An agreement between ICTP/TWAS and several major scientific
publishers promises to provide ready access to current scientific
literature to researchers from the developing world.
"Why don't you do it?"
Paul Ginsparg, creator of the Los Alamos preprint series "arXIv,"
which has revolutionized the way physicists exchange information,
posed this question to Hilda Cerdeira, head of the ICTP/ Third
World Academy of Sciences (TWAS) Donations Programme, at a 'breakout'
session of the International Council for Science/United Nations
Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (ICSU/UNESCO)
Conference on Electronic Publishing in Science, held on a gray
wintry day in Paris, in February 2001.
Well, eight months later, 'it' is now 'done.' Thanks to a series of agreements with Academic Press, the American Physical Society, the Institute of Physics Publishing and World Scientific Publishing Co., ICTP has launched a free "eJournals Delivery Service" (eJDS) that allows scientists from the developing world, and especially from the least developed countries, to access articles found in some 200 scientific journals in physics, chemistry, biology, mathematics and computer science. The publications include Advances in Mathematics, Analytical Biochemistry, Annals of Physics and Physical Reviews.
The programme takes advantage of another ICTP innovation--the Centre's www4mail software package (see News from ICTP, Winter 2001)--to ensure that developing world scientists with limited economic resources and/or low bandwidth internet facilities are able to download and print journal material from their computers by simply relaying the texts of articles to their e-mail addresses. eJDS is reliable, timely, easy-to-use and free.
While the service will be managed by the ICTP/TWAS Donations Programme, the initiative represents a joint venture with the ICTP Scientific Computing Section and Library, which have provided valuable technical and administrative support.
Scientists who are interested in gaining access to eJDS must fill out an application form that is available through ICTP (see concluding paragraph). Publishers, which have made the service possible by signing extended off-site licensing agreements with the Centre, have established a set of criteria for those who will be entitled to use the service. In addition, they have set limits to the number of articles per journal that can be accessed each day (three), month (12) and year (100).
The arrangement represents a delicate balance between the publishers' need to generate adequate revenue flows through paid subscriptions and their desire to make information--the lifeblood of the global scientific community--easily available to all scientists. Under the agreement, everyone wins. Developing world scientists will now have access to a much wider range of current scientific information and findings than ever before. The publishers will be able to reach researchers who would otherwise not have either the technical or financial means to read articles in their journals in a timely fashion. And ICTP will broaden its vital role as an important 'home away from home' for scientists from the South--this time by taking advantage both of new information technologies and a growing willingness on the part of the scientific community to forge public/private partnerships for the advancement of scientific knowledge.
For additional information about the ICTP/TWAS Donations
Programme's eJournals Delivery Service, contact eJDS, ICTP/TWAS
Donations Programme, ICTP, Strada Costiera 11, 34014 Trieste,
Italy, phone: + 39 040 2240 636; fax: + 39 040 2240 633; or email:
leaving the subject blank.