Web Magazine for Information Professionals

Editorial Introduction to Issue 31: An E-prints Revolution?

Philip Hunter with the editorial for Ariadne issue 31.

Welcome to the March/April issue of Ariadne.

This issue of Ariadne is led by an article (‘Setting up an institutional e-prints archive’) on the practical implementation of an e-prints archive, by a number of authors with hands on experience of the task (Pinfield, Gardner and MacColl). The article also deals with the issues which have to be considered alongside the technical issues of implementation. These include: the impact on tried and tested means of scholarly communication; questions of quality control; intellectual property rights, and workload. Not all academics will warm to these techniques of publishing without a good deal of advocacy beforehand. As the authors suggest:

Some academics are reasonably content with the existing systems. They have built up their reputations using them. They do not view comercial publishers in the negative light that some librarians do since they are often shielded from the economic realities of the journal industry. A few who are editors might even receive some form of payment from publishers. It is often a good idea therefore to picture self-archiving as complementary to ‘tried and tested’ journals, which is actually the case.

However, in addition to these philosophical and policy issues, there are also difficulties with the installation of suitable software: many projects are looking at the e-prints software created at the University of Southampton, and there were reports of installation problems at the Glasgow CURL workshop on e-prints in early March. The adoption of the OAI Protocol for Metadata Harvesting may happen, not at a revolutionary pace, but at a leisurely crawl, unless these difficulties are ironed out at some point. Since a large number of projects have shown interest in the OAI route to metadata exposure, and the technology may become mandatory for some programmes, this is an important issue.

Issue 31 also features an introduction to the Open Archives Forum (Dobratz, Schimmelpfennig and Schirmbacher), which has been created to provide a European focus for European activities related to Open Archives, and particularly the Open Archives Initiative. The project has partners in Italy, Germany and the UK (UKOLN), details of an upcoming workshop in Pisa in May are available at: http://www.oaforum.org/workshops_ser.php.

Andy Powell and Liz Lyon contribute an interesting discussion of the parallels between current ideas about Web services (application talking to application) and the architecture of the JISC Information Environment. He also suggests that the architecture of the JISC Information Environment is consistent with the use of both Z39.50 (distributed searching) and OAI (metadata harvesting) technologies.

Ronald Milne contributes a useful overview of the Research Support Libraries Programme (RSLP). This is an important programme which works toward a ‘Distributed National Collection’ and the optimisation of the library research resource in the UK. It promotes the sharing of information about collections among library and other HE institutions, and agreement about who is going to collect in what area. Several high profile organisations have participated in the programme, including the Wellcome Institute, the Public Record office, the Tate Gallery, English Heritage, and the Royal Commission on Ancient and Historic Monuments of Scotland. There is also an article about the RSLP project AIM25 in the issue (Baxter, Blomely and Kemsley).

We also have an introduction to the new Oxford Reference Collection online by the Director of the project, Dave Swarbrick. This follows on from the Oxford English Dictionary Online, which we covered on both a technical and user level in preceding Ariadne’s. There will be a user review of the service by Pete Dowdell in Ariadne 32.

There are numerous other interesting contributions to this Easter edition of Ariadne, and these include an overview of Collection Description Focus activities in the first year of the project, and two book reviews - one on creating e-collections, and the other on Career Development Online, representing Pete Dowdell’s first contribution to Ariadne.

Shirley Keane assisted once again with the Newsline section.

Suggestions for articles for issues 32 to 34 are now being considered. Article proposals and books for review should be sent to: ariadne@ukoln.ac.uk.

Access statistics for 2001 are now available, and the main figures are tabulated below:

Users (month)52,93249,79057,98154,35556,18653,42653,13052,15353,43566,00267,22857,020
Users (day)1,7071,7781,8701,8111,8121,7801,7131,6821,7812,1292,2401,839
Page views (month)194,451165,350193,423191,247199,716193,050172,180193,496189,061205,097196,195178,500

Enjoy the issue.

Philip Hunter
Ariadne Editor