" /> STLQ: September 2004 Archives

« August 2004 | Main | October 2004 »

September 30, 2004

What We Do

:: Downtown there's this guy called a reference librarian.

September 29, 2004

Chemistry and Science News Feeds

:: UK science writer David Bradley has created an RSS/XML chemistry and science news feed, linking together various news sites, including Reactive Reports Chemistry Webzine, Spectral Lines, Spotlight, and Sciencebase. Writing on CHMINF-L, Bradley noted:

You can preview the content at
http://www.sciencebase.com/RSS_science_newsfeed_preview.html where there is also a FAQ link on RSS

The actual XML file can be found at http://www.sciencebase.com/sciencebase.xml and will display the headlines in the latest version of the Opera web browser but will show as XML tagging in MSIE and others unless you're running a news aggregator. You can add it to your "My Yahoo!" using this link http://tinyurl.com/3ke25.

I've added a link to Sciencebase in the right hand column, under "Other Sites of Interest".

The Other Side of the "Open Access" Issue - Dana Roth

For some views from the 'other side' ...

:: There is note in Nature, v431, n7005, September 9, 2004. p.111, "Experiments in Publishing", which reviews Nature's Web Focus on the topic of Open Access. "One conclusion of the forum, which has already wrapped up, is that societies and publishers must remain financially healthy if they are to be able to maintain the quality of information, launch new journals and innovate electronically".

:: "Open Access to Journals Won't Lower Prices" is the thought provoking headline of a 'Point of View' by John H. Ewing (Executive Director of the American Mathematical Society), in the October 1, 2004 issue of the Chronicle of Higher Education. Subscriber access at:

Ewing's main points are:

  • "We are told that the real problem is access to information, and that we should focus our attention on making material more accessible. Magicians call this technique misdirection, and it's at the heart of all tricks."
  • "Commercial publishers are delighted by the inadvertent misdirection because it diverts attention from the exorbitant prices they charge. As savvy business people, they understand that changing how they collect money does not have to change their profit margins."
  • "Do we need to destroy our publishing system to find a solution? Perhaps. But the argument that an open-access, author-pay model would solve the problem of prices is tenuous at best. Such a revolutionary restructuring of journals goes against Occam's razor, the idea that the most effective solutions are usually the simplest ones."
  • "Scholars and librarians have to stop dealing with high-priced journals,
    as authors, editors, referees, or subscribers."
  • "Will cutting off ties to high-priced journals be easy? Surely not. But it is far more likely to solve the problem of prices than changing the way we collect the money."
- Dana Roth

September 28, 2004

IoP Announces Librarians' Newsletter

:: From an e-mail received today:

On behalf of Institute of Physics Publishing (IOP), I am pleased to announce the launch of our new librarians' newsletter, Librarian Insider.

Librarian Insider will be published on a quarterly basis and will feature updates on new developments, information on IOP services and interesting news stories. There will also be items of special interest and some free gifts available to readers.

Issue 1 of Librarian Insider is available in PDF format on the Librarians page
of our website at http://www.iop.org/EJ/librarians/ or link directly to the pdf at http://ej.iop.org/pdf/insider/2004_librarian_insider_1.pdf

Some of the items you will read about in the first issue include:

*NEW - Free Access to Review Articles
*NEW - RSS Feeds for Latest Papers
*FREE Services and Content: Information on services such as This Month's Papers, IOP Select, BEC Matters!, New Journal of Physics and Letters to the Editor
*Activating OpenURL links
*Branding for Libraries
*Free, collectible posters

We hope that you find the Librarian Insider newsletter informative and useful. If you have any comments or would like additional information, please feel free to email me at laura.shaw AT iop.org

I will send you an announcement by email when Issue 2 of Librarian Insider is published this winter. If you do not wish to be notified, please reply to this mail entering the word 'UNSUBSCRIBE' in the body of your email (please do not change the subject line). You will still be able to access the newsletter on our website even if you choose not to receive the notification.

Kind regards,
Laura Shaw
Product Manager
Institute of Physics Publishing
laura.shaw AT iop.org

September 27, 2004

Canada's Innovation Deficit

:: Michael Geist, Research Chair in Internet and E-commerce Law, University of Ottawa, has written a through-provoking and timely article in the Toronto Star about the innovation deficit in Canada. Next week in Canada, the Governor General will deliver the Speech From The Throne to begin the fall session in the Canadian House of Commons. Geist writes:

While the government will likely propose a plan to avoid a fiscal deficit, there are two other Canadian deficits that merit its attention as well. This week's column addresses one of these — Canada's innovation deficit. The federal and provincial governments urgently need to adopt policies that foster innovation by increasing access to, and dissemination of, cutting-edge Canadian knowledge and research in order to correct the imbalance between dollars spent on research and educational materials and the corresponding outputs to the Canadian research and education communities.
Geist outlines three issues he believes need to be addressed. Concerning dissemination of publicly funded research, he advocates an open-access model:
Late last month, a group of Nobel prize winners in the United States (which faces the same dilemma) issued a public letter calling on their government to link public research funding with public dissemination of the results. Canada should jump at the chance to adopt a similar model that would tie free, public dissemination to all publicly funded research. Such an approach would still leave room to commercialize the research results, while providing Canadians with an unprecedented innovation opportunity and a more immediate return on its research granting investment.

Geist is concerned that potential copyright reform regarding security-based research could result in more barriers to dissemination of the results of this kind of research. This has already happened in the USA, with the enactment of the Digital Millenium Copyright Act:

In the United States, the enactment of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act has led directly to such a chill. For example, several years ago a Princeton researcher sought to release an important study on encryption. When he publicly disclosed his plans, he was served with a warning that he faced potential legal liability under the DMCA if he publicly disclosed his findings. Similarly, in 2001, a Russian software programmer was arrested and spent the summer in a California jail after highlighting encryption weaknesses in an Adobe software product at a public conference.

Canada can ill-afford to follow the United States down this path. In fact, by refusing to ratify the World Intellectual Property Organization's Internet treaties that serve as the basis for the DMCA, the federal government will maintain an environment that encourages the dissemination of research results and creates a competitive advantage that will attract security researchers to Canada.

Finally, he argues that Canadian educational institutions must stop paying copy licences to various Canadian copyright collectives:
While copyright collectives claim that education institutions need licenses to compensate for faculty and student copying, many copying activities are permitted under Canadian copyright law without the need for payment. The Copyright Act contains an explicit user right for copying for research or private study purposes (surely the most common uses of works on university campuses). The Canadian Supreme Court has ruled that this user right must be interpreted in a liberal fashion such that copying full articles may be lawful in certain circumstances.
The full-text of Michael Geist's article is available here.

September 24, 2004

Free and/or OA Journals in Librarianship - George Porter

Yesterday, George Porter, on a number of discussion groups, wrote about free and open access journals dedicated to the profession. Additional titles in the list were e-mailed to me directly.

Today's launch of Biomedical Digital Libraries [see note on Open Access News, hosted by BioMed Central, got me to thinking about the tools of the librarian trade. Here are the complete fulltext journals, either free or Open Access, which come to my mind. I'm sure I'll miss a few, which is why I'm casting a pretty wide net.

Issues in Science and Technology Librarianship
Fulltext no0+ (1991+); ISSN: 1092-1206

Cites & Insights: Crawford at Large (CI:CaL)
Fulltext v1+ (2001+); ISSN: 1534-0937

D-Lib Magazine
Fulltext v1+ (1995+); ISSN: 1082-9873

Current Cites
Fulltext v1+ (1990+); ISSN: 1060-2356

Cultivate Interactive Fulltext no1-9 (2000-2003); ISSN: 1471-3225

Public-Access Computer Systems Review (PACS Review)
Fulltext v1-9 (1990-1998); ISSN: 1048-6542

Fulltext no1+ (1996+); ISSN: 1361-3200

First Monday
Fulltext v1+ (1996+); ISSN: 1396-0466

Journal of Electronic Publishing
Fulltext v1-8 (1995-2002); ISSN: 1080-2711

Learned Publishing
Fulltext v10+ (1997+) 1 year moving wall
Print ISSN: 0953-1513 | Online ISSN: 1741-4857

Bulletin of the Medical Library Association
Fulltext v1-89 (1911-2001); ISSN: 0025-7338

Journal of the Medical Library Association
Fulltext v90+ (2002+); ISSN: 1536-5050

Technology Electronic Reviews
Fulltext v1+ (1994+); ISSN: 1533-9165

Journal of Digital Information (JoDI)
Fulltext v1+ (1997+); ISSN: 1368-7506

IFLA Journal
Fulltext v24(2)+ (1998+); ISSN: 0340-0352

Information Research
Fulltext v1+ (195+); ISSN: 1368-1613

Library Philosophy and Practice
Fulltext v1+ (1998+); ISSN: 1522-0222

LIBRES Library and Information Science Research Electronic Journal
Fulltext v6+ (1996+); ISSN: 1058-6768

Sadly, of the several titles listed with definitive end dates, only one results from a title change. JEP has been missing in action for more than 2 years pending a relocation to Columbia University Press. - George Porter

George thanked Gary Price and Jenny Reiswig for additional contributions. Joanne Yeomans replied on a number of the discussion groups that the DOAJ lists 31 (now 32) titles in Library and Information Science.

September 23, 2004

CrossRef Search - Commentary

Bob Michaelson at Northwestern offers the following observations about CrossRef Search, as posted to CHMINF-L:

CrossRef Search
is a pilot initiative running in 2004 in collaboration with Google, and now includes the content of 29 publishers (out of the 650 CrossRef publishers and societies) -- it now covers approximately 3.4 million research articles.

"...this Pilot launches a typical Google search but filters the result set to the scholarly research content from participating publishers, with the intent of reducing the noise produced by general web searches." The searches need to be done from the individual publishers' web sites, e.g.
ACM http://portal.acm.org/xrs.cfm
IOP http://www.iop.org/EJ/search_crossref
Wiley http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/crossref.html

"The purpose of the Pilot, which will run during 2004, is to determine the value to the scholarly community of a free, federated, full-text, interdisciplinary, interpublisher search focused on the peer-reviewed scholarly literature."

I wonder whether a fully-integrated version of this search engine, on all 650 publishers and societies, will put out of business many of the existing bibliographic databases, other than the highly specialized ones, or ones that have such extensive backfiles that they cannot easily be superseded. Perhaps that depends in part on whether the integrated version will be freely available, as is the pilot program.

Bob Michaelson
Northwestern University Library
Evanston, Illinois 60208
rmichael AT northwestern DOT edu

Bob makes a good point - if all member publishers (now numbering 699) contribute to make CrossRef the ultimate search engine, leading searchers to scholary, peer-reviewed, full-text results, what might be the fallout? The CR website lists some of the 699 participating publishers and societies, and links to 303 CR member publishers are provided.

The sentence that intrigues me is this one: "The purpose of the Pilot, which will run during 2004, is to determine the value to the scholarly community of a free, federated, full-text, interdisciplinary, interpublisher search focussed on the peer-reviewed scholarly literature." Exactly what is "free" in this context? Some of the member publishers also publish large dbs: IEEE, Elsevier, American Chemical Society, American Mathematical Society, CABI Publishing, Institution of Electrical Engineers, and many others.

From the CrossRef FastFacts page:

What CrossRef is:
A not-for-profit network founded on publisher collaboration, with a mandate to make reference linking throughout online scholarly literature efficient and reliable. As such, it is an infrastructure for linking citations across publishers, and the only full-scale implementation of the Digital Object Identifier (or DOI) System to date.

What a DOI is:
A unique alphanumeric string assigned to a digital object – in this case, an electronic journal article or a book chapter. In the CrossRef system, each DOI is associated with a set of basic metadata and a URL pointer to the full text, so that it uniquely identifies the content item and provides a persistent link to its location on the internet.

For more information on the DOI itself, which is a NISO standard syntax, please visit the International DOI Foundation website at www.doi.org. For details on use of the DOI within CrossRef, please see our DOI Guidelines.

What CrossRef is not:

  • A product for sale
  • An article database
  • A direct-to-end-user service
  • A search interface
  • A broker of full-text content
  • Made up of just big commercial publishers
CrossRef's mission:
To serve as the complete citation linking backbone for all scholarly literature online, as a means of lowering barriers to content discovery and access for the researcher. We are currently expanding our citation linking services beyond journal articles, to conference proceedings and books.
Much more information is on the page. Bob Michaelson wonders about "a fully integrated version of this search engine", yet CR describes itself as, among other things, not a search interface. It will be interesting to see how the pilot project unfolds, how CrossRef will determine said value of this search service to the scholarly community, and how it will appear in its final form, so to speak.

September 22, 2004

Swets: About To Implode, or Stable?

:: The following article appeared in the Dutch Financial Times (het Financieele Dagblad) on Monday, 20th September, 2004:

AMSTERDAM - Swets & Zeitlinger, Dutch distributors of scientific information, are in trouble. The business needs refinancing after it was found that it made losses in the past years. As a consequence of the problems Swets no longer meets the credit conditions of the bank. On Friday, shareholders will decide on a capital injection of EUR 45 million.

This is confirmed by Jan-Willem Baud, chairman of the board of supervisory directors. Baud is the director of NPM Capital, which holds 26% of the shares of Swets. Other shareholders are the Swets family (29%) , Nesbic (23%), Paribas (15%), and Alpinvest (7%). The business has approx. 1400 employees in 23 offices.

NPM has promised new money. Baud: "We believe that Swets can go on for another hundred years in spite of the problems." Other shareholders are still hesitant about whether or not they should jump to the rescue, says Baud.

Already in May it became public that Swets had found 'errors' in their books. And that hundreds of jobs will be scrapped. Just last year Swets was still being offered for sale to international high-risk venture capitalists with a price tag of hundreds of millions. One buyer, Candover, pulled out in the last minute.

Swets is an intermediary between scientific publishers and major users such as universities. The company suffers from the increasing distribution of information through the Internet. Attempts to become more electronically active themselves have not panned out as predicted by the management.

The last figures published by Swets pertain to 2002, when - according to the information - a turnover of EUR 1.2 billion and a net profit of EUR 30.8 million were achieved. Swets now has to review the figures over 2001, 2002, and 2003.

According to Baud, transactions between parent companies and subsidiaries were processed incorrectly for years. Swets presently cannot give insight into the adjusted results. As a consequence of debit transfers, which Baud does not want to specify, Swets ends up in the red. "But non-recurring items do not get us into loss. Profits do have to increase though."

Fraud, says Baud, was not discovered. Finance director Eelco de Boer is said to have stumbled across errors of his predecessor after taking up office last year. Whether these events will have consequences for director Eric van Amerongen or other managers, Baud does not want to disclose ahead of the shareholders' meeting next Friday. - Gerben Van Der Marel. The original article, in Dutch, was titled "Swets aan rand afgrond na boekhoudfout."

The following reply from John Martin, Director of Business Development and Marketing, Swets, has been circulating about the 'net today:
Dear All,

On behalf of the Management of Swets & Zeitlinger, I would like to make a short statement about our plans for the future.

Resulting from the high level of confidence of the shareholders and management in the future of the company, we shortly expect to announce a significant strengthening of our share capital through the provision of new investment funds by our shareholders. These new funds will be used to accelerate our investments in e-services which will thereby further improve our services to our clients. Moreover, we will use part of the new funds to re-structure our organisation in order to further improve service and efficiency for the longer term.

We apologise that we are unable to give you more detailed information at this stage but would like to assure you that we will keep you informed as soon as we can report on new developments.

Thank you for your support.

John Martin

Dr. John R. Martin
Director of Business Development and Marketing

Swets Information Services
P.O. Box 830
Heereweg 347B
2161 CA Lisse
The Netherlands
T +31 (0)252 435 582
F +31 (0)252 435 710
E jmartin AT nl DOT swets DOT com

Is Open Access Socialized Science?

:: Rudy Baum is Editor-in-Chief of Chemical & Engineering News. In v82 n38 p7, 20 Sept 2004, he comments on the open access model, and is not in favour of it:

As I've written on this page in the past, one important consequence of electronic publishing is to shift primary responsibility for maintaining the archive of STM literature from libraries to publishers. I know that publishers like the American Chemical Society are committed to maintaining the archive of material they publish. Maintaining an archive, however, costs money. It is not hard to imagine a scenario in which some publishers, their revenues squeezed at least in part by loss of subscriptions as a result of open-access policies, decide to cut costs by turning off access to their archives. The material, they would rationalize, is posted on government websites.
The editorial has provoked responses on CHMINF-L:

David Goodman:

I call the attention of the members of the list to the views of the editor-in-chief of C&E News: http://pubs.acs.org/cen/editor/8238edit.html

This undisguised red-baiting is apparently the best argument that Mr. Baum can offer against OA.

Robert Buntrock:
David, I think you're falling into the Cold War trap of equating socialism/socialized whatever with communism/Reds. Not the same thing 'tall. You must admit that you and other promoters of the "Commons" of OA are indeed advocating socialized publishing and archiving. Some of the arguments made by the NIH proposal could seem anachronistic, especially in the current social/political context.

Apparently, Rudy Baum does consider this a good exposition of the other side
of the discussion and asks readers to make their own choices. If you disagree, don't revert to arguably inadequate or inaccurate labels -- his points should be debated/refuted one by one. If you've already done that, e.g. at the Philadelphia ACS meeting, please make that available for our perusal.

Steve Heller:
Hmm, at least he didn't write that OA gives aid and comfort to terrorists, insurgents in Iraq, and al Qaeda. Or is the editorial for next week?
Randy Ward:
Personally, I have sympathy for some of our society publishers. According to our usage statistics and what we're paying for journals, it's clear we're getting far better "value" (if you want to commoditize information) from people like the ACS than from publishers such as Elsevier (for example).

One of my colleagues put together some spreadsheets that list rankings, usage, cost-per-usage, subscription costs, etc. for all our chemistry journals. These spreadsheets make it pretty clear that we are getting much lower cost-per-usage for much higher ranked journals (at least at BYU) from the ACS journals versus Elsevier journals (for example).

I'd kind of hate to see (perhaps more benevolent) publishing societies get squashed by the open-access movement, when they are not the ones causing the problem. I know something has to be done though. I can't help but think that the system wasn't broken for decades till the several commercial publishers came to the forefront of aggressive marketing. I don't know if its possible to return to past times, but I do know I am in full support of societies and universities which take back the task of publishing which they traditionally performed.

Just some thoughts.

David Goodman:
Dear Randy,

We need not fear for the ACS. Once it accepts that it must come to terms with first green and then gold OA, it will do very well. It will cost no more to publish "paid on behalf of the author". It should not matter to the society who pays it: it now must subsidizes subscriptions for some institutions and countries; it will then need to subsidze some authors.

It is exactly the higher cost commercial publishers who will have difficulty, if they cannot learn to publish more efficiently.

Alan Engel:
Rudy Baum himself reverted to an inadequate and inaccurate label - and rather thickly at that. Note the title of the editorial. The entire purpose of his editorial was to apply that inadequate and inaccurate label. David was correct in calling that duck a duck.

Baum's editorial was a hypocritical, sand-in-your-face attempt to divert attention from arguments based on the merits of the issue. The hypocracy is in the fact that most of the content in ACS journals arises from government-funded science. It is also in the fact that ACS' partners in STN are a governmental agency (JST) and a government-funded non-profit (FIZ). Baum reverted to a polarizing label that simply cannot be applied here for the sole purpose of politically charging the discussion and quashing rational debate.

While I am not knowledgeable enough to address the major issues involving Open Access, there is one aspect that I find very attractive. This is the opportunity for information entrepreneurship that arises from the available of free or low-cost streams of material. The availability of free and low-cost patent information has given rise to a flourishing cottage industry and Open Access should do the same for other STM areas. The STM market dwarfs the patent information market $7.3 billion to $300 million so the effect on entrepreneurship should be similarly larger. If I were not totally immersed in patent information, I would seriously look at the opportunities in OA. (Speculation on political motive: Could the Bush Administration be seeking a way to 'correct' the broken STM market without reverting to more aggressive anti-trust measures?)

Of course, OA need not be - and should not be - the only approach to fixing the broken STM market. There may be better approaches, but don't look to ACS to suggest them.

Robert Buntrock:
Alan, you may think that the title of Rudy Baum's editorial, "Socialized Science" is inadequate and inaccurate, but IMHO it did not seem to be political or particularly polarizing. David's label as "red-baiting" was, IMHO, polarizing and politicizing. Although no fan of the "dismal science", I submit that socialism, like capitalism, is an economic issue, not necessarily political (like democracy vs. communism).

Baum didn't divert attention from the arguments pro (or con) for OA, but he does ask that we as participants in the system weigh all aspects ("be careful for what you ask ..." He's calling for further debate -- give him (et al.) one.

Incidentally, am I so old (maybe so!) that I'm the only one who remembers page charges assessed to publish, in ACS Journals at least. They were abandoned about 20 years ago. As I recall, they ran up to ca. $100/published page -- a far cry from the $3000/article mentioned for OA (for short articles at least).

David Goodman:
I seem to need to give a further explanation.

The thoroughly political nature of Baum's piece is shown when he expressed his surprise that the OA move would take place during a Republican administration. I therefore read his references to socialism in the same light, as a politico-economic system he dislikes--and dislikes to the extent that he considers anything that socialists would support to be by that very fact bad policy.

He would do better to consider why so many congressmen of all parties voted for the bill. I doubt a single one of them thinks it leads to socialism. I doubt a single one of them thinks that it will lead to more government control over science than it already has. If Mr. Baum thinks this control already excessive, and wishes to argue that the political influence on grant funding is too great, I would agree with him.

I am quite aware of what is generally meant by socialism and by communism. Using either as a pejoratative label is within the meaning of "Red-baiting."

I would certainly deny that OA would necessarily lead to government controlled scientific publishing, which is what Robert Buntrock seems to consider socialism. I think it would much more likely to result in the liberation of the commercial and society publishers and the libraries from the unaffordable journal prices caused by positive feedback, with the consequent loss of other publishing opportunities. It should thus lead to a new and innovative blossoming of free enterprise in this field--a field whose low cost of entry makes it particularly appropriate..
Victoria Mitchell:
I've been refraining from commenting on this, and I have nothing to say about socialism or not-socialism. But I read the editorial by Mr. Baum, and I was particularly struck by the following:

"It's especially hard to understand because access to the STM literature is more open today than it ever has been: Anyone can do a search of the literature and obtain papers that interest them, so long as they are willing to pay a reasonable fee for access to the material. "

My jaw dropped when I read this, and I said to myself : What world is this guy living in?

"Anyone can do a search of the literature"? True, perhaps if you're talking about PubMed/Medline, but not if you're talking about Chem Abstracts. Like many other "public" institutions, we dropped Chem Abstracts in print as soon as we got SciFinder Scholar, because we could not afford to pay for both. Yet SciFinder Scholar is ONLY available to currently registered students, faculty and staff. Walk-in public users can no longer search the current Chemical Abstracts literature at our library and probably not anywhere else in our state. Further, at what is supposedly a research library, because of CAS' outrageous pricing, we have not yet been able to afford more than ONE (1) seat to SciFinder Scholar, severely limiting the access of even students and researchers to literature searching.

And then there's "so long as they are willing to pay a reasonable fee for access to the material" -- what does he consider reasonable? As subscriptions are priced out of the range of library budgets, is it reasonable to expect someone making minimum wage to pay $30 or more for every article he or she wants to read?

I, too, have my doubts about "open access" and how it's all going to play out. But what Mr. Baum does not address is just plain affordable access -- forget about free. Nor does he address the fact that the current model of scientific publishing is no longer working, and that free market economics do not apply to STM publishing. He states that the ACS is committed to maintaining the archive of their published material, but he does not say anything about how they're charging for it (the ACS archive is something else we have not been able to afford, and I think their policy of making you continue to pay or lose access to everything you've already paid for is completely heinous.) He notes that it is expensive to maintain an electronic archive -- yet other society publishers are doing it without charging the way that ACS is. Nor does he admit the possibility that there are other possible hosts for open access archives than either the private sector or the U.S. government. Admittedly, it's a short column and he could not possibly address all of these issues in it. However, the statements I
quoted above seem to come from someone who is living in a nice, cozy, privileged world where he has access to all the scientific literature he could possibly want, but it seems doubtful he has any clue about what's going on out here in our world.

September 21, 2004

Digital Reference Services Bibliography

FYI -- listserv posting from Bernie Sloan:

This past weekend I finished a long-overdue update of my Digital Reference Services Bibliography:


There are now more than 700 items listed in this bibliography, related to the topic of online or virtual or digital reference services, i.e., the provision of reference services, involving collaboration between library user and librarian, in a computer-based medium. These services can utilize various media, including e-mail, Web forms, chat, video, Web customer call center software, Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), etc.

Approximately 40% of the items listed in this bibliography are available via the Web. Links have been provided to direct you to those resources.

Feel free to contact me with questions or comments.

Bernie Sloan
Senior Library Information Systems Consultant, ILCSO
University of Illinois Office for Planning and Budgeting

IEEE Title Change - Again!

:: George Porter notes the following title change (actually a split into two new titles). This is one of those "what the - ??" moments, that makes you wonder if someone at IEEE lost it for a moment when this decision was made regarding the timing. George suggests that this change could complicate OpenURL linking services. Consider the plight of the poor serial cataloguer as well, not to mention the headaches this will cause researchers trying to nail down a specific issue. And then there will be the citation screwups in article bibliographies...

IEEE has changed the title/website, mid-year/volume no less, of IEEE Transactions on Robotics and Automation to IEEE Transactions on Robotics. Same ISSN, though, which is bound to complicate many an OpenURL linking service. Here's a brief review of the historic run of this journal, arranged in reverse chronological order..

IEEE Transactions on Robotics
Fulltext v20(4)+ (August 2004+); ISSN: 1042-296X

IEEE Transactions on Robotics and Automation
Fulltext v5-20(3) (1989-June 2004); ISSN: 1042-296X

IEEE Journal of Robotics and Automation
Fulltext v4 (1988); ISSN: 0882-4967

IEEE Journal of Robotics and Automation
Fulltext v1-3 (1985-1987); ISSN: 0882-4967

- George Porter

Brian Quigley noted the new title that emerges from this mid-volume split is called:

IEEE Transactions on Automation Science & Engineering
Fulltext v1+ (July 2004+); ISSN: 1545-5955

The other annoying bit is that IEEE hasn't crossreferenced the title change from the existing page on IEL. In other words, the IEL page for Robotics and Automation, IEEE Transactions references earlier versions of the journal, but doesn't link to the new version, Robotics, IEEE Transactions on [see also Robotics and Automation, IEEE Transactions on]. You will notice the See Reference from the new title to the previous version, but as well, there is no actual link to the previous incarnation from the this page. Does that make sense?

At the very least, IEEE might had a new ISSN assigned to IEEE Transactions on Robotics, to prevent future problems with online catalogues, software using ISSN's for linking, etc.

September 20, 2004

News Items of Interest from Information Today

Amazon Launches A9.com Search Site
A9.com, Inc., a subsidiary of Amazon.com, Inc., has launched A9.com to make searching the Internet more effective. The new site builds on a beta test version the company introduced in April 2004 that offered Google searching of the Web combined with searches of Amazon's books and site information from Amazon's subsidiary, Alexa Internet. The official launch of A9.com adds several information sources and new search and organizational features. The company says the new site is more of an information management tool.

BioMed Central Offers Institutional Repository Service
BioMed Central, an independent online publishing firm committed to open access, has launched a repository service for universities and research institutions. Open Repository offers professional help to institutions to quickly and easily build, launch, maintain, and populate their institutional repositories. BioMed Central says the service has been designed to be flexible and cost-effective. The Open Repository service makes it possible for institutions that could not otherwise afford, or lack the infrastructure or technical capacity in-house, to set up repositories.

SpecInfo Debuts on Wiley InterScience
John Wiley & Sons, Inc. announced the launch of SpecInfo on Wiley InterScience. The launch marks the first time Wiley has made the collection available on the Internet through Wiley InterScience. SpecInfo provides an integrated spectroscopy solution for viewing, predicting, and searching spectra. SpecInfo collections cover three specialized fields: Infrared (IR), Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR), and Mass Spectroscopy (MS). All the data included in SpecInfo are curated--databases are quality-controlled at the point of data preparation and are sourced from reputable laboratories and peer-reviewed literature.

September 18, 2004

A Weblog for Every Student?

:: Stephen Downes, via David Davies, noted in OLDaily that the University of Warwick in the UK is giving every student the option of creating their own weblog once they register. What we don't know is how or why they decided that providing every student with his or her own weblog, as mentioned by Will R. on Weblogg-ed.

In my upcoming library and research skills instruction classes in chemical and mechanical design engineering (sorry, I refuse to use or say "bibliographic instruction, or even worse, information literacy classes"), I plan to advise the students about setting up their own weblogs for use as a project management tool, as they will be working in groups of four. It would be a lot easier to set this up if our institution offered a campus-wide blogging service like Warwick or Harvard or U Minnesota.

September 17, 2004

Paranoid Engineers

:: We received a copy of Essays on the History of Mechanics: In Memory of Clifford Ambrose Truesdell and Edoarda Benvenuto in our library this week. The book is published by Birkhäuser, and edited by Antonio Becchi, Massimo Corradi, Federico Foce, and Orietta Pedemonte. I began leafing through it before adding it to the collection, and started to read the first essay, "Truesdell and the History of the Theory of Structures", by Jacques Heyman, of the University of Cambridge. I don't know anything about mechanics, or about Truesdell or Benvenuto, but was fascinated to read the abstract of the article:

There is an established heirarchy in the field of physical science: the mathematician tops the physicist who in turn tops the engineer. Further, the historian of science knows that he is operating on a higher plane than those whose history he is studying. This is not a view shared by working scientists, and Truesdell was aware of the contempt he was in danger of arousing by defecting from his proper work to study its history. But mathematics developed so rapidly that only a practising mathematician such as Truesdell, not a professional historian, can give a proper description of, for example, the work of Euler.
That certainly got my attention, so I continued to read the first paragraph, which noted that:
All engineers suffer from paranoia: but even though an engineer is paranoiac, he may in fact be low man on the totem pole. Certainly a physicist knows that he is measurably superior to the engineer - so much so that engineering problems are hardly worth the physicist's attention. Indeed, the problems are so trivial that they are, for the large part, invisible to the physicist. In the same way the mathematician knows that the problems of physics, if only they were properly formulated, could be solved without ugly recourse to real experiment, or without the need for virtual experiment by computer.
I wasn't aware of this pecking order. I wonder if there are jokes along the lines of, "An engineer, a physicist and a mathematician are in boat, and ..."

September 16, 2004

Agent Cooper Would Approve

:: Because you need to know: Good to the Last Drop: Dimensions and Cultural Implications of Coffee Service in Libraries. Latte, anyone?

ASCE Online Proceedings

:: As previously mentioned in July, ASCE has announced the release of ASCE Online Proceedings. From an e-mail posted today to SLA-ENG:

The American Society of Civil Engineers announces the release of ASCE Online Proceedings – a new online subscription which provides access to proceedings papers from 2003 to the present. At its launch, ASCE Online Proceedings will include more than 5,400 papers, or 55,000 pages of content. For a limited time, ASCE is offering libraries the opportunity to sign up for a FREE trial access to ASCE Online Proceedings. For more information, simply visit www.ascelibrary.org and submit your request using the Proceedings Only Free Trial Form that appears in the right column.
The ASCE Online Research Library includes the following:
The ASCE Research Library is a comprehensive online tool for locating articles of interest across all disciplines of civil engineering. The Research Library provides you with unprecedented access to more than 18,500 full-text papers from ASCE Journals and Proceedings published since 1995 - that's over 175,000 pages! Approximately 4,000 new papers will be added each year.

September 15, 2004

US DoD Needs Scientists and Engineers

:: Interesting article from govexec.com, about how the US Department of Defense is reaching out to students to encourage them to enroll in science and engineering programs, in order to head off an impending shortage in the near future. The article notes:

More students - American or other- wise - are graduating from U.S. universities. But interest in college-level science and engineering studies is waning. The military points to a decline among citizens and permanent resident immigrants, while NSF notes statistics showing that women and minorities are particularly under-represented. Citing NSF data, the military says the number of students earning bachelor's degrees in Defense-related science and engineering did not keep pace with the number of bachelor's degrees awarded overall between 1994 and 2001. Graduate and post-graduate enrollment slowed, too. During the same period, fewer than half the U.S. post-graduate scientists and engineers were citizens. The total of Ph.D. degrees increased, but the number of U.S. citizens earning them decreased.
I was curious to read that interest in science and engineering is declining among American students. I am not aware of a similar trend in Canada, but I can report that interest in engineering on our campus, the University of Alberta, is skyrocketing. Between 1995/96 and 2003/04, our undergraduate engineering enrolment increased by over 30%, graduate enrollment increased by ~146%, and the number of engineering faculty increased by ~60%. With the National Institute for Nanotechnology scheduled to open on our campus in 2005, this trend should continue unabated for the next few years.

September 13, 2004

Bloglet Problems

:: My thanks to Mary Ann Tyrrell at Michigan State U, for advising me that Bloglet was not sending updates to the 175+ STLQ subscribers. I checked the Bloglet site, and indeed, STLQ had been disabled. My apologies to everyone who subscribes to this humble blog for not catching this sooner, and I will keep a closer eye on Bloget to ensure that this doesn't happen again. Many thanks again to Mary Ann Tyrrell!

Indexing of ASEE Proceedings in Compendex

:: Much discussion has ensued recently on ELDNET-L, regarding the coverage of the annual proceedings of the American Society for Engineering Education. The 1997 and 1998 proceedings are in Compendex, but some editions have not been indexed yet. Rafael Sidi, of Elsevier Engineering Information, Inc, responded on ELDNET-L:

ASEE Conference Proceedings are an intended part of the Compendex coverage, but due to acquisition hurdles, some editions (2003,2002, 2001, 2000, 1999, 1996) have not been indexed. We place a high priority upon adding ASEE Conference Proceedings and are currenty in the process of acquiring the missing years. The content will appear in Compendex shortly.

Rafael Sidi
VP, Publishing Engineering :: Elsevier Engineering Information, Inc. ::
r DOT sidi AT elsevier DOT com

Free Full-Text Journals in Chemistry

:: As posted to CHMINF-L:

A new academic year starts and the directory Free Full-Text Journals in Chemistry returns to active living.

All links and comments had been verified in August 2004. It was a surprise to me that less than ten journals died or closed free access to full texts since August 2003. Moreover, every forth journal of the list has expanded in free cyberspace.

As in the previous year, I plan to add new information to the site twice a
month. Don't miss announcements on short-term freebies in Part B of the Directory.

RSS feed <http://www.abc.chemistry.bsu.by/current/abcnews.xml> is on.

I appreciate your comments.
Alexander Ragoisha
ragoisha AT bsu DOT by

September 10, 2004

University Research vs Patents; Commons vs Anti-Commons

:: The following commentary from Bob Buntrock appeared on CHMINF-L on 9 Sept 2004. Many participants in the discussion group have since responded to the posting..

I've commented previously on either or both of these lists on the topic of the "Greening of Academia", viz. the trend towards more extensive patenting and licensing of academic research. My original concerns were more along the line of acquisition -- and costs -- of information in support of the P&L process as opposed to similar activities in support of teaching and research. However, the scope of the discussion is being broadened to challenges to the Research University P&L in general.

A recent Policy Forum paper in Science (Y. Benkler, "Commons-Based Strategies and the Problems of Patents", vol. 305, 1110-1111, Aug. 20, 2004) compares the patent system in general and Commons-based systems. Quotes include "...economic theory is ambivalent about the effects of patents on welfare and innovation. Empirical evidence suggests that patents are important in few industries, mostly pharmaceutical." This trend in criticism parallels that arising in conjunction with the availability of pharmaceuticals, not only in 3rd world countries, but to at least some customers in the US.

I think that discussions of these topics are overdue in a number of forums (fora?) including meetings of ACS, PIUG (Patent Information User Group), etc. Topics to be considered include costs and support of P&L in academia (esp. information access), Commons vs. both copyright/publishing and patents (validity of P&L in academia), and other topics. Within ACS, cooperation of CINF, Div. of Chem and the Law (CHAL), and ACS operating Divisions would seem appropriate.

-- Bob Buntrock
Buntrock Associates, Inc.

September 8, 2004

SLA Chemistry Division Summer 2004 Newsletter

:: Volume 19, Issue 1, Summer 2004 issue of the SLA Chemistry Division E-Newsletter is available for viewing.

September 7, 2004

Scopus - Review by Peter Jasco

:: Peter Jacso writes a free monthly column, Peter's Digital Ready Reference Shelf, providing in-depth reviews of online databases and information services.

This month, Peter tackles Scopus. My copy printed at 10 pages. Quoting from the September column's announcement:

SCOPUS, a mighty collection of multidisciplinary abstracting/indexing records, enhanced with cited references, sporting-good search and excellent linking capabilities. Scopus has outstanding output features, including results lists displayed in a grid format, prominent display of the citedness score of items on the results lists - which can be re-sorted by decreasing citedness order (among others) - and an automatic and instant bibliometric profile of the results lists.
- George Porter.

H.W. Wilson Announces Full-Text Science Database

:: From InfoToday:

H.W. Wilson has announced a new 100-percent, full-text science database, available exclusively on WilsonWeb.com. Science Full Text Select combines the full-text content of all the Wilson science databases, delivering articles cover to cover from 320 sources in total. The database provides an abundance of graphical content--charts, diagrams, and illustrations--in PDF page images. Science Full Text Select brings together full-text content from the WilsonWeb databases Applied Science & Technology Full Text, Biological & Agricultural Index Plus, and General Science Full Text, plus additional full-text articles from Readers' Guide and Wilson OmniFile databases.

September 1, 2004

E-Streams Aug 2004 Issue Now Available

:: E-STREAMS provides "Electronic reviews of Science & Technology References covering Engineering, Agriculture, Medicine and Science", and is a collaborative venture between H Robert Malinowsky of U Illinois Chicago, and YBP Library Services. The latest issue, v7 n8 August 2004, is available for viewing, in HTML or PDF format.