Vol. 24, No. 6
and Technical Information
Representative's Report on the 2002 ICSTI General Assembly
the pleasure to be IUPACs representative to ICSTI, the International
Council for Scientific and Technical Information <www.icsti.org>.
ICSTI is a forum for interaction between organizations that create,
disseminate, and use scientific and technical information. It is unique
in its breadth of membership primary and secondary publishers,
database producers, government departments, national libraries, and
users from across the worldbecause it represents such a broad
range of interests in a multiplicity of scientific disciplines.
General Assembly is hosted by a different member organization each year.
Recent meetings have been held in South Africa, the United States, Scotland,
Taiwan, and Germany. Next years meeting will be held in Canada.
At this years meeting there was a representative from every major
land mass except Antarctica.
Assembly was hosted in June by KTHB, the library of the Royal Institute
of Technology in Stockholm, Sweden, which had celebrated the opening
of a splendid new building the month before. The assembly hosts arranged
for tours of the new facility and a visit to the Viking site of Birka.
The Council Dinner was held in Stockholm City Hall, emulating the December
2001 Nobel Laureates formal dinner. Such functions, which, in
my opinion General Assembly hosts use legitimately and hospitably out
of national pride, have led detractors to suggest that ICSTI is some
sort of social club for those in the higher echelons of information
organizations. This has certainly not been the case while IUPAC has
been a member, although I have noticed a certain change in focus.
ago, there was much discussion about the role of professional publishers
and on copyright issues as publishers struggled to find new, money-making
arrangements in the changing world of electronic publishing. Nowadays,
there is much more discussion about "free" information and
how to provide access to those in the Third World. Indeed, at the Stockholm
ICSTI meeting, the Swedish International Development Agency invited
observers from the National Information System for Science and Technology
in New Delhi, India, and from the Sri Lanka Scientific and Technical
Information Center. Access for all was also one of the main underlying
themes at the second UNESCO/ICSU Conference on Electronic Publishing
in Science, supported by ICSTI, and held in Paris in February 2001.
A detailed report is available online. At the public conference in Stockholm,
a representative of the Institute of Physics in Mexico also presented
a paper on the "digital divide."
conference, open to the public, is held in conjunction with each ICSTI
General Assembly. This years theme was "Scientific information:
the challenges of creating and maintaining access." Papers of particular
interest to me, personally, were presented by Uwe Assmann of Linköping
University, on the second generation Web; by Ian Butterworth of Imperial
College, London, on academic user behavior in accessing scholarly information;
and by Mayur Amin of Elsevier Science, whose publisher viewpoint revealed
some of the inconsistencies in user perceptions. The conference papers,
or at least the presenters slides, will appear in a next issue
of ICSTIs journal Forum; see the Web site <www.icsti.org/forum>.
also funds a number of projects under the auspices of its technical
activities and information policy committees. One project worth mentioning
here is Henry Kehiaians "IUCOSPED" numeric data standardization
effort. This work was supported in a small way by IUPAC about two years
ago, and that was instrumental in raising further financial support
from the International Council for Science (ICSU) and ICSTI. A final
report is to be presented to the CODATA (ICSU Committee on Data for
Science and Technology) General Assembly in October 2002. A Data Explorer
portal, built on an Oracle database, will reportedly be made available
at FIZ Karlsruhe.
is currently very interested in ensuring that digital data is permanently
archived. ICSTI, ICSU, and CODATA sponsored a seminar in February 2002
to consider the challenges. Tony Davies, secretary of the IUPAC
Committee on Printed and Electronic Publication (CPEP), has written
a useful article about this. Other projects,
amongst many, have involved classifications and glossaries, knowledge
management, the EU Copyright Directive, and work with the Ingenta Institute
on access to journals through subscriptions and document delivery. In
January 2003, ICSTI will be involved with two meetings on the public
domain and open access to scientific and technical information generated
by public institutions.
Secretariat is under new management and the organizations officers
(who serve on a voluntary basis) are actively ensuring that ICSTIs
meetings and projects meet the rapidly changing needs and interests
of its 50 or more member organizations. IUPAC and the International
Unions of Physics and Crystallography are three of the nine members
in the international category. I conclude that IUPAC and ICSTI continue
to receive mutual benefits from the networking within this global community.
Warr <[email protected]>,
managing consultant at Wendy Warr & Associates in the United Kingdom,
chairs the IUPAC Committee on Printed and Electronic Publications.