Re: Interoperability - subject classification/terminology

From: Peter Suber <>
Date: Sat, 23 Nov 2002 15:18:58 +0000

At 04:19 AM 11/23/2002 Subbiah Arunachalam wrote:

> Why is it that Open Archives/ E-prints works well in
> some fields (physics, astronomy, computer science) and
> not in other fields (say, agriculture)? I would like
> to hear from members of the list.

Arun: Here's my list of the FOS-relevant differences among the
disciplines. Some are effects rather than causes of archive use, and some
are relevant to aspects of FOS other than archive use. But it's a start.

Different disciplines have different needs:

    Some have superb print indices, online indices, or search engines,
    and some don't.

    Some have online preprint exchanges, and some don't.

    The literature in some fields is pure text, perhaps with an occasional
    table or illustration, while in others it relies heavily on images
    or even multi-media presentations.

    In some, journal literature is the primary literature, while in
    others it only reports on the history and interpretation of the
    primary literature.

    In some fields, both truth and money are at stake in the results
    reported in scholarly literature, while in others, only truth is
    at stake.

    In some fields, most published research is funded, while in others
    very little is.

    In some disciplines, the cost of research is greater than the cost
    of publication, while in others, the reverse is true.

    In some fields, most journal publishers are for-profit corporations,
    while in other fields most are non-profit universities, libraries,
    or professional societies.

    In some fields, nearly all publishing researchers are employed by
    universities, while in others the fraction is significantly smaller.

    In some fields, the sets of journal readers and journal authors are
    nearly identical, while in others they overlap only slightly.

    In some fields, research will be impeded if access to journal
    literature is not timely, while in others timeliness matters much

    In some fields, the percentage of published literature which is online
    is comparatively high and growing fast; in others it is negligible
    and growing glacially.

We should not expect, then, that a solution which fits all disciplines
will occur early in this evolution, or that a solution with this potential
will apply to all disciplines at roughly the same time.

I'm continually revising this list and in any case look forward to other,
more specific answers to Arun's question.

Peter Suber, Professor of Philosophy
Earlham College, Richmond, Indiana, 47374

Editor, Free Online Scholarship Newsletter
Editor, FOS News blog
Received on Sat Nov 23 2002 - 15:18:58 GMT

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.3.0 : Fri Dec 10 2010 - 19:46:42 GMT