Purpose and Philosophy
In the past few years, considerable attention has been given to the consequences of electronically publishing scientific journals. While email and the Web have provided opportunities for economies in the preparation and distribution of journals, it is still necessary to generate revenue to pay for the staff that manages the editorial and refereeing process. Journals are evolving into the world of electronic publication, but it is not clear what final form they will take.
However, many scholarly articles are published, not in journals, but instead in conference proceedings. Here the advantages of electronic publication are much more clear. Conference proceedings articles are usually not refereed but are simply collected and edited by the conference organizers. These people do the editorial work to prepare the proceedings volume as a part of the responsibilities they donate to the conference. At the end of this process, the conference organizers typically prepare a camera-ready manuscript, which is sent to a publisher for printing and distribution. Using electronic publishing and access tools, this last step can be completely eliminated. In the process, one eliminates essentially the entire cost to a library of making that proceedings volume available to the clients it serves.
Conference proceedings are an important part of the particle physics literature. But fewer and fewer libraries are buying proceedings as their per volume costs, paralleling the pattern of scholarly journals, has spiraled upwards. If all scientific conference proceedings were available electronically free of charge, the cost savings in both collection dollars and labor for each individual library would be significant.
The element which is needed to make direct distribution of conference proceedings possible is a stable electronic archive that will collect electronically-produced proceedings, index them, permanently archive them, and facilitate access to them over the Web. This is the mission of the eConf archive.
The eConf archive makes it possible to locate and download individual conference papers or complete proceedings. For librarians, the metadata associated with the proceedings volume is also accessible. All conference proceedings archived in eConf will be linked from the SPIRES Conference and HEP databases, and all individual papers will also be linked from the HEP database. Thus, both conference proceedings and paper will be indexed automatically in the principal databases used by the High-Energy Physics community.
In addition, the eConf site provides optional html, Word and LaTeX templates to help simplify the process of preparing conference materials for electronic presentation.
In its introductory stage, the eConf archive is restricted to conferences in High-Energy Physics and related fields, that is, to the conferences indexed by the SPIRES Conference database. It accepts submissions in text and html formats, but not streaming audio and video. These limitations could potentially be lifted in the future.
Please support this project by publishing your conference proceedings electronically with eConf.
-- Michael Peskin and Pat Kreitz
July 28, 2000
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eConf Committee at SLAC
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