Congress Acts to Shut Down Government Web Site Used for Journals Research

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> From the issue dated July 20, 2001

  Congress Acts to Shut Down Government Web Site Used for
  Journals Research

     A Web site operated by the U.S. Energy Department that allows
  scientists to search journals for citations and abstracts in
  the physical sciences is in jeopardy because of a bill
  approved last month by the House of Representatives. The bill
  is accompanied by a report that recommends eliminating the

  The service, PubScience, allows researchers to examine more
  than 1,000 peer-reviewed journals free and at the same time,
  instead of searching multiple Web sites, publications, and
  references (

  PubScience is the Energy Department's most popular Web portal,
  receiving millions of search requests a year, said Walter
  Warnick, director of the department's Office of Scientific and
  Technical Information. The department spends about a
  half-million dollars a year to operate it.

  However, a report accompanying the Energy Department's 2002
  appropriations bill, H.R. 2311, asks the department "to
  carefully review its information services such as PubScience
  to be sure that such efforts remain focused on appropriate
  scientific journals."

  A House aide said that the service also competes with private
  companies that index scientific journals.

  The report, which was written by the House Appropriations
  Committee, mirrors his remark.

  The Energy Department is not legally required to abide by the
  report. But the cautionary language combined with steep budget
  cuts for the department's technical-management program make
  eliminating the service a foregone conclusion if the bill is
  signed into law, an Energy Department official said.

  The Senate is expected to approve a comparable spending bill
  for the Department of Energy, but it is unclear whether its
  legislation will include similar language on PubScience.

  The PubScience text was inserted in the House report after
  lobbying by the Software & Information Industry Association on
  behalf of member companies, including Chemical Abstracts
  Services, Reed Elsevier, and Cambridge Scientific Abstracts,
  according to the association.

  "The Department of Energy has entered into the role of
  secondary publishers," said David LeDuc, a lobbyist for the
  software association. "There's existing private-sector
  services. We would like to have the public sector stop
  competing with these services."

  But Stephen Miles Sacks, editor and publisher of Scipolicy --
  The Journal of Science and Health Policy, said PubScience is
  the only Web service that compiles abstracts from about 19
  small, niche scientific publications, including his.

  He called the House action "irresponsible and damaging to the
  advancement of science and medicine."


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Copyright 2001 by The Chronicle of Higher Education
Received on Wed Jan 03 2001 - 19:17:43 GMT

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