Contents of AAS Newsletter insert on Electronic Publishing
In October 1992, the American Astronomical Society published a review of its philosphies and plans regarding electronic publishing. A series of articles were published as a supplement to the AAS Newsletter #62. These articles are reproduced in this directory in pure text form. With the exceptions of the introduction and opening editorial, the articles appear in files named after the first author. The titles and authors of the pieces are given below; the filenames in which the articles are shown on the left.
Projects and Plans of the AAS For astronomers, an electronic revolution is occurring on our desktops. In the last few years, our ability to connect our desktops to the wider world through computer networks has opened startling new opportunities for interaction with our colleagues, providing us with an avenue of almost instant communication. The availability of a fast and reliable electronic mail system has influenced our daily informal communication. It has made possible a wider range of ways to find, retrieve, and distribute information and research results than ever before. Now, the electronic revolution is reaching our most traditional means of communication - the publication of our refereed scientific journals. Revolutions do not take place overnight. For the last several years, the American Astronomical Society has been actively developing strategies for electronic scientific communications pertinent to astronomy to help carry us into the next century. In this special section of the AAS Newsletter we hope to outline these strategies and the steps that the AAS is taking to achieve them, as well as provide a clearer definition of just exactly what we mean when we talk about electronic publishing.
By Peter B. Boyce, Executive Officer; Catherine Pilachowski, Publications Board Chair, and Heather Dalterio, AAS Publications Coordinator
Electronic Publishing means different things to different people. To an author, it means preparing the manuscript on some word processor and sending it to an editor over the network. To the scientific editor, it means transmitting the manuscript to the referees and getting back the comments electronically. The copy editor and typesetters have an entirely different view. They look for a saving in the keystrokes needed to get the manuscript into a publishable form, with effective use of language, understandable equations and appropriate and readable layout of the text and graphics. With yet another view altogether, the scientist thinks of electronic publishing as easy access to the literature, smart search techniques and instant retrieval of relevant material, with ApJ pages of selected, interesting articles emerging from the local laser printer within minutes. Mention electronic publishing to a network visionary and all sorts of ideas spring to mind -- new uses, hypertext linking, forward referencing, data from articles available for instant use, animations and simulations callable directly from the article, etc.
In reality, electronic publishing is all of the above, and more. We tend to limit ourselves by carrying too many preconcieved ideas about publishing with us. When we think about any kind of publishing, our usual first response is to think in terms of books or journals, volumes and issues, words on pages, etc. A normal response - yet one that can be very limiting to the way we view the possibilities available through this new technology. Electronic publishing does not simply mean taking a current print publication and reproducing it exactly in an electronic form. The whole point of making information available electronically is to take advantage of the host of new uses for the information that would not otherwise be possible with a simple printed page.
Role of the AAS
In the scheme of traditional publishing, the AAS is a small society with limited resources. The technology of electronic publishing is developing at a breathtaking pace. One might not expect the AAS to be able to play a significant role in the development of electronic publishing, yet the astronomical community is well-positioned to move aggressively in this arena. Our members are technically literate, highly knowledgeable about the advantages of electronic communications, and well connected to the electronic networks. Our research literature is of manageable size, and largely under our own control. Finally, we have access to and make frequent use of a large body of widely available, non-proprietary software which unites our community with a common language for communication.
All of these factors have played an important role in our development of a strategy to address electronic publishing. The AAS has chosen a path that addresses long-term needs and goals, yet allows us to move forward in small, manageable steps, testing possible solutions, examining individual aspects of the publishing process and gaining experience and capability without jeopardizing the quality and financial health of our journals. We remain committed to the use and development of standards wherever possible.
The Executive Office, the Publications Board and a small group of volunteers have, under the direction of the AAS Council, developed a three year strategy document defining a series of goals with corresponding projects, tasks and experiments. Our strategy recognizes that we are not alone in facing these issues. Among others, we have worked with the AIP, other societies, the Library of Congress and with interested groups within NASA. Together, we have identified a number of guiding principles as we try to find our way to workable solutions to the problems posed by the electronic revolution. (See related article by Dalterio and Boyce on page 6)
We recognize the need for flexibility to respond to the inevitable rapid changes in technology, the marketplace, and our own expectations. We have to identify long term goals and avoid directions which lead to technological dead ends. We must gain experience (since only experience can show us what we truly need and want from our new electronic tools) and develop infrastructure for futute ventures, all with the Society's very limited resources. We have chosen to avoid proprietary hardware and software in an effort to help assure that costs remain affordable to members, institutions, libraries, and the Society. To do this, we must take advantage of the existing strengths of our community and Society, and we must identify the trends in the commercial world and adapt our own strategy for consistency with the larger marketplace.
Typesetting v. Markup
In our deliberations on strategy, we have identified one crucial, philosophical decision which dominates all our planning, the distinction between author typesetting and generalized author mark-up. It is worth a few words to explain why this is so important to our long term strategy.
The use of a generalized logical markup language (for example, LaTeX), rather than a typesetting language (like plain TeX), allows us to write our papers with the identification of the logical components of the paper (e.g. title, abstract, section, references, table, etc.) built in. In this form, the compuscript can be easily translated into whatever typesetting language is used for production, and can be just as easily prepared for inclusion in an electronic archive or for electronic distribution, either on the network or on some physical medium like a CD-Rom. A "typeset" compuscript contains no such standardized logical structure, and cannot be translated into any other format without significant human intervention. We believe that not only is author-typesetting an unnecessary drain on our authors, but also that it is an undesirable direction for the long term, and may prove prohibitive to many future options. (See the article by Biemesfderfer on page 7 for further details.)
Importance of Refereed
Journals A second decision we have made is to concentrate upon applying our resources to two areas, the refereed scientific literature and specific Society functions. We have decided not to tackle the area of informal (or preprint) literature. It is quite clear that a major problem with electronic communication is the weeding out of significant, accurate and reliable information from among the vast array of available information. Without the twin filters of peer review and editorial quality control, it is our feeling that there is simply too much information to be scanned and that encouraging the flow of informal literature would not be the proper area on which to expend our effort.
One overriding priority is to maintain the income necessary to produce high quality journals which will retain their reputation and prestige while being archived and delivered electronically. As measured by citation studies, our journals are the most important astronomy journals in the world. The AAS Publications Board is unwilling to sacrifice any of their present quality in the process of converting to an electronic format.
Other important issues from our strategy document which will require resolution soon are standards for transmitting figures and tables and various questions of copyright and ownership of the electronic versions of papers, the abstracts and any data which might be published concurrently.
Following the definition of our overall strategy, we have focused our effort on developing a few projects and new services for Society members. These projects have been chosen for their value to the members and to astronomy, for their value in developing the infrastructure to carry out more ambitious projects, and for their value in gaining experience in electronic publishing. New services which allow e-mail submission of abstracts of papers for AAS meetings, and registration for AAS meetings are also available. These new services, already in use by many AAS members, are described in this special section by the people who are helping to spearhead these particular projects. Without the enormous contributions that these particular people have made, (in many cases, acting in purely voluntary capacities) the AAS would not have been able to make the progress that it has.
It is an exciting time in publishing. We hope to continue forward at as quick a pace as we can, while maintaining the integrity and quality of scientific research results which we publish. We hope that this insert will be of interest to you.
Astrophysical Journal Plans for Electronic Publication By Helmut A. Abt, Managing Editor, The Astrophysical Journal
Currently, scientific authors generally prepare manuscripts on word processors in a language that the printers cannot use. Therefore manuscripts are keyboarded again by the typesetters. Then because printed journals are not computer-readable and the tapes from which they were produced have mostly been destroyed, the STELAR project has been optically scanning the journals for its information retrieval experiments. However the publishing industry is swinging rapidly toward SGML as a standard language and a translation program from TeX to SGML has been written. Therefore there is the expectation that soon the AASTeX-prepared manuscripts from authors will be used directly by the printers and then for information retrieval uses.
To implement this procedure requires considerable effort. The Tucson office has updated its computer network to be much faster and has installed a laser printer to accept manuscripts by e-mail. The AAS has contracted with Chris Biemesderfer to update the AASTeX program and to help the Tucson staff develop the necessary tools and expertise to handle incoming electronic manuscripts. He and Evan Owens of the University of Chicago Press staff are working toward making appropriate preparations at the Press.
Meanwhile other changes in procedure have occurred to help speed publication. Almost all referee reports are received by FAX or e-mail, although some referees send duplicate copies by postal mail for increased assurance of receipt. The faster transmission saves much time because about one-quarter of the referees are abroad. Manuscripts are no longer returned to authors by postal mail; instead the referees' reports and covering letters are sent by FAX or e-mail. We generally do not return original figures and plano tables for revision to save postal damage to them.
The one aspect of the reviewing process that has not been speeded drastically is the peer review. Scientists are increasingly busy with multiple responsibilities, the longer more-complex papers that appear in ApJ, relative to other journals, take large amounts of time for careful reviewing. Referees must find a whole afternoon or even several to review an ApJ manuscript properly. We send e-mail messages to referees at the same time that a manuscript is sent for review to find out whether they are at their home institutions and able to review the manuscript, but good intentions are sometimes defeated by other emergencies that arise. We give up hoping for a review after two months in an effort to reduce the long tail in the reviewing times, but more than half of the referees conscientiously respond within a month.
We foresee that after scientific acceptance, publication of papers will occur more rapidly through use of computer-readable manuscripts by the printers. It is not clear whether a saving in costs will materialize because any changes require more effort than simply a green pen. And when ApJ authors have been given the option between shorter publication times and viewing the papers twice during publication, they chose the latter. But we are trying for the more rapid publication of papers.
Proposed CD-Rom Series Helmut A. Abt Managing Editor, Astrophysical Journal Astrophysicists make extensive use of tabular material, digitized graphics, and other numerical data. Unfortunately such material published in our journals is not computer readable. Some authors have noted that tapes containing their data may be obtained directly from them or from central depositories, but some of those sources have not been completely reliable, such as when an author moves to a new address. It seems reasonable to start the distribution to all subscribers of computer-readable data involving extensive numerical tabulations published in our journals, or supporting data for those papers, such as photoelectric photometry, spectral-line equivalent widths, model atmosphere or interior data, radio sources, and other useful catalogs. The current medium for storing extremely-large amounts of data is CD-Roms, so we plan to distribute those about twice yearly to all subscribers. The frequency of publication is selected to be not so infrequent that the data lags the published papers by long intervals but not so frequent that the CD-Roms are mostly empty. The initial ones will be limited to extensive (15 KB) tabular numbers, but with experience we will broaden their scope. Each set of data will be reviewed by the same referees consulted for the associated papers and those referees will be asked about the usefulness of the data to many people. This is not a depository for all data coming from telescopes or computer simulations. The associated papers describing the data and giving the resulting astronomical conclusions will be published in the Astrophysical Journal (Part 1 or the Letters), Astrophysical Supplement Series, or the Astronomical Journal. Every author has the option of having his or her longer tables printed only in the printed journal, only on a CD-Rom, it would be well for authors to include in the printed papers a partial sample (e.g. one-third of a page) showing the table's content. Normally the CD-Roms would include data published in the printed journal in the previous half year, but we can also include useful tables published years ago. If, as occurs with most contemporary media, CD-Roms are later replaced by other technologies, we will transfer the data to the new technology and make available the current and previous collections. Data submitted in FITS format will be distributed in both FITS and ASCII formats ASCII data will only be distributed in ASCII format. There will be a modest "page charge" for distributing data on CD-Roms, initially $2 per KB for the first 10 KB and $ 1 per KB thereafter. For details of formatting, please contact Lee Brotzman (Internet: firstname.lastname@example.org); for editorial questions please contact the Managing Editor.
AASTex: The Foundation of Electronic Submission By Chris Biemesderfer The AAS has been working for some time on a package for authors to use when preparing articles for the Society's journals. Preliminary versions of these materials have been distributed on the Internet, and the newest version of the package is now available. This new package, known officially as AASTeX, has been coordinated with editors, publishers, and other societies, and should be used in preference to any other versions. Details about the retrieval and installation of the package can be obtained by sending an e-mail message to: email@example.com The main purpose of the package is to provide a markup language with which to identify the structural elements of an article, and to do this in a standardized way. When an article is marked up in this way, its information is accessible for many purposes; formatting is an obvious one, but there are many others, such as the extraction of text for an on-line abstract service, the collection of bibliographic data for a citation database, on-line search and retrieval of articles based on full text indexing, and so on. The electronic delivery of journal articles is a much more tractable and promising prospect in a standardized tagged ASCII form. This approach differs from plain TeX, or commercial packages like Microsoft Word and WordPerfect, which utilize embedded markup to implement typesetting instructions (such as when to change a font or indent text). The ability to prepare a manuscript with a tool that displays the text in a fully or partially formatted way is very attractive to many authors. (Such tools are the so-called "WYSIWYG", or "what-you-see-is-what-you-get" editors.) There are a number of tools that serve this purpose; however, few of them permit files to be saved with the structural information preserved, several of them run on only one or two platforms, and nearly all of them cost money. As a class, these tools are not nearly so versatile or as ubiquitous as tagged ASCII text. Consequently, at this time it is impossible to select one as a standard authoring environment, and it is impractical to support the full panoply (or even a limited range) of these products. It is worth noting that the perception of "electronic publishing" by the AAS encompasses a wider range of services than merely being able to format pages with a computer. A number of possibilities have been mentioned above, and it's important to recognize that on-line article delivery doesn't necessarily mean displaying pictures of Astronomical Journal pages on the monitor. The literature can be used as an interactive research tool, with automated searching, electronic links between articles, adaptive algorithms that respond as literature is selected or rejected and adjust search criteria accordingly. These are exciting, valuable prospects, and the AASTeX author markup package is written so that, as these capabilities develop, astronomical research articles prepared in accordance with the AASTeX package can be utilized in new ways as quickly and as effectively as possible. Facts about the AASTeX package The AAS author-preparation package is available on-line, and can be retrieved by authors either by anonymous FTP or by e-mail. As mentioned earlier, information about the retrieval and installation of the package can be obtained by sending an e-mail message to: firstname.lastname@example.org. In order for a paper to be accepted for electronic submission, authors will have to prepare computer manuscripts with the AASTeX markup package. Manuscripts won't be accepted if they are written in plain TeX, or just vanilla LaTeX, or AMSTeX, etc. The reason for this restriction is that we need be sure that the language (tags) used by authors to mark up papers will be both complete and uniform. The AAS author-prepared package is a minor augmentation of the standard LaTeX markup language, so it's necessary to use it to ensure completeness. Since we do need extensions that are not provided with standard LaTeX, the use of one, well-defined language (set of tags) by all authors helps to ensure that any recipient of the electronic manuscripts will understand the markup. Authors will find instructions for preparing the manuscript (writing the paper and putting in the correct markup) provided in the package. This "user guide" describes the markup tags, explains various style options if they exist, and so on. Instructions for submitting completed manuscripts are also included in the package. These include details on e-mail addresses to which submissions should be made, how the file(s) should be identified in the e-mail message(s), and how figures (line art) can be submitted. Line art graphics will be accepted as PostScript files, or even better, as Encapsulated PostScript. Other graphics meta-languages or page description languages are not acceptable. These kinds of figures should not be submitted as LaTeX picture environments, or using PicTeX, or other such TeX-based meta-languages. Drawings that have been prepared using TeX-based tools should be formatted and translated into PostScript for submission. Special styles will be available in the package to allow authors to produce "plano", or camera-ready, tables. These are long (multi-page) tables that are really wanted in print, but for which reduced page charges are desired. At this time, authors will be able to define a nominal amount of simple "keystroke saver" macros at the beginning of their manuscript. Such macros must be very straightforward: there may be no arguments, no conditionals, absolutely no typesetting instructions, etc. The package is compatible insofar as it is possible, with RevTeX (a similar product designed by the American Physical Society). Manuscripts prepared with the AAS markup will eventually be usable in production by the publisher. The AAS is working diligently with both its publishers (the University of Chicago Press and the AIP) to guarantee that this can be done reliably, and at the soonest possible juncture. Longevity of the Package; Future Possibilities A markup package based on LaTeX serves the astronomical community's needs for electronic publishing as we see it today. However, the evolution of publishing technology, particularly related to computer language, will undoubtedly make a change in the future inevitable. In fact, our publishers will not be using LaTeX for page production; the University of Chicago Press will use SGML, and the AIP will use a proprietary system. Both will translate AAS author-prepared files into their internal typesetting language. We anticipate that SGML (the Standard Generalized Markup Language) will be used both in production and for archival storage of documents. In time, new formatting tools and markup editors will be available, new techniques for identifying document structure will emerge, and new authoring tools will appear. It is our intention that the AAS be in a position to take advantage of these technologies as they are introduced, and we feel that a markup-based approach to publication best facilitates this. The specific package we are using today will be replaced, but we expect the concept of the marked-up article to remain.
The AAS Three-Year Plan for Electronic Publishing By Peter B. Boyce, Heather Dalterio and Chris Biemesderfer The American Astronomical Society's three year "Plan for Electronic Publishing" was prepared specifically with the aim of helping to develop a more efficient system for the AAS to distribute peer-reviewed research results to the astronomical community. The goals of the plan are to: 1. Enable faster distribution of results 2. Enable electronic searching of research results/articles 3. Include access to relevant data in end products 4. Provide integrated referencing, hypersearch capability and forward references available with articles 5. Maintain quality and reputation of final product 6. Keep financial base of the final product intact 7. Maintain long-term archive of Journal material Following the philosophy outlined in the lead article in this insert, the plan embodies a logical series of small steps designed to provide answers, help master the techniques and technologies required for progress and to guide further electronic efforts. The plan makes two basic assumptions: The first is that peer review and clear writing are essential aspects of archival scientific literature in both electronic and paper forms. The second is that a developing a standardized system of generalized markup is essential to make full use and effectiveness of the electronic literature. The plan defines seven basic areas which need attention, which include the following: Electronic submission (Capture of author keystrokes) A revised set of standard LaTeX macros, known as AASTeX will be developed and distributed by the end of 1992 and tests will start immediately thereafter. Interim standards for transmission of graphics will be adopted. Editorial Process The editorial offices of the AAS journals are being prepared and the staff trained to accept and use (edit/typeset/ format) electronic manuscripts. Inherent in this step is the realization that the traditional roles and relationships between the author, editor and publisher will change. Both AAS publishers (AIP and Unniversity of Chicago Press) are cooperating with our efforts to achieve the ability to typeset from electronic manuscripts . Peer Review/Referee Process Transmission of manuscripts to the reviewers, ability of reviewers to handle electronic documents and inclusion of paper-based reviews in the system have to be dealt with. Security of the manuscripts and the reviews during the review process is an area of concern. The plan calls for gradual integration of electronic reviews into the system. Training of editorial office staff, monitoring and feedback of the process and adoption of procedures that work are included in the plan. Storage and Interchange of Articles and Data One of the major strengths of our present system is the redundancy and local availability of the research literature and the permanence of the bound paper versions. There are three elements of concern in this area: permanence, integrity and method of distribution. The plan calls for addressing all three elements in concert with the library community. Discussions will be held on preventing unauthorized changes in electronic material, maintaining long term storage and possible changes in cost of network use. The production of paper copies will be maintained for the duration of the plan. The effectiveness of various method(s) of distribution will be investigated as part of other projects. Search and Retrieval Effective search and retrieval systems are the cornerstone to the use of electronic literature. The plan has three steps: a. Examine existing systems for effectiveness, b. Undertake project STELAR, a three year project with NASA to test various on-line search, retrieval and delivery mechanisms, and c. Experiment with publishing data on CD-Rom to evaluate that medium as a method of distribution. Work in this area will be coordinated with other organizations' efforts; the Library of Congress may participate in various tests of distribution methods. Intellectual Property Rights The plan calls for maintaining contact with the library and publisher communities to develop information about questions of ownership and copyright of electronic information. Copyright enforcement, possible changes in the law and legal remedies will be investigated in concert with other organizations. Subtle questions include the effects upon copyright of including the necessary indexing and retrieval tags in the original documents. Financial Aspects As in all efforts, it costs money to produce the journals. It is not likely that dramatic cost savings will result from the switch to electronic procedures. Therefore ways must be found to continue to collect the revenue necessary to continue to produce the journals. As part of the plan, various charging methods will be investigated, debated and tried on a small scale in various pilot projects. Specific Projects In addition to the general information gathering and planning, the following specific projects are being done this year by the AAS: 1. Continue participation in Project STELAR. Provide abstracts and full text on-line to the astronomical community in a test mode. 2. Develop and expand electronic submission of meeting abstracts. 3. Provide electronic distribution of meeting announcements, programs and abstracts. 4. Test electronic submission of abstracts with new macros. 5. Prepare individual editorial offices to accept and use electronic manuscripts. 6. Develop CD-Rom of data tables from AJ and ApJ. 7. Integrate electronic manuscripts into production process.
Current Electronic Services Available to AAS Members by Peter B. Boyce and Heather Dalterio As members of the AAS connect to the Internet in increasing numbers, the effectiveness of electronic communication has increased dramatically. Presently, most communication between astronomers is taking place electronically and a high percentage of the astronomical community has access to the Internet. In this milieu it becomes practical to use the network to deliver many of the traditional services which the AAS provides its members and to offer some new and improved ones. In addition to the move toward electronic production and distribution of peer reviewed articles which is the focus of this insert, the AAS is also using the Internet to provide several other services. While some of the services may, at first look, appear to be rather remote from the topic of electronic publishing, they provide valuable experience in specific areas of electronic communications without endangering the health of our refereed publications. They are all geared towards helping the scientific community to function more effectively and that, after all, is why we exist. Electronic Submission of Meeting Abstracts Meeting abstracts for meeting papers are now being accepted electronically, provided that they are submitted using the LaTeX-based template specifically designed for this purpose. The first time this service was offered, over half the total meeting abstracts were submitted this way. The vast majority (85%) of these abstracts were able to be processed automatically without human intervention at a significant saving of time and a corresponding increase in the accuracy of the meeting program. On-Line, Searchable Database of Abstracts Those abstracts which have been submitted electronically are now put into an on-line database which is searchable using a WAIS server (see accompanying article on WAIS on page 10). The abstracts are made available to members well in advance of the meeting, (earlier than the final program) to help facilitate meeting travel plans. The searchable database of abstracts will be available for demonstration at the January 1993 AAS meeting in Phoenix. Electronic Distribution of Critical News Items Meeting announcements and important news items are now being distributed to the two-thirds of the AAS membership for which e-mail addresses are available at the Executive Office. Foreign members with long postal mail delivery times particularly benefit from this service. On-Line, Searchable List of Jobs Plans are nearing completion for moving the AAS Job Register fully into an electronic format. Presently, the Job Register is loaded, after publication, into a WAIS database available over the Internet and is also available via the PiNet service of the American Institute of Physics. The WAIS database of job listings will be available for demonstration at the January 1993 AAS meeting in Phoenix. Electronic Registration for Meetings Starting with the January, 1993, meeting it will be possible to register for AAS meetings over the Internet by using a special electronic form and providing either a credit card or a purchase order number. Electronic registration lends itself to automatic processing of forms, holding out a promise of savings in time and effort for future meetings. Electronic Change of Address: For the first time this year, special change of address forms have been sent out electronically to the AAS membership, and have been used to update member records. Further automation of the record updating process is also planned. Internet Connections at AAS Meetings: For several years the AAS and NASA have been bringing an Internet line to AAS meetings for use by all meeting attendees. In addition to providing the e-mail connectivity to which the astronomical community has become accustomed, the Internet is used to demonstrate databases, software and data reduction procedures of particular interest to astronomers. Updated General Information Other useful general information is available via anonymous ftp from the AAS computer (blackhole.aas.org) including: information on how to contact Congress, lists of Agency Advisory Committee members, hints on writing proposals, lists of AAS Committee members, the latest versions of AASTeX, plus meeting registration and abstract submission forms.
Electronic Publishing at Astrophysical Journal Letters A. Dalgarno, Letters Editor, E. Avrett, Deputy Letters Editor The ApJ Letters Office currently receives a small fraction of new papers electronically, but paper copies of such submissions are sent to referees, by express mail or sometimes by fax, since most papers contain figures and other material that are not easily handled in computer readable form. Once a paper has been refereed, revised, and accepted, faster publication will be possible if the Press is sent the electronic file along with the printed paper to avoid typesetting by hand. The AASTeX macro program should be used for this purpose. ApJ Letters now maintains an on-line file of the abstracts of all Letters that have been accepted but not published. (See the inside back cover of the Letters.) We hope that in the future it will be possible to include full articles in such a file so that a Letter could be available electronically in advance of the printed version. The Letters Office has asked that the AASTeX macro program include a formatting option that could allow authors to see approximately how their paper would appear in the ApJ two-column page layout. This could help authors determine whether they can lengthen their paper or would have to shorten it to stay within the limit of four journal pages.
Electronic Publishing in the Real World; The AAS and Its Outreach Efforts By Heather Dalterio and Peter B. Boyce In the world of electronic publishing, no organization is an island. The relevant technologies are developing and changing so quickly and so constantly that it is impossible for one organization (particularly one the size of the AAS) to expect to master it alone. The AAS has actively sought to pursue dialogue and cooperative projects with a number of organizations whose interests lie within the same realm as our own, and whose strengths complement our strengths. Within the community of scientific professionals and scientific publishing, both of the Institutes which publish AAS journals (The American Institute of Physics and the University of Chicago Press), have taken an active role in the research and development of ways for the AAS to make use this new technology. For the past few years, the AAS has been an active member of the Joint Society Task Force on Electronic Publishing, a group of member societies of the American Institute of Physics, which meets regularly to discuss common publishing concerns, share information gained in individual electronic publishing efforts, and to investigate areas of possible cooperative projects. These conversations have not been limited to member societies of AIP, but have also expanded to include other scientific societies active in this arena, including the American Mathematical Society and the American Chemical Society. Similarly, the Association of Research Libraries has hosted a series of workshops on electronic publishing in which the AAS has participated. These have been helpful in facilitating discussions with a wide base of users. Some of the most valuable contributions to date to the AAS' electronic publishing efforts have stemmed from a cooperative relationship with NASA's project STELAR, a pilot project to study on-line astronomical literature (see article on page 11). This project has strengthened our ties to the library community and their expertise on this subject. In particular the Library of Congress has agreed to a tentative distribution agreement to test various delivery methods of the electronic documents stored in the STELAR database. The Online Computer Library Center in Columbus, Ohio has also proven to be a source of valuable information. OCLC has committed a significant amount of time and energy into the preparation and release one of the first truly on-line refereed scientific journals (Current Clinical Trials On-Line). The AAS is presently exploring options for future cooperative projects with OCLC.
Services Available on the Network Robert J. Hanisch, STScI; Chair, AAS Working Group on Astronomical Software Although the primary usage of the electronic networks has been e-mail, there are a wide variety of other services and resources available via the Internet. The new tools and capabilties made possible by electronic networks are changing how we operate, freeing us from our traditional, limited approach to the storage, recovery and exchange of knowledge. I have compiled a review of these services and how to access them. This report is available via anonymous FTP on blackhole.aas.org in the info/net directory. This article provides a brief summary of the information contained in the full report. Network services consist of on-line databases and catalogs, listservers (automated e-mail servers and distribution lists), anonymous FTP archives, indices to published papers in astronomy and astrophysics, and abstracts for both published papers and preprints. Several observatories provide on-line information services that describe the telescopes and instruments they support and procedures for submitting proposals. Most of the major astronomical software packages are available via the network, as are libraries of numerical algorithms and information concerning the FITS data format standard. The on-line catalogs and database services available to astronomers include SIMBAD (Set of Identifications, Measurements, and Bibliography for Astronomical Data), NED (NASA Extragalactic Database), NODIS (NASA On-line Data and Information Service), NDADS (NASA Data Archive and Distribution Service), Einline (Einstein X-ray data on-line service), HEASARC (High Energy Astrophysics Science Archive Research Center), STEIS (Space Telescope Electronic Information Service), DIRA2 (Distributed Information Retrieval from Astronomical files), and ADS (NASA's Astrophysics Data System).Titles and authors of papers published in ApJ, AJ, and PASP are stored on-line at the CfA. Preprints are available on-line via a listserver operated by the International School for Advanced Studies in Trieste, Italy. Project STELAR is now providing on-line abstract search and retrieval and soon will provide full-text search and retrieval. Also of interest to astronomers are several newsgroups in the Usenet news, such as sci.astro, sci.astro.fits, sci.astro.hubble, alt.sci.astro.aips, and alt.sci.astro.figaro. The on-line service Archie can be used to locate software and documentation in anonymous FTP archives throughout the world. To retrieve the complete article which describes how to use these services, FTP to blackhole.aas.org (220.127.116.11), login as user "anonymous" (give your e-mail address as the password), `cd' to the directory info/net, and `get' the file called `net_resources.mem'.
Electronic Astronomical Journal by Paul Hodge, Editor, The Astronomical Journal
The Editorial Office of the Astronomical Journal has been preparing for the electronic journal age since early in 1990, when the office issued a plan called "The Electronic AJ". Recognizing that there were many details to work out (specific formats for text and illustrations, distribution, subscriptions, page charges, if any, etc.), the staff projected a complete conversion of the Journal to electronic format by the middle of the decade. Preliminary analysis indicated that the result would be much faster, more efficient and (ultimately) much less expensive than the present paper version. We envisioned an electronic journal that would have the same handsome format of the present Astronomical Journal, but would be distributed electronically. Papers would be refereed as at present (electronically transmitted back and forth). Each subscriber would receive a monthly Table of Contents, from which he or she could call up either abstracts or complete papers, as desired. Files would be kept available for instant transmittal for five years; older papers would be available on a delayed basis. To those few persons for whom e-mail is still unavailable, the Journal would be sent out on computer disk and, possibly, a few paper copies would even be printed out at the Editorial Office. The latter service would be fairly expensive, compared to the normal subscription rate, which we expect to be much less than present rates. Since that plan was distributed, some of the problematical details have been worked on by the experts, especially C. Biemesderfer for the Society, and a gradual conversion is taking place (some of us feel that it's too gradual, but revolutions aren't always as easy as one hopes). E-mail is used now in almost all of our author and referee correspondence. In late 1992 we have started to send manuscripts by e-mail to referees, in the few cases where possible so far, and more actively have begun to solicit manuscripts in electronic form.
Standards for Electronic Publishing: SGML and ANSI Z39.59 By Evan Owens Journals Division, The University of Chicago Press Until fairly recently, paper was the universal format for text interchange between authors, editors, publishers, and readers. As we move into an electronic future, however, we find ourselves using a plethora of file formats: typesetting systems (e.g., Penta, XyVision, or TeX), proprietary word processors (e.g., WordPerfect or Microsoft Word), text interchange formats (e.g., ASCII, Rich-Text-Format, or Navy DIF), and markup languages (e.g., LaTeX or SGML). The choice of a standard format is critical because we expect to use electronic files not just as a new way to produce the paper journal but as the basis for new ways to store and distribute texts electronically. We have five years of the Astrophysical Journal stored on magnetic tape in a proprietary typesetting format; once a format is chosen, these tapes can be translated and used as the basis of an electronic archive to which new material can be added as it is published. A consensus has emerged in the publishing community that the foundation for electronic publishing will be the adoption of Standard Generalized Markup Language (SGML) otherwise known as ISO 8879 (1986). SGML was designed as a language for electronic documents and is well suited for text databases, hypertext, CD-ROM, and electronic books and journals. SGML documents are not dependent on any hardware, software, formatter, or operating system. The concept is important. Generalized markup is codes or tags that describe the content of the text such as "heading" or "title" or "footnote"; it is completely different from procedural markup, codes that describe the format such as "10 point Times Roman" or "indent 1 em." SGML provides a way to describe and validate the structure or hierarchy of a document (e.g., second level headings go inside first level headings, front matter comes before the body of the article, and so on) through a document type definition (DTD). This is important for text databases, because it makes it possible to search selected portions of the text; for example, the footnotes, display equations, headings, references, etc. To use SGML, one has to have a suitable SGML document type definition (DTD). There is an ANSI standard DTD for articles and books which resulted from a joint project of the Association of American Publishers (AAP), the Council on Library Resources, and other organizations; it also includes markup specifications for mathematics and tables. We are constructing a superset of the AAP DTDs to use for the Astrophysical Journal and other AAS publications. With a DTD available, one then creates documents using the specified names to tag the various parts of the manuscript. Ideally, the author would create an SGML document directly; however, SGML coding is tedious without special software. There are SGML-aware validating text editors available, some with WYSIWYG equation and table editors, but they are currently very expensive or not suited for general use. The situation should change for the better early next year, however, as new SGML products are expected from WordPerfect, Frame Technology, and others. Not everyone will want to write using an SGML editor, even when such tools are widely available. Fortunately, it is possible to translate from one format to another. At the University of Chicago Press we now accept files for some of our journals in common word processor formats and then translate, edit, code, and translate again to typesetting systems. For the Astrophysical Journal, we plan to accept manuscripts in the AAS version of LaTeX and translate to SGML; this translation works particularly well because of the structured markup present in a properly coded LaTeX manuscript. Plain TeX files can not be translated as they contain procedural rather than generalized markup codes. We will then supply SGML files to our typesetters and get SGML files back for archival use.
Mark-Up or Typeset - the Springer-Verlag Dilemma By Catherine Pilachowski, NOAO; Chair, AAS Publications Board Among the most difficult issues we are facing is the question of whether or not authors should assume the responsibility for typesetting their own papers. One major astronomy journal, Astronomy and Astrophysics, following the guidance of the publishing house Springer-Verlag, has already adopted this route toward electronic publishing. Authors are supplied with typesetting tools, fonts, and macros to prepare the journal pages exactly as they appear in Astronomy and Astrophysics. The papers are submitted and processed using the macros, and then reproduced in the journal exactly as prepared by the author. This approach results in several advantages for authors. Authors have control over the layout of the material and the size and arrangement of figures and tables. Authors can have the final say over the exact wording of their papers. And since the author uses fonts supplied with the macro package, she or he knows precisely how long a paper will be when it appears in the journal. When the author does the composition, the material can be published faster. And some people enjoy seeing "real" journal pages coming out of the laser printer. Authors who have used the Springer-Verlag macros have found the process very satisfying once the macros and fonts are installed. However, this approach also offers some major disadvantages. Authors must spend their own time and effort to typeset the paper, rather than devoting their time to the content itself. Authors must become proficient at typesetting skills in order to produce a paper which looks as good as we are used to seeing in the Astrophysical Journal and Astronomical Journal. In general, authors are not skilled in typesetting and page layout, so the appearance of their papers vary in quality, and are generally of lower quality than the ApJ standards for organization, clarity and layout. From the perspective of production, the publishing house must train its personnel to work in a TeX or LaTeX environment; while these tools are familiar to many astronomers, TeX and LaTeX are not in the mainstream of electronic publishing. Utilizing TeX or LaTeX for actual typesetting might put our publishers at a competitive disadvantage in the industry, and drive up our costs. The alternative to authors typesetting papers is for authors to provide a more generalized "mark-up" of their compuscript, identifying in a simple way only the logical components of the paper (title, author, abstract, section, subsection, references, etc.) The author is not required to spend time on the details of composition and typesetting. The mark-up can then be easily edited during the journal composition stage and translated during production into whatever typesetting language is ultimately used to print the journal. But of overriding importance, the final marked-up compuscript, in a generalized mark-up language like SGML, is ready to serve as well for electronic distribution or for modern, high-powered search algorithms. After much discussion, the Publications Board has recommended this latter course for Society journals. We believe, and our membership surveys confirm, that most authors do not want to spend time typesetting their own papers. Authors who have tried the Springer-Verlag macros should now try our new AASTeX macros for submitting papers to the Astrophysical Journal and the Astronomical Journal. We hope you will find them simpler to use than the other approach of typesetting your papers. And finally, we believe that author "mark-up" is the approach that will lead most readily to truly electronic journals.
STELAR: An Experiment in the Electronic Distribution of Astronomical Literature By M. E. Van Steenberg (NASA/GSFC), J. Gass, L. Brotzman, A. Warnock, D. Kovalsky (Hughes STX), and F. Giovane (NASA/HQ) Astronomical research is being transformed by improvements in wide-area networking and the availability of low-cost computing power. These developments have resulted in remote observing, distributed access to large quantities of scientific data, and the first steps to the electronic submission of articles for publishing. However, the cornerstone of scientific research, refereed literature, has not yet benefitted from these advances. The result has been tremendous growth in what is being published, without improvements in the researchers' ability to locate and retrieve articles of interest. It is now technically feasible to place much of the astronomical literature and documentation on-line, providing researchers with direct access to this information. More importantly, with the addition of modern text searching methods, astronomers have the ability to quickly find articles about a particular topic and examine them as they wish. Not only do many technical details have to be addressed before the journal publishers can move in this direction, the impact on the scientific community, the financial health of the journals, and the impact on libraries must also be carefully considered. In fact, there are two components to the problem of establishing on-line documents and literature: (1) the conversion of existing materials from printed pages to electronic files, and (2) the production of new literature in a form which can be placed on-line as published. The STELAR Project In March 1991, NASA and the AAS began hosting a series of workshops to explore the methods and potential impact of placing most of the astronomical documentation and literature on-line. These meetings identified a need for an experiment to study the technical and practical issues. In response STELAR, the STudy of Electronic Literature for Astronomical Research, was launched. This project is a joint effort of AAS, ASP, NASA, publishers, editors, research libraries, and astronomers. Support is also being provided by AIP, Library of Congress, NSF, and UNC Chapel Hill. STELAR is a pilot project managed at NASA's Astrophysics Data Facility (ADF). Its formal goal is to explore the use of electronic means for improving access to scientific literature; using astronomical publications to evaluate distribution, search, and retrieval techniques for full text and graphics display. The project is conducting a multi-phased study. The initial phases focus on the problem of converting existing literature for on-line access. STELAR will incorporate machine-readable abstracts provided by NASA's Scientific and Technical Information (STI) program and page images of several years' worth of the ApJ, ApJ Supplement, AJ and the PASP. Recently, the publishers of Astronomy & Astrophysics have agreed to include their journal in this study. In the current phase of the study, a prototype system is under development to allow a limited number of test subjects to search these materials and view the articles of interest. The libraries at the Space Telescope Science Institute, NOAO/KPNO, NRAO/Charlottesville, and Goddard will work with selected astronomers to evaluate the initial prototype expected to be available this Fall. Current Status The STELAR prototype system uses a highly portable and fully open, multi-disciplinary document query and delivery system known as WAIS (Wide Area Information Server), (see article on WAIS on page 10). STELAR currently provides access to machine-readable abstracts for eight leading academic journals of interest to the astronomical community (ApJ, ApJS, AJ, PASP, A&A, A&AS, MNRAS and JGR). These abstracts have been supplied by NASA/STI from a database prepared for NASA's RECON system by an independent abstraction service. The RECON database contains abstracts from as early as the mid-1960's. The ADF will update the set of available abstracts on a regular basis. The completed prototype will link the abstracts to scanned bitmaps of the individual article pages. Access to the bitmaps will be limited to test groups at the libraries to protect the copyright concerns of the societies and the journal publishers. In addition to this controlled study, the ADF and STI are making the abstracts and several other text databases available to the astronomical community as part of NASA's commitment to its science community. (See Electronic Services article on page 4). The STELAR project is seeking feedback from researchers on the usability of the system. This feedback will guide the refinement of successive prototypes. Future Plans Subject to the approval of the copyright holders of the various journals, the STELAR Project plans to gradually make the scanned bitmaps of the article pages available to the astronomical community. Additional enhancements being investigated include indexing of the full text of the articles, making articles available in a mark-up language or device-independent form, and the addition of errata and other forward references to the basic structure. For additional information about the STELAR Project, please contact the authors at email@example.com.
On-line WAIS Search Capability Brings Astronomy To The Internet By A. Warnock, J. Gass, L. Brotzman, (Hughes STX), M. E. Van Steenberg (NASA/GSFC), D. Kovalsky (Hughes STX), and F. Giovane (NASA/HQ) As part of the STELAR pilot project, NASA's Astrophysics Data Facility (ADF) is making astronomical abstracts and job listings available to the astronomical community. To make these databases available for easy search and retrieval, the ADF is using a highly portable and fully open, multi-disciplinary document query and delivery system known as WAIS (Wide Area Information Server). WAIS is a client/server system originally developed by Thinking Machines Corp. and distributed by them free of charge. It is based on an ISO standard communications protocol (Z39.50 1988). WAIS servers have been ported to UNIX, VMS and, recently, MS-DOS. WAIS clients run on a wide variety of machines, from UNIX-based X-windows systems and character terminals, to MS-DOS and Macintosh microcomputers. The WAIS system includes full-text indexing and searching of documents, network interface and easy access to a variety of document viewers. The WAIS software, for both clients and servers, is available via anonymous FTP from the Internet site think.com. How WAIS Works WAIS uses a client/server model to communicate both locally and over wide area networks like the Internet. The WAIS system, as distributed by Thinking Machines Corp., consists of three software packages - the text indexer, the database server and the client program. The text indexer builds a master index of all words occurring in a database of documents. This index is then used by the retrieval software to find which documents contain the words in a query. The WAIS server software runs on the computer hosting the database of documents and handles the job of responding to queries. A query can either be a search of the document index or a request to retrieve a document to pass back to the client. The client is the user interface. The user formulates a free-format text query which the client translates into the appropriate protocol and then sends to the server. The server processes the query, and sends the results back to the client for display or local storage. The search engine supplied with the free distribution version is quite simple, but surprisingly fast and effective. It matches occurrences of words in the query with the individual words in the documents, and tallies a score for each document based on the number of "hits". The underlying assumption is that, if a document has many words in common with the query, the document is probably relevant. Documents are then returned in ranked order of relevance to the query. A simple extension of this search technique is the notion of "relevancy feedback". The user can select part (or all) of a retrieved document and use it as a query to get, in effect, "all documents like this one." This allows detailed searches without requiring the user to formulate a detailed query. The source code in the distribution system is quite modular, and allows for replacement of individual components. It is possible, therefore, to replace the current engine in the server with a more sophisticated one which might, for example, be capable of handling word stems and/or synonyms, or which might use advanced techniques such as factor spaces. The client uses a "source file" to identify and locate each WAIS database on the network. The source file is a simple ASCII text file which contains the name and description of the database and the network location of the server. More than one source file may be selected by the user, which allows searches to be posed to multiple sources at one time (though they are searched sequentially, not simultaneously). Source files may be obtained by any number of means. The ADF distributes its source files by anonymous FTP, as described below. Other source files, for specialized databases, for example, may be distributed individually via electronic mail or by postings to networks like Usenet. There is also a "white pages" facility by which new public sources may be located by querying the master registry of sources (a WAIS server called directory-of-servers), maintained by Thinking Machines Corp. The source file for this server comes with the distribution software, or may be retrieved by anonymous FTP from the Internet site think.com. Access To The ADF WAIS Databases To get access to WAIS you must first obtain the WAIS client software and get it running on your local machine. Clients for UNIX and the Apple Macintosh (called WAIS-station) are available by anonymous FTP at think.com (IP address 18.104.22.168). The VMS, MS-DOS and Microsoft Windows clients are available by anonymous FTP from wais.oit.unc.edu (IP address 22.214.171.124). The ADF currently offers three text databases to the astronomical community. The corresponding source files are available by anonymous FTP from hypatia.gsfc.nasa.gov (IP address 126.96.36.199), in the directory wais-sources. The source file for the STELAR journal abstracts is called "abstracts.src". The AAS Job Register source file is in "AAS_jobs.src", and the AAS electronic meeting abstracts source file is in "AAS_meeting.src". It is also possible to obtain these source files by automatic mail request. Send an E-mail message to firstname.lastname@example.org. In the body of the mail message put the commands: get stelar abstracts.src get stelar AAS_jobs.src get stelar AAS_meeting.src The source files (not the contents of the databases) will be returned to you by electronic mail. Save these files (without any accompanying message headers) in plain ASCII files in your "wais-sources" directory where they will be accessible to your WAIS client software. For additional information or assistance about the astronomical WAIS server, please contact the authors at email@example.com.
Vision Committee Statement By Sidney Wolff, NOAO; President, AAS One of the most important activities of the American Astronomical Society is the publication of the Astrophysical Journal and the Astronomical Journal. These two journals are among the most respected journals in the world in the field of astronomy, setting the standards against which other journals are measured. Our traditional journals are the primary means by which we convey the results of our work to our peers, and they form the essential archive of astronomical knowledge through which we pass on our discoveries to new generations of astronomers. The process of refereeing papers in our journals provides assurance that the papers we publish merit a reader's attention and will stand up to scrutiny. The journals are an essential element of the scientific process - providing for open dissemination of the results of our research in a forum which allows ş and even encourages ş independent confirmation and disputation. The rapidly changing technology of the 20th (and soon to be 21st) century for publishing and communications has led to an equally rapidly changing vision of scholarly journals. The era of electronic publishing has arrived, and the new technology offers many opportunities in the production, distribution, and use of our journals to enhance their scientific value and broaden the kinds of information that they contain. Many articles on the future of scholarly publications have appeared recently in such publications as Physics Today and Science, discussing such new ideas as having journals serve as scholarly electronic forums, with "papers" submitted for widespread discussion. Are these ideas appropriate for astronomy? What form should the astronomy journals of the 21st century take? How will we use them? What new capabilities should be developed to make the journals more useful to our community? And what strategies can we adopt to lead us smoothly from the journals we have today to the journals of the next century? The Council, the Executive Office, and the Publications Board have, for several years, been exploring options, developing strategies, and formulating a vision of our journals 10 years from now. John Bahcall, when President of the AAS, created a special ad hoc committee, which I chair, to explore "the vision thing," and to develop our vision of the astronomy journals of the future. The decisions we make today can and will have a profound impact on how research is carried out in astronomy for a long time to come. The American Astronomical Society has been very active in the development of new "electronic" member services and in planning for the electronic publication of its journals. This special section of the newsletter has been prepared to inform you, the members of the AAS, of what your Society is doing, what new services are or will soon be available, and what direction the Society is headed to develop the journals of the 21st century. These activities include the electronic submission of manuscripts to the journals, electronic submission of abstracts for our meetings, CD-Rom's containing data from papers published in our journals, new search mechanisms to find papers of interest in the literature, and electronic production and distribution of our journals. We encourage your thoughtful reading of this special section on electronic publishing, and welcome your advice and comments.