Posted by Christina Folz, OPN managing editor
This summer, I headed north for a few days to attend the Council of Engineering and Scientific Society Executives (CESSE) in Halifax, Nova Scotia. The meeting gave me insight into news and trends in scholarly communication that you may find of interest.
One of the sessions, titled “Public Access to Research: Grappling with this Megatrend,” provided an informative follow-up to the Policy Matters article on open access publishing that appeared in the June 2007 OPN. The OPN article described legislation introduced last year by Texas Republican John Cornyn and Connecticut Democrat (now Independent) Joseph Lieberman that would require the results of much federally funded research to be posted online for free.
The bill—the Federal Research Public Access Act—expired last year. However, as I learned at CESSE, it was recently reintroduced to the 110th Congress. The legislation passed the House of Representatives on July 19 and is now under consideration by the Senate, which may make a decision as soon as September or October of this year.
Currently, the legislation is specific to research funded by the National Institutes of Health. However, as the OPN article describes, researchers from many scientific disciplines, along with scholarly publishers, are concerned about establishing a precedent for government mandates that could affect the quality, funding and economics of scientific research and communication. On the other hand, many librarians and patient advocates are supportive of the bill, citing the growing cost of subscriptions and patients’ right to access publicly funded research.
At another session, I learned about scitopia, a federated vertical search engine that was recently developed by 15 leading scientific and technical societies (including OSA). These societies came together to design a search that provides direct access to peer-reviewed journal content and technical conference papers—without the noise of other Internet search engines.
More than three million documents spanning 150 years of scientific and technological communication can be searched through the site, which always turns up the “version of record.” The site is openly available to the public, although most of the scientific content is not free.
Partners in the project include the Acoustical Society of America, the American Geophysical Union, the American Institute for Aeronautics and Astronautics, the American Institute of Physics, the American Physical Society, the American Society of Civil Engineers, the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, the American Vacuum Society, the Electrochemical Society, IEEE, the Institute of Physics Publishing, the Optical Society of America, SPIE, the Society of Automotive Engineers and the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics. Other organizations will be invited to join as the project progresses.
I also attended an interesting session on journal citations and impact factors, where I learned that Thomson Scientific is interested in pursuing new measures for evaluating journals. In addition to its well-known impact factor, which gauges how highly cited a publication is, Thomson is looking into metrics that can track usage data (downloads, etc.) and the extent to which scholars are publishing in certain journals.
2007-08 August, Miscellaneous Optics, OSA