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The impact of electronic publishing on library services and resources in the UK

4.8 Standards and quality

As the diversity of forms of electronic publishing grows, so the need for standards increases. This applies especially to the forms in which information is stored and to the interfaces through which users will access the information.

There is a need for further development of standards in the area of data archiving. For systems not amenable to traditional data archiving techniques, standards need to be developed for the taking of meaningful 'snapshots' for archival purposes, and system software developers need some incentive to meet such standards. Similar standards and procedures are required in respect of the many systems where the data held are transient.

Purchasers of information in electronic formats will expect the same standards to apply as were established in the past for conventional books and journals. There is a need for the publishers of scholarly electronic journals to establish a code of practice covering:

  1. The operation of a peer review system;
  2. The inclusion of dates of receipt and acceptance of articles added to the electronic journal;
  3. The assurance that documents made available to users are definitive versions;
  4. The availability of an archive for the journal, preferably independent of the publisher. This might be linked with the introduction of a system of legal deposit;
  5. The introduction of a universally accepted system of identifiers attached to electronic articles or similar items in order to facilitate the unequivocal selection of that item.
  6. Means of tagging or labelling each item in such a way that the tag is recorded by the retrieval system and is presented to the end user, so providing for the recovery of any copyright fees payable. This principle, alluded to in the Follett Report, is applicable to all media.

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