SciELO, Scientific Library Online, is a virtual electronic library which houses a selected collection of Brazilian academic magazines. The library is part of a project that is being developed by FAPESP – Fundação de Amparo à Pesquisa do Estado de São Paulo (www.fapesp.br), in collaboration with Bireme – the Latin American and Caribbean Center for Information on the Health Sciences (www.bireme.br).
Begun in March 1997, SciELO (www.scielo.br) has already reached the mark of approximately 6,500 articles published in more than 50 Brazilian magazines.
The interface of the SciELO provides direct and free access to all the articles in HTML and in some cases in PDF, through navigation through single issues of the magazines as well as research and indexes according to author, subjects, keywords and magazines.
SciELO was developed as a response to existing tendencies in global electronic publications and to the problem posed in the article “Lost Science in the Third World”, W. Wayt Gibbs, Scientific American 273, 76-83, 1995. Many Brazilian magazines have faced the problem of visibility and accessibility (due to limited distribution). Although some are indexed by ISI, Medline, etc., the majority of Brazilian magazines are not included in the established international databases. Even those that are included in databases have been facing serious problems in the worldwide distribution of summaries and papers. It is thus within this context that we can appreciate the revolution that has been wrought by SciELO for our academic magazines by providing an integrated solution for the problems of magazine visibility by giving them accessibility and making complete articles available to readers free of charge.
The SciELO model consists of three components: the development of methodology to edit, store, create Internet hyperlinks, publish, publicize and analyze scientific magazines. The second component is the application of the methodology to activate the SciELO sites, which are collections of electronic magazines. The third component is the development of the network of SciELO sites through the promotion of partnerships and scientific communications – authors, scientific and technical editors, institutions, financial agencies, with the consequent improvement of scientific communication in developing countries. The SciELO model is operational not only in Brazil, but also in Chile (www.scielo.cl), Costa Rica (www.scielo.cr) and Cuba (www.sld.cu/scielo).
The most important criterion for quality control of the magazines included in SciELO’s virtual library is the number of times the articles in these magazines are quoted by the library itself and also by other magazines. This criterion, together with the readiness of publication and with some formal technical considerations, will be deciding factors as to whether a magazine remains in the SciELO.
Internet hypertext links are an important access route to the SciELO system. Today, it is possible to enter an article in the SciELO through its citation in the Medline (Pubmed) or Lilacs. The expectations is that in the near future, SciELO will be connected through hypertext links, to a larger number of databases and information services. This is the important contribution that SciELO is making to the increase in visibility and accessibility of quality Brazilian magazines.
Lewis Joel Greene is a chemist and professor of the Medical School of Ribeirão Preto, of USP