Category: Universities

Liberated From Paper

RANDOLPH W. HALL, vice president for research at USC.

This op-ed originally appeared in the Chronicle of Higher Education.

I was probably among the last doctoral students to write a thesis entirely on a typewriter. In 1982, barely nine months after the release of the IBM PC, the personal computer was out of reach for me. Cut and paste (literally), Liquid Paper, rub-on Greek symbols, and the correcting back space were my editing tools. Punched cards were my computer code.

Today almost all research papers are born digital. Words, images, data, models—all of the things that research creates—have been liberated from paper to the more malleable and dynamic world of bits and bytes. Yet when it comes to reviewing, publishing, and distributing research, the academy runs the risk of discouraging digital scholarship through structures that inhibit innovation and fail to reward innovators.