December 6, 2021
Educational Portal of the Americas
 Printer Friendly Version  E-mail this Page  Rate this Page  Add this Page to My Favorites  Home Page 
New User? - Forgot your Password? - Registered User:     

Site Search

Number: 71
Year: 2002
Author: Johann Van Reenen, Editor
Title: Digital Libraries and Virtual Workplaces. Important Initiatives for Latin America in the Information Age

Strategies for reinventing scholarly communication

Libraries and the scholars and teachers they serve have been developing and deploying a number of strategies to cope with the crisis in scholarly communication. Libraries have been canceling journal subscriptions and cutting back on print acquisitions in general in order to cope with reduced buying power and to invest in electronic infrastructure, services, and products. To offset the impact of reduced collections they have also been improving document delivery services between libraries. Cooperative collection development among libraries has grown significantly resulting in groups of libraries now depending on each other to supply research materials from their areas of strength. One of the most significant accomplishments of the last decade is the development of library consortia. Below are examples of existing and developing initiatives. I will focus on five major strategic areas for reinventing scholarly communication: Local Initiatives, Personal Initiatives, National and International Library Initiatives, Electronic Resource Development strategies and initiatives, and New Initiatives in Scholarly Communications.

In the latter category I highlight examples of such initiatives that may stand the test of time. The list include J-STOR, the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC), de-coupling tenure and scholarly publishing, collaborative electronic publishing ventures, new ways of sharing information, preprint services (including Virtual Peer Review, Open Archives, Open Peer Review, Open Citation-linking & the integration of multiple initiatives and multifaceted electronic journals), SciELO Brasil, subject aggregators/publishers (PubMed Central, Columbia Earthscape & ScienceMedCentral), the University of California digital initiatives, virtual academic communication and innovation spaces, and finally, consortia and joint licensing.

INITIATIVE 1: Local Initiatives

It is important to take action locally in one’s organization, region, or subject area to create an understanding of the problem and potential solutions and to develop the mindsets necessary to support new scholarly initiatives.

Case study:

I will describe how librarians can make a difference in the evolving electronic scholarly publishing environment using examples from my own organization (van Reenen, 1998a).

Since 1996, the Centennial Science and Engineering Library (CSEL) has made educating the faculty about the crisis in scholarly publishing a major goal. The reasoning behind this is that they are both at the front and back ends of the process as producers and users respectively. Thus they and their professional associations have the most leverage for change, as well as having the most to win or lose. In our library we also expect faculty to share in the difficult collection development decisions librarians need to make annually.

A Science and Engineering Library Liaison Committee was establish with representation from each of the 12 science and engineering departments. The liaisons were targeted for intensive “education”. E-mail provided information, industry updates, links to succinct articles on scholarly publishing issues, legislative updates regarding the digital environment, and the like. At our quarterly meetings we used the same three overheads to ensure recognition and involvement in critical decisions. The three topics were:
  • Access and ownership options and the respective pros and cons
  • Cancellation criteria (Faculty help decide the top three criteria to be used in a particular year.)
  • Collection and cancellation extrapolations, budgets, industry trends and statistics.
The e-mail lists were also used to encourage specific faculty groups to write to encourage or protest actions by publishers, especially where their societies were involved. For example, I provided an e-mail template for a letter that the Electrical and Computer Engineering Faculty could send to IEEE to protest the restrictive and expensive electronic offerings of their publications. An almost natural result of all this education was the creation of a Sub-committee by the liaisons to look for ways to fund electronic products and experimentation. Various proposals were developed to ensure support for STM literature and although some petitions failed they provided enormous opportunities for educating the university decision-makers.
  • Influencing organizational leaders
The next step was to identify leaders in the organization that could exert an influence on future information infrastructure and resource decisions. I started meeting with Deans and Department Chairpersons individually and as a group. These meetings resulted in a letter of support for a local legislative initiative to enhance the library’s ability to move more rapidly toward providing electronic products and services. Individual meetings focused on how each of these decision-makers could help to create understanding of scholarly publishing issues on campus and how they could influence their associations, societies, and other external contacts. Something that struck me during these meetings was the feeling of helplessness that even these influential persons felt in the face of such a massive industry-wide change. It is important to provide a list of actions that will change perceptions and attitudes but which do not necessarily cost money. This is clearly a problem that cannot be solved by only throwing money at it. It needs concerted long term legislative and industry changes.

The next step was to include the Vice-Provost for Research in this process and get acknowledgement of the importance of these issues to the effectiveness of his constituents, the researchers and faculty.
  • Educational events
Another strategy was to arrange opportunities to educate faculty about scholarly publishing issues and their role in the evolving changes. These included a symposium with nationally known experts entitled “The Crisis in Scholarly Communication” and a grant-funded Digital Libraries workshop.
  • Influencing external decision makers
It is critical that Librarians work together as consortia and associations to influence favorable legislation in the digital arena and to create economies of scale when purchasing electronic information.
  • Facts and data counts
It is important to have facts and data about one’s library operations, current and historical journal pricing information, and library impact data on hand when speaking to the above groups. Performance and value-for-money indicators provide a more businesslike environment for decision-makers. In our organization we have clear selection criteria available for decision making as well as credible journal use studies. Such use data are correlated with factors such as annual price increases, publisher data, and availability of items from partner libraries, to arrive at cancellation and purchasing decisions.

To summarize
  • Ensure that local education opportunities are provided to faculty regarding the crisis and the opportunities for innovation in electronic scholarly communication.
  • Create dynamic inventories of faculty from your institution who are editors, sit on editorial boards, or are reviewers. These individuals should be provided with regularly updated information regarding fair use legislation, electronic publishing opportunities, and alternatives to their current publications.
  • Support the creation of databases at your organization of publications by faculty, staff and students, such as the initiative currently in process at North Carolina State University (North Carolina State University Authors Database at:
  • Develop courses and/or publications for graduate students at your institutions along the lines of “Your options and rights as a future scholarly publications producer”.
  • Encourage faculty to involve themselves with finding solutions or doing research in the opportunities the Internet offers to re-invent the scholarly publishing process. One of the most important of these evolving solutions is the Open Archives Initiative discussed below.
  • Encourage all faculty to speak to these issues at their associations’ national and regional meetings. These societies should take back publishing from for-profit publishers whose prices exceed reasonable limits.
INITIATIVE 2: Personal Initiatives

How can individual librarians impact change? Is there any effective actions that an individual information professional can take to further the cause of freely available and cost-effective scholarly information? Yes, below I describe some actions I have taken (van Reenen 1998a). These often involve risk taking and the possibility of seeming naive, yet they should be done by as many information professionals as possible as it is often the many small things that bring about significant long term changes.

Personal initiatives can include the following:
  • Letters to publishers to speak against over-pricing, inflexible licensing agreements, mergers, et cetera
  • Arranging local or national speakers on the issue at your organization or association.
  • Participating in panels and conferences, such as the Charleston Conference and the Faxon Colloquium. (For a comment on the latter, see van Reenen, 1998b, at
  • Providing the best articles on the issue to leaders in your organization.
  • Encouraging editors and authors in your organization to publish and edit in low profit or not-for-profit journals, preferably in electronic format.
  • Creating an information package about publishing an electronic journal or providing information on the Create Change initiative from the ARL discussed below. This can be given to editors who are considering publishing their print journal electronically or to encourage new and cheaper competitor electronic journals.
Librarians and other information professionals do not need to feel helpless in the face of continued price increases and journal cancellations. There are long term solutions. These will come into play sooner if each of us take action and encourage our patrons to participate in one or more of the levels discussed above.

INITIATIVE 3: National and International Library Initiatives

The above strategies are encouraged and helped by services provided by the Association of Research Libraries (ARL) in the US and other international library associations. The ARL developed a strategy and helpful web pages to facilitate change on campuses and research organizations called CREATE CHANGE. The aims is to “address the crisis in scholarly communication by helping scholars regain control of the scholarly communication system— a system that should exist chiefly for them, their students, and their colleagues in the worldwide scholarly community, not primarily for the benefit of publishing businesses and their shareholders.” (ARL 2000, online at

CREATE CHANGE proposes strategies to make scholarly research as accessible as possible to scholars all over the world by:
  • Shifting control of scholarly publication away from commercial publishers and back to scholars.
  • Influencing scholarly publishers to embrace as their first goal the widest possible dissemination of scholarly information and to abide by pricing policies and practices that are friendly to scholars and libraries.
  • Creating alternatives to commercial scholarly publications, both competitive alternative journals in more affordable electronic formats and programs that make scholarly research more directly available to scholars.
  • Fostering changes in the faculty peer review system that will promote greater availability of scholarly research: these changes might include both movement away from quantity and toward quality as a criterion for tenure and promotion and full acknowledgment of electronic publication as a means of communicating research.
CREATE CHANGE seeks to put scholars back in control of the scholarly communication system that exists for their benefit, as well as for their students and colleagues worldwide and is an indispensable source for educating library constituents about the issues.

INITIATIVE 4: Electronic Resource Development

Scholarly publication in electronic form offers both great promise and great challenges. It could potentially solve the crisis in scholarly publication by bypassing certain production and distribution costs and creating more affordable publishing and peer review processes. The greatest hurdle is the enormous costs of converting print-based to electronic operations. Another related phenomenon is that journal costs have increased at a higher rate during the last part of the 1990s as commercial publishers will not allow revenues to decline and the strategy of publishers to fund conversion costs from their highly captive library market (ARL 2000).

The promise of electronic access to scholarship remains viable because it offers:
  • speedier and more cost-effective publication
  • the ability to work with colleagues any time, anywhere in the creation process
  • the development of enhanced tools for teaching and research (e.g. video and sound clips)
  • global access to digital resources any time, anywhere
  • direct connection between creators and consumers
  • opportunities for libraries to share unique local and regional collections with an unlimited audience (see examples in chapters 5, 6 and 8).
Bandwidth is a serious constraint for many countries and institutions. It is expected that the dependence on technology for communication, research, and teaching will continue to increase dramatically. Universities, private industry, and government have spent huge amounts in the development of electronic infrastructure. In Mexico, Canada and the US these investments continue in the academic sector through developments such as the Internet2, CA*net 3, Abilene, and vBNS. Universities in the US are now spending 5% of their operating budgets on information technology (ARL 2000).

The current challenges presented by electronic publishing may seem numerous but these will eventually be outweighed by the above benefits. Some of the challenges that will need to be addressed are:
  • the uncertainties about the preservation of electronic scholarship
  • related to the above; the fast changing hardware and software configurations
  • the reluctance of some scholars and some of their scholarly societies in accepting electronic-only access to scholarly communication. They insist that print journals continue to be on the shelves even when electronic versions are easily available.
  • The trend toward licensing agreements as the standard way of purchasing electronic content. Libraries and end users do not own the product; they merely have licensed access and, in many cases, they retain nothing if an electronic resource is canceled or discontinued.
  • Licensed electronic products are governed by restrictions on the use of content, as will be explored further in an upcoming section. Peer review is undergoing significant change in the electronic environment as will be discussed in greater detail below.
  • Major commercial publishers are seeking to restrict access to electronic information through both legislative and technical means.
  • Small societies and university presses often do not have the capital to invest in the electronic infrastructure that would enable them to compete with wealthy larger enterprises.
  • Electronic publication has not been fully accepted by scholars as a means of advancing in the promotion and tenure process.
Many of these challenges are being addressed by the initiatives listed below. We are just beginning to grasp the truly great potential of electronic publication.

INITIATIVE 5: New initiatives in scholarly communications

Academic libraries and library organizations are working to advance new models of scholarly communication, hoping to make scholarly information more affordable, more accessible, and more innovative in its use of emerging technologies. These initiatives strive to increase the choice and diversity of research information available to library users and create competition in the scholarly publishing marketplace.
  • Example 5.1: J-STOR.
This is a collaborative project funded by participating libraries. The project is helping to alleviate the preservation and storage concerns of libraries by creating digital versions of large numbers of important scholarly journal back files. Initially the focus was on the social sciences and humanities, but recently the selection of science titles have grown considerably. Online at:
  • Example 5.2: Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition.
SPARC is comprised of over 180 member libraries working together under the auspices of the Association of Research Libraries to foster competition in scientific communication. SPARC encourages publishers, including scholarly societies, to produce cost-conscious, high-quality journals that directly compete with existing high-cost titles. It supports editorial boards that choose to move from commercial to non-profit publishers. SPARC also promotes innovative uses of technology to disseminate scholarly information and creation of scientific information communities that integrate multiple types and sources of key information resources.

A number of early initiatives are showing the positive effects of such targeted competition. The American Chemical Society’s Organic Letters, a SPARC partner, was introduced in 1999 as a not-for-profit competitor to Tetrahedron Letters. Almost immediately, the price increases of Tetrahedron Letters dropped from an average of 13.8% between 1995 and 1999 to 3% in 2000. In four years, the journal’s price had risen from $5119 to $8602 (+68%); in 2000, the price rose to only $8859. Moreover, the number of articles published by Tetrahedron Letters during the second half of 1999, when Organic Letters was introduced, decreased by 20% compared to the same period in 1998 (ARL 2000 and Johnson 2000).

Some of the SPARC partner journals are:
Digital technologies allow complete separation of the certification process in academe from scholarly publication processes. In the traditional print-based system the number of papers being submitted exceeds the ability of existing media to absorb them. Phleps (1998) has shown that as individual print subscription numbers decrease, and institutional subscriptions drop, the editors and publishers of the classic journals are faced with an increasing number of paper submissions and a slowly increasing or static printed-page count.

Researchers entering their field without established track records and few publications find it hard to place printed papers in the top tier journals. These are journals that are rated highly by associations or citation evaluation services such as the Citation Index ®. This limits opportunities for entering scientists to compete and add their creativity to the pool, as most academic Promotion & Tenure Committees still count papers and use “citation index” figures, rather than attempting to read and understand the published work itself. The fledgling author may choose to place the paper in a second tier specialized journal, jeopardizing his/her career and potentially missing some segment of his peer group who do not subscribe or routinely read such publications (Dessy 2000).

Phleps ( proposes a plan to certify articles before they are submitted for publication in traditional journals (print or electronic). Initially such certification will be done by learned societies and will address the issues of promotion, tenure, quality, accuracy and other aspects of peer review. The Digital Networks and Intellectual Property Management committee of the Association of American Universities (AAU) has begun a series of discussions designed to learn how to bring into existence a set of editorial boards that will perform only the refereeing function, leaving to other mechanisms the distribution and archiving.
  • Example 5.4: Collaborative electronic publishing ventures
Collaborative electronic publishing ventures are also burgeoning. HighWire Press (Stanford University) provides societies and publishers the means to distribute scientific information in electronic form by providing electronic publishing processes. Project Muse is the electronic journal collection of the Johns Hopkins University Press. Project Muse has begun adding titles from other scholarly publishers to its list of electronic journals. BioOne represents a collaboration of libraries, their associations, and universities with society publishers based on shared values. Thus all partners are playing active roles in changing the scholarly communications process by creating a different publishing model. It is a non-profit provider of cost-effective marketing, sales, licensing, billing and collection services launched in early 2001. The service started with an estimated 30-40 journals in ecological, environmental & integrative biological subject fields. The titles from more than 28 societies are peer-reviewed and chosen for their high impact. Many more society titles are in the licensing process.

BioOne serves non-commercial society publishers with the aim to provide a cost-effective alternative and helps them to remain financially viable and independent as publishers in the electronic publishing market. This assists society publishers in overcoming obstacles such as a lack of capital, inadequate electronic infrastructure, expertise, etc.

The license agreement was constructed with active input from librarians, ensuring subscribers rights to personal and non-commercial teaching and research uses, including but not limited to Interlibrary loan, Electronic reserves, Distance education and printing.

An international example is Bioline International (see, ) a unique North/South collaboration providing access to scientific publishing in developing countries, sometimes called the “lost science”. The publishers in the developing countries partners with the University of Toronto Library and Base de Dados Tropical, Brazil. The goals are:
  • To provide low cost access to bioscience research that has otherwise been relatively inaccessible.
  • To improve the enabling environment for research for both the publishers and researchers.
The collection consists of peer-reviewed journals from small non-profit societies that are indexed in major scientific indexing and abstracting tools. Bioline International has been in operation since 1991 and provides abstracts and summaries of documents free of charge. Documents are linked to related data and can be browsed and searched at all levels.

Some titles are well-established journals with international reputations. The subjects covered include biomedicine, environmental sciences, and biodiversity. Publishing partners hail from Africa (e.g. African Crop Science, African Journal of Neurological Sciences, Central African Journal of Medicine, East African Medical Journal, etc.), Latin America (e.g. Biotecnologia Aplicada from Cuba and the Memórias do Instituto Oswaldo Cruz, Brazil) and Asia (e.g. Indian Journal of Biochemistry and Biophysics, Indian Journal of Experimental Biology, Indian Journal of Marine Sciences, and Tropical Biodiversity). Approximately 90% of the income is returned to the publishers. (For the June 1999 SPARC e-news article that covered Bioline, see:
  • Example 5.5: New ways of sharing information
There are a number of national initiatives striving to break the mold. One such is David Shulenburger’s (1998) “NEAR” initiative at the University of Kansas which proposes that only the exclusive right to journal publication of a scholarly manuscript would pass to the journal rather than the total continuing copyright, as it currently does. He says (

“The author would retain the right to have the manuscript included in the National Electronic Article Repository (NEAR) ninety days after it appears in the journal. By federal law, by funding agency stipulation or by contractual agreement with the University employer, the faculty member’s published article would be transmitted to NEAR upon its publication. NEAR would index manuscripts by author, title, subject and the name of the journal in which they appeared. (The electronic form would be searchable on many more dimensions.) NEAR would see to it that articles are permanently archived, thereby assigning responsibility for the solution to another problem brought to us by the electronic age. NEAR could be funded by universities through “page charges” per article included, by federal appropriation, by a small charge levied on each user upon accessing articles or by a combination of these methods.”

There is an electronic forum at to discuss this idea. A similar type of project is under development at MIT and the German national science laboratories are developing a national open archive for their publications. Hewlett-Packard is working with MIT to develop a digital archive to house the approximately 10,000 articles produced by the university’s authors each year. These projects are discussed in greater detail in the next section.
  • Example 5.6: Preprint Services
Preprint servers generally house the articles, reports, notices, and such, of a circumscribed group of scientists in a specific field. “Author self-archived scholarly literature” refers to the process of authors depositing their own papers into an archive. A common practice among scientists is to make preliminary drafts of their papers (or “preprints”) available to colleagues prior to publication. They do not attempt to accredit submissions other then limited electronic filtering and strive to make the submission process fast and simple. The aim is rapid dissemination of new information and the creation and maintenance of an electronic scholarly community. Many of the submissions to an electronic preprint service will eventually be peer reviewed and published in a standard journal. Technology allows added features to such e-preprint services. It is, for instance, simple to provide a basic notification service that allows users to register their interest profile with the server to get regular (daily, weekly) e-mail notification about new preprints that match the user’s profile.

Virtual Peer Review (VPR) is a critical issue that will affect the sucess of e-print services. Participation in such subject-based e-print services presupposes an understanding of the field and recognition by other participants as a peer. This is the first step of peer review, but VPR remains a stumbling block to general acceptance of items submitted to e-print services in the tenure and promotion process and sometimes places future publishing in a regular journal at risk. Fortunately, there are fewer and fewer publishers who refuse to publish articles that have been submitted to e-print servers, and those who remain appear increasingly isolated. Major journals such as The British Medical Journal(BMJ), Nature and the Journal of Neuroscience see electronic pre-printing as a legitimate means of communication between researchers rather than prior publication. Richard Smith, the editor of BMJ, argues that journals have nothing to fear from e-print servers. “Strong publication is associated with prestige, credibility, reliability, wide availability, news coverage and permanence... [scientists] want to publish both on e-print servers and in peer-reviewed journals. It’s not either/or, but both.” Several journals, including the BMJ, have experimented with making manuscripts available on the web before they have been peer reviewed, thus subjecting them to open, online virtual peer review (Butler 1999).

Dessy (2000) in an article available as a preprint in the The Chemistry Preprint Server, defends the role of preprint services and explains the historical weaknesses of traditional peer review:

Reactionary critics always focus on the importance of the peer review process in maintaining quality in chemical literature. Peer review has never been without its problems. New ideas, or ideas that conflict with the mind-set and set-mind of the reviewer have always faced difficulty. Harold Zeiss, a chemist at Monsanto’s Mound Laboratory, many years ago was interested in the colored crystals found at the top of smoke-stacks. His attempts to publish a paper describing a novel bonding system involving cyclopentadiene rings and metal atoms was repeatedly rejected by an ACS journal. A few years later E. O. Fischer’s papers were accepted, and the rest is history — Fischer’s well-deserved 1973 Nobel Prize, which he shared with Sir Geoffrey Wilkinson. J. Kollonitsch, at Merck, discovered that organocadmium reagents do not react with acid chlorides to produce ketones. His manuscript was rejected by an ACS journal, due to a referee who was in the process of publishing a paper … Since the organocadmiums were usually made from cadmium halides and Grignard reagents, the needed catalyst was always there. The reviewer’s ego solution drove the paper to Nature, which at that time was not a high impact chemical publication. It took years for the concept to seep into textbooks.

Generational changes, involving the Internet, suggest that no harm, except to incautious authors, would result from e-preprints. Web readers already accept a caveat emptor world. Submission of too many poor papers, or a single badly flawed MS, would quickly degrade reputations.

The most beneficial aspect of VPR is the rapid communication methods available to scientists such as e-mail, forums attached to the e-print itself that have readers’ observations and criticisms, and the ability to re-post corrected copies. This enhances peer review by refining the process to provide the fastest possible way to get useful scholarship to its intended audience, fellow scientists. The rapidity of the process permits young, competent workers to start the creation of an external image swiftly and to compete in a world where there are just too many papers, growing academic competition, and less space for articles in the paper-based system (Dessy 2000).
  • 5.6.1: Open Archives
The capacity of a user to treat multiple digital library collections as one is a basic digital library challenge. The Open Archives Initiative (at, which started at a meeting in October 1999 in Santa Fe, New Mexico, models a multiple digital library collection that is designed according to an open architecture that supports simultaneous searching and retrieval of papers from different archives. It aims to specify an appropriate architecture for treating multiple, disparate collections (such as technical reports, theses, dissertations, preprints, working papers, and conference papers) as one. The first step is to standardize the methods by which these various individual archives can interoperate. Such interoperability can be achieved by specifying a protocol for gathering metadata from participating archives and a common metadata format for archives to use in responding to search requests.

Initially, the initiative uses a modified version of the Dienst protocol that comes out of the NCSTRL effort as the harvesting protocol. Dienst is well established for this kind of activity, having supported the same kind of work on behalf of computer science technical reports for some years. For the metadata component, a minimal set of the Dublin Core (see resource list for more information) elements will be used. Currently participants in the Open Archives effort include the eScholarship initiative of the California Digital Library (University of California), CogPrints (Cognitive Sciences archive), RePEc (Research Papers in Economics), EconWPA (Economics Working Papers Archive), Networked Computer Science Technical Reports (NCSTRL); the Networked Digital Library of Theses and Dissertations (NDLTD), NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS) the original preprint service, arXiv (also known as xxxArchives), from Los Alamos National Laboratories. Below are brief descriptions of some of the major e-print archives:
  • arXiv e-Print Archive is a ground breaking and immensely successful e-Print Archive developed at the Los Alamos National Laboratory about ten years ago by Paul Ginsparg. It accepts and provides access to papers prior to publication in physics and to a lesser degree in other scientific disciplines. Authors self-submit their papers to the archive and can also replace or remove them. Submissions are not reviewed, but authors must register before contributing papers and the service is free.
  • NCSTRL or Networked Computer Science Technical Reports provide access to computer science technical reports from over 100 institutions worldwide through a single interface.
  • The Networked Digital Library of Theses and Dissertations (NDLTD), based at Virginia Tech, archives digital theses and dissertations. Membership from institutions (mostly universities) is growing rapidly.
  • NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS) is a gateway to 20 different U.S. government-based technical report servers that contain almost four million abstracts and more than 100,000 full-text reports.
A joint project by MIT Libraries and the Hewlett Packard Company to capture, preserve and make accessible the intellectual output of MIT’s faculty and researchers, mentioned in the previous section, is a variation of the open archives idea. The holdings will include text, images, audio, video and data sets. The digital archive, called Dspace at (, will begin to accept submissions in late 2001. It will build a stable and sustainable long-term digital system to house MIT’s intellectual output. The project is worth watching and provides an opportunity to explore issues surrounding access control, rights management, versioning, retrieval, community feedback, and flexible publishing capabilities. The Dspace project, if successful, could be implemented by other universities and could result in a federation of systems that make available the collective intellectual resources of the world’s leading research institutions. The e-print archives discussed above, have been organized around specific disciplines and researchers from many institutions and countries contribute to these archives. DSpace, however, is an attempt to provide a means of e-print dissemination using a multidisciplinary institutional model.

Another groundbreaking effort to create a national open archive is developing in Germany. The country’s largest network of laboratories run by the Max Planck Society (MPS) plans to build a standardized desktop information system that will be to enable scientists at its 78 laboratories to publish their work in open-access electronic repositories. In early 2001, MPS created a Center for Information Management in Garching, Germany. Richard Luce, head of the Los Alamos National Laboratory Library and Library Without Walls project is consulting with them (personal communication, November, 2000) and this is a very important initiative to watch. The Los Alamos Library Without Walls project is an exemplary digital library implementation (see It provides integrated digital library resources to the laboratory as well as to other organizations, including the Alliance for Innovation in Science & Technology Education (see mentioned in the section on consortia below.
  • 5.6.2: Open Peer Reviewed electronic journals
Another emerging trend is to make the peer review process transparent so that the authors know who are reviewing their work and what they are suggesting to improve the end product. The comments are sometimes synthesized and added to the final published article. Sometimes the process extends beyond the official publication and subsequent comments are also linked to the work.

The Knowledge Media Institute at Britain’s Open University publishes one of the most successful versions of an open peer reviewed journal, The Journal of Interactive Media in Education (JIME) at

Open Peer Review is still a controversial subject but has been accepted by physicists ( see the Xarchive discussed above) and some psychologists (see Psycoloquy at, while a growing number of subject fields are experimenting with the idea. Some journals, such as the renowned medical journal The Lancet, are providing pre-publishing of upcoming articles for comment. Excellent discussions of open peer review are provided by Sumner, (2000) and Harnad (1996) and an explanation of the open peer review process used by The Journal of Interactive Media in Education can be found at their web site (see: Extensive parts of the latter are quoted below because of its clarity and possible historically significance should this movement becomes widely accepted:

JIME’s innovative review environment gives provides the opportunity to redesign the conventional journal review model to be more open, responsive and dynamic:

1. Authors have the right of reply.
2. Reviewers are named and accountable for their comments, and their contribution acknowledged.
3. he wider research community has the chance to shape a submission before publication. …

This review model shows that there are three stages of a submission to JIME: preprint under private, open peer review, preprint under public, open peer review, and finally publication. …

Articles submitted to JIME are first reviewed by three reviewers who are named, and acknowledged for their contribution to a review. They post their reviews as threaded comments to a private site. Reviewers have the option of posting anonymously, but usually reviewers are happy toe named, and in JIME’s conversational review model, it helps to know to whom you are talking, and hence, how better to interpret comments. Authors are encouraged to respond to these comments, and reviewers in turn (who may not necessarily agree with each other). This takes place during an agreed period when authors and reviewers are able to respond in a timely manner. We have found that this promotes more lively, productive discussions. …

On the basis of this discussion, if the editor assigned to the submission judges it to be of sufficient quality — that is, broadly acceptable, pending changes based on the review discussion — the submission will then be published as a preprint for public open peer review, and announced to relevant communities to invite their participation. The author-reviewer discussion provides the ‘seed’ for this second phase of online review debate. This phase of open review will be closed after one month. The editor will post to the discussion an editorial report summarising the most significant issues, and specifying change requirements to the authors. …

In conventional journals, the point of publication is the beginning of scholarly debate. JIME brings this point forward by making submitted preprints accessible, but of course continues to support discussion about the revised, published article. In addition, the most interesting review comments/exchanges are published with the final version, providing readers with insight into the issues that arose during review, and enabling them to build on those discussions. Thus, authors can post links to publications to point to subsequent work. Readers can post comments and links to point to work which has not been referenced, or did not exist when the article was written. Authors, reviewers and anyone else who has subscribed to the article will receive email alerts to new postings to its discussion forum.
  • 5.6.3: Open Citation-linking Project (OpCit)
The OpCit initiative builds on the open archives movement to make resources housed by such archives even more useful by connecting each paper to each paper it cites; so-called “citation linking.” It is being developed in conjunction with the arXiv e-Print Archive at Los Alamos but can be extended to the rest of the disciplines in other Open Archives designed to be interoperable through compliance with the Santa Fe Convention discussed above.

Harnad and Carr (2000) believe that:

A citation-linked online digital corpus also allows powerful new forms of online informetric analysis that go far beyond static citation analysis, measuring researchers’ usage of all phases of the literature, from pre-refereeing preprint to post-refereeing post-print, from download to citation, yielding an embryology of learned inquiry.

A number of commercial publishers are deploying similar software to inter-link the reference lists from their journal articles but such “cross-linking” generally cost the user money.
  • 5.7. Integration of multiple initiatives and multifaceted electronic journals
New breeds of publishing communities are emerging that utilize all, or clusters of, the above initiatives in a continuum of scholarly communication. One of the best examples is Project Euclid, a shared initiative by the Cornell University Library and Duke University Press (http://euclid. The project is supported by funding from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation (Buckholtz 2000, Press Release). The aim is to create a system for effective and affordable scholarly communication in mathematics and statistics by providing an infrastructure for independent journals in theoretical and applied mathematics and statistics to engage in web-based publishing using a shared infrastructure. What makes this project different from other projects, such as BioOne, is that the entire span of scholarly publishing from preprints to the distribution of published journals and informal communication is supported at the same site. Journal editors are also provided with a toolkit to streamline their editorial and peer review processes and publish in a timely and cost-effective manner while enhance searching and linking capabilities

The press release explains the benefits thus:

“The Euclid editorial toolkit, with password-protected areas that streamline the peer review and editorial process for editors and reviewers, will enable editors to pick and choose different tools to meet their particular needs. They can maintain a database of their reviewers, post papers to a reviewer’s password-protected pick-up and drop-off space, and easily alert reviewers via e-mail regarding review deadlines. Reviewers can submit their comments and/or the edited papers confidentially. Editors can link the revised version of a paper to its preprint version, if applicable. After preparing articles with the Euclid editorial tools, editors will upload the articles that make up a journal issue to the Euclid site. Journal publishers and authors will benefit from the exposure gained through a large aggregated site, and their users will benefit from advanced user features that many individual publishers would be unable to provide on their own.”

Most importantly, the project will be interoperable as part of the Open Archives Initiative discussed above. Thus articles in the preprint server will be accessible through searches that reach across widely dispersed digital repositories.

Electronic journals are also beginning to incorporate aspects of many of the above facets to create non-traditional journals that are highly interactive. Gerry McKiernan of the Iowa State University Library created a registry of innovative features and functions used in leading edge electronic journals. His list (McKiernan 2000) includes functions such as:

Accelerated Publication, Citation Management, Collective E-Journals, Indexing, Issue-In-Progress, Manuscript Submission and Tracking Systems, Open Peer Review, Overlay E-Journals, Personalized E-Journals, Reactive E-Journals, Virtual E-Journals, Virtual Filing Cabinets, Annotative E-Journals, Collaborative E-Journals, Raw and Supplemental Data and Computer Code, Interactive Formulae, Graphs and/or Models, Relatedness, Database Access, Advanced Display capabilities, and E-Journal Page Customization.

For explanations and examples of these concepts visit his EJI: A Registry of Innovative E-Journal Features and Functionalities site at
  • Example 5.8: Aggregated e-journal services
— SciELO Brasil

SciELO is a Latin American example from Brazil of an aggregation of e-journals from a variety of publishers at It differs from most preprint servers in that it archives published articles. This is called an e-print service. Currently over 6,000 full-text articles are available online, published in 437 issues of 47 Brazilian journals from different areas of science. An initiative of FAPESP, BIREME and scientific editors, SciELO Brazil publishes electronic editions of scientific journals on the Internet, offering direct and free access to full texts of scientific articles in HTML format, and in some cases also in PDF.

Continually enlarging its collection, SciELO Brazil has launched electronic versions of many journal titles, such as:
  • Arquivo Brasileiro de Medicina Veterinaria e Zootecnia at
  • The journal of the Escola de Veterinaria of the Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais. This journal publishes scientific works in Portuguese and English on veterinary medicine, food technology and inspection, as well as related areas.
  • Ecletica Quimica at An interdisciplinary journal of chemistry, physics, and related areas. EQ publishes in Portuguese and English original articles, reviews, and previews.
  • Journal of the Brazilian Chemical Society at http://www.scielo. br/jbchs. Edited by the Sociedade Brasileira de Quimica, this journal publishes research papers in most fields of chemistry. Most of the articles are available in English.

Full-text articles published by SciELO can be searched by journal title and issues, as well as by article author, title and subject.

— PubMed Central

The PubMed Central initiative from the National Center for Biotechnology Information at NLM (USA) accept articles from traditional publishers contributing peer-reviewed and will also accept peer-reviewed articles from non-traditional sources. For example, if a number of researchers wanted to form their own editorial board, they could “publish” peer-reviewed materials in PubMed Central. The only requirement is that the board include at least three recipients of grants from major funding agencies such as the NIH, NSF, DOE, NASA, or Howard Hughes Medical Institute in the U.S., or equivalent organizations abroad. The group must also register with PubMed Central which can refer them to organizations that provide technical infrastructure support for managing the administration, peer review, and conversion services necessary (Gaunt, 2000).

PubMed Central is also hosting a pre-print service, PubMed Express will also accept pre-prints submitted through independent editorial boards, as long as the board consists of at least three grantees as described above and has registered with PubMed Central.

— Columbia Earthscape

Columbia Earthscape at, offers much more than a list of web links. Developed in collaboration with distinguished scholars and research institutions, Columbia Earthscape models a new type of community of scholars, integrating published resources with web-based information and services. It aims to connect research, education, and the public interest with online resources on the global environment by selecting, gathering, editing, and linking the widest range of resources available online in earth-systems science. It’s selection of books and journal abstracts comes from a growing number of partnerships, including Island Press, Kluwer Academic Publishers, MIT Press, the New York Academy of Sciences, Texas A&M Press, and UN University Books. Columbia Earthscape also includes in its archive key environmental legislation from the US, Canada, and selected countries, as well as adding text and video from Columbia Earthscape conferences on climate and education.

— ScienceMedCentral was launched in 2000 and is a publisher of free-access peer-reviewed scientific information in all areas of medicine, biology, chemistry and physics. It is wholly owned by Biological Procedures Online (For the May 1999 SPARC e-news article on Biological Procedures Online see:
  • Example 5.8: University of California digital initiatives
— 5.8.1. The E-Scholarship initiative at the University of California:
  • leverages and supports the needs and initiatives of scholars themselves
  • draws upon in-depth discussions with scholars from all fields
  • supports and encourages momentum for experiments by disciplinary communities
  • enables experimental reconfiguration of the roles and relationships in the dissemination of scholarship
This is a project that aims at understanding the scholar’s needs and creating principles from this understanding. E-Scholarship partners participate in international discussion among scholars, scholarly societies, university administrators, librarians and publishers and identify the challenges in scholarly communication and the opportunities for change, many of which are suggested by digital and network technologies. The E-Scholarship resources page has links to several sources and repositories of this discussion. In addition scholarly communication issues have been explored through extensive discussion with scholars in forums at UCLA, Berkeley, UC San Diego, and UC San Francisco in late 1998 and throughout 1999. Participants included senior editors from top-ranked scholarly journals, leaders in scholarly societies, and pioneers in new forms of digital publishing. These discussions have confirmed that many faculty strongly desire the opportunity to develop strategic innovations in scholarship that match their needs with the opportunities created by digital technologies. There is also general agreement that such faculty innovations promise the best way to address the imminent threats to the sustainability of scholarly communication. E-Scholarship is also enabling new research and publishing connected to collections of primary source material, such as the Online Archive of California or social science data sets.

— .8.2. Online Archive of California

The Online Archive of California (OAC) is a core component of the California Digital Library. The OAC archives digital information resources and provides access to materials such as manuscripts, photographs, and works of art held in libraries, museums, archives, and other institutions across California. The OAC is available to a broad spectrum of users -students, teachers, and researchers of all levels. Through the OAC, all these users have access to information previously available only to scholars who traveled to collection sites.

The OAC includes a single, searchable database of “finding aids” to primary sources and their digital facsimiles. Primary sources include letters, diaries, manuscripts, legal and financial records, photographs and other pictorial items, maps, architectural and engineering records, artwork, scientific logbooks, electronic records, sound recordings, oral histories artifacts and ephemera.

A Finding Aid is essential for understanding the true content of a collection and for determining whether such content is likely to satisfy researchers’ needs. Describing primary sources in detail, finding aids are the guides and inventories to collections held in archives, museums, libraries and historical societies. Finding aids provide detailed descriptions of collections, their intellectual organization and, at varying levels of analysis, of individual items in the collections.
  • 5.8.3. California Digital Library
The California Digital Library (CDL) is an additional “co-library” of the UC campuses, with a focus on digital materials and services. This collaborative effort of the ten campuses is organizationally housed at the University of California Office of the President. The CDL is responsible for the design, creation, and implementation of systems that support the shared collections of the University of California. Several CDL projects focus on collaboration with other California Universities and organizations to create and extend access to digital material to UC partners and to the public at large. It was founded in 1997 and opened to the public in January 1999. New information resources are added continuously while significant enhancements or additions to services, including the CDL web sites, are released every six months in January and July.

The CDL assists UC Libraries to transition to digital services by:
  • Licensing and acquiring shared electronic content. The CDL negotiates contracts for access to published electronic content (books, journals, images) for UC faculty, staff and students. The combined buying power of the campuses allows them to obtain more favorable contracts, while centralizing negotiation and licensing reduces overhead costs for local campus libraries.
  • Organizing projects to digitize and distribute UC owned and produced content, such as technical reports, databases, archival materials and museum collections and make this content available system-wide.
  • Developing systems and technology to enhance shared collections. The increasing cost of information is forcing all libraries, including those in the University of California, to rely more heavily on resource sharing. The CDL is implementing technology to facilitate the request and transmission of print materials from one campus to another, as well as systems to allow faculty and students to easily access information in the University’s shared digital collections.
  • Transforming the process of scholarly communication. The CDL is serving as a focal point for University efforts to influence the roles, relationships and economics of scholarly communication. For example, many of the e-scholarship activities, discussed above, support scholar-led experiments in disseminating research.
  • Example 5.9: Virtual academic communication and innovation spaces
Scientists are extending the limits of scholarly communication to be continuous and integrated across a subject, time, space and place. This is generally accomplished by the use of what is called a MOO. This stands for MUD (Multiple User Dimension) Object Oriented. Thus, MOO is an object-oriented computer program that allows many users to log in at the same time to interact among them selves and with the program. Once inside the MOO, everything is represented by virtual “objects”; every person, every room, every note are represented by objects, that can be looked at, examined and manipulated. The best current example is the BioMOO at This is a professional community of research biologists occupying a virtual space where they can meet colleagues in biology and related fields, brainstorm, hold colloquia and conferences, and experiment with this new medium. Gore-Langton and others (1999) provides a quick overview of this project.
  • Example 5.10: Consortia and Licensing
Electronic information, especially that provided by monopoly organizations, are often beyond the means of a single organization. There is a growing trend towards joint purchasing, consortial agreements, and partnerships.

Many electronic products are priced out of reach for a single institution. As budgets become tight, libraries look toward consortia as a way of reducing costs by subscribing as a group to commonly used databases, relying on the economics of scale to bring prices down. Furthermore, consortial licensing often serves the “greater good”, in that larger partners carry some of the cost for the smaller ones. The technological capacity of the group frequently jumps to that of the most advanced partner. There should be much less duplication of effort for even such products that could be afforded individually, e.g. in developing a single contract, in negotiating all customization of products together, and in joint implementation, publicity, problem solving, and training. Consortia are also more likely to be able, utilizing the expanded resources among the membership, to add value to the products that they purchase, e.g. by adding local holdings to citations.

Planning and preparation by the consortium is critical to ensure the best type of license. The attitude within the negotiating group is also important. This is exemplified by how many questions they ask and get answered, and how assertive and cohesive the group is in negotiating with experienced commercial vendors. A great psychological help for members is a list of what would constitute a “Fatal Flaw” in any contract - three Fatal Flaws and the deal is off. Van Reenen (1997) provided the following advice:
  • Know as much as you can. That means asking questions and the best way to do so is to develop guidelines to measure a contact against.
  • Develop criteria that MUST be met, as well as preferred criteria. The guidelines should be written in the form of a Checklist to ensure that nothing is missed in the excitement of acquiring a new product.
For instance:
  • who is an authorized user?
  • what type of user would not fit the given definition?
  • how are users counted?
  • are number of USES counted?
Refining questions regarding legitimate uses could be:
  • what are acceptable uses?
  • noncommercial vs. commercial use?
  • is it allowed to incorporate specialized library uses, like cataloguing and Interlibrary loan?
  • are there restrictions on printing, downloading, ftp-ing, or sending to e-mail addresses?
  • may the library keep and use older versions of the product?
  • what is the library’s liability for the way users use the information acquired?
The latter is such an important issue that many libraries and consortia add a rider to all licenses to modify the agreement.

Is it really possible to negotiate better conditions and prices through consortia? Consortia has leverage; the larger and/or wealthier and/or more influential the consortium is, the more leverage it has. It is important to let the vendor know, early on, that the group will be tying the fees they are prepared to pay to the degree to which their criteria has been met. Tough bargaining stances are also more credible coming from a reputable group.

The best way to start negotiations is to ask for a free trial or offer to be a beta test group for an evolving product. This should be free to members of the consortium, except for their local investments of people’s time and the use of existing hardware at each site. If members and their local users are satisfied with the product, the group should begin planning the contract negotiations, especially what the product is “worth” to them and the amount that they are prepared to invest in the product. Then they should ask for a draft contract and invoice from the vendor. Insist on a dedicated sales representative to whom the consortium’s negotiators will direct all communications and questions. Explain the major issues and concerns to this person; being honest about whether and how these issues will affect the purchase decision. It is also important to try to find out if other organizations or consortia have signed licenses recently or are in a similar negotiating phase.

Responding to the contract:

This is the most problematic phase. Individual members will have to get approval for the contract and subsequent changes and additions from their local organization’s decision-makers. This is made easier if such persons or committees were kept informed at each step of the process and funds were identified in advance. Once a suitable contract is negotiated with the vendor, the group should decide on the best way to invoice members for their portion of the licensing fee. Either, directly from the vendor to each member, or as a single invoice to the consortium, to be paid from membership fees.

What happens to copyright under a consortial license? It is best to negotiate a license that over-rides copyright. With the right license the consortium should not have to worry about copyright. It is, however, prudent to protect the consortium members from third party liability, i.e. what your users do with the information they retrieve. An appropriate waiver should be attached to the contract as mentioned above.

The future of Consortia and alliances:

Consortia are beginning to explore additional services and innovative new directions for potential future activities. Below is a list of the services that were identified at ICOLC #8 (Vancouver, BC, September 2000):
  • Extended reference services.
This idea refers to the concept of establishing a virtual reference service that would provide ready reference assistance to readers particularly during hours that the consortium’s member libraries are closed. Thus a library in Australia could provide virtual reference service to a late night customer in the USA whose own library is closed. Chapter 1 provides more information on this concept.
  • Server hosting for distance education.
With web courses becoming common, it may develop that a consortium will decide, or be asked, to house and manage a server that would support such courses.
  • Non-library software licensing.
In some settings consortia may be able to play a useful role in the licensing of software for consortium members, and some consortia already provide this service. Similarly, the idea of using a consortium’s buying power can be extended to non-technical goods and services.
  • Home delivery.
Many consortia manage services that transport books and other items between member libraries. A few consortia have established delivery services that will deliver library materials directly to a reader’s home, and it appears that this idea is growing in popularity, given the growing importance of distance education.
  • Virtual meetings.
Many consortia provide some level of support for virtual meetings, i.e., meetings that utilize a technology, such as WebCT, to make it possible for a committee to have a discussion without having to meet face-to-face.
  • Supporting change in scholarly publishing and copyright.
A strong case was made that consortia should take an active role in the discussions and other activities that are occurring around change in scholarly publishing and intellectual property rights. Decisions about these issues will obviously affect consortia as well as their members, and in many cases consortia can be more effective than can individual members in affecting decisions about such things.
  • Lobbying and marketing.
Consortia could assist their members by engaging in lobbying of legislative and administrative decision-makers and by employing and making available to members marketing services. Libraries and librarians must market themselves and their services much more effectively that has been done in the past, given the new forms of competition that have emerged with the development of the internet.

These ideas are further examined by Landesman and van Reenen (2000; in press)

Multi-Consortial Licensing (MCL).

A recent development in consortial negotiations is the MCL. These are licenses negotiated by more than one consortium and sometimes including whole countries or international consortia.

The Canadian National Site Licensing Project/Projet canadien de licences de site nationales is a national example; see A Negotiations Resource Team developed specifications for products or services and then reviewed vendor proposals. Bids were evaluated according to a formal methodology as outlined in the RFP. Scoring criteria included:
  • Vendor capability
  • Technical support services
  • Approach to product licensing
  • Usage Information
  • Reporting
  • Annual Price Increase Limits
In addition to these criteria, the bid evaluation formula included a measure of the demand for the products, as reflected by institutions’ ranking of their need for each product. Finally, a value proposition for each product was devised, by dividing the total proposed price of the product by the number of title-years of content, and then again by the total number of evaluation points derived from the RFP response and the institutional demand data. This resulted in a ratio for each bidder that served as a unit of comparison across products, and that identified those products that represent the highest value for CNSLP purchasing dollars.

The Negotiations Resource Team then present recommendations to the CNSLP Steering Committee regarding preferred Bidders as well as priorities for negotiations.