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    SPARC Scientific Communities

    Another important program area for SPARC is the Scientific Communities. These projects are intended to support broad-scale aggregations of scientific content around the needs of specific communities of interest. Through these projects, SPARC encourages collaboration among scientists, their societies, and academic institutions. The Scientific Communities program helps to build capacity within the not-for-profit sector by encouraging academic institutions to develop electronic publishing skills and infrastructure, and seeks to reduce the sale of journal titles by providing small societies and independent journals alternative academic partners for moving into the electronic environment.

    One of the most ambitious projects in the Scientific Communities is BioOne , a non-profit, web-based aggregation of peer-reviewed articles from dozens of leading journals in adjacent areas of biological, environmental, and ecological sciences. Most of these journals are available currently only in print. While there is a risk to societies of offering electronic versions of their titles through institutional site licenses, i.e., the loss of personal member subscriptions, there is a greater danger that scholarship not in electronic form will be overlooked and marginalized. But many of the societies do not have the resources or expertise to create web editions on their own. BioOne provides that opportunity.

    BioOne, to be launched in early 2001 with 40 titles out of an eventual 150 or more, is a partnership among SPARC, the American Institute of Biological Sciences, the University of Kansas, the Big 12 Plus Library Consortium, and Allen Press. In an unprecedented commitment to ensuring that the societies not only survive but play an expanding role in a more competitive and cost-effective marketplace, SPARC and Big 12 Plus Library Consortium members have contributed significant funds to the development of BioOne. These funds will be returned over a five year period as credits against their subscriptions. BioOne offers participating societies a share in the revenues, protection against accelerated erosion of print subscriptions, and no out-of-pocket costs for text conversion and coding.

    Several other Scientific Communities projects have received support from SPARC. These include eScholarship from the California Digital Library, Columbia Earthscape, and MIT CogNet. The goal of California's eScholarship project is to create an infrastructure for the management of digitally-based scholarly information. eScholarship will include archives of e-prints, tools that support submission, peer-review, discovery and access, and use of scholarship, and a commitment to preservation and archiving. Columbia's Earthscape is a collaboration among Columbia University's press, libraries, and academic computing services. The project integrates earth sciences research, teaching, and public policy resources. MIT CogNet is an electronic community for researchers in cognitive and brain sciences that includes a searchable, full-text library of major reference works, monographs, journals, and conference proceedings, virtual poster sessions, job postings, and threaded discussion groups. All three of these projects received funding from SPARC in a competitive awards process.