WEB Scientific Publishing

Guy BRAND (Guy.Brand@chimie.u-strasbg.fr)
Sun, 10 Sep 1995 21:49:04 +0000

Dear sirs,

Has one of you heard of some project using the Web that would try to set
up "On Line Scientific Publishing" ? I've already tried to "ring" the W3C
trying to get some informations there, but nothing came out yet :-( I would
easily imagine a consortium, analog to the W3C, promoting the development
of a "new" interactive web based service for scientists that would let
research group members read, publish and deal with scientific publications
through the Net.

Mrs Rzepa and Whitaker have recently published a really nice article in
the American Chemical Society Chemical Communications journal. The article
was dealing with the impact and power of the use of WWW Information System
in Chemistry. I'd like to go further and work on such a project, not only
in the field of chemistry, and hopefully supported by many publishers, but
is such a project interesting someone ? Do you know of any group or
institute working in between Web and scientific publishing ?

Here are some of the main background ideas of the "Web Scientific
Publishing" project.

HTML documents allow :

Ease of generation through filtering from text processors

Ease of updating : The docs can be edited and modified easily.
Coming "Watchers" programs can inform the user if the pages have
been changed recently.

Ease of indexing and searching : the docs can be analysed by
either scripts run from the server or engines. Search engines
will become faster and more efficient. The search results can
be stored in a separate page which is sent to the browser and
which can be saved and reused later on.

Rich informations through graphics, images, tables, visuals
effects, text styles and justifications, colors, sounds,
animations. New formats can also be exploited through external
viewers (see CHEMIME working group).

Adaptative reading. User can choose which kind of informations
they want to see, (text only, static images, coordinates, etc)
and filter them using their own preferences (colors, fonts,
printing capabilities) or connection mode (Ethernet, slow serial
line, mail).

Universality. Various browser are available for all platforms,
thus the docs and the information system don't rely on proprie-
tary formats, communications protocols or SGBD languages.

Interactivity and modularity. Others hypertext documents can be
pointed to through the electronic publications... such as
personnal pages for the authors, feedback with users (through a
middleware service such as email), bibliographic references or
other linked research subjects.

A Web based service would allow :

Quality of the presentation through the use of a standardized
language (HTML)

Availability of the service, 24 hrs a day, from all point of the
Internet and by many clients at the same time.

No search language for composing queries... Programs or scripts
can be graphically interfaced using HTTP.

Easy navigation.

Complementary informations availability

Paper based scientific publications isn't able to deal with 3D formats
for scientific data, the feedback with authors is not possible, there is no
interactive access to the data and bibliographic searches are almost
impossible. Thus, working on a new research project is harmful and time

Web Scientific Publishing isn't realistic if it's not a global project
and will not lead further than other existing scientific databases if
scientists rely on a single or on several publishers to set up such an
online service. We, scientists in general, need a global attempt to create
a new way of publishing and sharing scientific knowledge and the Web
provides means for that. Chemime extensions, VRML support, worm like search
engines have to be included in a WSP project.

Has such a project already been initiated ?
Thanks for reading


Doctor Guy BRAND
c/o Departement de Chimie Minerale, Analytique et Appliquee
University of Geneva
Sciences II
30 quai Ernest ANSERMET
CH-1211 GENEVA 4

Doctor in Chemistry. Network Consultant "Centre de Recherche
Chimie", University Louis Pasteur, Strasbourg (FRANCE)

Voice : (19 41) 022 702 6031

Mailto : Guy.Brand@chimie.u-strasbg.fr
Web : http://wwwchimie.u-strasbg.fr/GB.html