WG.2: Communication in Physics



Roger Elliott - Chair

Working Group on Communications

1. General

IUPAP's nominated representative to ICSTI who is also a member of their
Executive Board is Ian Butterworth but he was unable to attend and
I acted as alternate.

It proved to be a somewhat disappointing meeting. The location,
Moscow, and the extent, 4 days, made it too expensive in time and
money for many participants so that in the end less than 20 of the
50 members were represented. Also a mismatch in the arrangements
made by the Russian hosts VINITI and the Secretariat made for
somewhat confused proceedings.

On the other hand it provided an opportunity for a public conference
on ``Information Services for Basic and Applied Sciences'' which
attracted a good attendance from representatives of the newly independent
states of the former Soviet Union. It provided a forum for them to
explain their current difficulties, to hear experts from the west,
and to give VINITI renewed contacts with its former clients.

2. ICSTI Structure

The organisation is in a state of flux. Several key players who have
been strong supporters over many years have recently retired so there is
a largely new slate of offices. A considerable effort is being made
to retain old members and recruit new ones with a limited success to date.
This has also led to financial deficits which are being addressed in
two ways. A new dues structure, with slightly increased overall
subscriptions, has been accepted by a majority of the members and will
be imposed. It was also decided to reduce the costs of the central
secretariat by a large factor. It was not immediately clear how this
would be achieved but implies that there will be significant changes
in the way in which the organisation is run.

3. Information Policy Issues

ICSTI has been taking part in the (endless) debate on Open Access and
has organised joint meetings with CODATA and AAAS. It brings to the
table its core expertise from major libraries and information providers.
For example the meeting received an up to date report from
the National Library of Medicine on current developments with PubMedCentral.
There has also been considerable discussion of archiving and a joint study
with IUCr on the longterm availability of the digital records of science was
discussed. Their recommendations provide an update on the study
of this problem by IUPAP at the Lyon meeting in 2001. It calls for
a greater collaboration between the various disciplines and the
institutions which are involved.

4. Technical Activities

There was an interim report on a study commissioned by ICSTI amongst
its members, many of whom are leading scientific and technical information
centres, to try and identify critical developments at these centres
and libraries in the next few years.

5. Collaborations

ICSTI has built up a good collaboration with CODATA and INASP. Their
constituencies largely complement each other. One area not fully
covered within these ICSU related family members is the more traditional
scientific publishing as represented by STM. In ICSU's recent review
on Data and Information it was suggested that ICSTI might take on
this role although as presently constituted this does not seem appropriate.
The present collaborative arrangements are set to continue but could
be modified following the ICSU General Assembly later this year.

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