Rich Internet Publications: "Show What You Tell"

Leen Breure, Hans Voorbij, Maarten Hoogerwerf


The journal article is still the basis of scholarly communication. This genre, however, largely adheres to the rules of the printed publication and does not meet the requirements of this age of digital Web
publishing. Today we do not need to restrict ourselves any longer to communicating the results of the
research process only. We can also allow readers to inspect the underlying data online, to publish their
own comments and, using a variety of multimedia content, to be witness to intermediary stages of the
scientific discovery process. This development has stimulated the transformation of the conventional
article: when published in a digital format, it is more and more enhanced with data sets, photos, videos,
interactive maps and animations; these enhancements affect its structure and layout. A variety of new publication formats is appearing, some of which can be no longer adequately described as simply "enhanced" publications. They are rather to be conceived as a new genre, for which we propose the term Rich Internet Publication (RIP), analogue to the well-known concept of Rich Internet Application. Both
share features of information integration, visualization and exploration (i.e. non-linear reading), typical for
hypermedia products.

RIPs do not constitute a sharply delimited category, but are part of a broad spectrum, which starts with regular enhanced publications closely resembling their printed counterparts, and ends with high-quality multimedia presentations having more in common with Web applications than with the conventional journal article. We distinguish two subcategories: RIP type I is primarily based on a linear text, but fully integrated with multimedia content and tools to access and analyze data, while RIP type II is more imagedriven, has a user interface with more graphic elements and encourages explorative, non-linear reading.

The production of enhanced publications and RIPs is not yet a straightforward process. It requires extra
effort from the author, which is currently insufficiently rewarded. This may change when funding agencies
get more interested in research products that go beyond the level of textual publications. Dedicated tools for construction of RIPs are equally important, which requires consensus on architecture and
infrastructure. Development of these tools could fit in with the recently started research line of adding
semantic metadata to object-based enhanced publications. Moreover, the creation of a RIP will rely on the author's basic competencies of e-scholarship. When authors start creating RIPs on a larger scale, the
process of exchanging and preserving them has to be supported. Usually, a RIP is not a single static file,
which can be downloaded and attached to an email, but a set of related components. Preserving the
content's integrity will be a major concern.

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