Magazine article Information Today

Top-Quality Sites for Serious Scientists; Publishers Are Bringing Authoritative Content to the Web

Magazine article Information Today

Top-Quality Sites for Serious Scientists; Publishers Are Bringing Authoritative Content to the Web

Article excerpt

One of the great attractions of the Web is its appeal to first-time publishers who can set up a site at little expense. Unfortunately, it is often one of the Web's major downfalls, too. The number of Web sites that claim to cater to scientists -- whether their work is related to physics, medicine, or chemistry -- is overwhelming, and finding those that offer genuinely authoritative content can be a problem. Here are some that do.

Beilstein's NetFire

Beilstein, the German-based chemical information provider, is attempting to tackle the issue by providing bibliographic Web access to around 140 organic and medicinal chemistry journals dating back to 1980. According to Clemens Jochum, Beilstein's managing director, the new service, named NetFire, aims to cut down the need for scientists to access third-party vendors.

"This service allows us to have direct contact with research and development scientists in the chemical/pharmaceutical industries," said Jochum. "By-passing third-party vendors means we can serve the needs of users more quickly. Accessing content via the Web is much easier than through the more complex interfaces used by online hosts."

He added, "Most researchers in the chemical/pharmaceutical industry have access to the Web these days from their offices and from home -- this service will cater to those people. With the wide range of journals on offer we hope to not only attract chemists but also physicists, toxicologists, biologists, and medical scientists."

Around 140 journals are currently accessible in NetFire, although not every article is available yet. Among the journals offered are the Journal of Molecular Modeling, Network Science, the Journal of Biological Chemistry, Chemical Communications, Mendeleev Communications, and The Journal of Physical Chemistry.

Searching is based on a query-by-form method that allows you to input author names, words included in the abstract, and titles (or words therein). A search can also be restricted to a certain journal or time range. The returned results include author, reference, title, abstract, and CNR (Citation Number in CrossFire, Beilstein's in-house chemical information management system).

Although currently offering only abstracts, titles, and authors, Beilstein plans to add more content from its in-house databases. Jochum explained, "Structures, reactions, and chemical properties still require our special software (CrossFire) but in the medium to long term we will offer more and more data via the Web browser -- that will be particularly appealing to our smaller customers."

Free access to NetFire is being offered until June and the service will require a yearly subscription of $995 for unlimited access thereafter. Beilstein also offers its content via the online services STN International and DIALOG.

Thomson Science & Professional

Also providing access to scientific journals is Thomson Science & Professional, a relatively new company formed by five publishers. It is offering abstracts from around 160 journals for free, as well as the option to subscribe to community-type sites where journals are bundled together to serve niche markets.

"It is getting to the stage that scientists have more information than they need on the Web, but they require some sort of direction," said Tamara Littleton, Thomson Science & Professional's electronic development manager. "What they need is for scientific content to be broken down into separate sites that serve individual markets."

Most of Thomson Science & Profesional's content is made up of journals from Chapman & Hall and Rapid Science publishers, although the individual clublike sites also offer forums, e-mail alerts, and references to other research. Its first four community-type sites cater to researchers working in computer science, neurology, cardiology, and AIDS.

CompSciNet, aimed at computer scientists, contains the Journal of Programming Languages, Object Oriented Systems, and Discrete Mathematics and Theoretical Computer Science. …

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