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OCR for page 423
COMMUNICATION IN THE ~ FIFE SCIENCES 423 Atlas of Protein Sequence and Structure, 1967-1968* is likewise an im- portant contribution in this area. The handbook series initiated under the auspices of the National Academy of Sciences and continued by the Fed- eration of American Societies for Experimental Biology now represents an important source. And, traditionally, critical compilations have been a major segment of the taxonomic literature. Inducements, similar to those proposed for authors of review articles, should be offered to encourage scientists to undertake critical compilations. SECONDARY INFORMATION SERVICES Secondary services consist of all media, techniques, and activities by which scientists are made aware of and assisted in obtaining access to pub- lished information. Traditional abstracts, indexes, and bibliographies fall into this category. So do newer approaches, including programs to alert scientists to recent publications on the basis of "interest profiles" submitted to alerting services, custom-tailored reference services in specialized areas, computerized indexes, question-and-answer services, and preparation of summaries of groups of papers. Proprietary services produce some types of this secondary information. Efficient operation of on-going programs and development of new ones demand a complex interaction and cooperation among authors, editors, staffs of indexing and abstracting services, and users of those services. For optimum effectiveness, each party must have as full an understanding as possible of the needs and activities of the others, with a well-organized interplay among services catering to various scientific subfields so that the user can be sure of obtaining, with minimum difficulty, as much informa- tion as he needs without drowning in a sea of seemingly relevant or closely related undigested references. In the future, as these criteria are met, such secondary information services should grow in importance; for the present, they are relatively little used by the scientific community. Functions and Desirable Characteristics of a Secondary Service The abstracting and indexing function provision of abstracts that can, if necessary, substitute for original documents and classify them con- veniently. If all journals required "heading abstracts" at the beginning of ; Atlas of Protein Sequence and Structure, 1965, 1966, 1967-1968. Editors, R. V. Eck and M. O. Dayhoff, National Biomedical Research Foundation, Silver Spring, Maryland.