The Scientific, Technical and Medical Information System in the UK: a report published by the Royal Society, 1993

Dennis Pilling
1994 Serials: The Journal for the Serials Community  
The current UK STM information system, a combination of learned journals, books, structured discussions and informal communication, is described and the main issues clearly presented under five headings: the nature of the system; users; the changing role of libraries; economic aspects, and problems and changes. These five chapters are a comprehensive summary of all the debate that has taken place for twenty years or more but with the addition of a large amount of data from questionnaires and
more » ... estionnaires and interviews which were carried out as part of the study. Analysis of these findings adds substance to the debate and provides evidence for many of the statements which have become accepted truths about the UK information system. Contradictory evidence Unfortunately the presentation of this wealth of facts has dominated the report with the result that important contradictions between some of the main points, made on the basis of the survey data, are not examined, and fundamental characteristics of the problems facing the present system are not confronted. By examining these contradictory statements this alternative view addresses two essential questions: 'What basic need should the information system satisfy?'and 'What is the cause of the two debilitating problems which threaten the information sytemcost and quantity?" Answers to these two questions reveal the true nature of the current system and give meaning to the reports number one recommendation, which requires that "Scientific researchers should become more aware of the nature and problems of the STM system and take greater responsibility for its health and effectiveness" .' A system revealed At the root of the contradiction is the finding that dissemination is researchers' main purpose for publishing and that the printed journal is the main information source. Statements from the study itself show the two findings to be mutually incompatible. A core assumption of the study is that "money spent upon research without subsequent dissemination of the findings is money
doi:10.1629/070173 fatcat:brsto43lh5curketmjzfu463dq