J. T. Zenger, T. J. Walker
Entomology and Nematology Department, University of Florida

Editorial Department, Annual Reviews, Inc., Palo Alto, California 94303,

KEY WORDS: World Wide Web, distance education, computer software, Web sites, electronic publications


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J. T. Zenger
Entomology and Nematology Dept.
Building 970, Natural Area Drive
PO Box 110620
Gainesville, FL 32611-0620
Phone: 352-392-1901 ext. 141
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The Internet is affecting entomology teaching and research. Internet tools help students communicate and easily find and access information. Entomology instructors who adopt these tools may discover they are surprisingly time-consuming to implement. Requiring students to use the Internet teaches them to glean from the glut of available information and to communicate electronically, both vital skills in today’s workplace. The Internet helps meet the growing need for distance education by providing a medium that allows students to conveniently access course materials and to communicate with the instructor and other students. Researchers benefit from using the Internet for one-to-one and one-to-many communication and from access to large cooperative databases, for example, in molecular biology and systematics. Perhaps the greatest impact on research will be the migration to the Web of journals and other specialized research literature. This may permit free access and will change the content and format of journal articles. An interactive version of this article is at [URL].


The Internet is relatively new and yet is entering our lives at an extraordinary rate. Because it is new, the Internet’s ultimate impact is not yet determined and cannot be foreseen. However, because the Internet’s effect on the field of entomology is already great it is important to chronicle its adoption into the areas of teaching and research to 1. alert entomologists to the changes that have occurred, and 2. take advantage of the resources that are now available. This will be done by briefly reviewing the history and current components of the Internet, and then separately addressing the topics of teaching and research.


The network that became the Internet began in 1969 as a U.S. Department of Defense project to develop a communication network that would survive a nuclear attack. Initially four universities were connected, a dozen or so in 1971 and eventually many sites were online. Scientists and researchers could now transfer files, hold online discussions and send e-mail between universities, companies and government agencies. The Internet as now defined was born in 1983, when a universal protocol was adopted and all research and government networks were connected (62, 79).

A major event in the evolution of the Internet was the birth in 1991, of the World Wide Web (Web). This was accompanied by the development of HyperText Markup Language (HTML) that allowed embedding links within text to allow the user to access other text or files. In 1993, release of Mosaic, the first graphical browser, began the transition of the Web from a text-based communications system to an exciting graphic medium (62). To this point, however, the Internet was effectively restricted to the realms of higher education and government. It was not until 1995 when commercial networks such as AOL, Prodigy and Compuserve began offering online dialup services to the public that the Internet’s popularity began to accelerate (62, 66). Today over 60 million people in the United States or 37% of the adult population (86), and 102 million people worldwide (89) have access to the Internet. Retailers have quickly taken advantage of the Internet’s advertising and sales potential. The online sales of mainstream products such as music, clothing, automobiles and electronic products have increased 200% since a year ago (122), with over $5 billion dollars in 1998 holiday sales alone (108). While not as vigorous in their adoption as the sales industry, entomologists are now using the Internet for a myriad of teaching and research purposes.


Though still in its infancy, the Internets use in teaching has already had a large impact on the way instructors teach and students find and access information. We will address the topic of the Internet’s impact on teaching under two major headings: 1. the impact on traditional on-campus teaching, and 2. distance education where the instructor and student do not regularly meet face-to-face and special techniques are needed to both convey information and communicate (92).

On-campus education

WORLD WIDE WEB Traditional courses are beginning to reap tangible benefits from the use of Internet tools, of which the Web is the most visible. Educators throughout higher education, including entomologists, are now using course Web sites for several purposes. What follows are descriptions of the common uses, organized in an ascending order of complexity. Citations that follow a category description refer to representative entomology course Web sites.

Course description The most basic course Web sites are those used to simply advertise or inform students about a particular course (43, 68, 87). These usually consist of single Web pages posted on a department Web site. They are most often developed by someone besides the instructor and the same format is used generally used for all department courses. The information is generally very basic and includes the instructor’s name, a brief statement about course content, when it is taught, and a listing of prerequisites.

Course syllabus The next most common application of the Web for teaching, and a logical first step for most instructors, is the placement of the course syllabus on the Web (3, 18, 24, 27, 67, 75-77, 85, 96). Some advantages of placing a syllabus online include providing additional information for potential students, updating lecture schedules, and relief from replacing syllabi lost by students. It is also a simple yet useful first step for faculty wanting to try the Web. Today it is extremely easy to make a course syllabus available on the Web using only a modern word processor since most will save documents in HTML format. In fact some, such as Microsoft Word 97, can be used as very capable Web page editors.

Beyond the syllabus Once a syllabus is online, lecture notes are easily and commonly added (15, 48, 49, 53, 59, 60, 72, 78, 88, 104, 111, 120, 128, 134, 141), as are links to old exams (12, 32, 34, 41, 42, 72, 88, 112, 113, 141) and current grade information (13, 41, 42, 111-113, 133, 141). The lecture material included can be in the form of HTML text and graphics, Portable Document Format (PDF) files (2, 15, 42, 111, 112, 127, 128, 141) of actual class handouts, or PowerPoint® presentations (Figure 1) (20, 141). Audio (20) and video clips (15, 121) can also be added to Web sites using products such as RealAudio® (Figure 1) (107) and RealVideo® (107) and Quicktime® (4). If desired, portions of course Web sites can be password protected to limit access to enrolled students (22, 23, 41, 70, 88, 103, 127, 137).

The Web site components discussed to this point mearly provide students greater access to material and information that was likely presented in class. However, a course Web site can also act as a gateway for students to access additional information and resources. For example, links to other Web sites containing information relevant to a lecture topic are an important feature of many course Web sites (84, 103, 105, 106, 111, 113, 141). Interactive quizzes or exams can also be posted which students can use for practice and review (15, 88, 111). These quizzes can be repeated as often as desired and generally give students immediate feedback on their performance and can even suggest lectures they should review. Online laboratory tutorials (5, 61, 109, 121) and simulations (56) can also be include on a course Web site and are particularly useful for courses lacking a true laboratory component.

An example of laboratory experience that can be implemented through the Web is interaction with researchers in remote field locations. Using a satellite digital phone, a laptop computer and a digital camera, a researcher can share on a daily basis, his or her field experiences with students and involve them in the decision making process (26, 93). On a less elaborate scale, a course Web site can be used to increase student involvement and interest by posting photographs of class members on field trips and in other class activities (42, 127, 128, 140). Students themselves can also be required to post projects on a course Web site to be critiqued by other students and ultimately to be published (29, 140).

Online textbooks Textbooks are expensive, soon out of date, and often include unwanted sections. Though currently limited to larger markets, publishers are beginning to produce electronic texts that may solve some of these problems. These texts are easily updated regularly and instructors will have the ability to tailor the text to course needs by ordering specific sections (115).

Instructors can develop their own Web-based texts in a manner similar to the way study packets have been put together for years. Online texts can also be developed collaboratively by organizing chapters submitted by experts into a cohesive text such as Ratcliffe’s IPM World Textbook (106).

INTERACTION THROUGH E-MAIL AND DISCUSSION GROUPS Though the Web is the most visible Internet tool used in on-campus teaching, e-mail is the most common. E-mail facilitates both teacher-student and student-student communication, and can be either in the form of direct messages to specific individuals, or mailing lists (also known as listservs). Mailing lists are a form of e-mail in which every message that is sent to the mailing list is forwarded to all subscribers. They are particularly useful for students since they can communicate with the entire class without having to know the e-mail address of every person in the course. E-mail gives students increased access to the instructor in a way that is less intrusive than office visits or telephone calls, and gives the instructor greater access to the students since important announcements can be made prior to the next class time. E-mail is also a convenient and discrete way for the instructor to contact students who need extra attention. Some instructors are going a step further by requiring that assignments be submitted electronically as attachments to e-mail messages (141).

Discussion groups (also called bulletin boards) and chatrooms are two other forms of Internet communication currently used. Discussion groups are a list of posted messages and responses that all participants can view. Chatrooms are Internet sites that several participants logon to at the same time and have live (real time) typed conversations (Figure 2). Discussion groups have the advantage of not requiring that participants be logged on to their computers at the same time. They also provide an organized record of the past and ongoing dialog. While discussion groups tend to elicit diverse topics and thoughtful responses, chatrooms seem to encourage a greater volume of discussion in number of participants and in variety of responses. Chatrooms also elicit fewer questions about course logistics than discussion groups (58).

STUDENT INTERACTION WITH ALUMNI An interesting employment of the Web and e-mail is to promote contact with former students through an alumni career bank. An alumni career bank is a Web page listing the alumni of a department or school along with their current positions and e-mail addresses. Because students have a strong interest in career opportunities, the application and interview process, and details of the professional world, they are often eager to correspond with those working in the field they wish to enter. Alumni career banks also facilitate contact between and among teachers and alumni and allow recruiters to find qualified individuals (9).

CONCERNS ABOUT INTERNET USE IN ON-CAMPUS COURSES Despite the numerous advantages of the Internet that have been discussed, some concerns and limitations exist.

New tools The biggest concern is that instructors often adopt Internet tools for the sake of change, giving too little thought to instructional needs, benefits and costs. Faculty purchasing Internet hardware and software tend to choose cutting-edge products hoping to extend their useful life. Unfortunately, this means the tools are generally unproven, possibly of marginal worth, or unstable. Even if the tools are effective and stable, students may avoid using them simply because they do not want to bother learning to use new tools (35). While rewards for pioneering the use of new technologies exist, a general rule of thumb is to use evolutionary rather than revolutionary tools, those that have become stable, reliable and affordable (35).

Time sink Instructors that add novel Internet tools to an existing course may quickly realize the new tools take up time with few tangible rewards (28). Internet time sinks include maintaining course Web sites and replying to e-mail messages, since face to face exchanges of information and ideas can occur much more rapidly than keyboard conversations (80). If Internet tools are simply added to an existing system, costs will increase. However, if the entire teaching approach is modified to encompass and rely on the strengths of the Internet tools, costs can be reduced (29, 35). See Ehrmann (35) for an extensive analysis of the costs of Internet implementation.

Elusive benefits One intuitive conclusion about the use of e-mail and discussion groups is that students that would not normally participate in class or search out an instructor to ask questions will do so through e-mail. One study (28) however, has shown that e-mail access may do little to encourage the involvement of less interactive students. Many of these students, in fact, considered required e-mail and discussion group activity as unnecessary additional pressures. Those who took advantage of the increased access to instructors were those who normally would have otherwise (28).

BENEFITS OF MOVING AHEAD Despite these problems, there are reasons to adopt Internet tools. The most compelling reason is the instructors’ responsibility to prepare students to enter today’s dynamic work environment. In the past instructors attempted to dispense entomological knowledge while simultaneously teaching the skills needed to function successfully in more advanced courses or in the workplace. These skills included strategies for gathering relevant material from text books, methods for conducting research in a library, and techniques for writing a laboratory report or research paper. Today’s students need a modified set of skills that will allow them to extract knowledge from the information avalanche enveloping them and to communicate through electronic media. Presently, these skills include the ability to search the Web (including online literature databases), communicate through e-mail, and publish material as Web pages. To meet these new needs, instructors must be using the technology themselves and incorporate the use of these tools into their curricula (35).

Fortunately, preliminary research indicates that the integration of the Internet, particularly the Web, has a positive impact on learning when compared with traditional courses (31, 80)


What is distance education?

Distance education has a long history that most of us are at least somewhat familiar with, generally in the form of correspondence courses. From the late 1800’s to the present, correspondence courses have been offered in which students receive and submit assignments, and communicate with their instructors through the mail (92). In most cases, the learning material provided was in the form of written material and later through audiotapes, videotapes, and TV broadcasts. Two-way video conferencing is a relatively recent advance in distance education where the instructor’s lecture is broadcast live from a studio classroom to a remote classroom. The remote classroom contains monitors for viewing the lecturer and students in other remote classrooms, and a microphone and video camera for communicating with the instructor. The advantage of video conferencing is that students are able to see, hear and speak to the instructor. With the advent of the Internet, a dramatic new medium for delivering distance education has become available (cybercourses). Through the Web, instructors can now electronically distribute all material types previously available, including text, images, video and audio, while maintaining student’s ability to choose when and where they view them (asynchronous learning). Most importantly, the Internet facilitates efficient communication between students and instructors, and between students themselves.

Today distance education is fast evolving from an obscure education novelty to one of the hottest topics in higher education, due largely to the ability to deliver courses over the Web. As of 1997 an estimated 55% of U.S. four-year colleges and universities had distance education courses (52). In that same year approximately 1 million of the 14 million students in higher education were enrolled in cybercourses, with three million expected by the year 2000 (52). Some have even predicted that universities will become obsolete as students will soon be able to take courses from any institution (52, 138).

Why Distance Education is Growing

Some of the reasons for the current emphasis on distance learning are legitimate and should be taken seriously by entomology educators. Other reasons are less valid but need to be addressed since their influence and impacts are real and important.

TECHNOLOGY DRIVEN NEED In some respects, Internet technology itself is driving the move toward distance education. The popularity of distance education among administrators and the glamour of cybercourses are creating a rush of faculty wanting to stake their claim in this new education territory (36). There may in fact be some basis for this concern regarding territory. The barriers of education are disappearing due to the growth in distance learning. These include not only distance barriers but also institutional barriers. For example, the Western Governors University (WGU) (135) is an alliance of over 30 universities and colleges that have agreed to contribute courses. To earn their degrees, WGU students living anywhere in the world can choose and complete courses from any of the participating schools. The Tri-state Agricultural Distance Delivery Alliance (64, 136) is similar. As institution barriers disappear, all students, not just those at prestigious schools, will be able to take courses from the best educators in a particular field (52, 138).

Another aspect of this competitive market is the development of cybercourses by professional education companies. For example, the Florida Community College system recently announced the purchase of a commercially produced introductory chemistry cybercourse that will be used by all the schools in the state (39).

NON-TRADITIONAL STUDENTS Another driving force behind the distance education movement is the changing demographics of those seeking the services of higher education. In 1972, only 28% of students attending U.S. colleges and universities were over 25 years of age. By 1994 the percentage had changed to 41% and continues to grow (119). Reasons for this change include transformations in the global marketplace that are requiring many to return for more schooling in order to remain competitive (16, 35, 138). Many of these students have family and work responsibilities that prohibit them from relocating and attending school as a typical 18 - 22 year old student would.

This growth in non-traditional students is exemplified in a survey of 649 agricultural science graduates in which 69% said they were interested in taking distance education courses. Of these same graduates, 82% said they were interested for professional development, 50% for advanced degrees. Most of those interested were older than 30 and married (98).

Possibly the greatest need for distance education courses and degrees is at the graduate level (16). In a survey of over 350 current and potential graduate students, 65% said that finances and work schedules were major obstacles to attending graduate school, and 55% said that distance education courses would make attending graduate school more attractive (10).

MONEY The final reason for the growth of distance education is the perception that it will solve the two headed problem of diminishing funds and increasing enrollments which most schools face (138). The idea that a large number of students could be served in an automated fashion without additional building space is an enticing prospect to administrators. As a result most institutions of higher learning are strongly encouraging the development of distance education courses, and incorporating and relying on distance education in their long range planning (138). Unfortunately, the current realities of distance education do not completely meet the grand expectations described.

How it is being done

Distance education courses are being delivered over the Web through a wide range of methods. While the total number of higher education cybercourses is in the thousands, the number of entomology cybercourses is extremely small. On a scale of complexity of courses offered in a wide range of disciplines, the entomology courses currently offered range from very basic to moderately complex.

SIMPLE STRUCTURE The most basic of these courses present the material as large amounts of text and simple graphics (11, 19, 99). The material in these courses is organized in a linear sequence of Web pages and links in a manner similar to a textbook. More complicated are courses that deliver material as video transmissions of actual lectures, streamed over the Internet (30, 44, 73, 118). Another moderately complicated technique is to translate PowerPoint® slides into HTML Web pages, record the audio portion of the lecture, and attach it to the corresponding slides (fig. 2) (20). These courses with simple structure are straightforward and can be implemented relatively quickly since they maintain the linear sequence of the traditional course, and much of the original course material can be recycled.

ADVANCED STRUCTURE Courses that utilize both advanced structure and technology have been developed in other disciplines (33, 50). These courses incorporate advanced media and present material in a manner that allows students to explore the material in a more investigative, less linear, manner. This exploits the Internet’s strengths and encourages students to be less passive and more active in the learning process (117). This type of course requires the greatest amount of time to develop since much more effort must be put into producing the graphics and developing the ways students will navigate the material. In addition, little if any of the text or graphics of the traditional course can be used since the structure and visual content of the course is unlike that of a traditional course.

CYBERCOURSE TOOLS There are several new software tools to aid in the development of cybercourses, for example, Web CT (47), Asymetrix Toolbook II® (7), Topclass®(132), Course in a Box®(46). These products not only help to develop and organize the course, they will also keep track of the time each student spends on each page and record the practice exam scores. They also have built in e-mail and discussion groups, on-line glossaries, practice exams that provide immediate results, and areas where students can place and store online assignments including Web pages (Figure 3). These programs can also limit course access to registered students. Many institutions are adopting one or more of these programs by purchasing a site license so that all instructors have free use of the product, technical support and server space.

Concerns and benefits

CONCERNS Distance education is not for everyone. While highly motivated non-traditional students tend to do well in distance education settings, less motivated younger students often flounder without the encouragement and discipline imposed by a live instructor (115). This problem may be exacerbated if unmotivated students are lured to distance courses by the apparent novelty, entertainment and freedom of cybercourses. On average, distance learning courses have a dropout rate between 30-50%. Contributing factors to this dropout rate include educational background, bad experiences with prior distance education courses, employment and family responsibilities (92).

Another area of concern is impact of distance education on those whose learning styles may be poorly suited for distance learning. However, with appropriate instructional design and using a variety of media and techniques a cybercourse can effectively target many different learning styles (90).

Some expectations of cybercourses may unrealistic, namely that they are an inexpensive answer to increasing enrollments, that learners become interactive in the process of learning, that repeat use of a course can reduce staff, that two-way video equals face to face contact, that most distance learners have access to computers and the Internet (36). Some predict that the costs of infrastructure staff and faculty time alone will keep distance education from replacing today’s universities as we know them (115). While simple cybercourses are relatively easy to develop, interactive courses that use the medium to its best advantage are extremely time consuming, often requiring a team of developers and support staff (58). Though costs may be reasonable when compared with the costs of classrooms and buildings, the endeavor is larger than simply acquiring server space and some software. The main limiting factor is the time it takes to interact with students electronically, such as e-mailing, receiving and grading assignments, and tracking progress. Class sizes generally need to be smaller than traditional courses, to allow for this time consuming communication (80).

Most faculty feel they lack the skill necessary to use appropriate distance learning methodologies, though they believe that using electronic technologies would enhance their teaching (95). They also perceive little incentive to take the steps needed to acquire these skills and as a result fail not only to adopt but to support distance education technologies and methodologies (94)

One practical concern is whether accreditation agencies, other universities or employers will consider distance education courses and degrees equivalent to traditional degrees. (115). On a more philosophical note, some worry that attempts to make learning convenient, entertaining and full of constant reinforcements are not in the long-term best interest of students. Jobs in the real world are often inconvenient, repetitive and lacking in external rewards. We may be producing happy, technically savvy students that are poorly trained to be the persistent and determined workers that succeed even when the work lacks fun or convenience (71).

BENEFITS Despite all concerns, there is an undisputed and growing need for distance education. The recent advances in Internet technology and availability have produced a medium that ideally meets the needs of distance learners (90). Cybercourses are not only asynchronous, they allow the utilization of all currently available media and provide an effective means of communication.

Through distance education the potential market for a course is dramatically increased (115). Consequently, enrollments can be enlarged in courses that might otherwise be canceled and the impact and awareness of a program can be enhanced (91). Courses can also be offered to students attending schools that lack expertise in a particular area. On-line, students can access experts from other schools and even private industry (74).

The effectiveness of distance education courses has in most cases been shown to equal traditional courses (110), and exceed them in some instances (80). Tools are available for evaluating distance education (116) and course Web sites (123) that can help faculty ensure that the materials produced will have the desired results.


The Web will impact research in diverse and unpredictable ways but the most profound effects will probably be in three areas: communication, databases, and literature.

Researchers will increasingly communicate via the Web

E-MAIL AND FTP E-mail is quick and informal. Compared to oral communication, it encourages concise, well thought out statements. Because e-mail gives direct access to scientists of the highest reputation, researchers have a much broader choice of those they can informally ask for advice or information than in the past, and scientists at smaller institutions and in developing countries are at less disadvantage than before. E-mail attachments permit near instantaneous transfer of manuscripts, spreadsheets, and some images. File Transfer Protocol (FTP) supplements e-mail attachments by quickly and cheaply transferring very large files, such as high-resolution images and large databases. E-mail and FTP help researchers in widely separated locales to pursue joint projects.

DISCUSSION GROUPS E-mail or Web-based discussion groups enable researchers to keep up with and contribute to new developments in their areas of interest. The Entomology Index of Internet Resources (125) lists more than 60 mailing lists likely to be of special interest to entomologists. Mailing lists that do not focus on insects may also be important to insect researchers (e.g., bioacoustics, molecular biology, museum collections). The archives of Entomo-L, the most-used general entomology mailing list, are on line from 1995 to date with 15,000 postings full-text searchable (124).

INTERNET CONFERENCES AND MEETINGS The viability of scientific meetings without airline tickets or registration fees is illustrated by the Fifth Internet Congress for Biomedical Sciences (63). During this 10-day, online meeting there were 580 presentations by 1555 authors, a plenary session, invited symposia, poster sessions, discussion boards for each session, and 362,000 requests for downloads from the site. As bandwidth on the Internet increases, the ease and quality of video conferencing will improve, allowing researchers everywhere to interact in real time.

Researchers will increasingly establish cooperative, publicly accessible databases

Some insect research depends on access to large databases to which many contribute. The cost of posting large databases on the Web is minimal, but the time and money required to organize, establish, and continually update a cooperative database are significant. Funding such databases and distributing the work and the credit will remain a challenge. Molecular biology and systematics are two research fields that illustrate the value of such databases.

GERMPLASM AND GENOME DATABASES Molecular biologists, including those working with insects, are maintaining numerous Internet databases (25). The biggest of these is the International Nucleotide Sequence Database Collaboration (65), a cooperative effort of GenBank (sponsored by NIH), the European Molecular Biology Laboratory, and the DNA DataBank of Japan. These three organizations receive nucleotide sequence data, exchange data daily, and make them publicly available and searchable on their WWW servers. As of December 1998, the database included 3,044,000 sequence records and 2,162,000,000 bases (45) Flybase (51) is a Web-posted genomic database of Drosophia melanogaster, the genetically best known of all complex organisms. In addition to chromosomal DNA base sequences, it includes cytological maps, genes, structure and function of gene products, and sources of stocks and clones.

PHYLOGENETIC AND TAXONOMIC DATABASES Systematists are beginning to use the Web for their databases. The Tree of Life (81) is a distributed, cooperative database for documenting evolutionary relations and biodiversity of all organisms. Some of the arthropod branches are already well leafed out (82) while others are nearly bare (e.g., Lepidoptera).

Taxonomic catalogs are especially suited to Web posting. They need continual updating and paper copies have a scant market. The Orthoptera Species File (102), the first Web-posted catalog for any major animal or plant group, contains full synonymic and taxonomic information for over 25,000 species and genera, as well as pictures and calling songs for many species. More than 100 lesser taxonomic sites are identified by VanDyk & Bjostad (125) under the categories Checklists, Databases, and Images.

Research literature will move to the Web

The low cost of Web publishing promises free access to all research literature for which authors receive no royalties. This will allow all the journal literature and most review articles to become a seamless Web library open all the time to almost everyone almost everywhere. Research libraries will no longer be intermediaries in the distribution of most research literature, and every researcher will have convenient access to a larger percent of needed literature than researchers at the largest institutions have today.

JOURNALS Access to journal articles via the Web is more convenient and certain than requesting reprints or going to a research library, finding issues, and making photocopies. Posting articles on the Web need cost, at most, a few dollars per page. However, three circumstances insure that publication of paper issues will not soon be abandoned: 1. no system of archiving digital data has been certified as safe for all time (55, 57), 2. researchers are reluctant to abandon a familiar system that is not obviously broken, and 3. journal publishers fear that the end of paper will shrink or end their profits.

The first circumstance has not impeded governments, corporations, and research libraries from using digital formats for their most important data, and it will not stop journal publishers from doing the same. Making perfect copies of digital information is easy and cheap, and “migrating” the information from an obsolescing digital format to a newer one is not difficult unless postponed too long. The second circumstance is of even less concern. Because Web access costs so little, the traditional access system need not be abandoned until an all-electronic system has near unanimous support.

The third circumstance is the most important. Publishers’ profits are high and depend on researchers insisting that their libraries subscribe to journals reporting research in their areas. These same researchers sign away copyright to their articles, enabling publishers to charge whatever the market will bear for journal subscriptions. This has led to journal prices increasing far more rapidly than inflation and to a long-running “serials crisis,” in which libraries are able to pay for fewer and fewer of the journals that their researchers desire (21). Electronic distribution of articles makes it harder for publishers to control access and eliminates the need for library subscriptions-journal publishers’ greatest source of revenue (129).

Parallel publication Journal publishers realize that the end of central printing is inevitable and are preparing for it by publishing electronic versions in parallel with the traditional paper versions. This increases costs, and publishers are trying various means to profit from the electronic versions. For example, Blackwell Science, which publishes the six journals of the Royal Entomological Society, charges ca. 10% more for a combined online and paper subscription than for paper alone, and for the online version alone, ca. 90% of the price of a paper subscription (14). The Entomological Society of America started putting its four principal journals online with the 1999 issues (38), and by the end of that year plans to charge members a $15 surcharge for electronic access. On the other hand, Web access to Bulletin of Entomological Research is free to those who subscribe to the paper version (17) and the Florida Entomological Society has made the online version of Florida Entomologist freely accessible to all since 1994 (40).

Two views of cost recovery in the all-electronic future There is no consensus on how publishing costs (editing and composing) will be paid for in the all-electronic future (54, 100, 101, 130). Two competing views of the future are illustrated in Figure 4. One depends on maintaining the revenue sources of the current system, by selling online subscriptions to individuals and site licenses to research organizations. Those who lack access by either of these means would be denied access or would have to pay for individual access. As an example of the latter, users who don’t subscribe to the online version of Science (1) can pay $10 for 24 hours of access or $5 for access to a single article. The other view is that authors or their institutions or research grants will pay the costs prior to publication, allowing unrestricted access to articles.

Restricted access will allow publishers to maintain or increase their profits (100) and libraries rather than authors to pay most of the costs of the journal system. However, the cost of free access is low and the advantages to authors and their sponsors are great.

Why access will be free At least seven forces favor eventual free access to Web-posted journal articles.
1. Free access costs less than restricted access, which is complex and therefore expensive to implement (Figure 4).
2. Administrators of research institutions will want the savings in library costs that free access yields. A portion of the savings would be enough to pay all publication costs (100).
3. Those who support research (mostly federal agencies and private foundations) prefer that access to the results of the research they fund be free, and they may forbid or discourage their grantees from transferring copyrights to publishers (8) U.S. federal workers have never been allowed to do so.
4. Researchers will seek the benefits of easy access to any current article without having to contend with the costs and delays of tollgates.
5. As long as traditional and e-versions of articles are co-published, members will pressure their societies to grant free access to the e-versions. For example, they will claim the right to post their manuscripts as preprints (“e-prints”) on their own or discipline-based Web servers (37, 83). They will ask for the option to purchase immediate, unrestricted posting of PDF files of their refereed articles (“electronic-reprints”), and that PDF files of all articles be posted toll-free a few years after initial publication (129-131).
6. Authors will chafe at restrictions on Web access to their articles. Some will ignore the restrictions and substitute the refereed version for the manuscript version on preprint servers (54) and most will welcome their institutions’ efforts to make the terms of copyright transfers more favorable to the authors’ interests.
7. Restricted access makes publishers rather than libraries responsible for journal archives. Researchers trust libraries more than publishers to preserve their research results.

Journals will change in the all-electronic future When journals no longer need conform to centrally printed issues, they will be free to exploit fully the advantages of the Web. Color, sound, and video will be used. Publication will no longer be delayed by queues or waiting for issues to fill. The length of an article will not matter, so long as reader-friendliness is maintained. Varian (126) suggested that a typical Web-published article might consist of a one-paragraph abstract, a one-page executive summary, 20-pages of article, and a 50-page appendix. Interactivity will be great, with internal and external links to references and databases. Articles will be retrievable by searches of selected fields or the full text.

Back issues will be put on line The cumulative costs of maintaining access to back issues of journals are so large that posting them on the Web will have fiscal as well as convenience benefits. The techniques, pioneered by JSTOR (for Journal Storage) (69), include scanning the pages and reading them with optical-character-recognition software to allow automatic indexing of the full text. The scanned pages are posted on the Web and articles and pages are retrieved via online searches of the indexes. Any posted article can be found by any constituent word, phrase, or combination thereof, and a copy can be printed that is equivalent to a photocopy of the original article. The economics of this process are illustrated by the back-issue project of the Florida Entomological Society (131). Scanning and indexing the 20,000 pages of Florida Entomologist from 1917-1993 cost less than $12,000 (<60 cents per page). These one-time costs are less than what 100 research libraries would spend each year to maintain less convenient, less searchable access to paper versions of these same 20,000 pages. [Annual operating costs of research libraries average ca. $3 per volume (6) If 20,000 pages were divided among 50 400-page volumes, 100 × $3 × 50 = $15,000]

OTHER RESEARCH LITERATURE Most theses and dissertations will soon be posted on the Web. Forty-eight universities, including 11 land grant institutions, are in the forefront of this effort as members of the Networked Digital Library of Theses and Dissertations (97). Virginia Tech, headquarters to the NDLTD, has required submission of its theses and dissertations in digital form since 1997 (139). Most are posted on the Web with free access, but authors can choose to limit access or to keep their work entirely offline.

Review articles, which often appear in expensive, late-appearing, symposium volumes, will increasingly move to the Web, because the authors of chapters receive no royalties, and they want their efforts available to all and published quickly. Current literature indexes will be largely replaced by Web-based search systems more powerful than those currently used by free Web services such as AltaVista and HotBot (114).


We are grateful to K. Jones (University of Florida) for her editing and research assistance, and J. VanDyke (University of Iowa) for his assistance and advice.

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