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The ACM Electronic Publishing Plan part 2 of 2
From: David Farber <farber () central cis upenn edu>
Date: Thu, 9 Feb 1995 11:53:25 -0500

sound, and other multimedia effects will be sought and
accommodated. New paradigms of works such as training
packages will also be

o All interactions between author and editor, and between
editor and reviewer, will be conducted by networked services. This will include
all coordination concerning reviews and revisions.

o The publishers will cooperate in "virtual libraries", offering
combined access to library patrons. Thus a member of ACM may also have access to
works stored by IEEE.

o Advertising services will become more attuned to individual
interests and concerns. Links will be established between literature and related

o The society's database will also contain non-archival
items such as calendars of events, conference schedules, employement
opportunities, and industry news.

o Access to the society's database and its basic services
will be the core of the membership package.

These transformations have already begun. The clock cannot be turned back. ACM
authors are already placing documents in databases in the world wide "web" of
information servers. ACM has developed enough of a conceptual framework to
position itself boldly in the new world whose general outlines are described
above. ACM is undertaking to reinvent itself as a publisher.

In response to the shifting digital media and networks, and to the breakdowns
enumerated above, the ACM has embarked on a four-part strategy:

1. Move aggressively toward having the entire ACM
literature in an on-line digital library. The service should be capable of
supporting capture and production of works should be available by second quarter
1995 and general dissemination within a year thereafter.

2. Ameliorate the problems of Track 1 transactions by various
delay-reducing improvements. Eliminate processing delay by publishing in the
digital library. Be prepared to phase out print versions and phase in electronic

3. Establish a new line of publication offerings ("Track 2") for
those devoted to using and applying technology, those who seek more general
information about current technical developments, and those who seek to
understand current research.

4. Engage in many experiments with new forms of publishing
and publication services. Add the best of these to the repertoire of digital
library services. Revise copyright policies to encourage and accommodate the
changes fostered by these experiments.

These strategies are described briefly in the four sections following.

Although it is not part of the Publications Plan, the ACM has also made it a top
priority to encourage and develop an ACM electronic community, supported by a
variety of networked services administered through the Internet host acm.org.
All the individuals who volunteer services to the profession through ACM are now
using the email and bulletin board facilities of Internet to coordinate their
actions. Members who do not have Internet accounts can purchase one from ACM at
a nominal monthly fee ($12). The new ACM publication structures will exploit the
ACM networked services heavily.

ACM Digital Library

The core technology of the ACM approach is a database that serves as an on-line
library of ACM's entire literature and offers a range of useful services for
electronic publication. It is being developed in two phases. Phase 1 is an
initial database and tools to use it for production of publications; this
database will come on line and begin accumulating contents in spring 1995. At
that time, all new submissions will be in digital form and the system will
support capturing, storing, and linking certain non-textual objects such as
pictures, graphs, equations, sound, or movies. Documents will be stored in
several formats, including SGML, that will permit all their component objects to
be recognized during searches. Phase 2 is the deployment of distribution and
access services; it includes establishing a network of servers of ACM materials,
installing authentication and payment services, developing search and retrieval
services, and interfacing with "intelligent agent" services. In populating the
database of Phase 2, ACM plans that works published after 1994 will be stored in
full digital format (original and SGML files, and possibly PostScript files).
Works published before that will be captured whenever possible in digital
format, and most works before 1990 will only be available as text images. The
database and distribution services are being designed around these assumptions:

o Electronic documents whose contents are logically structured
for search and retrieval will be preferred to electronic analogs of the printed

o Visualization of scientific data through multi-media
presentations will supplement and enhance text-only documents.

o Documents will be object-oriented, with some components being
other objects already published in the worldwide web.

o Not all documents will be read-only; some will be interactive.

o Documents will be sought as needed by readers; hence easy
access, high availability, and good performance are essential.

o Access from home, work, or school desktops from around the
world will become a primary mode of acquiring knowledge. Good network access is

o Tools to help avoid information overload will acquire central
prominence. These will include personal information agents to assist users in
selection, filtering, and interpretation. They will include standard interfaces
to distributed collections of scientific information from many societies, and
will replace the current eclectic set of Internet tools and protocols. Societies
will continue to serve domain and discipline needs.

We have made it a high priority to develop authentication services, which will
be needed to control access to the database and its functions. We will
implement new functions, notably access licenses for institutions, short term
licenses for non-members, promotional licenses, and triggered functions such as
"intelligent agents" that collect copyright release fees from nonmembers
accessing ACM copyright works.

Track 1 Publications

Our short-term objectives are that all print journals and transactions be
published on their schedules; that some be expanded from quarterly to bimonthly
publication when the backlog and subscribership would support the increased
capacity; that joint journals in overlapping interest areas be established with
other societies, for example, the Transactions on Networks with IEEE; that
specialized journals of other publications be offered at good prices to our
members, for example, the Multimedia Systems journal of Springer-Verlag.

Our long-term objective is to transition all our journals to on-line
distribution. A number of benefits arise from this: articles are available
sooner, costs of printing and binding can be shifted to local sites where they
become optional, postage and warehousing costs can be eliminated, individuals
can gain access to articles without subscribing to a whole journal, and
preliminary versions of papers can be posted for public comment. Print versions
will be phased out as the demand for them becomes too small, an outcome that
may happen for some journals as early as 1998. We do not expect that print
versions of Track 1 publications will be a major source of revenue for ACM in
the long term.

We are also undertaking experiments in electronic distribution. In 1995, a new
on-line electronic journal of combinatorial and numerical algorithms will begin
operation; it will include the current CALGO. Subscribers to TODS will be
offered on-line access to the queue of TODS papers that have not yet been
published.  Subscribers to TOPLAS will be offered on-line access to appendices
of published papers, which can then be printed in a shorter form. Patrons of
Supercomputing 94 will get the proceedings on CD-ROM. Other conference
proceedings such as SIGGRAPH and SIGDA may be distributed on CD-ROM in 1995.

Track 2 Publications

Many ACM members have expressed concerns for learning and effectively using the
best new results of technology. ACM has responded to these concerns by
repositioning the Communications, by undertaking a new line of "Track 2"
publications, and by cooperating with some commercial publishers on offerings
for our members' "Track 2" interests. ACM started two new "Track 2"
publications in 1994: StandardView, a magazine devoted to the debates and
controversies in the field of standards, and Interactions, a magazine devoted
to the practice and art of software design. We expect print versions of Track 2
publications, including those on CD-ROM, to be a viable business: not only is
the market for them wider, but their preparation tends to be sufficiently
expensive and time-consuming that most authors will seek professional help and
for their production and will expect income from their use.

Track 2 is not just a type of publication, it is a way of thinking about
engaging researchers, developers, and practitioners together in the ongoing
professional learning process. It is a new way of generating offers for
members. Other parts of ACM, such as SIGs and education, are also considering
new, "Track 2" programs.


Experimentation with new practices is the only way to find out which ones will
be effective. Accordingly, we encourage experiments in electronic publication
and seek to facilitate them with new copyright policies. Here is a partial list
of the experiments that are underway or will be undertaken soon:

o on line journal of algorithms (including combinatorics and CALGO) o subscriber
access to backlog queue of TODS o publishing TOPLAS appendices on line, thereby
shortening print papers o on-line payment and authentication systems o local
(e.g., campus) distribution in return for digitizing past literature o SIG
conference proceedings on CD-ROM or server o back issues of journals on CD-ROM
o Participation in Stanford NSF digital libraries project o Participation in
Journal of Universal Computer Science (JUCS),
a multinational publication venture in the World Wide Web o Cooperation with MIT
Press in distributing Chicago
Journal of Theoretical Computer Science
o metering use to charge for copyright release o local agents (e.g., libraries)
for search and print-on-demand

New Services

The structured database described above positions ACM to offer new services that
will make ACM members differentially more competitive than nonmembers. Over
time, ACM expects to realize less revenue from print media and Track 1
publications and more from three new principal businesses:

1. Guided Access to Literature. Members will be given access to the ACM digital
library (and to similar services of cooperating societies) from which they can
search and extract documents or summaries. They will be notified of new items
that match their interest profiles. Nonmembers can purchase short-term licenses.

2. Conferences. Conferences will continue to expand. Some of them will be
conducted in the Internet. Proceedings will be rapidly available either by
network or by CD-ROM.

3. Continuing Education. ACM will offer reading and discussion programs based on
collections from the database. Those who pass the quizzes designed with these
programs will receive certificates of knowledgeability issued by ACM.

Servers and Links

It is becoming a standard practice among engineers and scientists to post copies
of their papers on servers attached to the Internet and maintained by their
employers. These papers can then be accessed from other servers in the Internet
and copied by some form of file transfer protocol (FTP). Readers can attach
comments to the posted versions, and authors can post revised copies. Some
editors have established moderated "preprint comment services" to assist authors
and to guarantee that no papers or comments can be modified once posted. These
practices are widely seen among authors as means to speed the distribution of
findings and to improve the quality of papers and algorithms.

A growing number of professional authors and researchers are posting complete
libraries of their personal works on servers; they seek protocols whereby the
server holding the complete works of any author can easily be located. This is
seen by many authors as a way of establishing a "network identity" and making
their works more readily available to anyone who wants them.

It is also becoming a strandard practice to think of papers as collections of
objects (sections, paragraphs, figures, tables, pictures, and the like) rather
than simply as texts. The world wide web (WWW) offers the technology of links,
allowing authors to embed pointers to, rather than copies of, objects in their
works; the reader can "click" on a link and thereby invoke a process that calls
a copy of the object to the local computer. The new practice of links-use is
widely seen by authors as a means to constructing multimedia, nonlinear
documents that incorporate by reference relevant works from anywhere in the
world. It is also seen as a way to simplify construction of new works that rely
on other works: the author of a work does not have to obtain prior permission
to include another work since the other work is not actually incorporated at
the time of writing. In other words, the link is seen as a citation and a copy
of the work is obtained upon an explicit request by the reader.

These new practices are bringing authors and readers into conflict over
copyright laws. Authors maintain that links are citations and it is the
responsibility of the copyright owner to demand permission when a reader uses
the link. Copyright holders maintain that the author is in reality intending to
make a copy available to the reader and must obtain prior permission.
Copyright holders are beginning to design authentication servers so that
certain people (such as members of a professional society) can get access as
part of their dues while others must pay to gain access; the holder may offer
the prospective reader a free preview to help that reader decide whether a
full copy is worth paying for.

ACM has decided to treat links as citations. ACM encourages wide use of links as
citations. Authors will not have to seek prior permission to place links to ACM
copyright works in their new documents. A reader who decides to use a link will
negotiate access with ACM at the time of link-use, and ACM will provide
mechanisms to make this simple. ACM members and authors will not be subject
copyright release fees when fetching from the ACM databases.

The scientific publishers, such as ACM, are examining ways to structure their
copyright policies so that they can preserve the spirit of the existing
copyright laws within the context of new practices for using servers and links.
Until people have settled into standard routines with the new practices,
authors and readers will have to think carefully about the copyright
implications of their actions.

Policy Questions

The experiments and new media are shifting traditional practices, demanding new
policies to cover all aspects of the transformed publications processes. The
foregoing discussion reveals a number of policy questions that were not
contemplated when the existing policies were formulated.

1. Who holds what rights? Do traditional copyright principles
apply to digital versions and transmissions? What rights do authors retain?
Their employers?

2. What rights do authors and ACM obtain for object-oriented
documents, some of whose components are already-existing, published objects
referenced by active hypertext links in the web? What happens when an author
obtains permission, but not copyright, for an object belonging to another
author? What are the rules for fetching a copy of an object by exercising a

3. Does the new, emerging practice of posting submitted
manuscripts on public servers constitute publication? Under what circumstances
should ACM retain its "no scooping" policy? What about its "novel submission"

4. What notices should authors of submitted papers be required to
include with their public-server postings? Should an accepted paper be removed
from the author's host when copyright is transferred to ACM?

5. Should changes and corrections create new versions of a work
rather than replacing old versions? Will articles become more like software,
requirement management by version control systems?

6. Should high quality conferences with outstanding reputations be
considered of equivalent quality to transactions and journals? (Conferences
review for accept or reject under strict deadlines while journals review for
revisions that will improve a manuscript; do these differences matter?)

7. Should there be an archiving fee, replacing the current practice
of page charges? Should uncited items be deleted from the archive after a
minimum holding time? Should highly cited items be guaranteed a permanent
place in the archive?

Answers to these questions are evolving as the field changes and we learn more.
ACM's new, interim copyright policy statement and author's guide are attached as

Publishers that learn to provide well structured knowledge through digital
libraries and easy-to-use tools will be the main survivors and successful
entrepreneurs in the new medium. They will need to develop new policies
consistent with their evolving practices and their long-term vision.

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