There are endless new web technologies that academic journals should experiment with, yet they don’t all translate to the world of PDFs. Do we bound ahead, making richly interactive and accessible HTML articles while the PDF suffers? Should we support continued innovation on the PDF side?
We raise these questions in response to an appreciated mention of the PLOS journals in a post by Stefan Washietl over at Paperpile’s blog. Stefan takes a look at design trends in academic publishing and beautiful papers to come out of some of the most influential journals of the past 350 years.
Of course, it’s great to have both the PLOS article PDFs and HTML pages highlighted as beautiful examples, but we think there is plenty more work to be done. We’re working on a mobile-optimized version of our journals, new journal homepages, and we have a few tweaks and refinements to the article page coming down our development pipeline, all based on user feedback and reactions to our December 2012 redesign. And like Stefan, we’re excited to see new article viewers like eLife’s Lens and NCBI’s PubReader exploring new ways of interacting with research content on the web.
So in light of all these exciting developments on the web, we echo Stefan’s final question: “for how much longer will we print PDFs?” And toward that future, what do you think it will take for the community to completely abandon PDFs in favor of HTML articles?