therefore, clear statements of the kind of contribution to a work provided by an author should be associated with a publication. For example, many scientific journals request a definition of the role each author played in the production process of the work. The contributions range from the basic idea, actual bench work to revision of the article.

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