About Their Work Author: Ricki Lewis
In the current age of electronic communication, the practice of sending postcards to colleagues to request reprints of their articles may seem quaint. Nonetheless, these postcards continue to crisscross the world at much the same volume as they have for years, scientists and journal publishers say.
Article reprints serve several purposes. Many scientists see a reprint request as a pat on the back. "In my scientific youth, I kept an exact count of the number of reprints; I even kept the 'used' cards on file to see who had made requests. I no longer do that, but I always feel a certain satisfaction when I run out of originals and must start sending photocopies to latecomers," says developmental biologist Jim Hutchins, an associate professor of anatomy at the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson.
Reprints do not go only to peers. They often...