Open Access and Abstract/Indexing Services

From: Stevan Harnad <>
Date: Mon, 27 Jan 2003 21:57:59 +0000

Query from [identity removed]:

> Thank you for your continued and vigorous discussion on the current
> state of journal publishing. I am curious if you've published or
> presented an opinion on abstract and indexing services such as (the
> non-profit) BIOSIS and on online services such as (the for-profit) Web
> of Science/Knowledge (etc). Could you direct me to that position
> statement? If you have no stated position on such services, have you
> encountered a meritorious point of view that is worth reading and
> considering.

My own expertise and interest is in primary content -- in particular,
facilitating and hastening its open accessibility through institutional
self-archiving. A new generation of secondary services will no doubt be
built upon this open-access, full-text, OAI-tagged distributed database,
harvested from research institutions the world over. There
is already a growing list of OAI service providers:

So far, these are all free services, but there is nothing to prevent
fee-based services from trying to find niches here, if they have a
service that users find worth paying for (and that the free services
cannot match or better). Among the large existing free and fee-based
providers, Elsevier's Scirus
has already made a notable entry here, but with a free service, provided
as a value-added for their fee-based products, including the toll-access
full-texts that are not available yet in open-access.

You ask me for my view on existing secondary services such as BIOSIS and
ISI's Web-of-Science. They all provide valuable services, and obviously
it is their value plus the user's ability to pay that decides which is
best for whom today. In future, when all full-text journal articles are
online and open-access, these services will no doubt have to upgrade
and restructure themselves. Google already provides full-text inversion
for all publicly available web documents. In my view, boolean search
on inverted full-text plus the google ranking algorithm (based on link
counts and authorities) will be hard to beat, but no doubt ever more
powerful new tools will emerge. The open-access full-text corpus will
also be fully citation-interlinked, so ISI too will have to work hard
to stay ahead of the game.

Stevan Harnad

The eventual outcome among secondaries is anyone's guess. The priority
now is hastening open access for the primary corpus.
Received on Mon Jan 27 2003 - 21:57:59 GMT

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