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Posting biology abstracts to the Internet

Richard O'Grady, Science Editor, The Johns Hopkins University Press, ph: 410/516-6919 OGRADY at JHUVMS.HCF.JHU.EDU
Wed Mar 10 11:24:30 EST 1993


I'm a subscriber to BIOFORUM and BIONEWS, and have read the
recent discussions coming out of the SCIENCE article about
physicists posting articles to a bulletin board.  I'm also
a science editor (books, not journals), and a research
biologist.  So I can appreciate in more than one way your
wondering whether biologists, too, should post ms information
to a bulletin board.

University presses publish a number of journals in addition to
books, and all university presses belong to the Association of
American University Presses (membership 109 presses).  There is
an Internet discussion group among these presses that deals with
various electronic publishing issues.  I recently brought up
your topic with this group.

I kept the question simple (much simpler than what the SCIENCE
article was getting at).  Namely: an author writes a paper,
including abstract, and has it accepted by a journal; the
journal is of the kind that assigns copyright to its publisher,
and the author does just that; but while the author is waiting
during the c. 6 months it takes for the article to appear in
print, he/she extracts a copy of the abstract (say, 250 words,
out of a 10,000-word article) from his/her word-processing file
and posts it to a bulletin board--to let people know that the
work has been done and will soon appear in print in journal X
in volume Y on p. Z.

Q: Is the author violating copyright?

I have received three replies from the AAUP group so far.  All
three say NO PROBLEM: the abstract is such a small part of the
article (size-wise, not content-wise) and doesn't threaten to
replace the reader's need to see the article, and the posting
would be a good promo for the journal.

I hasten to add that these opinions come from publishers and
librarians, not copyright lawyers.  Then again, the publishers
and librarians are saying that they would go looking for a
lawyer if they saw their journals' abstracts posted in such
a manner.

My three responents were the journals manager for MIT Press
and U of GA Press, and the head of the American Research

Please feel free to edit and extract this message for BIONET.

- Richard

Richard T. O'Grady, Ph.D.            |
Science Editor                       |
The Johns Hopkins University Press   |  The non-profit
2715 North Charles St.               |  publishing arm of
Baltimore, Maryland 21218-4319 USA   |  The Johns Hopkins University
ph: 410/516-6919 voice; 6998 fax     |
Internet: ogrady at jhuvms.hcf.jhu.edu  |
BITNET:   ogrady at jhuvms              |

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