SciELO, Scientific Electronic Library Online

Abel Laerte Packer Paper presented to the ICSU Press Workshop, Keble College, Oxford, UK, 31 March to 2 April 1998


FAPESP, the Foundation for the Promotion of Science of the State of São Paulo, in partnership with BIREME, the Latin American and Caribbean Center on Health Sciences Information, developed in São Paulo, a methodology for the preparation, storage, publication and evaluation of scientific journals, during 1997 and the beginning of 1998. The methodology was named SciELO – Scientific Electronic Library Online and it has been applied, during its development, to publish on the Internet ten selected Brazilian scientific journals, from different subject areas, whose editors and publishers agreed to integrate the project. After its development, it is planned to apply the methodology on the building of a national library of electronic journals covering a collection of 70-100 most important titles in the country. SciELO site can be accessed at the URL:

SciELO methodology is conceived as a set of tools addressed to the community of publishers to make feasible the transition from paper to electronic publication including technical, economic and managerial aspects. There is already a consensus among scientific editors that in the near future electronic publication of journals will prevail in parallel to their paper versions. In addition, new and old titles will be published only in electronic format. SciELO facilitates this transition process by providing editors with a solution based on international standards and experiences. SciELO allows the creation of an Internet site that "publishes" a collection of journals with a common interface.

The development of SciELO was originated and justified as an initiative and a contribution to the advancement of the Brazilian scientific research by widening and improving the mediums to communicate scientific literature. SciELO envisages increasing the visibility of scientific journals by providing them with universal access. It is widely known that only a fraction of scientific journals from developing countries is indexed by international databases, hindering seriously their visibility and accessibililty. SciELO intends to overcome this historical limitation by making journals readily available to national and international potential users. It is also expected that this high exposition will contribute to increase the impact of the journals as measured by citation analysis.

In addition to the process of electronic publishing itself, SciELO methodology provides a full set of integrated features that enriches the electronic library and the scientific communication process. Among them, we emphasize the establishment of bibliographic control as a part of the electronic text preparation, the preservation of electronic journals databases, the control and measurement of usage and the production of bibliometric indicators. As a consequence, a journal collection, using SciELO methodology, not only merely replicates the publication process on the Internet but encompasses other processes that are usually carried out at different times and locations in the paper based scientific communication cycle. The SciELO site interface integrates the access to the individual journals by alphabetic indexes of titles or subject indexes, with access to individual articles via classical bibliographic search by author, title, subject, abstract and full text, and with reports on the usage and impact of journals, articles and authors. Therefore, in addition to promoting an increase in the visibility and accessibility of scientific journals, SciELO provides data to support infometric and scientometric studies, which are nowadays available only from a few international sources, such as the Institute of Scientific Information (ISI) citation databases.

The SciELO methodology is divided into five modules:

It is expected that a SciELO site will add value to the time that both end users and librarians dedicate to seek information by providing an integrated collection of journals that can be operated using a common interface. It is also expected that after a significant number of journals and issues are available, the bibliometric and usage indicators will provide editors, publishers and funding agencies with an unique and powerful mechanism to evaluate scientific production and journal impact.

The SciELO methodology is planned to be disseminated and progressively used by other Latin American and Caribbean countries to create and operate scientific journal libraries. FAPESP and BIREME have a high expectation of the establishment of partnerships with national and international institutions to continue the development and enhancement of the methodology, specially regarding the provision of hyperlinks between SciELO and international databases.

Last updated : 16 September 1998  
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