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My long weekend in Paris and, Pricing policy and archiving

ICSTI held its Winter 'committee' meetings in Paris over the last
weekend and these were followed starting on Sunday afternoon and going
on until Monday afternoon (just in time to escape from Paris before the
public transport strikes) by a workshop on electronic archiving
organised jointly with ICSU-Press (with a wider audience - they had to
change venue because there would not have been enough room at the ICSU
HQ). I turned up for most of the committee meetings and all of the
workshop, and Yves came along to the workshop. There was much of
interest in these meetings and I managed to chin wag with many of those
present (OK its a small meeting). ICSTI will put their own reports
concerning the meetings in due course on their web site and Yves has
spontaneously volonteered to write his impressions to the EPC list

In the meantime, and this is not a report of what was presented, I
jotted down some of my own thoughts especially as all of this applies to
the IUCr.

ICSU Press (i.e. Roger Elliot) is intending to organise a conference on
electronic publishing in science as a follow-up to the one in Paris in
1996 that Andre Authier helped organise.

There was an interesting presentation and discussion of a report (the
link is in the ICSTI web pages somewhere) by a working group of the
American Society of Librarians and Publishers (wrong name) trying to
define what is a scientific publication in the electronic age. Roger
Elliot and Eric Sandewall (Lund) participated in the report. Apparently
it was strongly criticisized in Nature but seemed to me full of
eminently good sense when one thought about it enough. (This applies to
the written report and not to some of Sandewall's further suggestions
made in his presentation and private conversation.)

Concerning the pricing policy that the IUCr should follow for its
journals, it became clear to me that one (non-financial) underlying
principle that one needs to get across by way of a pricing and
distribution policy is that the 'normal' publication distribution
technique is now on-line electronic, and anything else is maintained, at
least for the present, for the feet draggers. This leads me to the
following structure:

 Normal price:                E-access only with annual CD-ROM 
 Normal price + 10%:          Print version only WITHOUT annual CD-ROM
 Normal price + 20%:          E-access + print + annual CD-ROM

 E-access buys access to the current year and all available electronic
back issues for the duration of the subscription. Afterwards nothing is
available apart from the CD-ROM of the subscription year(s). The CD-ROM
contains less functionality than the on-line versions - in particular,
of course, the active links on literature citation do not work.

The above structure needs a clear policy of the IUCr concerning
archiving. Most fortunately for us, the AIP has gone through the whole
process of generating a written document internally, discussing it at
length and in depth, and in accepting a final document which is publicly
available (on their web site). I have not read it yet in detail, but
from the presentation by John T. Scott of AIP at the Paris meeting, this
policy document will be an extremely valuable starting point for a
discussion within the IUCr, EPC first and then the important committees
later. When I find the time, I'll pull the AIP document off their site,
modify it as I see necessary for the IUCr and then circulate the text
for discussion on this list. (Even the biggest commercial scientific
publisher present in Paris nows says that they will have a committment
to e-archiving - two-years ago they were telling everyone who wanted to
hear that it was not their problem.)

The big National Libraries are really getting underway for e-archiving
now. The BL (British Library) now accepts volontary deposition of
electronic material for archiving and preservation. It has to be
volontary because there is no legal framework for obligatory
e-deposition. I could not get out of David Russon (the BL chief) whether
the IUCr's journals were 'British' enough to be acceptable under this
scheme. The country of the printing press or the legal seat of the
publishing house seems not to be a valid criteria. 

The IUPAP representative to ICSTI (Ian Butterworth) said to me several
times that the availability of cross-linking in physics journals between
publishing houses (i.e. click on a reference citation and it takes you
straight to corresponding journal article - even if you then have to pay
for access) has had a tremendous effect in  making e-journals acceptable
to the community.

The ISSN people have a pilot project for making stable (i.e. eternal)
hyperlinks to articles and journals. Its a bit like the DOI but is
limited to serial publications. The ISSN, of course, has the advantage
of already have a metadata structure and some of the relevant metadata


Howard Flack        http://www.unige.ch/crystal/ahdf/Howard.Flack.html
Laboratoire de Cristallographie               Phone: 41 (22) 702 62 49
24 quai Ernest-Ansermet             mailto:Howard.Flack@cryst.unige.ch
CH-1211 Geneva 4, Switzerland                   Fax: 41 (22) 702 61 08

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