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Session 6 - An Integrated Web Resource.
Display session, Monday, January 13
Astronomy now has an integrated, Web-based information resource for research papers, data and bibliographic information. The major scholarly research journals, a comprehensive abstract service and the astronomical data centers are now linked together to provide an information resource which is not available to most other scientific disciplines.
As of January, 1997, the Astrophysical Journal joins the ApJ Letters on the Web. Astronomy and Astrophysics Supplements now has a page image version. Elsevier's electronic journal New Astronomy has recently made its appearance. Over forty percent of the new peer-reviewed, astronomical literature is now available electronically. The main Astronomy and Astrophysics journal, the Astronomical Journal and others will be available by 1998, at which point ninety percent of the literature will be available electronically, a figure not approached by any other scientific discipline.
With so many different sources, one of the challenges has been to integrate the on-line, peer-reviewed literature into a resource which serves the astronomical community in a unified and coherent manner.
Following the lead of the AAS, the major publishers have chosen to rely upon the NASA-supported Astrophysics Data System (ADS) and the astronomical data centers to provide the means by which the various separate journals can interoperate. The data centers and the ADS have developed unique identification codes for journal articles. By adopting the existing standard "bibcodes" and integrating them into their WWW links, each of the major astronomical journals are able to link to the abstracts of most of the referenced articles.
Since the ADS also serves as an on-line repository for page images of the past twenty years of the major astronomical journals, the full text of many of the referenced articles are available, too. The articles in the ADS have recently been linked through their references, both forward and backward in time. With the "bibcode" providing the linking framework, papers in the electronic research journals, data and abstracts will be incorporated into the system in a routine manner. The astronomical community now has an ever-growing, operational integrated information system which fulfills today, the dream of the digital library. It remains to be seen how this electronic resource will affect the progress of research.
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