IN 1989 when Fleischmann and Pons claimed to have produced room temperature fusion, the ensuing flashes of discussion and reports of attempts at confirmation were transacted largely by fax. When comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 hit Jupiter, the first images of the event were disseminated instantly on the Internet. The exciting claim by Princeton mathematician Andrew Wiles to have proved Fermat's 350-year-old Last Theorem is now being scrutinized and fleshed out in firstname.lastname@example.org.
Medical students of today no longer have folders filled with torn-out magazine articles and file card cross-references. They are fluent with MEDLINE, CD-ROMs, and databases with automatic E-mail updates on topics of their choice.
What then is the future of paper journals, such as Archives of Surgery? Scholarly journals in and out of medicine serve several functions, including dissemination, discrimination (ie, editing), summarization, and archiving.
DISSEMINATION AND RETRIEVAL
For material that is not time sensitive, paper journals, even those