IU5. International Council for Scientific and Technical Information (ICSTI)

The ICSTI Report

January 2006


During the past year, ICSTI has continued to fulfill its role of providing a unique gathering of the diverse groups interested in and concerned with scientific, technical, and medical information, from generation through access to archiving. As the only international organization serving this community, whose importance expands as the information revolution pervades every aspect of science, technology and medicine, ICSTI serves its members through meetings, technical activities, special studies and networking. This brief report summarizes some of the valuable services ICSTI provides its members. Further details can be obtained through the provided links.

1. ICSTI General Assembly Public Conferences

Each year at its General Assembly, ICSTI hosts a Public Conference, open to all, that addresses a major issue to the scientific, technical, medical information (STMI) community. This continuing series of informative events provides an ongoing overview of how the information revolution is shaping STMI today and into the future. The last four Public Conferences were as follows.

2005 (Moscow) Information Services for Fundamental and Applied Sciences
2004 (London) Technical and Economic Challenges of Scientific Information:
STM Content Access, Linking and Archiving
2003 (Ottawa) Socio-economic Impacts of Scientific and Technical Information
within National Innovation Systems
2002 (Stockholm) Challenges of Creating and Maintaining Access to STI

2. ICSTI and the World Summit on the Information Society

In conjunction with and at the two UN World Summits on the Information Society in Geneva (2003) and Tunis (2005), ICSTI played a key role in bringing the issues and concerns of the STMI community to the attention of the scientific, STMI and international policy communities. Among the most recent activities were two important workshops. The first provided input from the STMI community into the second (Tunis) WSIS. The second provided a report and feedback to the STMI community from the first (Geneva) WSIS.

1-2 September 2005 ICSTI co-sponsored an international workshop “Creating the Global Information Commons for Science: Toward Institutional Policies and Guidelines for Action”
Over 100 people from 25 countries attended and discussed issues and challenges related to the creation and dissemination of STM information resulting from publicly-funded research. Other sponsors included CODATA, ICSU, UNESCO, TWAS and INASP.

10 November 2004 ICSTI co-sponsored the Special Session on the World Summit on the Information Society, held during the 19 th CODATA International Conference.
The Session reported on the results of the Geneva (2003) portion on the WSIS and described STM information and data related aspects of the Declaration of Principles and Agenda for Action coming from that Summit. Other Session sponsors included CODATA, ICSU, TWAS, INASP, the U.S National Academies and the French Academy of Sciences.

3. Special Workshops and Symposia

31 August 2005 An ICSTI STI National Centres Meeting
This meeting was held in Paris to discuss the unique concerns of National STI Centres in the context of a rapidly changing and evolving information environment. Topics covered included: Resource discovery, Collection development, Portals and Communities - Development of portals; Open access; Industry structure; Datasets and e-Science; Grey literature and Archiving and preservation.

19 February 2005 An ICSTI co-sponsored session “Changing Scientific Publishing: Open Access and Implications for the Working Scientist” at the AAAS (U.S.) Symposium
The ICSTI Session featured six speakers who covered the whole spectrum of ideas on this subject. The Session was co-sponsored with CODATA and CENDI (U.S.).

2003 ICTI/INIST/INSERM Seminar on Open Access to Scientific and Technical Information
Papers from this meeting are available at Information Services and Use, volume 23, issues 2-3.

4. ICSTI 2006 Winter Public Meeting

3 February 2006 An ICSTI Public Workshop Information and Data in e-Science Making Seamless Access a Reality
The reality of e-Science is upon us, and the broad range of scientific and technical information and data (STI) that is now available online plays a critical role in this new paradigm of research and development. Modern information and communications technology today allows access to virtually all forms of information and data “at the desktop”. Working scientists rely on web-based and intranet resources to be their virtual library. What does this mean to the creators, providers and users of scientific and technical information and data?
ICSTI, with support of the French Ministry of Research, INIST-CNRS and INSERM, is holding an international workshop to address three aspects of information and data in

  • What does an e-scientist do and what role does access to information and data via networks play?
  • What are the challenges to the STI community – industry, non-profit and government – in supporting e-Science?
  • How will modern information and communications technology help meet these challenges?

ICSTI has put together an agenda comprising outstanding visionaries and implementers from leading STI organizations to discuss these subjects in a focused workshop designed to help understand some of the answers to these important questions.

5. ICSU Priority Area Assessment Panel on Scientific and Technical Data and Information

In December 2004, the International Council for Science (ICSU)
issued a report on Scientific Data and Information, resulting from an assessment of a special independent panel. Though the assessment focused on ICSU bodies, the panel also briefly touched on ICSTI. The panel’s report noted that “ICSTI has established links with CODATA, and to a lesser extent with the INASP [International Network on the Availability of Scientific Publications].

The report also stated that “the multi-stakeholder ICSTI membership was thought appropriate for addressing many of the key issues relating to scientific and technical information in general, and scientific publishing in particular, in ways that are relevant to the operational activities of many ICSU national and union members. Closer links between ICSTI and the ICSU membership could potentially replace much of the advisory function formerly assigned to CDSI [Committee on Dissemination of Scientific Information].

ICSTI will be addressing these issues in the future.

6. CODATA/ICSTI Prototype Portal on Permanent Access to Scientific Data and Information

ICSTI has been working with CODATA to create a portal prototype to raise the visibility of the issues related to the permanent access to scientific data and information internationally. The objective for the portal, when operational, is to provide information about and links to:

• Scientific data and information archiving procedures, technologies, standards, and policies;
• Discipline-specific and cross-disciplinary archiving projects and activities; and,
• Expert points of contact in all countries, with particular attention to those in developing countries.

7. New Members

During the past two years, ICST has continued to expand its membership, with several important players in the STMI community joining.

Bureau Van Dijk Information Management
EDP Sciences
German National Library of Science and Technology (TIB)
Lapiz Digital Services
Scope e-Knowledge Center
United States Department of Energy
United States Library of Congress

8. Changes at the Secretariat

In August 2005, Barry Mahon, the former Executive Director, left ICSTI after four years of outstanding service to the organization. Under his leadership, ICSTI gained many new members and expanded its visibility and impact in the STMI world. The officers thank Barry for all his fine accomplishments.

Mr. Chervine Chams has joined ICSTI as its new Executive Secretary. His professional background includes experience in the fields of Information and Communication Technology, finance (Paribas) and academia (UCLA-Anderson School of Management). An avid tennis player, he has competed in several professional tournaments. Mr. Chams is currently pursuing a Ph.D. at l’Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales.

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