The 4L-Project: Local Information Worldwide. An applied project for dissemination of scientific contributions produced by Italian authors in Veterinary Sciences and Agriculture and its integration with international information sources.
L. Pitaro*, L.
Fruttini**, L. Lazzari***, L. Morotti****
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Academic and research institutions are the biggest producers and users of scientific information. Scientific information wants to be free -considering the fact that the researchers do not have any interest in obtaining royalties from the publication of their articles. Their interest is absolutely opposite: that of enabling the max number of researchers to access the results of their work.
The researcher in the act of publishing does not have the profit finality but only the desire to let all the scientific community access the results of his work.
For more information on this issue you can consult the following web site: http://www.cogsci.soton.ac.uk/-harnad/Tp/resolution.htm. See the proceedings of the meeting on Scholarly Publication Firenze 22nd of March 2001.
On the other hand marketing has an important role in the distribution of scientific information. In reality, commercial activity does not belong to the mission of Academic and Research Institutions, so there is no expectation that this kind of activity can be well managed from these kind of institutes.
Between these two opposite tendencies,
probably the best point of equilibrium can be obtained through the co-operation
between commercial entities and the scientific world: this could allow
the possibility of reaching a model for the distribution of the scientific
production in a wider way and following market criteria in line with the
emerging needs in the processes of scientific communication, particularly
The actual situation shows us that not always scientific information produced locally can not always reach the main distribution channels of distribution that are recognised and utilised at international level.
A few data that support this thesis confirm the necessity to find alternative routes to invert the tendency.
Emerging data on the Italian reality are not comforting: in the year 2000 BIOSIS holds less than 4% of records by italian authors and of this less than 0,02% are obtained from Italian journals. With CAB Abstracts these values turn respectively to 3% and 1,6%; COMPENDEX gives the following values: 3% and 0,02%; INSPEC gives 3% and 0,1%; PSYCINFO gives 1,5% and 0,1%; SOCIOLOGICAL Abstracts gives 2% and 1%. Even if this analysis is limited to only 6 databases that refer to 6 macro-disciplines we do not expect that, if extended to other bibliographic resources in different subject areas, this would bring to significantly different and more comfortable results.
This analysis, if done on other countries excluding the English speaking ones, would produce very similar results.
The reasons that contribute to produce this status quo can be identified as:
- at the Institutions end there is
a lack of awareness of the importance of promoting and distributing the
scientific research to the scientists outside a specific environment;
All what has been said is generally applicable to the majority of scientific and research Institutions in Italy, including also the Istituti Zooprofilattici Sperimentali. . All that as been said is generally applicable to the majority of scientific and research Institutions in Italy, including the Istituti Zooprofilattici Sperimentali.a recent analysis conducted on the scientific production of Istituto Zooprofilattico Sperimentale of Lombardia and Emilia Romagna that was chosen due to the significant amount of research papers produced, showed that less than 25% of the whole production was indexed in CAB and less than 18% con be found in Medline. This data as well as the analysis of the internal situation has shown specific needs and also the necessity to start a project aimed to the preparation of the guidelines that must be followed for the harvesting, conservation and distribution of internal scientific production: publications and grey literature.
Istituti Zooprofilattici Sperimentali, which are present all over Italy with 10 headquarters and 96 provincial diagnostic branches, produce scientific information; these works - often produced together with Universities or with other Research Centres - are mainly published on scientific journal. In addition to these publications, other kinds of materials are published such as: annual reports on the diagnostic and research activity and other factual cells and monoclones databases. This publishing activity aims to let the scientific community know about the state of the art of the research process in the various Institutions and also the training and updating activity towards veterinarians, farmers and professionals in the field of Agriculture and in the same way also animal and human nutrition specialists.
While the scientific works published
on international magazines have a visibility inside the Institutes and
at international level, because of the fact that they get indexed in the
major databases of the field, all the other publications, either results
of researches or material for teaching purposes, have only a partial circulation
inside Istituti Zooprofilattici and are completely absent from the national
and international context.
Over the last few years the Istituti
Zooprofilattici libraries are cooperating in order to create synergies
for producing more advanced and efficient services with at the same time
lower costs. From 1999 a cooperation has been started between all the Institutes
for the acquisition of electronic resources. Currently bibliographic databases
are shared with the Libraries catalogues and with the full-text of their
electronic journals. From this first experience of cooperation the idea
of a better level of integration between the information that can be gathered
on international databases and the publications of the Institutes has trought
with the primary goal to give the researchers a single environment through
which to run their searches.
The pilot project has involved three out of ten II.ZZ.SS.: the Lombardia and Emilia Romagna one, the Umbria and Marche one and the Mezzogiorno Italy one. After perfecting the procedures and having verified the feasability of the project, it will be extended on the national network of the Institutes.
It has also been decided that the collections of the single Institutes must be made available in a transparent and organic way to the user-either if he refers to the II.ZZ.SS or if he is an external researcher-independently from their physical location. In the same way these collections must represent a significant quantity of documents of interest to the international scientific community. This necessity has been satisfied thanks to the preparation of guidelines for the harmonisation of procedures aimed to the harvesting of information and the subsequent creation of a centralised bibliographic database.
The next step has been that of identifying the ways through which to open this database to the outside world and make it accessible and integrable with different resources.
The following characteristics have been defined as fundamental for the centralised database:
- easy possibility of integration
with the other external resources in a context of hybrid library;
Various possibilities have been explored, like for example the Open Archive initiative and that of the pre-print servers, but they offer only a partial solution to the problem. Even though every author is free to include his work on the pre-print server or on an Open Archive system, the quality of the meta-data (of the bibliographic description) is in general not good. For the purpose of allowing the authors to insert the information in a simple and fast way, both these initiatives can not force editorial rules and publication standards that result too strict. This penalises the research of the documents from a quality-quantity point of view and from a methodology point of view.
In September 2000 SilverPlatter Information
has started a study finalised to the identification of a solution that
will enable to answer needs very similar to the ones highlighted by our
pilot project. SilverPlatter Information has proposed to the Istituti Zooprofilattici
to cooperate in their project and to contribute to its development.
Every Institution deciding to contribute
with a significant number of documents will have unlimited access to the
archive. SilverPlatter Information will coordinate the promotion of the
initiative giving it visibility at a global level. The intellectual property
of the data included will remain with authors' affiliation Institutions
and they will be able to distribute passwords in order to enable chosen
groups of researchers to perform the data entry of their documents directly
into the system. Participating Institutions will also provide the necessary
training to their researchers and will perform and guarantee the quality
control of the works that are included.
The service will be hosted by SilverPlatter
ad will be made accessible via Internet, while the Istituti Zooprofilattici,
as well as the other Institutions that will take part in the project will
be able to install a local hosting system at a later stage, if they want
to. In this case SilverPlatter will automatically be able to harvest data
transferring them from the local collections to the central database via
Within these subject areas the record scheme based on the Dublin Core will be defined for every one of the following resources:
- PEER-REVIEWED articles, newspapers
The database will be integrated with SilverPlatter ERL technology that through WebSPIRS, the gateway Z39,50 and SilverLinker, will enable its integration with other bibliographic databases and with the other resources available in a hybrid Library context.
Bibliographic records included in II.ZZ.SS. database will be linked to the full text of the corresponding documents via the URL and/or the DOI. Links validity verification will be performed on a weekly bases. Alternatively it will be possible to load the documents on the central server. In this case the documents must be in one of the following formats: PDF, MSWord, RTF, ASCII, PostScript.
The feeding of the data will come through a web interface or through batch record procedures in a XML format. The export of the documents will be possible through batch record procedure in XML or the gathering of data with OAI protocol.
In a first stage the system will be compatible only with the ISO-Latin1 (this because of the limit in ERL technology). It will be compatible with the Unicode as soon as it will be supported by ERL Technology.
Authentication will be based on the
LDAP (Light Directory Access Protocol) with the possibility of implementing
the PKI (Public Key Infrastructure) in the future.
In this early stage of the project
we tried not to take into too much account some practical aspects that
will for sure represent obstacles to the smooth progression of this project
The well consolidated habits researchers have in terms of making their works published in those journals that will give them the highest impact factor although this almost always means to totally loose the intellectual property of the scientific contribution.
On the other hand the possible and expected resistance by traditional publishers to allow scientists to keep - even if in part - the intellectual property of their works. And this might represent a threat to authors: to publish in a renowned journal and lose rights on their papers or not to publish at all.
Difficulty to have them agree on the fact that the Institutes must and will be those who own the intellectual property of research papers produced by authors employed by IIZZSS.
to name a few.
We did it on purpose because we felt that if we gave too much attention to these possible problems we would never be able to start the project and take it forward.
It is our strong conviction that
this is the way in which scientific communication will be delivered in
future and that scientists will quickly change their habits adapting to
the new possibilities technology gives them in order to communicate to