Never fear. PDFs will still be here.
That’s the word from John Sack, director of HighWire Press at Stanford University Libraries and Academic Information Resources.
Sack received the Meritorious Achievement Award at the CSE annual meeting, held 1–3 May in Baltimore, MD.
He’s been a member of the publishing community since graduating from Stanford with a master’s degree in English in 1976.
He remembers his first encounter with a personal computer.
“It was the first time I’d ever seen a search engine, and I was in love,” Sack said, with a broad grin.
Sack has seen many things come and go since then, and he said changes still are in the works. But he’s sure one thing will be around for a long time to come: PDFs.
Portable document files are popular, Sack said, in part because they are safe and convenient.
“People will adopt a tool that lets them work smarter and faster. They aren’t interested in the tool itself,” he told the CSE audience. Many researchers, he noted, still tote their laptops when they go to libraries and research areas.
“They take their laptops everywhere they work,” he said. “It’s a safe place as well as a safe.”
About 40%, he said, have smart phones but do not access documents from them.
Even the nature of “reading” a scholarly journal has changed, Sack said, referring to a recent study. “Browsing the e-mail table of contents is ‘reading’ the journal. RSS is where journals go to die,” he said. “These are people (journal readers) who are very task focused.”
In addition to Sack, CSE honored Sharon Naron and Kristi Overgaard with Distinguished Service Awards for 2011 for their work to revise and update the White Paper on Promoting Integrity in Scientific Journal Publications. Naron is senior medical editor at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and has been a CSE member for 16 years. Overgaard, a 10-year CSE member, is managing editor of the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine.
TERESA M MELCHER is editor of CSE’s Science Editor.