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September 29, 2005

Knovel Content Now Indexed on GlobalSpec

.: From a press release emailed on 29 Sept 2004 from Knovel:

New York, NY - September 29, 2005 - Knovel Corporation (www.knovel.com), a leading provider of revolutionary Web-based information services that increase productivity for millions of engineers, scientists and librarians worldwide, announced today its partnership with GlobalSpec, the specialized search engine and online community for engineers. Knovel's collection of interactive reference books from over 30 publishers is now indexed within The Engineering WebSM, GlobalSpec's vertical search engine.

This collaboration will bring Knovel to the desktops of the millions of engineers and technical professionals who visit GlobalSpec each month. People who have relied on GlobalSpec for technical content including products, services, standards, patents, application notes and proprietary content now have access to Knovel's comprehensive library that culminates the world's best published references into one platform. "It's a logical partnership," says Christopher M. Forbes, CEO of Knovel Corporation. "We're both dedicated to bringing reliable resources to the engineering and technical community."

GlobalSpec's search engine, The Engineering WebSM, will peer deep into Knovel's database to yield relevant, detailed results to technical queries. When a search is performed, Knovel subscribers will be taken directly to the page of the book yielding their results. Other GlobalSpec users will receive bibliographic data from Knovel to direct them towards a solution. This new partnership will greatly improve research in the engineering community.

This is another example of a proprietary database allowing its content to be indexed by a search engine available freely to the public. For example, IEEE has allowed Google to index its IEEE Xplore database. As mentioned, access to Knovel content will be available when searching GlobalSpec on a computer at a location that also subscribes to Knovel; users at companies and institutions without a subscription will be more than a little frustrated when they discover they can't view the results.

Of interest is that Engineering Village subscribers can search GlobalSpec within the EV platform. I connected to GlobalSpec through Engineering Village, and searched "obsolete SAE steels", restricting the search to "The Engineering Web" within GlobalSpec. Sure enough, the first result listed was to the Knovel title from which I'd extracted the search phrase, Electromechanical Design Handbook, 3rd ed. Clicking on that result opened a page that includes the Knovel logo, a hotlnked thumbnail of the book cover, a description of the content, and a link at the bottom to the search results within the book. The disclaimer underneath the links reads: "Note: By clicking the above link, you will be leaving the GlobalSpec website to go to our content partner, Knovel. If you have a subscription to this title on Knovel, you will be able to see its content without logging in. If you do not have a subscription, you will be able to subscribe online." Clicking on the link (or the thumbnail) takes you to a list of the sections or chapters within the book that include the search phrase, a nice feature that also works within a Knovel search itself..

Indexing of Knovel content within GlobalSpec may be inconsistent with regards to the results that appear in a GlobalSpec search. In other words, one can search for a word or phrase that in Knovel would return many hits, but in GlobalSpec, the user may have considerably difficult determining where the Knovel hits are within the GlobalSpec search results, if at all. For example, I search "pressure vessel" in Knovel, with no restrictions; the search returns 217 titles. The same search run in GlobalSpec, restricted to "the engineering web", returns 119,096 hits. Where amongst these results might the Knovel content be found? Perhaps the solution would be to move the Knovel content to the front of the results, or to allow the user to restrict the search to Knovel content.

GlobalSpec allows the user to "Refine Your Results" when searching, but only by related subject terms and phrases. The search, "pressure vessel" and knovel, returns 133 hits in GlobalSpec, with 10 sites listed per page. Oddly enough, when I clicked through to the third page, it reads, "Engineering Web Sites: 31 - 40 of 133 "; when I click through to the fourth page, it changes to "Engineering Web Sites: 41 - 42 of 42 ", and the results stop there. So it appears that there remain some glitches that need to be addressed. One change worth consideration would be to include the option to restrict a GlobalSpec search to Knovel content. This would benefit both parties: GlobalSpec would increase its use, Knovel would increase its profile and potentially its customer base as well.

Related to this is a nano-bone I need to pick with Knovel. The press releases sent by e-mail are very much appreciated, but check the Knovel News: Press Releases, and the most current press release is nowhere to be found. It would be useful for a press release to be uploaded to the Knovel website at the same time it is e-mailed the Knovel's customers.

RSS Feeds for Physics News Sources

.: Links to RSS feeds for news sources in physics have been added to the Resources in Physics page on the SLA PAM site.

September 28, 2005

Ei Update v3 n3 September 2005

:: The latest Ei Update is available, and includes columns on controlled vocabularies in faceted searching and uses of RSS.

Various

.: A few tidbits of interest in an otherwise quiet week:

September 23, 2005

Hindawi Publishing Corporation launches Open Access Institutional Membership

.: George forwarded the following press release:

The Hindawi Publishing Corporation is pleased to announce the launch of its Open Access Institutional Membership program. The Institutional Membership was created in order to give libraries and other institutional sponsors the opportunity to encourage Open Access publishing within their organization.

Researchers from Member Institutes will be able to publish in any of our Open Access journals without incurring an article processing charge (usually around €600 per article). A membership for the year 2006 will cost a flat-rate of €2000 per institute, and it will apply to all of our existing Open Access journals as well as any Open Access journals that Hindawi launches during 2006 (around 20 new OA titles are expected in 2006). As an added bonus, all members who sign up during 2005 will automatically be given a free membership for the remainder of this year.

Hindawi currently publishes 10 Open Access journals in a number of fields including electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, biomedicine, applied mathematics and materials science. All articles published in our Open Access journals are released using a Creative Commons Attribution License and are freely available at www.hindawi.com.

For more information about our Open Access Institutional Membership, please visit www.hindawi.com/oa/im.html . If you would like to take part in this program, or if you would like to ask us any questions, please send an email to oaim@hindawi.com.

Paul Peters
Senior Publishing Developer
Hindawi Publishing Corporation

September 22, 2005

OECD Report on Scientific Publishing

:: As noted by George Porter, "The OECD has posted its report on Scientific Publishing and an accompanying press release." The Economist offered a commentary today as well, in a piece called The Paperless Library:

Free access to scientific results is changing research practices

IT USED to be so straightforward. A team of researchers working together in the laboratory would submit the results of their research to a journal. A journal editor would then remove the authors' names and affiliations from the paper and send it to their peers for review. Depending on the comments received, the editor would accept the paper for publication or decline it. Copyright rested with the journal publisher, and researchers seeking knowledge of the results would have to subscribe to the journal.

No longer. The internet—and pressure from funding agencies, who are questioning why commercial publishers are making money from government-funded research by restricting access to it—is making free access to scientific results a reality. This week, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) issued a report describing the far-reaching consequences of this. The report, by John Houghton of Victoria University in Australia and Graham Vickery of the OECD, makes heavy reading for publishers who have, so far, made handsome profits. But it goes further than that. It signals a change in what has, until now, been a key element of scientific endeavour.

September 21, 2005

Knovel and Machinery's Handbook, 27th Edition: The Pitfall of the Plug-In

.: In an e-mail sent last week, Knovel informed its subscribers of the following:

We are writing to share with you the exciting news that on Monday, Sept. 19th, Knovel will release the 27th Edition of Machinery’s Handbook. This fully updated and expanded edition of this important title will add greatly to the value of our service for your patrons.

In order to fulfill our contractual obligations with the publisher of Machinery’s Handbook, we are obliged to protect the files from unauthorized copying, downloading, and printing. Knovel makes every effort to maintain as few barriers to the content on our service as possible. However, in the event your patrons seek to view secured content in this title, they will be asked to download a security plug-in called FileOpen for Adobe Reader. This is a one-time download and once installed, the user will not be asked to download it again.

Unfortunately for those trying to get access to this title from a computer lab terminal, OPAC terminal on a public floor in a library, or a computer on a locked-down company LAN, the plug-in won't load, rendering the 27th edition of Machinery's Handbook unusable and non-functional. The e-mail goes on to say:
Knovel has made every effort in the on-screen instructions for how to download this plug-in to cover every eventuality your patrons might face, and to lead them through the process simply and effectively. We are letting you know in advance so if you receive questions you will know how to answer them, and so you are aware of why your patrons are contacting you. We have prepared a special link for you to preview how the process works.
followed by:
We will seek to maintain the simplest possible access to our content in the future. If we are obliged to secure further content, we will let you know in advance. Please be reassured that once your patrons have downloaded this plug-in, it will secure access to any other content which may require FileOpen in the future.
The bone to pick here isn't necessarily with Knovel, but primarily with the publisher, Industrial Press. The problem is, this new restriction is transparent to any user. Someone trying to use the 27th edition will hit a brick wall, and be forced to turn back, so to speak. Knovel is leaving the 26th edition in the db, but for those who need the most current and accurate information from this title, the only option is to use it from a personal, IP-authenticated computer, and deal with a series of click-throughs to use this title. Users today want the shortest path to their resources of choice.

There is another problem. Despite having downloaded and installed the plug-in yesterday on my laptop, when I tried to look at text within the 27th edition this morning using Firefox, a window popped up with "The FileOpen plug-in is not installed." Three clicks later, I reach a screen that verifies I have the plug-in installed, allowing access to the .pdf files in the book. Using Internet Explorer, the plug-in was recognized as having been loaded, and I was taken directly to the book. So a problem exists with the plug-in and Firefox. For any library system using Firefox on their terminals, this would be another headache with which to deal.

But most library systems either power down at closing time, and/or reboot their servers overnight. The effect of this would be that the next day, the plug-in would need to be loaded on any station where a user was trying to access the 27th Edition, again. Er, but, the plug-in most likely couldn't be loaded in the first place, because library and computer lab terminals are locked-down to prevent the downloading and installation of potentially malicious software, therefore...we go round in circles.

I hope Knovel, purveyors of a major and important product for science and engineering libraries, can solve this for us. Locally, this is critical, as I am teaching three classes in mechanical engineering next week, and in each one, I will now need to mention that this major mechanical engineering reference work cannot be used on any station in any library or computer lab on campus. Plus, those of us subscribing to Knovel need to advise our information staff that the title will not work on OPAC stations, unless we work in a library which allows for the downloading and installation of plug-ins on public stations.

The longer view is that this plug-in, of course, is another example of Digital Rights Management. In an academic or learned setting, where students are working towards degress and advancing their education, this kind of restriction does way more harm than good. I would guess that most students are not interested in downloading the entire book, which numbers above 2,750 pages. Knovel advises us that the plug-in will prevent "unauthorized copying, downloading, and printing", but in an education setting, what does that mean? Our library signs a licence to use the db, including this title, meaning our users are authorized to use the product. If one or more of them decides to print or download a section for further study, isn't that the raison d’être of the product anyway?

September 20, 2005

Knovel Enhances Semiconductor & Electronics Subject Area with Valuable New Content

.: Knovel issued the following press release today, via an e-mail:

IEE's EMIS Datareviews Series and Springer-Verlag's Landolt-Bornstein Added

NEW YORK, NY (September 20, 2005) - Knovel Corporation, a leading provider of revolutionary Web-based information services, today announced major additions to its Semiconductors & Electronics Subject Area. The Electronic Materials Information Service (EMIS) Datareviews and the Electronic Materials and Semiconductors systems from Springer-Verlag's Landolt-Bornstein on Knovel will help researchers in the Semiconductor industry meet increasing demands to deliver smaller boards and chips and faster process times.

These content additions come at an important time, as materials-intensive technologies like high-speed, high-density storage and displays are converging with microelectronics and nanotechnology. Design challenges are forcing the development of new materials that represent an increasing proportion of the cost of new semiconductors. Easy access to trusted information about these new materials is critical to industry professionals.

The EMIS Datareviews series, published by The Institute of Electronic Engineers (IEE), offers guidance on the most appropriate materials to use for particular applications, based entirely on input from experts in the field. According to the Engineering Science and Education Journal, "there is a great deal of factual information in this [series] that cannot be obtained easily from other sources. The authors are all renowned scientists from the world's most important research facilities in both the public and industrial sectors."

Landolt-Bornstein, Group IV, Volume 5, presents phase equilibria and thermodynamic data of binary alloy systems. "I had a chance to test our product extensively," said Dr. Rainer Poerschke, Head of the Landolt-Bornstein Department, Springer-Verlag. "It is fantastic what you have done with our PDFs!"

"We are developing Knovel Library into a resource that is used by every scientist and engineer in their daily work," said Delores Meglio, Editorial Director of Knovel Corporation. "The EMIS Datareviews series and Landolt-Bornstein enhance our coverage of the Semiconductors & Electronics Subject Area with trustworthy data from industry experts."

If you subscribe to Knovel, you also must subscribe to the Landolt-Bornstein product to have access to the Electronic Materials and Semiconductors systems. Currently we have access to all of Knovel except for Landolt-Bornstein.

The EMIS Datareviews series is from IEE, and comprises twenty titles.

Nucleic Acids Symposium Series -- Free Online Access

From a HighWire announcement which slipped past me 6 months ago:

The Nucleic Acids Symposium Series consists of the proceedings of the Symposium on Nucleic Acids Chemistry held annually in Japan. The online edition of the series is freely available to all, therefore no subscription is needed. Limited copies of the proceedings are printed and distributed to delegates at the symposium.

Nucleic Acids Symposium Series
Fulltext v42+ (1999+)
http://nass.oxfordjournals.org/
Print ISSN: 0261-3166 | Online ISSN: 1746-8272

- George S. Porter

September 16, 2005

Wiley Introduces Online Mass Spectral Library

.: From 16 Sept 2005 Knowledgespeak:

Publisher John Wiley & Sons, US, has launched a wide-ranging online database titled ‘Wiley Registry 7th Ed./NIST 2005 Mass Spectral Library’. The resource, which contains over 461,000 mass spectra, covers illegal drugs, environmental pollutants, pharmaceuticals, chemical weapons and several other compounds. For the first time, the Wiley Registry of Mass Spectral DataT, 7th edition and the NIST/NIH/EPA Mass Spectral Library 2005 have been integrated into a single online library. The database is targeted at laboratories that cater to emergency response, urgent care and various critical activities where immediate recognition of the compound is crucial. The library comprises 820,528 unique chemical names as well as 222,553 unique CAS numbers in formats such as Agilent Chemstation and NIST MSSearch/Thermo Xcalibur.
Knowledgespeak does not provide links to individual entries or daily posts, so you need to go the homepage and find the entry therein.

September 15, 2005

Question: Do We Need Another Nature Journal?

:: This week, Nature Publishing Group released its Nature Group Letter to Customers 2005. Within the letter was mention of the release of the forthcoming new journal, Nature Physics, which will make its debut in October 2005. The announcement was sent to the SLS-L discussion group, and is available on Nature's site.

Not one to mince words, Bob Michaelson of Northwestern U in Illinois fired back the following response:

Dear Annette Thomas:

Nature Publishing Group has, for the past several years, shown a disturbing indifference to the inability of libraries to pay for its newly launched commercial (and very high priced) products. Nature Publishing Group has shown a similar indifference to its customers difficulties in paying for site-wide online access to its many products, and in paying for its online archives.

At some point we, your customers, must simply say "enough", and I believe that that point has been reached with your ludicrous, disdainful decision to launch Nature Physics in October. Surely you know that there are plenty of well established journals in physics. Surely you know that physicists use the free depository arXiv as their primary source for physics information -- to such an extent that some long-established physics journals such as Nuclear Physics now have scarcely any readers (we know this because we have the online statistics), and many physicists say that "nobody reads the journals any longer". Clearly there is no need for a new commercially published physics journal -- and perhaps there will soon no longer be a need for many existing commercially-published physics journals -- but you insist on launching this title, at the "introductory" pricing (which will increase) of $1,500 in print, and an online site license at a price that you aren't even willing to list on your web site! (Your web site says that academic pricing is in "bands based on FTE figures" -- but in your patronizing way you don't allow us full information.)

I fondly hope that Nature Physics is a spectacular failure, as it well deserves to be.

Sincerely,

Robert Michaelson
Seeley G. Mudd Library for Science and Engineering
Northwestern University
Evanston, Illinois 60208
USA
rmichael@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

ISI's Predictions for 2005 Nobel Winners

:: "In anticipation of the announcement of the 2005 Nobel Prize winners this October, Thomson Scientific has named the 2005 Thomson Scientific Laureates — researchers likely to contend for Nobel honors." Read all about it. (Thanks to Bob Michaelson.)

September 14, 2005

Encourage Google to Stop Undermining Education

.: We've seen dozens if not hundreds of online petitions, but this one has the suppport of our local Academic Integrity Officer, and is worth forwarding to you for consideration. The message below explains the effort:

Please help encourage Google to stop undermining education through their policy of displaying ads that encourage plagiarism and academic fraud through the sale of pre-written and made to order term papers and essays especially when these ads are displayed on web sites that promote education.

Google shows ads all over the web promoting sites like these:
  • http://www.cheathouse.com
  • http://perfect-essays.com
  • http://www.DirectEssays.com
  • http://www.MonsterPapers.com
Examples of these ads can be found on Google's own site down the
right side of these pages: Google currently prohibits ads that promote alcohol, tobacco, weapons and other things ranging from miracle cures to license plate covers but they do NOT prohibit ads promoting plagiarism and academic fraud; such ads also appear on educational web sites with no way for the site to prevent it other than banning all Google ads.

Encourage Google to Stop Undermining Education
http://www.petitiononline.com/googterm/petition.html

Google has responded to this petition in a way that leaves the door wide open for us to make a difference as their spokesperson said, 'We appreciate the comments made about our advertising which help to inform our future policy decisions.' Source: http://tinyurl.com/cm6rn or http://www.webpronews.com/insidesearch/insidesearch/wpn-56-20 050902GooglePetitionUpdate.html

Also please note that these ads frequently (and ironically) appear over this petition as well because the petition hosting service uses Google ads.

This petition effort has just begun so please sign the petition, let Google know how you feel about this policy and help to spread the word by forwarding this message as you wish.

Thank you,
Jack Paulus

http://TruthMapping.com

September 13, 2005

OA Geosciences Journal Enters Top 50% in ISI Essential Indicators

:: George Porter forwarded information regarding the rapid ascent of Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics into the top 50% of journals in its field, according to an article the August 2005 issue of in-Cites. When asked how he accounts for the increased citation rate of the journal he edits, Chief Executive Editor Dr. Ulrich Pöschl noted the following:

The high and increasing citation rates of ACP are certainly due to multiple reasons, most of which are related to the advantages of its interactive open access journal concept (freely accessible two-stage publications with public peer review and interactive discussion as detailed on the journal website*). We think that the following aspects are most important:
  1. free internet accessibility of all articles (open access publishing);
  2. rapid dissemination of novel scientific results as discussion papers on the ACPD website (minimum time from submission to publication on the order of one week);
  3. public documentation of the review process (quality assurance) and availability of complementary information in fully citable interactive comments from the referees, authors, and other interested scientists, which have not been publicly available in traditional scientific journals; and
  4. top quality and information density of the final papers published in ACP after revision and peer review completion in view of the interactive public discussion, including referee comments like in the traditional closed peer review process plus the input from other interested scientists

September 8, 2005

Autonomy and NetLibrary to Provide Libraries with an Improved Learning Environment

.: Interesting news item from a couple weeks ago:

DUBLIN, Ohio, USA, 19 August 2005— The NetLibrary division of OCLC Online Computer Library Center today announced that it has partnered with Autonomy Corporation plc (LSE: AU. or AUTN.L), a global leader in infrastructure software for the enterprise, to provide academic, public, corporate and special libraries with improved search and retrieval functionality.

NetLibrary provides electronic content and technical delivery solutions to more than 13,000 institutional libraries, corporations and government agencies worldwide that provide research, reference, digital learning, and general interest content to their constituents via web-based technologies.

"Improving and enhancing our technical platform remains a critical priority for us. After several months of research, Autonomy stood out among the 13 software providers we reviewed" said Tom Whitcomb, Senior Director of Information Technology. "We wanted to add additional functionality for our patrons as well as improve upon the ability of library patrons to find relevant content more quickly. Autonomy stood out as offering the technology that could fulfill these requirements.

Autonomy's technology allows NetLibrary to index eBooks, eJournals, and other popular eContent types regardless of format and/or location. These resources can be made up of multiple file types from different repositories including internal pdf and html documents, external Web sites, and databases such as SQL and Oracle. This can all then be aggregated together and made available through a single search interface. Additionally, NetLibrary will employ several other Autonomy features, such as: cross-linking of files, content summarization, content suggestions, spell checking, and other features that enable users to find the materials they are looking for more quickly and comprehensively.

Read the full press release here.

September 7, 2005

Geosphere - New Open Access Journal From GSA

Geosphere is the Geological Society of America's first Open Access journal. Geosphere joins GSA's two established journals, Geology and Geological Society of America Bulletin, and its magazine, GSA Today, all of which are hosted by Allen Press . Accoding to the journal's Additional Information page, Geosphere will appear bimonthly.

Geosphere
Fulltext v1+ (2005+)
http://www.gsajournals.org/gsaonline/?request=get-archive&issn=1553-040X
ISSN: 1553-040X

[Thanks to Jim O'Donnell and Michael Noga.]

- George S. Porter

September 6, 2005

Internet Reference Services Quarterly Wants YOU!

.: Are you doing something innovative? Are you currently using Internet technology to enhance the experiences of your staff or your users? Have you actively analyzed trends in the use or application of Internet technologies? We want you to share your results with our readers!

Internet Reference Services Quarterly (IRSQ), a peer-reviewed journal published by The Haworth Press, Inc., welcomes the submission of manuscripts for its next issue. Don't let the word "reference" in the title fool you. IRSQ highlights the theory and practice behind emerging Internet services, sources and resources in all areas of librarianship. Research-based studies, case studies of successful services or programs, and authoritative articles highlighting best practices are welcome.

Topics of interest to us include: blogs, copyright law, course management systems, digital collections and digital object repositories, electronic information access (e-reserves, document delivery, electronic theses of dissertations, home-grown databases), federated searching technologies, Googlization, information services for cell phones, iPods or PDAs, IT/library mergers, Internet security, library web site innovations, link resolvers, plagiarism, and streaming video and audio.

Submissions should follow the Haworth guidelines for manuscript format and preparation available at http://www.haworthpress.com/journals/instructionsforauthors.asp. All submissions should be accompanied by a Manuscript Submission and Copyright Transfer form, available at http://www.haworthpressinc.com/pdfs/jmanuscript.pdf.

All accepted manuscripts will be published in the journal's next issue, Volume 11, No. 2. The due date for submission of manuscripts is October 15, 2005. For more information or manuscript submission questions, please contact Christopher Cox at coxcn AT wec DOT edu or at the address below. We look forward to reading your work and having the opportunity to share it with other librarians.

Sincerely,
Christopher Cox
Assistant Professor
Assistant Director of Libraries
Editor, Internet Reference Services Quarterly
McIntyre Library
University of Wisconsin - Eau Claire
105 Garfield Avenue - L 3002A
Eau Claire, WI 54702-4004
Phone: (715) 836-4454
Fax: (715) 836-2949

E-STREAMS Needs Book Reviewers

:: From an e-mail posted to COLLDV-L:

I am looking for reviewers with expertise in science, engineering, medicine, or agriculture to review monographs for E-STREAMS: Electronic Reviews of Science & Technology. Publishers are anxious to have their books reviewed in E-STREAMS At the present time, I have over 600 books waiting to be reviewed.

Please contact me for further information if you are not already familiar with E-STREAMS. The more reviewers, the better. I am able to handle as many as are interested. E-STREAMS is a collaborative venture between H. Robert Malinowsky, University of Illinois at Chicago, and YBP Library Services.

H. Robert Malinowsky
Professor and Manager of Collections Development
University of Illinois at Chicago Library
hrm AT uic DOT edu

September 2, 2005

Google Announces Plan To Destroy All Information It Can't Index

.: During a week in which we could all use a wee bit of levity comes this brilliant piece from The Onion on Google's plan to destroy everything it cannot index. We may need to surround our libraries with impenetrable osmium walls if this ever happens.

September 1, 2005

PerX (Pilot Enginering Repository Xsearch) - Roddy MacLeod

.: Roddy MacLeod, Senior Faculty Librarian, Heriot-Watt University Library, Edinburgh, offers the following details about the new digital repository program, PerX:

PerX (Pilot Enginering Repository Xsearch)

PerX is a new project, funded by the Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC) via the Digital Repositories Programme (DRP). In a nutshell, PerX will develop a pilot service to provide subject resource discovery across a series of repositories of interest to the engineering learning and research communities. This pilot will be used as a test-bed to explore the practical issues that would be encountered when considering the possibility of full scale subject resource discovery services.

PerX will address various aspects relating to two of the main objectives of the DRP, namely the scoping of a common national repository service infrastructure, and the cultural and practical issues affecting the implementation and usage of digital repositories. It will do so with particular emphasis on issues concerning subject-based access to digital repositories. The information retrieval needs of academics are very often subject specific, yet, with one or two notable exceptions, those subject-based needs are not currently well catered for by the digital repository landscape. The PerX Project will therefore help to evaluate the usefulness of the subject-based approach to resource discovery.

PerX will be concerned specifically with the subject area of engineering information. The information landscape in engineering is complex, and includes not only resource types such as learning materials and scholarly articles, which are common to all sectors, but also standards and specifications, technical data, technical reports, trade news and patents. There are numerous publishers and national bodies in engineering, many of which produce material of value to the academic community. Further complicating the landscape are the professional societies which play an important role in STM publishing. PerX will therefore take a broad-based view of what constitutes a repository, reflecting the real situation of resource discovery, and will investigate issues surrounding subject-based access to various digital repository materials, in addition to institutional repositories.

Digital repository work within engineering is not well supported compared with other disciplines, and uptake and usage of digital repositories by the engineering community has been disappointingly slow. The findings of the Project will help to understand why this is the case, and advocacy materials produced by the Project will help to improve the situation.

PerX will use some of the outputs of the JISC-based Subject Portal Project (SPP) http://www.portal.ac.uk/spp/ will build upon them, test them, examine maintenance issues, examine end-user attitudes, and produce outputs which will help to gauge the actual need for subject-based access to the digital repository landscape. The Project will also investigate various sustainability models for possible future fully fledged subject-based services.

The PerX lead partner is the Institute for Computer Based Learning, School of Mathematics and Computer Sciences, Heriot Watt University, UK, EH14 4AS. Other partners include: Cranfield University, Institution of Civil Engineers/Thomas Telford Limited, Adiuri Systems Ltd, The Geotechnical, Rock and Water Resources Library (GROW) in Arizona, and the Regional Support Centre East Midlands.

Contact details: Roddy MacLeod, Senior Faculty Librarian, Heriot-Watt University Library, Edinburgh EH14 4AS
e-mail: R.A.MacLeod AT hw.ac.uk; phone: +44 (0)131 451 3576