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March 31, 2004

Helvetica Chimica Acta - Commentary

:: In a recent advertising insert promoting the journal, Chemistry & Biodiversity, an
apparent twig of Helvetica Chimica Acta, the claim was made that HCA was "one of the best ... full-paper primary-literature chemistry journals in the world."

This claim was based on a comparison of the 2002 ISI Impact Factor of HCA with some other journals.

  • 20.993 Chem. Rev.
  • 7.671 Angew. Chem. Int. Ed.
  • 6.201 J. Am. Chem. Soc.
  • 1.949 Helv. Chim. Acta
  • 1.750 Pure Appl. Chem.
  • 1.607 Org. Synth.
  • 1.529 Chem. Lett.
  • 1.260 Can. J. Chem.
  • 1.213 Bull. Chem. Soc. Jpn.
This comparison struck me as odd for two reasons. First, because Chem. Rev., Org. Synth. and Chem. Lett. are not full-paper primary-literature chemistry journals and, more importantly, because Chem. Commun., New J. Chem. and Chem. Eur. J. were left out of the comparison.

Looking at the American Chemical Society - Committee on Professional Training's 'Journal List for Undergraduate Programs', we find that the most important 'general content' chemistry journals (with their 2002 ISI Impact Factors) are:

  • 20.99 Chemical Reviews
  • 15.90 Accounts of Chemical Research
  • 8.718 Chemical Society Reviews
  • 7.671 Angewandte Chemie Int. Ed.
  • 6.201 J. American Chemical Society
  • 4.038 Chemical Communications
with HCA, New J. Chem., and Chem. Eur. J. all in the 'Also Recommended' category.

As an aid to librarians who need to selectively subscribe to the 'general content' chemistry journals, I have listed those in the 'Also Recommended' category ranked by their 2002 ISI Impact Factors:

  • 4.238 Chemistry - A European J.
  • 2.060 New Journal of Chemistry
  • 1.949 Helvetica Chimica Acta
  • 1.750 Pure and Applied Chemistry
  • 1.529 Chemistry Letters (Japan)
  • 1.260 Canadian J. Chemistry
- contributed by Dana Roth, Caltech.

March 30, 2004

It Had to Happen: AIM has a Blog

:: The Annals of Improbable Research has joined the blogosphere with the blog, Improbable Research -- What's New. Nothing like a little scientific humour to lighten up a bad day on the reference desk. BTW, if you are a scientist or engineer with long, beautiful locks, the latest issue of AIM has information on LFHCfS, or The Luxuriant Flowing Hair Club for Scientists™.

The Guardian featured an article about LFHCfS in December, 2003.

March 29, 2004

GlobalSpec Introduces “The Engineering Web”

:: From Information Today:

March 29, 2004 — GlobalSpec, a specialized online resource for engineering, has launched a new interface, added more powerful search functionality, and has introduced a specialized search engine it is calling “The Engineering Web,” which it says provides “engineering context and relevancy” and access to Hidden Web resources. The newly introduced engine searches more than 100,000 engineering and technical Web sites and provides searching of specialized content the company says is not available on any other search engine—application notes, patents, material properties, and standards.
This is an interesting site which of which I was not aware. In addition to "The Engineering Web", you can also search for:

March 26, 2004

Journal of Physical and Chemical Reference Data - Access via NIST

:: NIST is offering access to selected articles from the Journal of Physical and Chemical Reference Data, via its Data Gateway:

Another feature of the Gateway is a search for articles published in the Journal of Physical and Chemical Reference Data (JPCRD). Links are provided to free, online versions of many articles. For the articles that are not available online, ordering information for reprints available for purchase is provided.
(Via an e-mail from Keith Martin, NIST, on STS-L)

Chemical Prices - The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

:: Here at the U of Alberta, we have a number of chemical engineering design classes, in which students work in groups for the duration of the course, designing chemical plants and products. Most often, they require chemical prices, among many other types of information.

Chemical Market Reporter is one of the best sources for weekly (US) prices. What I've discovered, however, is that the Prices & People section of each issue, which lists said chemical prices, is indexed inconsistently in ABI Inform and Business Source Premier (EBSCO). Each Prices & People section begins with the phrase, Week Ending, with the appropriate date. Sometimes the section is indexed as "prices & people", other times it is indexed as "week ending..." (The "&" will work as a search word.)

In Business Source Premier, to find this section, you must search the phrase: (prices and people) or (week ending). Even then, the results are inconsistent. The 2004 results, for example, return the Prices & People section for v265, #s 1-6, 8-9, and 11. Why #s 7 and 10 aren't there is a mystery. ABI/Inform is worse - the most recent Prices & People column available is November 24, 2003.

The most frustrating aspect is that these two databases are advertised as full-text. It's a mystery why neither fully indexes perhaps the most heavily used section of each issue of Chemical Market Reporter. (Props to Kevin Lindstrom at UBC for addition information. Word.)

March 25, 2004

Sci-Tech Not-For-Profit Publishers Commit to Limited Open Access

:: Barbara Quint reports in Information Today that 48 top STM societies and not--for-profit publishers have inked the "Washington DC Principles for Free Access to Science", which proclaims their collective commitment to providing free access and dissemination of published research findings. Quint notes that while the press release indicated that the societies signing the DC Principles publish >380 journals, in actual fact, the total is 115, and are all hosted on HighWire Press:

Confusion over the 380 journals claimed by the press release stems from the participation of the Society of National Association Publications (http://www.snaponline.org) and its 265 titles. SNAP is a professional society serving associations with publishing operations and does not control individual member policies. However, SNAP does endorse and recommend the DC Principles to its scholarly society members. The 265 title count, according to Peter Banks of SNAP, constitutes its full membership, not just the scholarly society members. He hoped that corrections to the DC Principles Web site would clarify the matter.

PLoS Wins a 2004 Wired Rave Award

:: The Public Library of Science has won a 2004 Wired Rave Award, "For cracking the spine of the science cartel." PLoS "is a non-profit organization of scientists and physicians committed to making the world's scientific and medical literature a freely available public resource." Their flagship journal, PLoS Biology, has reached v2 issue 3, March 2004. PLoS Medicine will begin publishing in the fall of 2004.

The complete list of the 2004 Wired Rave Awards is here. (via GP.)

March 24, 2004

Convex Optimization

:: Electrical Engineering professors Steven Boyd (Stanford) and Lieven
Vandenberghe
(UCLA) are publishing a new book on Convex Optimization. Issued in print by Cambridge University Press (ISBN: 0521833787), the authors retained online rights to distribute it themselves. http://www.stanford.edu/~boyd/cvxbook.html. (Via George Porter.)

March 23, 2004

Open GIS

Open GIS Group Kicks Off Web Services Initiative

The Open GIS Consortium Inc., kicked off a new interoperability
initiative to develop and enhance OGS Web Services (OWS) standards
designed to enable easy discovery, access and use of geographic data
and geoprocessing services. Participants are now working to extend and
"ruggedize" existing and draft OpenGIS standards. The goal is a
complete interoperability framework for implementation within a
multi-vendor enterprise and to achieve interoperability between
enterprises for geoprocessing solutions in government and business.

The OGC is an international industry consortium of more than 250
companies, government agencies and universities participating in a to
develop publicly available interface specifications for geographic
data.

Their specifications will "geo-enable" the Web, wireless and
location-based services, and mainstream IT.

For more information visit: http://www.opengis.org [via Syllabus email newsletter]

(Mis)Leading Open Access Myths - BioMed Central Responds

:: As previously reported, the Science and Technology Committee of the UK Parliament is conducting an inquiry into scientific publications. BioMed Central is providing coverage of the inquiry on their new Open Access now website. The site includes BioMed Central's submissions to the inquiry, but also links to the other submissions, including those from Elsevier, Blackwell Publishing, Oxford UP, among others, and - wait for it - the American Association of Law Libraries, American Library Association, Association of Academic Health Sciences Libraries, Association of College & Research Libraries, Association of Research Libraries, Medical Library Association, Public Knowledge, and the Scholarly Publication and Academic Resources Coalition. (Gee, where was SLA on this one??)

This week, BioMed Central released (Mis)Leading Open Access Myths, in response to what it describes as "some of the most prevalent and
most misleading anti-Open Access arguments." The document discusses the following in detail:

  • Myth 1. The cost of providing Open Access will reduce the
    availability of funding for research
  • Myth 2. Access is not a problem – virtually all UK researchers have
    the access they need
  • Myth 3. The public can get any article they want from the public
    library via interlibrary loan
  • Myth 4. Patients would be confused if they were to have free access
    to the peer-reviewed medical literature on the web
  • Myth 5. It is not fair that industry will benefit from Open Access
  • Myth 6. Open Access threatens scientific integrity due to a conflict of
    interest resulting from charging authors
  • Myth 7. Poor countries already have free access to the biomedical
    literature
  • Myth 8. Traditionally published content is more accessible than Open
    Access content as it is available in printed form
  • Myth 9. A high quality journal such as Nature would need to charge
    authors £10,000-£30,000 in order to move to an Open Access
    model
  • Myth 10. Publishers need to make huge profits in order to fund
    innovation
  • Myth 11. Publishers need to take copyright to protect the integrity of
    scientific articles
Via George Porter.

March 22, 2004

Nature's "Access to the Literature" Web Focus

:: Nature has begun a new Web Focus discussion, called "access to the literature: the debate continues":

The Internet is profoundly changing how scientists work and publish. New business models are being tested by publishers, including open access, in which the author pays and content is free to the user. This ongoing web focus will explore current trends and future possibilities. Each week, the website will publish specially commissioned insights and analysis from leading scientists, librarians, publishers and other stakeholders, as well as key links, and articles from our archive. All content is available free.

March 19, 2004

ASCE Enhances Civil Engineering Database

:: This message appeared on the SLA-ENG listserv today:

The ASCE Publication Department is always looking for ways to enhance researching capabilities of the Civil Engineering Database. Here are the latest enhancements:
  • All abstracted CE Database records are searchable in Google.
  • We have added more than 400 records of books published by ASCE, making the book records section complete back to 1927.
  • Journal title field has been added for searching. This new field searches individual journal titles back to 1956.
Please visit CEDB at http://www.pubs.asce.org/cedbsrch.html.

March 18, 2004

STM Publishing Giants Rally Behind EBL

:: This is flying around the Internet:

Top STM Publishers Join eBooks Corporation’s New Library Offering.
PERTH, Australia
Friday, 12 March 2004

Six of the world's principle Science, Technology & Medical publishers announced today that they are participating in the launch of eBooks Corporation's landmark new library service, EBL.

Cambridge University Press, Kluwer, Oxford University Press, Springer, Taylor & Francis and World Scientific will all provide titles for EBL. At launch in June 2004 EBL will carry titles across all disciplines, including the deepest, most comprehensive and most up to date range of STM ebooks currently available to the library community.

Aimed at academic and research libraries, the EBL model features enhanced functionality including multiple concurrent access, online and offline access, read aloud, chapters for reserve circulation, short term circulation and document delivery solutions.

eBooks Corporation, whose ebookstore eBooks.com has been at the forefront of the electronic book industry since 2000, embarked on the eBook Library project at the promptings of library customers, including Curtin University and the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN). Working closely with CERN, Curtin , North Carolina State University and Yale, the EBL model was developed and presented to leading international STM publishers for review and evaluation.

“We are determined to offer greater flexibility to libraries and their patrons while protecting the interests of authors and publishers”, said EBL's General Manager, Kari Paulson. “In addition to this the short term circulation and virtual photocopying features redirect revenue that was traditionally absorbed by library staffing costs, freight and photocopying back to publishers and their authors.

About eBooks Corporation Ltd

eBooks Corporation is a global provider of digital books. It has distribution agreements with publishers in the US , UK and Australia , The company has long standing, close working relationships with Adobe, Microsoft, Palm and other stakeholders in the ebook industry. eBooks Corporation hosts, and securely distributed eBooks through its retail site (www.ebooks.com). eBooks Corporation is expanding distribution to library (www.library.ebooks.com) wholesale (www.ebookengine.com) channels.

Media Contacts:

Kari Paulson, General Manager, EBL
+61 (0) 8 9385 5166 ¦ kari.paulson@ebooks.com

March 15, 2004

Elsevier Announces Scopus

:: Elsevier announced today that Scopus, its "full text-linking abstract and indexing (A&I) database", is in its final testing and user trials phase. Further details are available in a report from Paula J Hane, Information Today.

March 11, 2004

Googling IEEE Xplore

Interesting blurb from "Whats New @ IEEE For Students" about people finding their way to technical papers through Google...

8. GOOGLE USERS FLOCK TO IEEE XPLORE
IEEE recently announced that researchers worldwide can now locate technical papers published by IEEE when searching online using the Google search engine. Since then, IEEE Xplore traffic from Google users has risen dramatically. IEEE web tracking reports that Google referrals to IEEE Xplore have risen 1000% prior to the indexing of the site by Google. Google delivered 120,000 referrals to the IEEE Xplore Web site in December while the next highest search engine only delivered 19,000 referrals. The brief abstract records for IEEE papers, which Google has indexed, are available free to all researchers through IEEE Xplore. Access to IEEE online documents is available through institutional subscriptions, by individual online article purchase, or through subscriptions available to IEEE members. Visit IEEE Xplore at:
http://www.ieee.org/ieeexplore

March 10, 2004

Issues in Science & Technology Librarianship - n39

:: Issues in Science & Technology Librarianship, n39, Fall 2003, is now available. It is a theme issue, featuring two sets of articles, some with abstracts only, from Agricultural Information for the New Millennium: New Crops, Biotechnology, and Saving the Past: Proceedings of the United States Agricultural Information Network (USAIN) Conference, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, April 25-28, 2003. For those interested, the Post-Meeting Final Program from the conference has links to selected powerpoint presentations from the conference.

Also of interest is a brief report by Victoria S Mitchell of a session called The Top Ten Things a new Sci/Tech Librarian Should Know: Developing Core Competencies, from the STS Issues in Sci/Tech Library Management Discussion Group, ALA Annual Meeting, Toronto, June 22, 2003.

PLoS: Public Library of Science

:: The v65 n3 March 2003 issue of College and Research Library News has an interesting article by Helen J Doyle, entitled The Public Library of Science: Open access from the ground up.

Despite the recent spike in press coverage, conference symposia, and electronic list discussions dedicated to the subject, open-access publishing is not a new concept or a nascent revolution. Both the idea and the practice of providing free access to scholarly literature in widely available; searchable archives have a long, rich history.1 In a sense then, the current spate of international interest in open access might be seen as a number of parallel movements, which are converging and gathering momentum due to a variety of forces, both internal and external to the scholarly publishing system.

The Public Library of Science (PLoS), a relatively new player on the open access scene, is one piece of a dynamic and complex landscape of organizations, policies, beliefs, myths, constraints, and ideals about open access and scholarly publishing. As an open-access publisher and advocacy organization, PLoS is steadfast in its commitment to making the scientific and medical literature a public resource, so that anyone with access to the Internet can read and use the scientific discoveries that are generated through research largely funded with public monies.

The Academic Publishing Industry: A Story of Merger and Acquisition

:: Bob Michaelson notes the following in an e-mail to selected listservs today. I have added a few additional links.

From February 2004 E-News for ARL Directors: (these briefings also are posted on the ARL web site at http://www.arl.org/enews/index.html, although the Feb. 2004 briefing hasn't been posted there yet).

4. New Web Site Documents Academic Publishing Mergers

A new Web site commissioned by ARL and the Information Access Alliance documents mergers and acquisitions in academic publishing. "The Academic Publishing Industry: A Story of Merger and Acquisition" was developed by Mary H. Munroe, Associate Dean, Collections and Technical Services at Northern Illinois University. Ms. Munroe, formerly a business librarian, has published work previously about mergers, including "Which Way Is Up? The Publishing Industry Merges Its Way into the Twenty-First Century" (Library Administration & Management, 14, no. 2 (spring 2000): 70-78). The site can be found at http://www.niulib.niu.edu/publishers, and links are provided from the ARL scholarly communication site and the IAA Web site. We hope libraries and the media will find the extensive information on the site helpful. Please contact Mary Case (marycase @ arl.org) with any questions or comments.

March 9, 2004

Incident in the Library

:: Today in our library, a student was attacked and stabbed in the arm and shoulder by three other individuals, while studying on the second floor. Most of us working in the building weren't aware anything had happened until afterwards. The student apparently bolted from the library, bleeding profusely. Soon afterwards, Campus Security, the Edmonton Police, and other officials were in the building. Currently, a section of the entrance, and the second floor, are sealed off as a crime scene. The incident made the local news, and a statement was issued by the University. In addition, the students on campus are already discussing it online.

The event and its aftermath left most of us feeling a bit unsettled. In my 25+ years as a librarian, I've never experienced anything like this.

New Information Literacy SIG for Engineering

:: A new information literacy discussion group has emerged:

ELD-ILit is an electronic discussion list addressing issues related to information literacy and library instruction within engineering libraries or engineering disciplines. ELD-ILit is sponsored by the Engineering Libraries Division (ELD) of the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE). Subscription to the list is open to ASEE/ELD members and non-members alike.

BioMed Central goes RSS friendly

Today's BioMed Central update mentions their new move to RSS!

RSS headline feeds

You may have noticed that the home pages and most-viewed articles pages of all BioMed Central journals now include a small XML button. This indicates that there is an RSS (Really Simple Syndication) feed available for the articles on that page.

An RSS feed is a list of articles in a standard XML format that can automatically be processed by newsreading software. Since RSS feeds can be read by robots, these feeds can also be used by webmasters to incorporate BioMed Central content automatically into their own sites.

For more information about how to use BioMed Central's RSS feeds, see our RSS information page.

March 8, 2004

European Cells & Materials now available open access

:: George Porter reports the following on STS-L:

March 7, 2004

Making the Case for Patent Searchers?

:: Howard S Homan, PhD, Information Research & Analysis Section, ExxonMobil Research and Engineering Company, has written a timely and informative article about why good technical searching takes time, and costs money. Most of his work involves patent infringment searching in the petroleum products realm. The article appears in Searcher, v12 n3, March 2004.

    "If you, at the request of a client, glean and filter information from a variety of sources, you are called a searcher. If you search in science and engineering, you are called a technical searcher. This article describes the work of technical searchers. It evolved during my attempts to explain my new job to former colleagues, now clients, during my apprenticeship in technical searching. Most of my current job involves patent infringement searching in the area of petroleum products. For clients, this article explains why searching seems to take so long and cost so much. (The short answer is that searchers haven't been replaced by software, yet. For the long answer, keep reading.) Hopefully, this article will enable clients to make good use of their searchers and help fellow searchers describe their unique profession."

March 2, 2004

Librarians' Involvements With Vendors - A Commentary

:: Brian Simboli, Science Librarian at E.W. Fairchild Martindale Library at Lehigh University, offers the following commentary on the subject of vendors soliciting input from and working with librarians to improve their products:

    I was rather surprised this week to come across a vendor's website that solicits ideas about new products but that includes a disclaimer suggesting that the submitter of information agrees that the vendor can use the information without remuneration.

    There is, I think, an unfortunate tendency to regard librarian input about product enhancements as yet one more generous service that librarians provide, thereby overlooking the depth of accumulated experience that they have acquired over years of serving their populations. Perhaps this is part and parcel of the longstanding and ever-more incorrect perception of librarians as persons who hide away in the stacks. That perception is gradually eroding, of course, as librarians have become more and more business-like; witness, e.g., how vocal they have been about aspects of the serials crisis.

    The tendency does not always exhibit itself; I know of one case in which librarians were able to cut a very fair deal on a library product by virtue of having provided lots of input about it. Also, if librarians are dealing with non-profit organizations, there is a respectable pro bono dimension to providing insight on how to improve products. Furthermore, there is all the reason in the world for librarians to sit on vendor panels as a way of providing feedback about vendor services.

    It is of course within the right of vendors to solicit new ideas. I would recommend, however, to my colleagues that they be wary of giving away the store when they talk to vendors about new products or product enhancements. It is of course within the right of vendors to request such feedback, but it is worth keeping in mind that significant feedback (i.e., feedback over and above merely pointing out problems with current services) can--and I think should-- result in lowered pricing for an institution, tailored to the benefits that the vendor accrues. And in fact the results of such arrangements can contribute greatly to both vendors and the institutions to whom they sell products. Everyone wins.

Brian's commentary was posted to a number of listservs this morning.

March 1, 2004

Journal of Algorithms Fallout Getting Noticed, Stanford U Takes Stand Against "Pricey Journals"

:: On December 31, 2003, the editorial board of the Journal of Algorithms resigned, in protest of Elsevier pricing policies. George Porter from CIT posted this message to a number of listservs today:

:: Stanford University has received support from its Faculty Senate, which has approved a resolution that encourages the boycott of "pricey journals."