Guide to Reference and Information Sources in Plant Biology (book) Web Resources



Chapter 1:  Introduction to the Literature of Plant Biology



Please note that this page contains only the portion of this chapter from A Guide to Reference and Information Sources in Plant Biology that contains links to Web sites.  The history of the literature of plant biology is covered in more detail in the print book.





            The future of botanical literature will surely parallel the future of other forms of the biological literature.  Most plant biology journals are available electronically, though small regional publications and specialized systematics journals lag behind.  However, journals such as the American Fern Journal and Economic Botany are participating in the BioOne program.  There are a number of interesting new models being explored by the scientific community, and plant biologists are participating in many of them.  These models include Open Access journals in which authors pay a publication fee up front thereby allowing their article to be read for free by anyone in the world, SPARC Alternative journals set up by the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition as inexpensive competitors for more expensive commercially published journals, and many other variations on the traditional publishing model.   

            Older material has not been ignored.  Electronic backfiles of a number of important journals are now available from a number of different organizations or programs such as the Ecology and Botany collection from JSTOR, Highwire Press, and the free backfiles program at PubMed Central.  Commercial publishers are also making backfiles of their journals available.

            In addition to these advances and innovations in the journal literature, plant geneticists participate in actively exploring the range of options that the Web and digital media allows.  The amazing boom in molecular biology, genomics, and bioinformatics has driven an equal boom in data publication and analysis.  With the complete genomes of species such as rice, maize, and Arabidopsis already available, databases such as GenBank are as important for plant biologists as for animal biologists.  Taxonomists are also taking advantage of the Web to compile vast databases such as The International Plant Names Index, which is much easier to use and more flexible than the old print indexes it supercedes. 

            Despite much early hype, e-books in the sciences are growing at a much slower rate than e-journals.  However, an increasing number of books are now being published both electronically and in print, although publishers are still experimenting with pricing models.  Some e-books can be purchased by individuals or libraries as single items directly from the publisher while others are only available to libraries as part of large packages from aggregators such as netLibrary that include books from many publishers.  A few e-books are Open Access, such as The Arabidopsis Book published by the American Society of Plant Biologists and made freely available through BioOne.  Unlike journals, in which users are usually interested in only a single article that is often printed out rather than read on screen, e-books face many usability issues.  As a result, textbooks, reference books, and methods and protocols are presently the most common e-books.  However, most e-books do not take full advantage of the possibilities inherent in the electronic format such as continual updating, internal and external linking, searching across multiple books from different publishers, or the inclusion of other media types such as video or modeling software.  The possibilities are intriguing and the future will certainly include many new publishing formats.



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12/21/2005   mma