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Science Article on Electronic Publishing among Physicists

Francis Ouellette francis at monod.Biol.McGill.CA
Tue Mar 9 23:39:27 EST 1993

kristoff at NET.BIO.NET (Dave Kristofferson) writes:

>So no one has commented on the 26 Feb '93 issue of Science, p.
>1246-1248 yet???  I thought those of us out here on the edge of the
>U.S. teetering on the brink of falling into the Pacific were the last
>to get our journals 8-)?!?

Well, I, in the Great White North, just recieved that Science issue.
I guess we are further away than you are ...

>There's a very interesting article on the use of a bulletin board
>system to circulate preprints among physicists.

It was an interesting article, and there are some interesting
parrallels, and differences with the biology community vs the physics
community ... maybe we can learn from them ...  And incidently, for us
to be discussing an article that just came out in Science is one of
the _great_ benefits of the net! (just another point to add to those
of you who may be lecturing on this topic).

Dave K. bring up good points:


>This seems
>like an idea whose time has come, and I'd like to get a gauge of the
>reaction to such an idea.

Yes, and we do have a sort of precedent for this in biology with our
friends in the C. elegans community.  It is not quite the same, but
almost.  They have their "worm breeder's gazette", an unrefereed (as
far as I know) "journal" where people send one page photo ready
article.  This gets printed and sent outr to all the C. elgans people
that pay the small fee for it, _BUT_ (the interesting part!) it also
gets indexed, and is part of acedb (and the other worm database whoes
name escapes me just now).  ACeDB is _the_ mother of all databases for
the C. elegans people, the envy of all drosophila and yeast people
(the Arabidopsis people have one too  AAtDB).  So in this
electronically available database you have access to unpublished, or
soon to be published information (cosmid maps, sequence of cosmids and
est, two point cross data, 3 point cross data, all in a wonderfull X
wrapper that works under Unix (even Linux on the PC)).  They (the C.
elegans people) must get away with this (electronically publishing
results) the same way otheres mention "some of this work was presented
at such and such meeting".


problems with:

>Because of the copyright restrictions I
>don't think that we can legally get into the game 

If only abstracts are pre-published ... maybe the journals would not
care (as mentioned above).  And what if this was the abstracts of
soon_to_be_published articles?


>mentioned that the physicists are all using the TeX word processing

this is a problem.  Unlike other people in this group, _I_ do not use
LaTex, or any other bouncy material =:-) ... seriously, I would learn
it if it became the standard ... I have managed without so far ...
maybe I am missing the boat, but from my limited experience on bionet,
I can see that getting most biologist to use LaTex would be a
challange, to say the least.  BUT ... as a follow up to my example a
few lines ago ... there are a lot of C. elegans people learning to use
a Unix box, so they can use ACeDB ... so I guess the lesson here is to
not underestimate the users!


>biologists probably have the need to distribute high resolution
>illustrations such as micrographs and gel photos, etc., far more often

I think this is a problem for electronic articles, not for electronic

>Comments??  A general usage group such as this would not need a
>discussion leader.  I would be happy to get it up and running if there
>is some sentiment that it would be useful.

I must admit that I would have problems selling the idea to people on
my floor.  Not that I would not try, but it would be difficult.  
Maybe the C. elegans people should create their bionet group and try
submitting their articles in such a forum ... what do the C. elegans
people think of this?

>P.S. - Unfortunately nowhere in the Science article is there any
>mention of what other scientists outside of physics are doing on the
>net 8-(.

Maybe this is your chance David to write a letter to Science and point
this out to them?   

So in summary,

Plain text abstracts might work, and biologist would read them ...
We can build on our bionet/BIOSCI readership, and expand on it.
There would be _some_ work involved in selling the idea, but I, for
one, am willing to push for it amongts my peers.

regards to all,


| B.F. Francis "YES on YEAST" Ouellette  
| manager, yeast chromosome I & XVI sequencing project
| dept of biology, McGill university, Montreal, Qc, Canada
| francis at monod.biol.mcgill.ca

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