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CEP 2002 - 2005 report. 1st Post final version

  • To: epc@iucr.org
  • Subject: CEP 2002 - 2005 report. 1st Post final version
  • From: Howard Flack <crystal@flack.ch>
  • Date: Tue, 14 Jun 2005 10:13:40 +0200
CEP 2002 - 2005 report.  1st Post final version - I added a paragraph 
about the submission to the House of Commons Science and Technology 

IUCr Triennial Report 2002 - 2005 - Committee on Electronic Publishing, Dissemination and Storage of Information

In the triennium 2002 - 2005, the Committee on Electronic Publishing, Dissemination and Storage of Information (EPC) constituted a small and very active working group. No changes to the membership of the committee has occurred during the triennium.

Members of the CEP attended the following meetings in the triennium:

  - H. D. Flack gave a short presentation 'FORTRAN archaelogy: an issue for a knowledge organization like the IUCr?' to the Open Meeting of the Commission on Computing 'The Problems facing Crystallographic Computing' in Geneva, August 2002.

  - B. McMahon and H. D. Flack attended the '2nd Workshop on the Open Archives Initiative (OAI): Gaining independence with e-prints archives and OAI', 17th - 19th October 2002, CERN, Geneva, Switzerland.

  - H.D. Flack attended the discussion meeting organised by ICSTI 'Open Access to Scientific and Technical Information: State of the Art and Future Trends' 23 - 24 Jan. 2003, Paris, France.

  - H. D. Flack visited the IUCr editorial offices in Chester, England 28 - 30 April 2003. On this occasion Mr. David Russon, representing ICSTI, and Dr. Simon Parsons also visited Chester. An outcome of this meeting was the undertaking by the IUCr of a study into the long-term preservation of the digital records of the science of crystallography, described further in the report of the ICSTI representative.

  - H. D. Flack visited the IUCr editorial offices in Chester, England 20 - 22 October 2003.

  - H. D. Flack, as special representative of ICSTI, attended the meeting 'The Role of Science in the Information Society', Geneva, Switzerland 8 - 9 December 2003; RSIS was a satellite meeting organised by CERN to 'World Summit on the Information Society' organised by the United Nations Organization, 10 - 12 December 2003, Geneva.

  - H. D. Flack attended the third workshop on the Open Archives Initiative (OAI3), CERN, Geneva, 12th - 14th Feb. 2004 where he was an invited participant at the discussion panel on 14th Feb.

  - H. D. Flack visited the IUCr editorial offices in Chester, England 18th - 20th October 2004.
  - H. D. Flack attended the meeting 'The Future of the Research Information Chain - the role of Publishers and Learned Societies', Budapest, Hungary, 17th - 18th March 2005 jointly organised by ALLEA (All European Academies - The European Federation of National Academies of Sciences and Humanities) and stm (The International Association of Scientific, Technical and Medical Publishers) at the headquarters of the Hungarian Academy of Science.
  - B. McMahon attended the Council of Science Editors Meeting in Atlanta, USA, 20th - 24th May 2005 and gave a presentation in the session on "Emerging Tools".
  - B. McMahon attended the European University Information Systems (EUNIS) meeting in Manchester, England, 21 - 24 June 2005, and gave a presentation on semantically rich metadata in crystallographic publishing.

The meeting attendances of the CODATA and ICSTI representatives, whose work is so closely related to that of the CEP, are recorded in their individual reports. 

Information Services: The CEP has continued its task as editorial body for the on-line information services of the IUCr. The task of day-to-day maintenance of 'Crystallography Online' is performed under the responsibility of S. Parsons.  Y. Epelboin continues his good work on the maintenance of the list of software of interest for crystallography. Action has been taken on the restyling and restructuring of 'Crystallography Online'. This activity concerns the functionality, the stylistic attributes and the technical specifications of a revamped IUCr information service. Particular attention was made to the ease of use and integration of the several components of the IUCr information services. The voluntarily-maintained mirror sites within the existing system have been phased out to allow future development of more centralised Web services. Due to the heavy workload in the editorial offices in Chester, progress on re-engineering the IUCr web site has been slower than hoped. Action needs to be taken very soon. The current IUCr web site now looks dreadfully old-fashionned and is difficult to navigate. 
On the 10th December 2003, the Science and Technology Committee of the United Kingdom House of Commons (UK national parlement) issued invitations for evidence to support its inquiry into scientific publications. M. H. Dacombe, J. R. Helliwell, H. D. Flack, P. R. Strickland and B. McMahon submitted written evidence to the committee on the 9th February on behalf of the IUCr entitled 'Publishing Crystallography Journals in the Electronic Environment: The Experience of a Specialist Learned-Society Publisher.' The report highlighted that real value to scientific literature has enormously increased in the past decade through technical innovations and that the IUCr has worked hard to provide added value in the field of crystallography. It was stressed that finite acquisition budgets may leave libraries unable to afford IUCr journals and that any economic restructuring of the scientific journals market (e.g. to promote open access) must guarantee its quality and longevity. Further for the assesment, selection and improvement of the content of scientific articles it was considered that peer review must remain paramount in future developments of scientific journals. The problem of the preservation and archiving of primary journals published in electronic format was also highlighted.

World Directory of Crystallographers: Inspite of the use of the online interface to WDC 11 to update entries on individuals, the coverage and completeness of WDC 11 remains unsatisfactory.  At present WDC is not integrated with the journals electronic submission procedure which would ensure more regular and reliable updating. Yet more publicity is necessary to encourage crystallographers to keep their own record up-to-date. Unfortunately, spam, 'phishing' and other abuses of openly-available contact information act as a major discouragement for making personal data available online or otherwise.

NeXus CD-ROM: Under the continued leadership of L. M. D. Cranswick 1000 copies of new versions of the 'Xtal NeXus; Virtual Crystallographic Internet on CD-ROM' versions 8.56 and 8.57 were produced in November 2002 and June 2003 in time to be distributed at the Asian and European Crystallographic Association meetings in Broome, Australia and Durban, South Africa respectively. All of these CD-ROMs have now been distributed and at present individual CD-ROMs are being made on request. The CD-ROM is made available to laboratories and scientists with an interest in crystallography lacking adequate connection to the internet. The CD-ROMs contain public domain software and copies of web sites of interest to crystallographers. The CD-ROMs were publicized through many channels in such a way that scientists have to apply to receive a copy. The CEP intends to continue with the NeXus project in the coming triennium. Indeed flyers and NeXus CD-ROM's are being prepared for distribution at the IUCr congress in Florence, August 2005.

Crystallography Journals Online: The CEP is particularly attentive to developments in the scientific community at large concerned with access to scientific literature and data. The CEP devoted considerable time and effort in the management of open-access initiatives related to crystallographic publications and data. This activity resulted in the production of position papers on open access and the subsequent introduction in January 2004 of an open-access option for contributors to IUCr journals on the principle of the 'author-pays' model. The IUCr applied and won funding for a one-year contract to allow papers submitted from authors in the United Kingdom to become open access; this funding was subsequently renewed for a further one-year period. The CEP has been collaborating with the e-Bank project involving the UK National Crystallography Service at Southampton University. This project provides access to experimental records and observations associated with crystal-structure determinations carried out by the Service. It provides original data suitable for harvesting by databases and linking from publications, and aims also to place in the public domain scientific results that do not find their way into formal published literature. This is one of a small but growing number of initiatives to provide data repositories and bridge the gap between data processing and publication for routine structures, a development which the IUCr is following with attention. The CEP has also been involved (through the Chester editorial office) in a collaboration with Peter Murray-Rust of Cambridge University to derive chemical representations of molecules from published crystal structures, an initiative that also has relevance for the work of COMCIFS in developing formal descriptions of chemical properties.

International Tables for Crystallography
Activity was commenced late in 2003 and principally in the editorial office around the specification of new business and functional models for electronic versions of the information contained in International Tables for Crystallography. Subsequently a workgroup was appointed by the executive committee to deal with the specific needs of International-Tables-for-Crystallography-online. A report of the discussions of this group has been prepared by its chair person, Professor S. R. Hall.

The CEP has a continuing role to play within the IUCr. It is of the greatest use that the IUCr's representatives to CODATA and ICSTI are members of the CEP and we recommend that this practice be continued.  

H. D. Flack (Chair) 14th June 2005.

Version 14.06.2005   9h57

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