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April 28, 2004



Read this issue online:

1. IEEE Scores Victory for Scholarly Publishing with OFAC Ruling
2. Study Shows IEEE Journals Priced 39% Below Market Average
3. Journal Explores Link Between Music and Engineering
4. Attending SLA? Sign Up for IEEE Breakfast
5. New Proceedings Address Latest on Optical Technologies
6. Context Information Helps Solve Data Quality Problems
7. Hot Off the Press: Guide to Intellectual Property Law
8. Digital Libraries Conference Coming in June
9. National Electrical Safety Code Archive Collected on CD-ROM
10. Conference Calls for Papers Listed at New IEEE Web Page
11. 3-D Scanners Measure Up: IEEE Spectrum Reports
12. Getting to Know Your Customers
13. "Hidden Data" -- What Can It Reveal?

Electronic Theses and Dissertations - Overlooked Academic Treasures

Sometimes the obvious eludes us. In the rush toward Open Access journals and databases, it is easy to overlook unique source material to which academic libraries have easy access, namely theses and dissertations.

Although NDLTD, Networked Digital Library of Theses and Dissertations, provides access to many participating institutions' electronic theses repositories, including Caltech's, via the NDLTD Union Catalog, some gems fall through the cracks. Here is one such gem which I discovered yesterday.

    Quantum Information Theory By Michael Aaron Nielsen. DISSERTATION - Submitted in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy -- Physics, The University of New Mexico Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA, December 1998

Nielsen is affiliated with Caltech's Institute for Quantum Information and co-author of the leading book on quantum computing, Quantum computation and quantum information / Michael A. Nielsen & Isaac L. Chuang (OCLC #43641333).

Basic background information on the international electronic thesis movement, which has UNESCO backing, is posted on the NDLTD website . Caltech's participation has been ongoing for three years. The first year depended upon voluntary submissions. The second complete graduating class of grad students for whom a mandatory electronic submission requirement applies are currently defending their theses ahead of a June Commencement.

Some recent articles on Caltech's ETD program:

- George Porter

Gravity Probe B - Was Einstein Right?

:: Interesting article from e4engineering.com on the Gravity Probe B, launched on April 20th. The probe will use four gyroscopes to attempt to detect if spacetime is bending around the Earth:

Gravity Probe B is the relativity gyroscope experiment being developed by NASA and Stanford University to test two extraordinary, unverified predictions of Albert Einstein's general theory of relativity.

The experiment will check, very precisely, tiny changes in the direction of spin of four gyroscopes contained in an Earth satellite orbiting at 400-mile altitude directly over the poles. So free are the gyroscopes from disturbance that they will provide an almost perfect space-time reference system. They will measure how space and time are warped by the presence of the Earth, and, more profoundly, how the Earth's rotation drags space-time around with it. These effects, though small for the Earth, have far-reaching implications for the nature of matter and the structure of the Universe.

April 27, 2004

Copernicus Gesellschaft - a Cornucopia of Open Access titles

Copernicus Gesellschaft is an exemplary Open Access publisher, providing free online distribution of a number of journal titles on behalf of the European Geosciences Union. All of the following journals are freely available online, in addition, print volumes can be acquired by libraries whose clientele and storage space permit and/or require such access.

Advances in Geosciences Fulltext v1+ (2003+); Print ISSN: 1680-7340; Online ISSN: 1680-7359

Atmospheric Chemistry & Physics
Fulltext v1+ (2001+); Print ISSN: 1680-7316; Online ISSN: 1680-7324

Atmospheric Chemistry & Physics Discussions
Fulltext v1+ (2001+); Print ISSN: 1680-7367; Online ISSN: 1680-7375

Natural Hazards & Earth System Sciences
Fulltext v1+ (2001+); Print ISSN: 1561-8633; Online ISSN: 1684-9981

Nonlinear Processes in Geophysics
Fulltext v1+ (1994+); Print ISSN: 1023-5809; Online ISSN: 1607-7946

- George Porter

George also notes the following:

The European Geosciences Union is preparing to launch two new journals in the interdisciplinary field of
biogeoscience, including:
    * Biodiversity & ecosystem function
    * Evolutionary ecology
    * Environmental microbiology
    * Biogeochemistry & global elemental cycles
    * Biogeochemistry & gas exchange
    * Biomineralization, microbial weathering & sedimentation
    * Interactions between microbes, organic matter sediments & rocks
    * Biogeophysics
    * Earth system sciences & response to global changes
    * Paleogeobiology, including origin & evolution of life, evolution of
    the biosphere, sedimentary records, & the development & use of proxies
    * Astrobiology & Exobiology

Forthcoming fulltext v1+ (2004+); Print ISSN: 1726-4170; Online ISSN: 1726-4189

Biogeosciences Discussions
Forthcoming fulltext v1+ (2004+); Print ISSN: 1810-6277; Online ISSN: 1810-6285

Biogeosciences and Biogeosciences Discussions are following the model pioneered by the European Geophysical Union with the instantly successful companion journals, Atmospheric Chemistry & Physics and Atmospheric Chemistry & Physics Discussions.

Arabidopsis Book

George posted the following biology resource to STS-L. Note that the Arabidopsis Book is open access.

The Arabidopsis Book is an Open Access project bringing together an encyclopedic description of one of the most heavily studied plant species. Quoting from the American Society of Plant Biologist's (ASPB) website:

This electronic book, The Arabidopsis Book (TAB), ISSN: 1543-8120, is an attempt at a new mode of communication between researchers and a new model for scientific publishing. TAB in its initial stage is a compilation of over 100 invited chapters, each reviewing in detail an important and interesting aspect of the plant Arabidopsis thaliana, with reference to what is known in other plants and in other kingdoms.

Arabidopsis Book
Fulltext v1+ (2002+)
ISSN: 1543-8120

The ASPB version is organized into sections, then access is at the individual chapter level, in PDF only. BioOne provides both HTML and PDF versions of each chapter. In addition, BioOne has implemented a search interface.

Although BioOne's materials are primarily subscription-based, The Arabidopsis Book is one of a few BioOne collections which are Open Access. In addition:

Florida Entomologist
Fulltext v85+ (2002+)
Fulltext v1+ (1917+) http://www.fcla.edu/FlaEnt/
ISSN: 0015-4040

April 23, 2004

Publishing Conference Literature: Print, Online, DVD, CD - Considering the Options

:: Aleteia Greenwood at UBC posed an interesting question on ELDNET-L on April 22:

A UBC civil engineering faculty member has asked me a few questions that I am hoping I can ask you all and get your opinions.

In August the 13th World Conference on Earthquake Engineering will take place in Vancouver. For this conference over 2,000 papers will be presented. The faculty member is suggesting that the proceedings be distributed in digital format, most likely a DVD.

He has asked me:

1. What is the current policy in libraries with regard to the preferred format of proceedings from large conferences? Do you still prefer to have a printed copy of proceedings, or will libraries accept proceedings in digital format (DVD or CD).

2. If a limited set of hard copies of the proceedings were produced how many libraries might be interested in getting a hard copy instead of the DVD. The proceedings in print will be 12-14 volumes.

3. Is there a depository where the papers could be placed on a permanent basis so that a few years from now people interested in getting a copy of a paper could get it either for free or at a very nominal fee?

4. If proceedings in digital format are acceptable to libraries, would DVD or CDs be better? or does it matter?

With the ongoing struggle many (most?) libraries face with respect to physical space, and the relatively low (lower?) usage of conference literature in comparison to monographs, although there is considerable variation between discipline-specific subcultures, a 12-14 volume set of conference proceedings poses a daunting problem of storage space versus utility. CD or DVD distribution is nearly infinitely superior with respect to portability and space utilization.

DVD offers a many fold storage advantage over CD. Neither have an assured lifespan on the order of print on paper and both are far more susceptible to loss or breakage than a 14 volume set of bound books. IP-based distribution, however, obviates the need for manufacture, inventory storage, distribution, and library space consumption.

The Caltech Library System assisted in the production of proceedings for the Fourth International Symposium on Cavitation. Hosted by Caltech, June, 2001. CAV2001 is one of the constituent archives in Caltech CODA (Caltech Collection of Open Digital Archives).

The proceedings are compliant with the Open Archives Initiative - Protocol for Metadata Harvesting (OAI-PMH), are regularly harvested by both repository web crawlers; e.g. OAIster; and general purpose web crawlers; e.g. Googlebot. As a result, the material continues to see steady use 3 years after the conference.

The papers are individually addressable and may be linked at that level. As such, conference papers presented in this manner are well suited for indexing and abstracting by traditional A&I services, in addition to the increased visibility gained through automated crawler/indexers. The next higher level of aggregation, reflected in the cataloging record and in the website, is the session. The overarching collection of sessions, then, is the complete conference. As the host institution, and the library behind the digital conference proceedings effort, it was incumbent upon the Caltech Library System to catalog the archive and contribute the original cataloging to OCLC [OCLC # 47115292].

The technology used in this archive combines eprints.org software, for the user interface and the submission/approval process, with a local URL resolver that implements URL persistence, to provide stable, persistent URLs at the individual paper level.

Part of the Caltech experience with the CAV2001 project is documented in this article: Douglas, Kimberly (2003). Conference Proceedings at Publishing Cross-Roads

Other aspects of the technology may be better addressed through papers on the eprints.org software:

  • Sponsler, Ed and Van de Velde, Eric F. (2001) Eprints.org Software: a Review.

    and the local implementation of the URL resolver:

  • Sponsler, Ed (2001) PURR - The Persistent URL Resource Resolver

    Another conference came to the Caltech campus recently, LES & SGS Modeling For Turbulent Mixing and Reactive Flows, December 8-9, 2003. The conference organizers, rather than wanting to publish complete proceedings, were interested in producing extended abstracts. The same technology was used to create CaltechLESSGS, Proceedings LES and SGS Modeling For Turbulent Mixing and Reactive Flows, December 8-9, 2003, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA USA.

    So, in answer to the basic question, neither DVD nor print is desired for conference literature. Get it online and distribute it gratis. The tools necessary are Open Source and LAMP (Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP/Perl). - George Porter

    :: I agree with George, and would add that neither DVD nor print nor CD-ROM is desired for the publishing conference literature. When I order conferences for our collection, I try to avoid purchasing those which are published in CD format only. Our library does not have PAC stations with CD drives, and with conference proceedings, my experience has been that users want either print or online versions. I would accept print as a second choice to online, or the only alternative to online, rather than pay for CD or DVD. The other issue with any conference proceedings, of course, is pricing.

    Would the conference organizers and sponsors need to recoup the cost of producing the conference proceedings? If so, and they choose the online option, would the publishers of the online version be prepared to handle IP address restrictions, or would this concern simply enhance the price further? Regardless, George is right in suggesting the way to go is online.

    If you have any comments on this topic, please contact Aleteia, who would be grateful to receive them!

  • April 22, 2004

    Google vs Science Direct vs Bibliographic Databases vs Laziness

    :: Dana forwarded an interesting e-mail recently that noted the following:

    Dr. John J. Regazzi, the Managing Director of Market Development at Elsevier gave the keynote address at the NFAIS annual meeting in February. Links to his text and slides are available at http://www.nfais.org/index.htm

    I was astounded to find this tidbit in his text:

    "In a survey for this lecture, librarians and scientists were asked to name the top scientific and medical search resources that they use or are aware of. The difference is startling. Librarians named Science Direct, ISI Web of Science, and Medline, while scientists named Google, Yahoo, and PubMed (librarians also named PubMed)."

    Here are the numbers for librarians:
    ScienceDirect 42%
    ISI Web of Science 37%
    Medline 31%
    PubMed 11%

    I'm assuming the numbers add up to more than 100% because multiple responses were possible. There was no mention of how this survey was conducted.

    I read this, and felt the same way. I am not aware of any colleagues who were surveyed for Dr Regazzi's presentation, nor am I aware of any who would rank Science Direct as the top search resource in science or medicine (or engineering or agriculture, for that matter).

    In the latest Sitelines entry, "Google - Loyalty or Laziness", Rita Vine discusses Chris Sherman's comments about a search engine loyalty survey. She cites Carol Tenopir's article in the 1 April 2004 issue of Library Journal, "Is Google The Competition?", which refers back to Dr Regazzi's report. Vine sides with John Battelle on the loyalty assertion:

    I'm not sure I buy the whole search engine loyalty thing. I think folks aren't loyal, they're lazy. As Yoda might say, not until a compelling choice they have, switch will they.

    I work closely with dozens of engineering professors and students. Many use Google as a quick reference tool, but beyond that, I'd be hard pressed to find faculty members who would tell me that they regularly use Google as their first choice when researching a topic. As a librarian, I would advise students and faculty to use one or more major bibliographic databases to research a topic first, rather than restrict a search to a full-text e-journal package, such as Science Direct.

    April 20, 2004

    New Products and Services

    :: Wiley has released a new database called Organic Reactions:

    Organic Reactions is a comprehensive database of important synthetic reactions, together with a critical discussion of the reaction and tables that organize all published examples of the topic reactions. Chapters that focus on reactions of current interest are solicited bythe board of editors from leading chemists worldwide. The publication process entails a comprehensive peer-review process, ensuring the high quality and attention to detail for which this series is noted. The database currently consists of over 75,000 reactions, and will grow to over 135,000 reactions within the next two years.

    :: Elsevier Engineering Information has launched a new service called Referex Engineering:

    A specialized electronic reference product, Referex Engineering draws upon hundreds of premium engineering titles to provide engineering professionals with the answers and information they require, at work and in practice.

    Referex Engineering comprises three carefully crafted collections combining key sources of reference material. Content ranges from broad based engineering titles to highly specialized professional reference texts, provided an extensive and detailed base of reference material to support researchers, academics, R&D engineers, technicians and corporate engineers alike in their diverse work processes.

    Each collection includes:

    • Handbooks of engineering fundamentals
    • Situational reference
    • Titles focused on technique and practice
    • How-to guides
    • Highly specialized professional information
    • Scholarly monographs
    Referex Engineering is available via the industry leading Engineering Village 2 platform, making it simple to find and utilize the information you need. All Referex Engineering titles are fully searchable, enabling users to drill down into extensive reference sources in simple steps and to pinpoint the specific information required to support and progress their work. Whether fueling innovation, discovery or simply providing the information necessary to get the job done right, Referex Engineering is an essential tool for all walks of the engineering community.
    The three collections available are: Chemical, Petrochemical and Process, Mechanical and Materials, and Electronics and Electrical. It includes over 300 full-text electronic reference titles in PDF format. (via: NewsBreaks Weekly News Digest.)

    April 19, 2004

    Digital Preservation and Permanent Access to Scientific Information: The State of the Practice

    :: This report comes from The International Council for Scientific and Technical Information (ICSTI) and CENDI, The US Federal Information Managers Group, from 11 federal agencies. A 92-page pdf version is also available.

    In 1999, the International Council for Scientific and Technical Information (ICSTI) and CENDI jointly sponsored a report on Digital Electronic Archiving: The State of the Art and Practice (Carroll & Hodge, 1999). ICSTI and CENDI remain interested in digital preservation as they represent large repositories, publishers, and libraries of scientific and technical information. This report is an update to that 1999 report.

    This report focuses on operational digital preservation systems specifically in science and technology (S&T). It considers the wide range of digital objects of interest to S&T, including e-journals, technical reports, e-records, project documents, scientific data, etc. The report also discusses archiving based on format types -- text, data, audio, video, etc. It is, of course, international in scope, and as much as possible crosses organizational sectors (academic, government, commercial, etc.).

    However, this report does not attempt to provide a comprehensive survey of systems, but rather to highlight selected systems/projects that can help to identify trends, remaining issues and activities that ICSTI, CENDI and other organizations interested in the preservation and permanent access to the record of science can consider when developing their own systems and policies. More than 50 projects and systems were identified from the surveys, from experts, or from the literature. From these, 21 were selected for highlighting in this report. However, references are made to other projects throughout the report as appropriate.

    April 16, 2004

    Compositio Mathematica moves to new publisher; cuts price 1/3

    :: Gerard van der Geer provides wonderful background on the history of Compositio Mathematica (CM) in an Opinion piece in the May 2004 issue of Notices of the AMS.

    The article is available free, which is a nice touch. CM moved from Kluwer to London Mathematical Society/Cambridge University Press. Backfiles remain with Kluwer -- Fulltext v105-139 (1997-2003). Current material is on Cambridge -- Fulltext v140+ (2004+). Subscriptions are required for the fulltext access, though. No word yet on whether new subscribers will receive access to the backfiles or whether Kluwer will transfer the material to CUP.

    Much like the analysis by Donald Knuth which led to the editorial board revolt at Academic Press' Journal of Algorithms, van der Geer "... became worried about the regular price increases that Kluwer Academic Publishers... imposed. These price increases threatened the orderly systems that had governed publishing in mathematics (and other sciences as well) for many years."

    van der Geer and the Foundation Compositio Mathematica are to be commended for their awareness of the dangers to scholarly communication caused by unchecked journal subscription price increases and for having the willingness and fortitude to examine their options and to take action. - George Porter.

    April 15, 2004

    ASM Releases The Micrograph Center

    :: ASM International - The Materials Information Society, has released the Micrograph Center, a new addition to their ASM Materials Information collection, which includes the ASM Handbooks Online and the ASM Alloy Center Online:

    The Micrograph Center is a comprehensive collection of micrograph images and associated data. The emphasis of the collection is on micrographs for industrially important alloys. Information captured for each image includes material designation and composition, processing history, service history, metallographic preparation/technique, magnification, significance of the structures shown, selected materials properties data, and other relevant data.

    IEEE Announces Plans for Upcoming IEEE Xplore Release

    From an e-mail received this afternoon: In the coming weeks, IEEE will release IEEE Xplore 1.7, which will feature the following enhancements for institutional subscribers and IEEE Members:

    • Reference sections for IEEE Computer Society magazine and journal articles published since 1995 to the present will be incorporated into IEEE Xplore and will be accessible from Abstract Plus records.
    • IEEE will also deploy the first phase of a full-text search prototype. Accessible from a special link on the IEEE Xplore Search pages, users will have the option to test the new full-text search capabilities, or continue to use the "traditional search" of abstract records. At launch, approximately ten percent of the documents in the entire IEEE Xplore database will be full-text searchable. As more full-text content is indexed, the dataset of full-text searchable content will grow considerably throughout the year.
    For questions about this release, please contact IEEE Online Support.

    How Do You Keep "Up To Date"?

    Recently, Michael Leach, librarian at Kummel Library and Physics Research Library, Harvard, posed the following question on PAMnet, the listserv of the Physics-Astronomy-Mathematics division of SLA:

    With so much information appearing daily, weekly and monthly, I am curious as to how each of you "keeps up to date" and "filters" the information you need to run your libraries effectively. I am interested to learn what web sites, journals (print and/or electronic; scholarly and/or "newsy"), blogs, discussion lists, etc., you find most useful, and to which of these you regularly turn to for information. (Naturally, I am assuming that the PAM list is one such resource!) Specifically, I want to learn what resources you turn to for:
      1) keeping up to date for librarian/practitioner info, especially trends in the profession, new services, and emerging technology;
      2) keeping up with the current scientific research that your library supports.
    Michael received a number of replies, and with his permission, we are posting his e-mail with the results, which are quite interesting, and while specific to PAMNET members, most likely apply in principle to most of us suffering from massive information overload in these times:

    Below is a summary of the replies I received to my posting on "Keeping up to date" with our fields. I thank the many of you who provided lists and comments, which I condensed below.

    A few notes:

    1) It appears that use of blogs are on the increase, especially those blogs with aggregate information from a number of resources.
    2) Many complained about the signal-to-noise ratio on many lists, and about email spam in general.
    3) Finally, many noted the need to read more, but time constraints and the ever increasing volume of materials make this difficult. It is clear we will need better tools and resources in the future to deal with these issues.

    Perhaps PAM should examine and then consider the possibility of creating an information aggregator for the Division membership. RSS feeds and blogs are certainly two IT mediums to consider for such a project, after a user needs study is conducted. Although, perhaps, blogs like STLQ already fulfill this niche for members.

    The summary is broken down into two sections: I) LIS Resources, and II) PAM-SciTech Resources. Within each section, resources are grouped by medium type. Items with an asterisk (*) indicate a resource recommended by numerous folks. If you did not respond originally, but would like to send your suggestions along to me now, please do so. Thanks.

    Michael Leach
    Physics Research Library, Harvard University

    I) LIS Resources


    II) PAM-SciTech Resources


      Annals of Improbable Research (http://www.improbable.com/)
      Chemical & Engineering News
      Communications of the ACM
      The Engineer
      IEEE newsletter
      Inspec newsletter
      Nature *
      New Scientist
      Newspapers (a number of different ones, including New York Times)
      Physical Review Focus (http://focus.aps.org/)
      Physics Today *
      Physics Web
      Physics World
      ProQuest newsletter
      Science *
      Scientific American *
      Technology Review (http://www.techreview.com/) (also has a blog service)

    April 13, 2004

    Google Teams Up With 17 Colleges to Test Searches of Scholarly Materials

    :: From The Chronicle of Higher Education:

    Google, the popular search-engine company, has teamed up with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and 16 other universities around the world to provide a way to search the institutions' collections of scholarly papers, according to university officials.

    A pilot test of the project is just getting under way. If all goes as planned, the search feature could appear on Google in a few months, said MacKenzie Smith, associate director of technology for MIT's libraries. She said the search would probably be an option on Google's advanced-search page.

    (Thanks to Robert Michaelson for posting this to various listservs.)

    April 12, 2004

    IOP RSS Feeds

    Institute of Physics has a number of RSS feeds up for grabs, including IOP Electronic Journals News and TOCs from several of their journals. It always makes me happy to see publishers adding the little orange button to their websites. [via Library Stuff]

    April 9, 2004

    International Alliance for Information Literacy

    The newly formed International Alliance for Information Literacy is seeking new member organizations. The founding members are: Australian and New Zealand Institute for Information Literacy (ANZIIL), European Network on Information Literacy (EnIL) (European Union), National Forum on Information Literacy (United States), ORDINFOlit (Scandinavia).

    Upon a recommendation from the Prague Conference of Information Literacy Experts held September 20-23, 2003, the following organizations are committing to creating an International Alliance for Information Literacy. The evolving purpose for the Alliance is to facilitate the sharing of information and expertise on information literacy across regions and nations of the world. The ultimate goal of the Alliance is to facilitate people's participating effectively in the Information Society, as part of the basic human right of life long learning. The Alliance will consist of organizations that act as nodes around the world. Member organizations will generally be regional or national organizations that are broadly based, including representation from the economic development, education, health, human services, librarianship, public policy, and information and communications technology sectors.

    April 8, 2004

    University of Minnesota Libraries Launches UThink

    :: And away they go!! University of Minnesota Libraries has officially launched UThink, the first campus-wide blogging initiative I know of to be undertaken by a library. I've been following their progress for some time and will be very anxious to hear more about the reactions they get from their user community and the best practices they discover re: the administration of such a system. Well done UML!!

    April 7, 2004

    U.K. House of Commons Science and Technology Committee Inquiry - Update

    :: The latest SPARC E-News has an update on the U.K. House of Commons Science and Technology Committee Inquiry. The Inquiry has moved into its second stage. The Inquiry was mentioned previously here, here, and here. Hear, hear! (via George Porter.)

    More on Chemistry Journals

    :: Dana Roth offers this follow-up to his commentary about Helvetica Chimica Acta:

    It was very refreshing to see the lead editorial, in the January 2004 issuelof the Australian Journal of Chemistry, discuss their view of the future as an Australasian Journal. Their intent is to broaden the Journal's connections to the Federation of Asian Chemical Societies and to "compete effectively with the most successful general chemistry journals around the world, such as:Speaking of the 'New Journal of Chemistry', 2004 saw the introduction of 'Perspective' articles, which feature the current interests of award-winning young scientists. For example, Christophe Copéret (a 2001 CNRS medal winner) authored the first 'Perspective' on the 'Design of Metathesis Catalysts', in the January 2004 issue.

    In addition, 2004 will also see the introduction of a series of 'Interface' articles, where pairs of ... scientists from complementary disciplines ... will work to reduce the "dialog of the deaf" and help "make the interactions between specialists in different fields more efficient."

    The 'Interface' articles will expand on 'Opinion' papers which were introduced in 2001 and have featured articles on; 'What is Supramolecular?', 'Some Thoughts on Chemistry and Biology', and 'A Chemical Concept from the Science Citation Index Database'.

    April 6, 2004

    Ephemera for Engineers and Scientists

    :: This interesting article by Donald Christiansen, from the Feb 2004 issue of IEEE-USA Today's Engineer, discusses Ephemera for Engineers and Scientists. Excerpt:

    The problem manifests itself in other ways. Many technical articles now include references to Internet addresses, as opposed to hard-copy resources. Authors and readers alike complain that many of these URL-identified references seem to vaporize with time. A study led by Robert Dellavalle of the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center revealed some startling numbers. Summarized in Science magazine, it reported that in one dramatic instance, 108 of 184 Internet addresses became inactive within four years. In tabulating the combined results from articles that appeared in three major journals — Science, JAMA, and NEJM — the study team reported that 3.8 percent of Internet references were inactive three months after journal publication, 10 percent after 15 months and 13 percent after 27 months.

    IEEE Scores First Amendment Victory for Scholarly Publishing

    :: From the IEEE website:

    5 April 2004 -- IEEE scored a victory for freedom of the press and the scholarly publishing community with the ruling it received Friday from the U.S. Department of Treasury Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC). The ruling exempts peer review, editing and publication of scholarly manuscripts submitted to IEEE by authors living in countries that are under U.S. trade embargoes, such as Iran and Cuba. OFAC determined that IEEE’s publications process is "not constrained by OFAC's regulatory programs.” Read the news release and the OFAC ruling.

    April 5, 2004

    Scientific Societies' Publishing Arms Unite Against Open-Access Movement

    :: Interesting piece from the 26 March 2004 issue of The Chronicle of Higher Education. As reported earlier, the Washington DC Principles for Free Access to Science was announced on 16 March 2004. The Chronicle's take is that the DC Principles represents the 48 nonprofit groups as forming "a united front against the increasingly popular open-access movement.":

    "It feels good to say everything should be free," says Martin Frank, executive director of the American Physiological Society and one of the organizers of the new coalition, in an interview. "But we'd rather get there using a business model different than the one used by PLoS and the open-access advocates. It's our contention that there's nothing wrong with that, that it makes the literature available to the community of individuals who need it, in a timely manner."

    In their statement, the society publishers vowed to improve the efficiency and accessibility of the scientific literature. But they also argued that "publication fees should not be borne solely by researchers and their funding institutions, because the ability to publish in scientific journals should be available equally to all scientists, no matter what their economic circumstances."

    New ClusterMed Organizes PubMed Results

    New ClusterMed Organizes PubMed Results

    Vivísimo, Inc. (http://vivisimo.com), a provider of clustering and meta-search software for organizing search results, has announced the release of ClusterMed, a new research tool that allows biomedical and life sciences researchers to search the MEDLINE database far more productively and efficiently. Vivísimo has had a version of PubMed (MEDLINE) searching available on its site to showcase the capabilities of its metasearch engine, but the new ClusterMed is a software solution that is licensed to companies on a yearly subscription for local server installation. A demonstration site is now available at http://vivisimo.com/clustermed. Unregistered users can cluster up to 100 results for a search; register for a free 30-day demo and cluster up to 500 results per query. ClusterMed organizes the long list of results returned by PubMed into hierarchical folders with meaningful categories, allowing researchers to hone in on the most relevant results quickly. ClusterMed does this on-the-fly without requiring any pre-processing, using terms taken from the brief descriptions in the search results. With the folders, users can discover themes, view related articles, and drill down from the topic hierarchy or drill up (show-in-clusters) from a specific article. Vivísimo calls ClusterMed a breakthrough improvement in search productivity and efficiency. Users will call it an answer to information overload.

    April 2, 2004

    Suber's List of Actions

    In the latest SPARC OPen Access Newsletter, Peter Suber announces that that he has put together a very valuable list of "actions" dealing with university library subscriptions and public statements against rising journal costs. The list, which begins in Fall 2003, can be found at: http://www.earlham.edu/~peters/fos/lists.htm#actions

    It's notable how many of the public statements mention the need to cultivate alternative forms of scholarly communication, and open access in particular, as part of the overall solution. It's notable how many recommend that faculty withhold their labor as authors, referees, and editors from journals that aggravate the problem rather than advance the solution. It's notable how often faculty were persuaded to endorse the cancellations despite the harm it does to their research projects and careers. It's notable how often faculty, librarians, and administrators (and at Berkeley, also graduate students) agreed on their long-term interest (in a better publishing system and better journals forever) and put it ahead of their short-term interest (journals next year).
    Peter is absolutely correct that diplomacy and polite debate are clearly beginning to fall to the wayside in favour of more forthright arguments against the excessive profits of some publishers and the tightening purse strings of many university libraries.

    New reading from Nature Open Access Forum:

    Ann Okerson, "On being scientific about science publishing, " (April 1, 2004)

    Jan Velterop, "The myth of 'unsustainable' Open Access journals," (April 1, 2004)

    April 1, 2004

    Current Cites - New

    The latest edition of Current Cites is now available.

    Cancellation of Elsevier Packages at Cornell, MIT, Harvard, etc. - Commentaries

    :: On 23 March 2004, I posted the following e-mail to four listservs (ELDNET-L, SLA-ENG, PAMNET, and STS-L):

    "Hello everyone, and please excuse the xposting. This is a query about the impact and/or fallout from the cancellations of Elsevier packages and/or journals, by MIT, Harvard, Cornell. Has anyone heard of reactions from faculty at these universities and institutes regarding the loss of access to Elsevier titles? Are any faculty members complaining vociferously, or applauding wildly? Are any "alternatives" being discussed? I'm thinking, it's not like these three universities are minor players in academia and research. Despite outrageous pricing schemes, Elsevier journals still carry much weight in the scholarly community. To ensure that their research remains cutting edge, what will the faculty at these campuses do to maintain access to Elsevier titles for the time being? Use ILL services only? Or start to move away from Elsevier titles, in their research and publishing activities?"
    I've received a number of responses, and with permissions where required, compiled and posted the responses back to the four listservs. I am also posting those replies here, for your perusal and feedback. What do you think of the stands taken by major campuses like Cornell and others, in reaction to Elsevier's pricing schemes and packages?

    The feedback follows:

    1) I am not so sure that many of the Elsevier titles still publish 'cutting edge' research, or at least enough to justify the prices. We were encouraged by the most affected faculty member to cancel J. Mol. Structure/THEOCHEM last year and will propose some more this year. It probably depends on where faculty members are able to publish their results. If they can get their articles into ACS,RSC,APS, etc. then they probably don't care but ...

    2) Hello Randy. Do not forget Universities A, B, C, and D (eastern US). So far, faculty have been satisfied with canceling lower use titles, maintaining a fairly substantial core of titles print+online, and using delivery services to cover the rest. Part of their satisfaction is that we have been able to reinvest in other priority areas such as ejournals from professional societies like the American Society for Microbiology and large ejournal archives.

    3) Hi Randy: From a Northeast ARL library: These top universities walking away from the "big deal" have had a definite impact on our research faculty and library administration. I expect we will seek a significantly smaller "baseline" annual fee for our "big deal" or we will walk away. Being able to point to MIT, Harvard, & Cornell is a huge reassurance for both our library/univ. administration and faculty.

    It is difficult to find anyone here with a good word for Elsevier. As the largest commercial publisher, the years of well above general inflation increases, the reported "obscene" profits, etc. have made Elsevier the lightning rod for a growing backlash. Elsevier is in serious trouble, though it probably does not know it yet. What interests me are that both long tenured faculty and brand new untenured faculty are equally unhappy with high priced publishers and have in fact made journal affordability an important factor in their publishing and editorial activities. This "sea change" has happened within just the past 18 months and is gaining momentum. The pioneering "just say no" actions of these major research institutions is only the start. If I had one word to describe the situation, it is momentum. It is building and bursting forth.

    4) Randy - I cannot speak for Cornell etc, but here at Gaucamole U, we went Through all this last year, though with much less publicity. We had the Elsevier 'big deal' for a couple of years but found it unsustainable and pulled the plug last August. During the time we had it users often used it as a database for subject searching and generally liked it, though our analysis of usage showed that the vast proportion of use was in previously subscribed titles. When we dropped back to just subscribed titles there was very little outcry, we like to think because we had carefully chosen and refined the list of subscribed titles over the years though it was still quite long).

    In the process of dropping the big deal we did lose access to 1995-1997 and users noticed that more than the absence of titles. Some of this is due to the way Elsevier presents the information. My feeling is that users expectations are different 'on the internet'. If they find something, good. If not, they move on and try something else.

    5) We are also cancelling many Elsevier titles this year. Some professors are upset, but many are very supportive and are encouraging their fellow faculty members to publish in the less expensive titles so we won't need to rely on overpriced publishers. We are in the midst of the cancellations now, so I'm not sure how many we will be cancelling yet.

    6) Randy: Well, I *don't* know about Cornell, Harvard, and MIT, but when we were offered the Elsevier ScienceDirect package last year, we looked at what it would take to subscribe to it, how much it would cost (and the cost kept escalating throughout our process!), what journals were covered, and so on. We also circulated a title list to our library committee members and asked them to make a list of all the journals they might possibly use from the package. The cost was really outrageous, but we figured if the faculty (represented by our library committee) wanted it and thought they'd make use of it, then we'd make it work.

    We then held a library committee meeting, and the universal decision was that the price was ridiculous for the content and that the faculty were happy to get anything they needed through our excellent (their word) interlibrary loan system. The package was weak in some of our major program subjects and the feeling was that we ought to buy what was really going to be used and was really necessary. ScienceDirect seemed to them to be a scattershot approach of subscribing to a huge scientific package in hopes of providing a little bit of everything.

    Although we've had faculty ask us why we don't subscribe, when we tell them how much Elsevier wanted to charge us and what it did and didn't have, they immediately understand our decision. We usually do add something like "But if you really want an Elsevier journal we can see about subscribing to that title alone." Haven't had any takers on that one.

    7) Dear Randy, you might want to check Stanford's faculty resolution on this. We never signed on to SD, and now I'm so glad we didn't.

    8) Hi Randy, MIT's decision last year to move from a multi-year commitment to a one-year contract with Elsevier has not yet impacted the breadth of access our faculty have to Elsevier titles, because we have not yet gone to the Limited Collection model. That probably explains why there has been as yet little if any fallout in terms of faculty response here.

    There have however been discussions here in the faculty committee, and articles in the Faculty Newsletter, on the general problem we face with some publishers. Also, our decision to cancel Wiley titles effective this year (described on the same web site, has not, yet, resulted in significant complaints from faculty.

    Our sense is that many faculty here are well aware of the issues and choices libraries face, and the statement on that web site from the Chair of the Faculty Committee on the Library System, reflects their understanding and concern.

    Now that we are in a one-year contract with Elsevier, we are in the process of engaging the faculty more broadly in discussions about our next steps, which ould involve moving to the Limited Collection model. This would result in a significant reduction in the total number of Elsevier titles to which MIT subscribes, but it's too early to say what the faculty response to or support for that option might be.

    9) Randy -- Good question, and although I'm intrigued with your "solution" of using inter-library loan - I know from some first hand experience that Elsevier sets up their contract (or at least the operation of their web-based subscriptions) so that you cannot forward a copy of a given Elsevier article beyond the campus! Faculty, staff and students are okay - but beyond that, they do not recognize "Fair Use"!! I don't know if this is result of conversations with certain libraries - but the effect of net lenders and net borrowers would be exacerbated by the proposal you are suggesting - and it could be Elsevier already took that into account with their way of operating subscriptions.

    10) We dropped ScienceDirect this year at Small Potatoes University. Results: much pissing and moaning, from faculty and students alike. I smile sweetly at them and ask what they would prefer to see cut instead, given that we were quoted a CY2004 price between $200,000 - $300,000 (USD). (Yikes, I hope that doesn't get me in trouble with the Contract Police.)

    Most seem surprised, but understanding or resigned, when they hear what it would have cost. A few have wondered aloud how Elsevier manages to sell its product at all. None of our faculty seem to have gotten SPARC/OAI/whatever religion as a result. However, we operated for years under the administrative assumption that faculty didn't need to know the truth about serials pricing, so we and our faculty are a little behind our respective curves.

    On very rare occasions when someone continues to give me a hard time. I cheerfully point out that all they have to do is include the cost in their next grant proposal, fork over the money, and we'll get ScienceDirect back in a jiffy. I am hocked, absolutely shocked that nobody has taken me up on the offer.

    11) Here at Cornell we have had many discussions with faculty over the past few years about the serials crisis. We solicited their input and made every effort to keep the journals that they felt they needed.

    Several faculty have approached us for help in deciding where to publish, including some alternatives to the traditional model. The Cornell University Faculty Senate passed a resolution encouraging the library to:

    * ....the University Faculty Senate encourages the library to seek in the near term, in consultation with the faculty, to reduce its expenditures on Elsevier journals to no more than 15% of its total annual serials acquisitions expenditures (from in excess of 20% in 2003).

    The entire faculty senate resolution is available at:

    There have been few negative comments and quite a bit of positive reinforcement for our decisions. We are pleased to find that the controversy has caught the attention of graduate students and have lively conversations with many of them.

    12) Hi, The Naval Research Lab Library never bought into the subject collections or the 'freedom plan' so our biggest change with 2004 was the consortial negotiation of two title lists. We've jointly purchased Elsevier content along with many other Navy and Federal Government research libraries through a consortium.

    The first title list was the aggregate list of titles by all consortial members which everyone paid a fee for a portion of the unsubscribed content value. The second title list was a 'core' list based upon usage in our locally-hosted system - those with high usage at more than one location were added to the core list. The assumption was that if a title was heavily used at one site, then that site would pick it up on their own and not add it to the shared title value of the other members. Each participant was able to choose whether they would subscribe to the full list (roughly 550 titles) or the core list (roughly 150 titles).