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Re: Open Letter: access to scientific publications

Dear Alan,

> Dear Howard,
> Thanks for circulating this.

  Actually it was not me that circulated it to you although I was very
happy indeed to read your thoughtful comments. I did forward it to all
members of the IUCr Committee on electronic publishing without any
comment and am awaiting their reactions.

  My opinion is identical to yours. 

  Indeed I wonder if the PubMedCentral initiative is viable. Can they
really find the resources to eternity to archive the whole of the
scientific record? 

 The project to provide all back numbers of IUCr journals online is
advancing well. You can also buy individual articles from IUCr journals
by credit card. 

>  Certainly it would be great if everyone had 
> access to all scientific publications on line.  Within ILL we can already 
> search our library database via WWW and click on articles to view them as 
> PDF files (for certain journals to which we subscribe).
> But I also see the other side from my experience with the ICSD 
> database.  Some-one has to pay for collecting the data, maintaining it and 
> publishing it.  In the case of ICSD it has been possible in some cases for 
> free access within a whole country, because there is a national 
> subscription.  This works best in the UK, where the Daresbury server is 
> heavily used.  But if it is difficult to get central funding for even 
> simple databases for a single country, how much more difficult to fund the 
> publishing of the extensive scientific literature ?
> And of course organisations like IUCr depend on journal sales for their 
> income :-)  With some journals (again IUCr :-) our library had to argue 
> even to allow ILL staff to access the electronic version from their desks, 
> rather than from a library terminal :-) And then there was the question of 
> whether visitors should have access as well !
> I think that it is already a victory if publishers accept that anyone on a 
> subscribing site can access electronic journals (and they will be the only 
> kind soon).  More general access is a long way down the track.
> Alan.
> Dr Alan W. Hewat, Diffraction Group Leader,
> Institut Laue-Langevin Grenoble FRANCE <hewat@ill.fr> tel (33)

  I really appreciate your interest and comments,

Best wishes,
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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