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Freedom in all manners

Free access is what scientific researchers ask for. But just few electronic publications are taking care of the request.

Valparaiso - 2nd of October - Giving sequence to the program, an extremely important question for electronic scientific publications is the free access of its data. This was the central subject of the third day of the ICSEP.
First of all, Michael L. Nelson (, professor assistant of the Department of Computer Science of the Old Dominon University, presented the participants the Open Archieves Initiative Protocol will be Metadata Harvesting (OAI-PMH).
The system can be defined as a simple but powerful mechanism for the interoperability of digital libraries (DL). The OAI already influences the strategy of development of national libraries within the United States and Europe.
Version 2.0 of the system offers new facilities to users and reduction of the errors and inoperability detected on previous versions.
With the use of the OAI, the functions of the DL can be divided in two groups:

  • Data suppliers
  • Service suppliers

With the use of Harvesting metadata, the user can construct their proper virtual library and continue looking articles for the database. Each node is kept independently. "And from the moment where you construct your metabase, you can personalize it for a service supplier", affirmed Nelson.
Since its initial protocol, OAI does not offer barriers for different types of archives to be placed in the metadata base.
In the same protocol it was determined to use HTTP base and XML reply and Dublin Core (
The version 2.0 that it is available in the market since July of 2002, still works (for relief of the users) six verbs and Dublin Core. However, it had an improvement of project XML, had been removed the ambiguities, implanted more exclusive options, with clear separations between rules and responsibilities. "The bad news is that this version is not compatible with the previous one", alerted Nelson.

Used verbs for OAI:
Identify (Identify)
ListMetadata formats

From a version to another one, Nelson believes that the protocol obtained a great advance. Clearer definitions between protocol and peripherals had been elaborated, with implement of guidelines more extensive. They have gotten a clear separation between OAI and HTTP. Nelson also described the advances of resumption Token in version 2.0 that allows OAI operator OAI to know any possible error happening to the system.
To find more about OAI functioning, the speaker give the addresses of the National Advisory Committee will be Aeronautics ( or Scirus ( or my.OAI (

What does the OAI mean for the authors? "Nothing, with properly operation. The authors must not notice the system working", Nelson answers. And to publishers? "Everything - the development of new tools extends the capacities of science dissemination of science."

Version 2.0 of the OAI can offer systems for the creation of virtual libraries with more tools. Some of then, the librarians still do not use.

Economy for free

Offer full free access to data and publish new scientific studies 24 hours after its approval. This is the base of the Journal of Biological Chemistry (JBC -
To explain how they had reached this goal, Charles Hancock (, executive manager of the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, told the history of the vehicle's creation.
The JBC achieves are total free on Internet. "Of course they depend on the infrastructure of each country, but we work to place a scientific article on-line in up to 24 hours", initiated Hancock.
When the journal begun, the JBC team edited the scientific studies to fit them into an electronic text standard (objective). However, as per the users regards about incomplete data, they decided to publish full articles. "We created then a parallel service to the JBC that is Fast Print (PIP - Papers in Press), integrated with the periodical", Hancock explained. The PIP publishes the approved papers, in a full form, without revision in 24 hours. After that, the article follows normal text revision and publication way.
"We also have e-mail alerts", said Hancock.


The speaker affirmed that the electronic publication is sustainable. First, because the system allows reduction on production costs. "With the on-line submission, we had an economy of USS 30,000 in our expenditures, including staff reduction and postal rates", explained Hancock.
In 1997, journal board decided to give free access to JBC complete achieve. Since then, they established that on January 1st of each year, all data accepted the year before must be in the Internet on its final revised format. Up to 2003, JBC will be able to offer access from 1905 archives up to 2002.


The speaker gave examples of how a total electronic journal can be supported and kept its free access. "The foundations involved with dissemination of knowledge support are the first alternative, but I also do not see any problem with private companies advertising. The print journals use it."
Another source of income is the paid signatures of libraries and information centers. Speaking of that, Hancock explained about the Electronic Information for Libraries, a project sponsored by Soros Foundation that offers free data to developing countries libraries. There are 62 countries on this program. "We are not losing signatures, therefore these countries would not pay of it anyway. To tell you the truth we amplified our chances to get one or two private signatures coming from these locations", complete.

The user's opinion

The concern regarding to the user opinion is the first rule for any electronic publication. And there is nothing better than bring one of them to explain their point of view. That was the mission of René Mendez (, from the European Southern Observatory.
"Scientific inquiries are based on questions about facts and phenomena. The first thing that a researcher must know is if that question was already made, if there was a previous investigation and which are the adjacent topics to the subject. Give those information to scientist is the role of electronic scientific publications", summarized Mendez. As more efficient, fast and complete data offered, the better will be the final result to world science.
Recognizing the effort of the scientific electronic publication editors, Mendez demonstrated in real time the rapidity and efficiency search on Internet in contraposition with the print search.
He also standed out the importance of free access of scientific articles.
An interesting challenge pointed by Mendez is the data storage. Working as an astronomist, he needs to visualize large high resolution images. "Journals could offer as service (paid) a storage data system, as many digital data will hardly fit in the researcher's hardware. Moreover, it is common that the articles published on different scientific articles journals had no interoperability. This could be changed."

SciELO and OpenArchieves

Carlos Enrique Marcondes (, professor of the Departamento de Ciência da Informação, da Universidade Federal Fluminense, locked up the morning of quarrels presenting the SciELO methodology.
The system allows the implementation of digital libraries with complete texts of scientific publication collections. Many SciELO gateways are in operation in Brazil, Latin America, the Caribbean and Spain. The SciELO plays a very important role disseminating worldwide the scientific and technique literature published in the developing countries, increasing its visibility.
The system uses data-base technology ISIS, a program first developed by UNESCO and that today is the base of several structures for information systems and science, technology and medicine networks in developing countries.

International support

Following, Marcondes explained a pilot-project interrelating system ISIS with the initiative of OpenArchieves. As Michael Nelson had previously explained, the objective of OpenArchieves is to provide the interoperability between electronic documents in web. On a site with this technology, the scientific publisher has more developed storage, preservation and access tools to digital documents.
Marcondes concluded is necessary to evaluate the system in real conditions.
Until now, the ISIS/OpenArchieves showed a great chance for the developing countries. "I would like to remember that the development of the SciELO/OAI was possible because we had free programs of searching tools to work with. This means that we need politics that allow developed countries to offer tools to developing countries identify and to provide its proper initiatives." The pilot-project SciELO/OAI can be followed on




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