Proceedings of the  ECHET96 ConferenceFrequently Asked Questions

Qu. Why should I purchase the CD-ROM, if the conference is still on-line.
A. The on-line version will only be available for a period of two years from the start of the conference. We also recognise that with increasing congestion on the world's networks, it can sometimes be very difficult to connect to the UK to access the on-line version of the conference. Finally, connection to the on-line version is recorded in the server log files. If you want to ensure permance of the proceedings, fast access, and privacy, you should purchase the CD-ROM.
Qu. Why should I contribute to ECHET96?
A. We believe that the ECHET96 Conference series, of which ECHET96 is the second, offers a significant advance in how science and chemistry can be communicated. Molecular coordinates and structure diagrams can be delivered in "rotatable" and "user customisable" form, which means that all aspects of structure and stereochemistry can be far better understood. The reader can discover for themselves subtle features often entirely lost in the more conventional medium of paper or 35mm slides. This new medium depends on its success in attracting high quality chemistry, and that depends on you.
Qu. What sort of audience could ECHET96 reach?
A. Well over two thousand different computers "visited" the ECHET96 conference (we can only count computers, not people, but we assume that it is likely that more than one person uses each computer), and around 280 people registered for the e-mail discussions. The more popular papers were accessed over 500 times each, from all over the world. Indeed, the geographical distribution of both papers and readers was far wider than one normally finds at a "physical" conference. One of the most popular features was the up to date "keyword" search (the conference is re-indexed every weak, to include e-mail discussions etc), although "rotatable" molecule were also frequently accessed. In addition, authors could request individual access statistics for their own paper, and if they wish, cite these in support of any case they wish to make. Facilities such as these are unique to electronic conferences, and more will be added in the future.
Qu. The most important aspect of any conference is meeting people. Can I do this with ECHET96?
A. To call ECHET96 a conference is perhaps misleading. It is more akin to a "collaboratory" where people can search for and exchange information, data, experiences etc in an error free manner which does not require costly and time consuming travel. Experience from the previous chemistry electronic conference (ECHET96-1) suggests that participating actually results in new and even unexpected invitations for real meetings. Thus ECHET96 does not replace the need for "conventional" conferences, rather it acts as an enabling mechanism to allow new collaborations to start and flourish. The event is deliberately timed to occur in the dead period of real conferences, when travelling is difficult.
Qu. What is the difference between a conventional Journal Article and ECHET96?
A. ECHET96 is a forum where people can read and discuss contributions with a strong thematic content, in this case heterocyclic chemistry. Because each article has an e-mail link to one or more authors, establishing contacts is very easy, and we hope that new collaborations between scientists will emerge. At the end of the conference, authors will have the option of either withdrawing their article for publication elsewhere or having it published as part of the conference proceedings. These will appear in CD-ROM form, and will constitute a permanent archive of the event. Chemical Abstracts have agreed to consider articles and posters included on the CD-ROM for abstracting, provided "new science" is reported. This means that in due course, any conference contribution that is regarded by CA as fulfilling their criteria will be searchable via CAS Online and other sources of abstract information. This means that such a contribution would count as a "refereed scholarly paper", and can be so cited.
Qu. What is the difference between an article and a poster?
A. An article would be expected to contain a review of previous work by the authors and others, new results, and some measure of detail such as preparations, spectral and structural data. A Poster is regarded as a "preliminary communication", with the essential features of the new results reported. Additional details such as preparation, spectral details etc can be included if wished as hyperlinks to the main "poster" page. A full article reporting all details of the research would be expected to follow up the preliminary poster.
Qu. Is preparing documents in "hypermedia" difficult?
A. In the opinion of some, less so than preparing "camera ready" copy for some journals. Preparing a document in Microsoft Word or other high quality word word processor is probably about 70% of the task accomplished. Converting the document to "HTML" is largely an automated task, and excellent commercial tools have become available recently to aid this task. Adding hyperlinks, either manually or using a text editor with "extensions" is quite straightforward, as many examples of how to do it are available. Only slightly more tricky is handling any graphical images. They will have to be converted to "GIF" or "JPEG" form. Making "navigable" images is the most complex task you are likely to confront, and here again explicit examples are included in the instructions to authors to make your task easier. To give you a specific idea, one "keynote" paper was received by the ECHET96 conference editors as a standard Microsoft Word document and mounted for the conference within 30 minutes, including one rotatable crystal structure diagram and a "clickable map". Of the 77 articles submitted to ECHET96, more than half were prepared in "HTML" format by their authors.
Qu. With a conference or a journal, I can browse laterally. Surely, serendipity is lost with a forum such as ECHET96?
A. ECHET96 is indexed using a "fuzzy" method, which enhances accidental discoveries. It also has "one-stop shopping" with other on-line services available via its pages. If you have an idea, you can follow it up immediately rather than "when you get back to the office". Or, by posting a query to the e-mail forum, you might get rapid response from others, often in the form of precise citations rather than half remembered names or sources. Assuming other ECHET96-like events spring up, then cross-hyperlinking can only enhance the opportunity for serendipity.
Qu. I need a computer to view ECHET96. Printed conference proceedings or journals I can read anywhere.
A. The advantage of ECHET96 is that you can copy/paste citations, numerical data, diagrams, coordinates for your own personal use, rather than having to type them by hand and risk introducing errors as with concentional conferences or journals.
Qu. The discussion period of ECHET96 lasts four weeks. Where will I find the time to attend when I have examinations to mark etc?
A. ECHET96 is not a "real-time" conference. You can browse papers and posters, read the e-mail, and compose your replies at your leisure. Most participants at ECHET96 found no difficulty in setting aside 30 minutes each day for these activities. To use the jargon, ECHET96 will interlace with your normal activities with little problem!
Qu. Will there be conference Proceedings?
A. Authors have the option of withdrawing their contribution at the end of the discussion period. Contributions not withdrawn will be collected into proceedings and these will be pressed onto a CD-ROM. One FREE (!) copy of this CD-ROM will be sent to each group contributing an article or poster. We hpe that the conference will not be "ephemeral" but will be available in archival form. If the CD-ROM is inserted into an "Internet Ready" computer, all the hyperlinks to other sites in the world should continue to work!
Qu. What is the difference between an electronic conference and an electronic Journal
A. Currently (January 1996) there are no electronic journals in the area of organic chemistry, and so a forum such as ECHET96 is the only one offering electronic features in this area. More importantly, ECHET96 offers a strong theme, the opportunity to discuss individual contributions with others and to develop contacts in the area. As e-journals develop, they may also come to offer such facilities. We are at the start of a new era, and ECHET96 may be expected to have an important influence on how it develops.
Qu. I only have a PC/Macintosh/SGI etc. Which is best?
A. The enormous advantage of using the World-Wide Web as a conference mechanism is that Windows, Macintosh or Unix workstations all work very well in browsing. There are more differences when it comes preparing papers, since the various platforms handle graphics differently.
Qu. What is the Copyright Situation?
A. By contributing an article or poster to the conference proceedings, authors are agreeing to the transfer of copyright to the conference organisers. Administratively, this facilitates interaction with Chemical Abstracts, and will enable production and distribution of the conference CD-ROM. Anyone using a World-Wide Web browser to view the conference can print any page for their own personal use only, and any commercial reproduction would be an infringement of copyright.
Qu. I am interested in the E-mail discussions but am hesitant about joining in.
A. You can either e-mail the conference list ( or the individual authors. A message sent to the conference can be subequently cited by any author who wishes to revise their contribution, and the message could then be referenced in the Science Citation Index. Personal e-mails are less likely to make such a contribution. E-mails can be quite formal, but often are much less so, and can lead to unexpected new collaborations and liaisons. Any personal abuse is certainly "below the belt" and will be removed by the conference editors. Other than such situations, we do not expect any editing of submitted e-mail messages, so take care over them. Those not wishing to receive regular e-mail postings, can "lurk" by viewing the archives.

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