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ICSTI meeting

The following is not exactly a report but my impressions about the ICSTI
workshop held at UNESCO 30-31 January. As Howard said, the report will
be posted on ICSTI web. Moreover Howard gave already a good summary.

Please excuse the quality of the english. I did not take enough time to
put it in the same form than for a publication!

- 1 - Attendance  =

Most people were librarians, editors. Very few are scientists as Howard
and myself and thus presented a rather different perspective.

- 2 - The revolution in scientific edition

In a very near future the usual way of publishing will be completely

Today :

- a - The scientist writes a paper
- b - The paper is submitted to a journal and reviewed
- c - If accepted in most cases the copy rights are transferred to the
journal. The author is not entitled to publish the paper anywhere. =

- d - later, the paper is printed and made available to other
- e - Libraries maintain copies of the journal on their shelves.
Scientists may read a paper coming into the library and making a copy
of the paper for their personal use. =

This way of publication raises a number of questions.
 - How will the scientists publish tomorrow? In other words what will be
the role of the editor.
 - How will the scientists access scientific information? =

 - Who will maintain the archives?

1. How will the scientists publish tomorrow?

The editors and most librarians do not see any reason for a change in
points a to d, except that all agree that the paper edition will soon be
an add to the use of the web. Point e will be discussed later.

The only major changes introduced by e-journals seem to be the means of
distribution and access. Additionally a paper will contain links to
other papers and may also include other documents which cannot be
included nowadays in publications. PubMed already provides such a
service. We should start to do the same.

However not everybody agrees on this scheme. Eric Sandewall (Lund)
presented another scheme which should be examined carefully because it
might announce a new way of publishing.

 - a - the scientist writes a paper
 - b - He presents it on the Web site of his university and makes it
available to everybody for free. The costs linked to this presentation
are for the university.
 - c - He submits it for review to a journal. =

 - d - If accepted the journal makes it available from its Web site.
Scientists have to pay to access it. There is no transfer of copy rights
since the paper remains on the university web.

The role of the journal is to give a warranty on the quality of the
paper by a peer review.

Additionally either at stage b or d, one may imagine a continuous
annotation and comments by readers. =

The only difficulties that Sandewall foresees is that this scheme is
unacceptable by the editors for economic reasons since their role will
diminish and that this new way of publishing should start from new
e-journals. Since the career of a scientist depends on the quality of
his/her publications i.e. the recognition of the journals by the
community, it makes things difficult for new journals.

I agree that this vision is unrealistic today but we must be aware that
this scheme or some others equivalent may trouble the actual way
editors, including IUCr must envision their role. It is not sure, in the
future, that the IUCr will be able to continue to make its revenue from
the publication (on paper or electronic) of scientific articles. We
should be aware of possible changes and able to react rapidly. =

It raises the question : will the Union continues to make its revenue
from offering as unique service the fact of making available peer
reviewed papers?

2. How will the scientists access the information?

Editors want to remain the sole distributor of the electronic versions
which raise a number of points.
 - How to access papers from previous years when your library has a
 - How to access to a journal when you do not have a subscription.

It does not seem realistic to maintain a database for years when an
institution had a subscription. Access to the on-line papers from
previous years should be offered only for actual subscriptions. If it is
not renewed an institution will loose the access to previous years,
including the years where it had a subscription. =

It thus means that editors should offer a means for the institutions to
have copies of the journal for the years when it paid. AIP policy seems
to be that the year archive will only be a supplement not in the basic
annual fee. I prefer Howard suggestion that the year archive on a CD-ROM
will be in the basic fee.

This raises a second point. Conventionally any scientist may come in a
library to read a journal and make a personal copy of a paper. Will this
scheme continue to be valid when the journal will be on CD-ROM.
Librarians seem to prefer to sign an agreement with the editors to make
the journals available on their local network from all the local PCs. In
such a case which is the warranty of non dissemination for the editor?

Obviously the editors (Elsevier) want to have a revenue, i.e. they
suggest a different scheme which is that scientists who want to read and
make a copy of a paper should pay a fee for a single paper. They seem to
agree with librarians for older papers only, 5 years old for instance
just because most of papers are read mainly in the years following their

This raises a second question for the Union: which policy for access to
papers for readers who do not belong to an institution which has a

3. Problems of archives

A number of questions have been raised on archives, i.e. on the
maintenance and access of previous years. =

Elsevier makes a confusion between backups and archives.
Backups do not mean access and are not archives. For librarians archives
have the conventional meaning : maintenance for the next centuries,

Librarians object that:
- archives mean to continue to distribute the information. Editors are
reluctant to give this responsibility to librarians. See paragraph
- archives mean to insure that multiple copies will be available
tomorrow (tomorrow might be in 200 years) and do not rely on editors,
although API, for instance, has made the statement that, in the case
a journal will discontinue its publication, they will deposit their
archives. The possibility of using trusted third parties for deposit has
been advocated by editors.
- archives mean to insure that the information will be readable
tomorrow. Nobody has an answer to this point. I noticed that the
standards used by IUCr (PDF, JPEG, GIF...) are accepted by everybody. A
bigger problem is the support: will CD-ROM be readable tomorrow?

This raises the problem for the Union: what will be our policy for

- Archiving means access. An URL is not permanent. The notion of URN
should avoid the change of location of the information. We had an
interesting presentation by ISSN. See http://urn.issn.org/urn (but the
site seems to be under construction). =

Other points of less importance have been raised by different persons. =

Howard mentioned the problem of legal deposit. What will mean country of
publication tomorrow? A number of countries may be sensible to the fact
that the intellectual property of their country might be deposited
elsewhere and may require in the future that a deposit should be made by
their citizens in their own country.


Electronic publishing introduces a huge number of unsolved problems. It
is not sure that journals and editors will survive if they do not
drastically change their way of working. We must think about publication
in very different way. It is very critical for the Union. Looking at the
rapid changes introduced by the Web in other fields it is easy to
predict that a number of editors will disappear, new ones using
drastically approaches may take the lead and it will be absolutely
necessary to offer new services to subscribers. =

To summarize: I do not know where we are heading but we must go!

-- =

   Professor Yves Epelboin, LMCP, Universit=E9 P.M. Curie, =

   case 115, 75252 Paris Cedex 05, France
   phone : +33 (0)1 4427 5211  fax : +33 (0)1 4427 3785
   URL http://www.lmcp.jussieu.fr/~epelboin/

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International Union of Crystallography

Scientific Union Member of the International Council for Science (admitted 1947). Member of CODATA, the ICSU Committee on Data. Member of ICSTI, the International Council for Scientific and Technical Information. Partner with UNESCO, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization in the International Year of Crystallography 2014.

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