Frequently Asked Questions
- Qu. Why should I contribute to ECTOC?
A. We believe that ECTOC 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. ECTOC is not a "JACS" (yet) but it could be, and by
contributing you can help convince people that better science
can be achieved with the help of tools like this.
- Qu. Why should I send my best work to ECTOC, where
no-one will read it, when I could send it to "JACS" where they will.
A. You might be surprised by how many people can visit a site
in one week. Typically, between 5 - 20 thousand individual
document accesses per week can occur
on an average chemistry WWW server. Of course, much
of that is "novelty", but as the quality improves so will "repeat"
visits. Unlike papers, you can also get precise "counts" for
any individual item, and a "top ten" is available. That does
not necessarily indicate quality, but for a conference with
"Trends" in its title, it is useful to see what people are
finding interesting (or controversial).
Who knows, citing say "1239" electronic
visits to your paper might actually help in the next grant
application or application for tenure! The first person to
do so might wish to claim some sort of record!
- Qu. Will the paper "count" for tenure, funding, etc?
A. Chemical Abstracts have agreed to consider papers and posters
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 your contribution will count as a "refereed scholarly paper",
and can be so cited.
- Qu. What is the difference between a paper and a poster?
A. A paper 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 paper 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. Adding hyperlinks, either manually or using a
text editor with "extensions" is quite straightforward, as many
examples of how to do it are available. Perhaps the most difficult
aspect 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
suitable quite simple programs exist to help. To give you a specific
idea, one "keynote" paper was received by the conference editors
as a standard Microsoft Word document
and mounted for the conference in approximately 30 minutes, which
included one active crystal structure.
- Qu. The most important aspect of any conference is meeting
people. Can I do this with ECTOC?
A. Experience from the previous chemistry electronic conference
(ECCC) suggests that participating actually results in new and
even unexpected invitations for real meetings. Thus ECTOC 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. With a conference or a journal, I can browse
laterally. Surely, serendipity is lost with a forum such as ECTOC?
A. ECTOC 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 ECTOC-like events spring up, then
cross-hyperlinking can only enhance the opportunity for
- Qu. I need a computer to view ECTOC. Printed
conference proceedings or journals I can read anywhere.
A. You can print any page(s) from ECTOC at your leisure,
or save onto a floppy disk for perusal later. You can also
copy/paste citations, numerical data, diagrams, coordinates
into your own documents rather than having to type them by hand
and risk introducing errors. Of course, this might facilitate
plagiarism! The science community will no doubt have to develop
methods to detect this (hopefully not the method adopted in
- Qu. The discussion period of ECTOC lasts two weeks. Where will I
find the time to attend when I have examinations to mark etc?
A. ECTOC 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 ECCC found no difficulty in setting aside 30 minutes
each day for these activities. To use the jargon, ECTOC will interlace
with your normal activities with little problem!
- Qu. Will there be conference Proceedings?
A. We expect to collect all the contributions at the end of the
discussion period, allow their authors to revise them if they want, have them
refereed and then pressed onto a CD-ROM. Sponsorship willing, each
accepted contributor will receive a FREE (!) copy of this CD-ROM. We already
have one offer from a major publisher to market the CD-ROM to libraries and
other organisations. Thus the conference is not "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. 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.
The Macintosh is perhaps the best developed currently (February 1995),
but the recent announcement that Microsoft will launch a product called
"Internet assistant" should make preparing papers in a Windows-95
environment particularly easy. SGI have also announced a software pack
called "WEBForce" which promises to offer some very sophisticated tools
- Qu. What is the Copyright Situation?
A. By submitting a paper or poster to the conference, authors
are agreeing to transfer copyright to the conference organisers.
Administatively, 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 freely
print any page locally, much as they can photocopy many documents.
- Qu. I am interested in the E-mail discussions but am hesitant about
A. You can either e-mail the conference list (email@example.com) 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.
© ECTOC-1. February 20, 1995.