Wednesday, 30 May 2007

Supplementary Material in journal publishing

I went to a couple of interesting events in March and April. The first was the eJournal Archiving & Preservation Workshop held at the British Library on 27 March, 2007 (sponsored by the Digital Preservation Coalition, BL and JISC). The keynote was Anne Kenney talking about the "Metes and Bounds" report on eJournal preservation, and there were many good talks. But the interesting thing in this context was how often the problem of "supplementary materials" came up again and again in questions. This meant all sorts of things, including multimedia, but in particular this related to associated data. A good example of a journal that specifically aims to exploit the Internet's capabilities in providing access to supplementary materials (rather than just transporting two-column PDFs around for me to print off) is Internet Archaeology. The problem of course is that this kind of material falls outside the bounds of things that can be easily preserved with the developing preservation systems.

The next event was an ALPSP workshop on the transformation of research communication, on 13 April at the IMechE in London. This event was mainly aimed at publishers, but again supplementary materials and specifically data came up several times in questions and panel sessions, although this time data also came up in presentations as well (eg Christine Borgman and Simon Coles).

Of course, while having a journal literature that enables connection to underlying data is a pretty neat idea, not everyone is happy with the publishers taking control of that data and adding it to their lock-in of scholarly intellectual property. Generally I agree with these concerns, but we have yet to establish a sustainable alternative model for providing continuing access to these data either. I think this one will run and run!


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