Issues in Science and Technology Librarianship Winter 1998

Conference Reports

Wired Research: The Accessibility of Electronic Journals in Science and Technology, January 11, 1998

Chad Buckley
Milner Library
Illinois State University
Amy Prendergast
University Library
University of South Alabama

Presenters: Linda Sacks (Elsevier) and Barbara Lange (IEEE)

Linda Sacks gave a brief history and description of Elsevier's new web-based ScienceDirect electronic journal product. It is a logical extension of their earlier Adonis, TULIP and EES projects. Full content of articles from about 1,000 journal titles will be available in SGML and PDF formats. Currently about 300 life sciences titles are available. Elsevier plans to provide a 3-5 year backfile plus the current year for subscribed journals. The cost of ScienceDirect will consist of a flat platform fee plus a content fee based on a percentage of print subscriptions. Other publishers have been invited to participate, with several agreeing to do so. Lexis-Nexis will be providing technical services and support.

Barbara Lange described IEEE's new electronic journal product called IEL (IEEE/IEE Electronic Library). It is based on the INSPEC database, of which 35% of the periodicals indexed are IEEE and IEE publications. Full content of journal articles, conference proceedings, and standards from 1988 to the present will be provided by IEL. Full page images will be available as PDF files on CD-ROM, with monthly updates. Web delivery is still an option for the future, but adopting it will depend on potential effects on membership. It will be possible to purchase subsets of the database for particular technical disciplines. Images will be licensed and stored locally with the customer being responsible for integration and maintenance. IEL version 2.0 will be beta-tested in the spring of 1998 and will be able to run as an intranet product via Windows NT on the customer's network. IHS (Information Handling and Services) will be providing sales and support services for IEL.

A question and answer period followed. Discussion focused on pricing issues, subscribing to specific titles rather than an entire collection of titles, and linking from online indexes directly to full text electronic journals.

Question: Since PDF technology is a relatively recent development, how can the IEL provide articles in this format back to 1988? 
IEEE: Older articles have been converted to the PDF format.

Question: Will the databases be available on both Macs and PCs?
Elsevier: Yes, on both platforms.
IEEE: Only on PCs now.

Question: Will it be possible to subscribe to individual e-journal titles.
Elsevier: Libraries may subscribe to the electronic version only. It is possible to select certain titles from the entire set, but it would not be cost effective to subscribe to very small numbers, e.g., five titles. Larger subsets will be more cost effective, 50-75 titles out of 1,000 for example.

Question: How is Elsevier's platform fee determined?
Elsevier: Pricing will be based on the print subscription price plus 7.5% in 1998, 3.75% thereafter. This pays for the platform hosting fee and the cost of running the service. Pricing can also be based on number of users - for example $5,000 for 1-2000 users. Access can be either by password or IP address.

Question: Can an IP address be specified for the entire university or just for a specific department?
Elsevier: That will be based on the actual servers used.

Question: Why has IEEE been so slow in providing electronic access via passwords and IP addresses?
IEEE: Technology is not the problem. Since IEEE is a membership organization, there are concerns that electronic access may lead to loss of members if users begin to rely on electronic site licenses rather than on individual subscriptions.

Question: Why the disparity in pricing of electronic journals produced by commercial publishers and those from professional societies?
IEEE: An annual pricing study helps IEEE determine the costs for its journals. IEEE's costs are about 50% lower than those of commercial publishers. The mission of IEEE includes providing information at a reasonable price.

Elsevier:  Questioned whether IEEE charges authors page charges to which IEEE replied affirmatively. Elsevier pointed out that such page charges must be taken into account when comparing journal costs. Professional society publishers derive approximately 1/3 of their revenue from page charges. 
Comment from audience: It is highly unlikely that page charges take into account the entire cost differential between commercial publishers and professional societies.

Question: If article citations are accessed through Compendex or other bibliographic databases, how will users be able to identify which full-text holdings are locally available?
Elsevier: An internal solution is necessary. A link to indexes from ScienceDirect will be possible but only if the database is locally owned/mounted.
IEEE: They are working on the problem.
INSPEC representative: They will work with local site loads of the index. They need cooperation of publishers.
Comment from audience: Consistent URL's for web locations of full text are needed.

Question: Given the packaging of indexes and journals, won't libraries find themselves paying for full-text of journals more than once in some cases?
IEEE: They own the only source of their journals.

Question: Questioner expressed concern at the utilization of Lexis-Nexis for web services by Elsevier. He has experienced drastically slowed response times since his library's Lexis-Nexis access was moved from dial-up to the web.
Elsevier: ScienceDirect is completely separate from Lexis-Nexis - Lexis-Nexis are only the contracted managers.

Question: There was news that Elsevier was working with Information Access Co. What would be effects on users?
Elsevier: This involves not Elsevier-Science but Reed-Elsevier publications and the cooperation with IAC is only to make their systems compatible with each other.

A detailed and somewhat heated discussion of Elsevier's pricing policies followed. An open letter from Rob Kirby was discussed in this regard.

Question: Do publishers plan on moving to DOIs - Digital Object Identifiers.
Elsevier: They don't use these; instead they use PIIs (Publisher Item Identifiers).
IEEE: Also uses PIIs instead of DOIs.

Question: Will IEEE make IEEE Press materials available electronically?
IEEE: IEEE Press is just books. There are no plans to publish electronically.


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