Report on USTLG meeting John Rylands Library, University of Manchester

28th November 2002

G J Johnson, Sciences Librarian, University of York

The well attended meeting opened with a warm welcome from the deputy librarian.

Electronic publishing: issues and trends

Anne Bell, Cardiff University

Anne began her talk by emphasizing that she was not setting her self as an expert in the field, but the she would be giving a talk based on her own experience and knowledge.

Anne went on to outline the current issues concerning the currently faltering system of scholarly publishing. Increasingly the Internet is being seen as an opportunity to bypass traditional (and increasingly vastly expensive) publishing routes. Unfortunately while e-publishing offers an apparelled opportunity for dissemination of research, to date it has largely been used by publishers as an excuse to drive prices up.

In response to this a number of new e-publishing initiatives have sprung up including open access journals (e.g. SPARC, BioMed Central) and author self-archiving. Each of the open access journal schemes functions in a slightly different way, and Anne outlined their major themes as she went on. A number of them do not seek to replace traditional peer reviewed articles, rather they exist to provide an alternative route to access the same content in a manner that publishers could find acceptable.

Anne turned to consider author self archiving next, starting with the most famous example the Los Alamos High Energy Physics serve (arXiv). While this may have been the first such scheme, it was by no means the last. Copyright remains a thorny issue for those wanting to deposit post-publication (as opposed to pre-print) articles in these archives. Some publishers allowed this, and for those that do not other avenues are open to the enlightened researcher.

A further step has been the creation of so called institutional archives, such as DSpace (MIT), the JISC FAIR Program and others. However, the validity and survival of these archives relies entirely in the willingness of authors to deposit their articles within them.

Anne concluded by saying she believed journals would continue to thrive because of their perceived benefits to academics, but that traditional roles of authors and publishers would continue to migrate.

The presentation is available on the USTLG Web site.

Introducing the Resource Guide Advisors

Jo Badge: Biosciences and health, Adam Gardner: Geography & Environmental Sciences/Studies, Sarah Kelly: Engineering, Gillian Sinclair: Physical sciences

Jo gave the overall talk, starting with a background to the Resource Guide initiative, which initially came unto being in 1998 at the behest of JISC. A social sciences pilot gave way to development in the arts/humanities arena. The support is largely HE focussed with perhaps the exception of the support for Hospitality management. The core goal was a promotion of the available information resources in the each particular subject area, of which there are now seven areas covered in all.

The current funded period is until October 2004, and while the service is JISC funded they do promote non-JISC resources if they satisfy certain key criteria. The promotion of these services is not just to LIS staff, though naturally they are key allies at each institution, but to academics, and all students as well.

Each of the Resource Advisors has close links to the RDN Subject Hubs, but despite information to contrary they were not actually part of the hubs. Geographically the advisors are spread around the country.

Each Advisor has an advisory group to call upon to look at such things as content of the guides, and planning. They could also help to shape the guide policies on inclusion/exclusion of resources. While the guides are mounted on the web, unfortunately it is constrained by the need to also exist in a print format as well (a fact that was hotly discussed in the small groups later in the afternoon). Each Advisor also have quality criteria that was applied to each potentially included resource - chief among these being a need to have a prime relevancy to the subject.

For non-JISC resources the Advisors tried to prioritize inclusion of publicly funded, freely available ones, or those that use ATHENS authorisation to access. Naturally there are also criteria for exclusion from the guide for reasons including legality or for resources comprising simple lists of links.

The Advisors intend to promote the guides through the web, the printed guides, training events for users & LIS staff, along with appearances at key conferences and exhibitions.

The Web site should be available in early December 2002, along with the first guides in print, which will be a little shorter in length than the web versions. Some will follow in February 2003, with 2nd editions expected by October 2003

Each of the Advisors introduced themselves, and their subject coverage before the meeting broke for coffee.

The presentation is available on the USTLG Web site.

Small Groups

Following a break for coffee the meeting broke down into three small groups for discussions effectively chaired by the resource people for physical sciences, bio/geosciences, and engineering. The discussions were centred around what we could do to use the resource guides, as well as our own suggestions as to how they could be better presented/promoted to our end users.

The groups also offered their opinions on the INSPEC/Compendex split and potential future deals, as well as current focuses in our own institutions (the basis of future meeting themes).

The three groups reported their discussion quickly at the conclusion of the meeting

This group also had time to discuss how we as practitioners could help the resource guide staff, by encouraging them to focus on the areas we knew to be rapidly changing and developing.

The meeting closed with thanks to the venue hosts and speakers. The next meeting (late February/early March) will have the theme of institutional archives as a central theme.

GJJ 28 Nov 2002