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Re: CEP 2004 annual report

Modified version at 15h54 CHST

IUCr 2004 Report - Committee on Electronic Publishing, Dissemination and Storage of Information (CEP)

In 2004 members of the CEP attended the following meetings:

  - 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.

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.  The voluntarily-maintained mirror sites within the existing system have now been phased out.  Owing to the heavy workload in the editorial offices in Chester, further progress on re-engineering the IUCr web site and introducing more centralized web services has been slower than hoped. Such developments now have high priority.  The current IUCr web site appears old-fashioned and will benefit from improved navigation.

Crystallography Journals Online

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 2004 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 assessment, 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.


Under the continued leadership of L. M. D. Cranswick, individual NeXus CD-ROMs were made on request, no general release being made in 2004. An arrangement has been found for the manufacture and distribution of the CD-ROMs in collaboration with CCP14 in Birkbeck College/University College London. 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. 

Open Access

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.  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. The involvement of the CEP has included advice and
suggestions for handling the management of intellectual property rights,
descriptive metadata allowing the operation of added-value service
providers, and mechanisms for validating and assessing the quality of
individual data sets. The CEP is also trying to highlight the importance
of standard metadata describing scientific result sets within CODATA and
in the STM publishing arena. 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

Activity was commenced 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. This has included the development of some pilot prototypical applications and the testing of some ideas in the production of the CD-ROM accompanying the printed edition of International Tables Volume G.  Subsequently a separate workgroup was appointed by the executive committee to deal with the specific needs of International-Tables-for-Crystallography-online effectively removing this area of activity from the mandate of the CEP.

H. D. Flack, 14th June 2005

Version 14.06.2005 15h54 CHST


Things for the 2005 report NOT TO BE INCLUDED WITH THE 2004 VERSION

  - 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.
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