Electronic Bio-publishing Initiative

Barbara Kirsop Bio at BIOSTRAT.DEMON.CO.UK
Fri Mar 15 23:36:37 CST 1996

We have been watching the discussion on TAXACOM regarding
electronic publishing (EP) with interest, having recently
participated in an ICSU/UNESCO Conference on EP and Science.
For the Recommendations agreed by this Conference, please see:

We are also interested because we have established an EP
system for biosciences (http://www.bdt.org.br/bioline/) called
Bioline Publications. This is a partnership between the
Editorial office in the UK (set up as a company, for
convenience) and the Tropical Data Base (BDT, Campinas,
Brasil) that is part of the Fundacao Tropical de Pesquisas e
Tecnologia and which hosts the system and develops the
necessary software.

We are microbiologists and computer experts. Our joint aim is
to facilitate the less costly and more rapid distribution of
scientific literature and at the same time take advantage of
all the technological advantages of EP. We aim to operate on a
cost recovery basis - with time. We have a particular interest
in ensuring a more equitable distribution of scientific
literature to all parts of the world.

We carry out parallel publishing of printed journals (in
collaboration with about 12 publishers who have mostly agreed
to reduce the cost of subscription for people that access the
material via Bioline). We also publish reports and newsletters
and so far two books. We are now starting to develop ONLINE-
ONLY journals that can be far cheaper (no printing and
distribution costs). Abstracts of all these documents are
available free to all Internet users. Subscription is required
for acquiring the full text and graphics of papers.

Additionally, we are beginning to add links to relevent
databases, abstracts of other references and so on, adding
value to the papers on the system. This work is developing
steadily as opportunities arise to make links to appropriate
information resources. The scope for the development of
'virtual papers' is very great. We see this as the way ahead
and are working with others to take further steps.

We aim to be as flexibile as possible. To this end,
registration can be for a year's subscription or for single
papers; delivery is by e-mail or online; graphics may be
requested in alternative formats to the default; the
whole system is searchable at each level. A number of
add-on services is provided (Bioline Mail, Bioline
List, News, software, links to other bibliographics sites).
We consider the e-mail use of the system very important for
the time being.

We are monitoring usage to see what users most prefer. At
present the free part of the system is accessed by some 30-
40,000 different sites each year. Subscriptions are beginning
to be received and the single document system seems to be
attractive. We have done little 'marketing', so are encouraged
by the present interest.

The online-only journals are fully peer-reviewed, properly
identified and dated and archived at present with the British
Library (as .htm, .txt and printed versions) for safe-keeping.
They are published paper-by-paper and have a yearly issue, but
no volumes. Copyright remains with the authors. We are assured
that the only criterion of whether they are cited or not is
quality. Distribution method is not a consideration.

These journals (which are managed by ourselves in
collaboration with editorial boards) are as follows:
BioSafety (already 10 months old), Biofilm (an EB established
and a Call for Papers made), Biopolicy (an EB established and
a Call for Papers imminent), Sustainable Land Management (EB
being established). Other sciencists are discussing
possibities in other specific bio-topics. The cost of annual
subscriptions is being set at about $50-$60/annum, and single
papers at $6. We are discussing the possibilities of site
licenses and/or institutional subscriptions.

We are writing now because many of the debates we have read on
TAXACOM address issues that we too face, and have yet to face.
We would like to suggest that the systematics community could
consider using Bioline as a distribution mechanism for its
first venture into the EP world. An international Editorial
Board could be assembled through TAXACOM, a working mechanism
for handling the refereeing procedure and Instructions for
Authors could be developed, a Call for Papers could be made.
Bioline would be very willing to manage the 'EP aspects' of
the publication and the journal management (subscriptions etc)
in collaboration with executive editors and the TAXACOM

We have not charged publishers for using Bioline so far since
the system was experimental. We feel that the system is now
properly established and working successfully and that in
order that it becomes sustainable in the longer term, we need
to start to recover our costs. We know well the financial
constraints of systematics in general (we have microbial
systematists and past curators in our group), so we would
like to suggest that a grant application might be made to
develop the journal and support this until it reaches the
phase of income recovery. We feel that this would be an
attractive and exciting concept to funding agencies, providing
systematics with the means to link so many information
resources to the scientific papers they produce (nomenclature
lists, sequence databases, chemical databases, museum and
resource centre listings....) and testing the water of EP
without relinquishing established practices of species
description until there is greater confidence in the EP

Alternatively, TAXACOM may feel that they can use other
outlets for this initiative, in which case Bioline will be
very happy to make appropriate links to the host site that is
established. Whatever is felt to be appropriate, we feel that
our experience in a number of the areas that must be faced
could be useful.

We apologise for the length of this message. Perhaps we should
just have directed TAXACOM readers to the Bioline URL. We hope
you will explore the system that we have set up and particularly
look at how the journals BioSafety and Biofilm are operating.
We would like to hear whether you feel there is scope for
collaboration in the future. We are already discussing the possibility
of a microbiological systematics initiative and a number of people
have been considering the potential for this. Maybe there should be
sister publications, linked as appropriate, to add value yet maintain
a separate identity.

Barbara Kirsop                       Vanderlei Canhos
Bioline Editorial Office, UK         Bioline Host Site, Brasil
bio at biostrat.demon.co.uk             vcanhos at bdt.org.br

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