The debate over what should be the right models for accessing scientific literature is taking on new dimensions. Last month, a U.S. congressional subcommittee on energy and water development threatened to ax the budget of the nascent PubSCIENCE, a service developed by the Department of Energy's Office of Scientific and Technical Information.
Clearly having been lobbied by major publishing groups, the subcommittee declared that PubSCIENCE is a duplication of activities carried out by the private sector. At the same time, major publisher groups are making a concerted effort to challenge this rising tide of alternative distribution channels (such as PubMed) for the distribution of scholarly papers.
In an effort to demonstrate that publishers can be just as nimble and creative as the new efforts, two of them have just announced new services for scientists. Beginning this month, Elsevier Science's ScienceDirect (http://www.sciencedirect.com) will launch its new Articles in Press service on both the ScienceDirect and ScienceDirect Web editions platforms. And Biology Reports, Ltd., part of the Current Science Group (http://current-science-group.com), is set to launch the new Faculty of 1000 service in October.
Articles in Press
The Articles in Press are papers that have been accepted for publication, but have not yet been corrected at proof stage or published in the printed journal. This is a comparable service to Wiley Interscience's (http://www3.interscience.wiley.com), which also allows the viewing of author-corrected proofs. But the manuscripts in Articles in Press will be made available online as soon as possible after the peer-review process on an individual paper-by-paper basis.
"This is a significant step in Elsevier Science's strategy of expediting the communication process and enhancing the service to both authors and ScienceDirect customers," said Frank Vrancken Peeters, managing director of ScienceDirect.
A similar effort was announced this April by the Current Science Group. Research reports submitted for publication in a Current Science Group journal (regardless of whether they have already been placed in the pre-print depository of that or any other journal) will be fully peer-reviewed in the traditional way. The accepted research reports will be placed in the peer-reviewed depository and will be available free of charge to any individual through the Web.
Articles in Press will take advantage of the enhanced ScienceDirect functionality, which includes the ability to be cited. This is due to the iDOI article identifier, which enables the citation of a paper before volume and issue numbers are allocated. The Article in Press papers will automatically be replaced online as soon as the final version of the article is published in the printed journal.
The service will be initially launched for the premium, most-used titles on ScienceDirect, including Physics Letters B, FEBS Letters, Tetrahedron Letters, Artificial Intelligence, and Brain Research. The service will be scaled up over the following months to include all possible Elsevier Science titles.
Faculty of 1000
Taking the tack that a thousand voices are better than just a few, the Faculty of 1000 will be a new online service that will seek to systematically highlight the most interesting papers published in the life sciences. Based on the recommendations of over 1,000 selected leading scientists, the end-product is an online service, run by scientists, that provides a consensus view of important papers and trends across biology.
Faculty of 1000 seeks to be an evaluative service that will involve leading scientists, although at the time of this writing the roster of participants was not available. Nor has it been established how consensus will be achieved and what type of group interactivity will be permitted (i.e., will individuals outside of the 1,000 be able to make recommendations, etc.).
Faculty of 1000 is the brainchild of Vitek Tracz, chairman of the Current Science Group, and creator of the Current Opinion series, Current Biology, BioMedNet, and the new online site BioMed Central. Faculty of 1000 is to be produced by Biology Reports, Ltd. and will be available through BioMed Central, Ltd. (http://www.biomedcentral.com).
According to a press release issued by Current Science: "With thousands of research papers being published every week, there is a growing need for a research tool that can authoritatively organize and evaluate the essential information within the mass of life science literature. [Faculty of 1000] aims to throw a lifeline to scientists drowning in a sea of research literature."
Set to launch in October with several thousand article recommendations and continuous updates, Faculty of 1000 divides the entire field of biology into 16 faculties (or subject areas), each of which is subdivided into approximately 10 sections run by two to four scientists of international repute. Users will be able to customize the service to their interests and opt for weekly (or monthly) updates by e-mail. It will have direct links to PubMed. Online subscriptions will be available to individuals, labs, and institutions.