Vol. 1.1. November 1997


Electronic publishing seems to have many advantages and only a few disadvantages. One of the advantages - perhaps the main advantage - is that it uses a new medium (the Internet) for the dissemination of ideas, which makes it possible to reach a readership to a degree which could hardly be imagined only ten years ago. Anyone connected to the Internet can read what is published there. Another advantage is that publication can be done at low cost by e.g. university computer services. It thus leads to a new type of 'university presses', and takes the publication of academic writings back to the place where the ideas emanate from. What academic authors most of all want is to be read by their peers, students and others interested in the results of their intellectual endeavours. Being read is, at the end of the day, the 'profit' they make and desire. A disadvantage is, of course, that those not connected to the Internet are unable to reach the information published in electronic form. But with the still continuing growth of the Internet, this disadvantage will certainly decrease. Still, in spite of the clear advantages, a new electronic journal encounters two major obstacles before it is accepted as an established scholarly publication. First of all, it is a new journal and as such will have to prove itself and its standards for publication. Secondly, this is an e-journal and the non-paper character makes readers hesitant as to the level and trustworthiness of its contents. What cannot be touched but merely seen is perceived as less real than an ordinary paper journal, although in both cases an author expresses ideas which are reflected upon and further developed by the minds of his readers. The editorial board of the Electronic Journal of Comparative Law intends to be as rigorous in its editorial policy as any high-ranking academic paper journal and by doing so overcome both obstacles that a new e-journal finds on its way to recognition. Articles can also be easily downloaded (in several formats) and then printed locally.

The journal will focus on the method of comparative law and on comparative private law. Preferably, articles are written in English; articles in French and German will, however, also be accepted for publication. In this issue, two articles are published which have not been published before: one in the area of family law, written in English, the other in the area of contract law, written in French. The editorial board invites those interested in publishing an article (or other contribution, e.g. a book review) electronically to submit their contributions to the assistant editor of the journal.

In our view, an electronic journal will become one of the most efficient ways for comparative lawyers to exchange information and ideas. And we are convinced that this can be done without the loss of an uncompromising editorial acceptance policy, thus maintaining the standards of well-established paper journals.

Sjef van Erp
Professor of civil law and European private law,
Maastricht University, the Netherlands

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