School of Medicine Library

University of South Carolina


Spring 1997 Issue

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Scholarly Publishing on the Internet: Free or Not-So-Free?

A Brief Analysis

Karen Warren
Head of Serials

Since the advent of the Internet, there seems to be a growing overall belief that the Internet has it all. Libraries have been at the forefront of providing access to this new medium, but they are also bearing the brunt of the notion that the current print medium is obsolete and everything is available electronically. The assumption by some is that even if they cannot locate some particular information, it must be available on the Internet. This is not so. Scholarly information is not all on the Internet and, unfortunately, neither is it all free.

Scholarly communication, including medical and scientific literature, is accessible through a finely tuned structure of refereed journals, most provided by fee-for-service publishers who offer added value in the form of certification that the material is authentic and accurate, archiving of previously printed information, and marketing/physical publishing. When electronic publishing mushroomed, vocal proponents envisioned an information strucure free of the constraints of market forces, cost, and delayed distribution of findings. There is still a great torrent of discussion, but so far no one proposal has succeeded in providing a workable replacement of the necessary verification and archiving capacities currently in place.

The recognition associated with being published in prestigious journals has not bee diminished by the possibility of more rapid dissemination of findings in totally electronic journals. The few journals that have appeared only in electronic format have had problems obtaining articles to "print" because this new medium is as yet untired, and researchers are reluctant to submit their findings. This being the case, traditional publishers still receive the bulk of publishable articles. These publishers are not trying to make their journals available electronically. Print and electronic versions now exist side by side, but the new electronic version has not been-free for the publishers to produce, and in most instances, they will not be free for readers to access.

There is currently free access to a number fo scientific and technical ournals. However, that free access will end for many when the publishers feel confident that they have tested the new wlectronic versions sufficiently. Until a new model for scholarly publishing arises, users of technical information will continue to pay for the packaging and delivery of findings and communications.

The Library's homepage supports access to a number of scientific electronic publications, which can be found in the Electronic Journals page: Level of access to journals ranges from complete full-text, to only Table of Contents information, to publishers' information on how to subscribe and instructions for authors. We are attempting to provide access to all e-journals that parallel our print journal collection, which have at least Table of Contents available.

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Consumer Health Inofrmation on the Web

Some relevant sources identifies

Laura Townsend Kane
Head of Cataloging and Acquisitions

Ths School of Medicine Library is in the process of developing its own "Consumer Health Information" home page ( Following are some of the resources that are included in this site. If you would like to recommend consumer health websites for inclusion in the home page, please contact Laura Kane at 733-3342.

Thomas Cooper Science Library's "Health Information Resources on the Internet." Topics include: guides to the Internet, medical Internet search engines, specialty areas such as AIDS and patient education, and health-related journals and news sources.

Home page of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Contains information on disease prevention and information for international travelers.

Health information from today's CNN headlines.

"Rx, Recent Prescriptions for Maintaining a Health Life" (Columbia Health Care). Full-text "prescriptions" promoting healthy living.

National Institutes of Health. A source for information on major research areas, important health-related topics, and diseases currently under investigation by the NIH.

"Healthtouch Online": information about prescription and over-the-counter medications.

Cancer information for patients and the public from the National Cancer Institute.

Health information for children and parents from Nemours Foundation.

"Healthweb" provides links to internet resouces regarding diseases, conditions, or health issues.

AHCPR: Agency for Health Care Policy and Research. Includes "Choosing and Using a Health Plan.

Sponsored by the American Academy of Family Physicians, American Academy of Pediatrics, the National Health Council, and Drug Information from U.S. Pharmacopeia. Offers comprehensive information regarding various health problems and symptoms.

A "medical encyclopedia" which answers medical questions in plain language. Addresses diseases, symptoms, drug interactions, nutrition, surgeries, injuries, tests, etc.

The "Mayo Health O@sis Library." A collection of health information including articles, books, reports, and other resources at the Mayo clinic.

The American Cancer Society page. Provides up-to-date information concerning the society, and includes a wealth of cancer-related resources.

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Stedman's Medical Dictionary

Stedman's Medical Dictionary is available for WordPerfect users. To set this up, contact the Computer Resources Center at 733-3341.

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Price Changes for Mediated Searches

The Library has changed the price structure for mediated searches. The new charges are as follows:

For USC Faculty, Staff, and Students and Health Care Practitioners:

OVID Medline Searches: no charge.

CD-ROM Databases through Thomas Cooper Library: no charge.

Other vendor-supplied databases: cost of the search itself (no minimum charge).

For commercial, for-profit concerns and Laypersons:

OVID Medline Searches: $10.00.

CD-ROM Databases through Thomas Cooper Library: $10.00.

Other vendor-supplied databases: search cost + $10.00.

Work will be prioritized. USC School of Medicine primary clientele (faculty, staff, students, and affiliated health care practitioners) will be given first priority.

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New Graphics Workstation

A graphics workstation has been added to the Computer Resources Center in the basement of the library building. The new machine is a Gateway Pentium 133 with a 2-gigabyte hard drive, 32 megabytes of Random Access Memory, and uses Windows 95 as the operating system. The scanner is a Hewlett Packard Scanjet 4C. The following software is installed: Microsoft Office 95, Corel Draw 4.0, and Corel Photo Paint 5.0. A zip drive will soon be added in order to accommodate users with large files.

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Medical Education Videos Ready for Checkout

The Library Staff has completed the conversion of over 500 videos in the collection from 3/4 inch format to inch format. Videocassettes will now play in standard home VCR;s, and can be checked out for a two-week period. Videos can also be viewed in the library. Ask for a key to the rooms with VCRs at the library front desk.

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Netscape Version

The current version of Netscape is 3.0 and is available from the Computer Resources Center. To have the new version loaded onto your workstation, call 733-3365.

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Bookmarking Medline on the World Wide Web

If you prefer using Medline on the School of Medicine web page, it's improtant that you do not bookmark the Medline page itself. This page can change with updates. Instead, bookmark the page that provides the link to Medline:

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Alternate Access to Medline

If you need to search Medline and the Library's version of Medline is unavailable because of updates or computer problems, there are several sources of Medline available on the web at no cost. Some require registration, and some don't contain the full database, but you can do your searches on the. They are listed on the School of Medicine home page:

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This page updated on 3 December 1997.
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