Frequently 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
- 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
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
A. You can either e-mail the conference list (ECHET96@ic.ac.uk) 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.
© ECHET96. February, 1997.