A technical convention that promises easier access to articles and enables all archives to communicate with each other in a common language has marked a milestone in online academic publishing.
The Santa Fe Convention was created by Carl Lagoze of Cornell University and Herbert Van de Sompel of Ghent University, Belgium. The initiative, developed by a team led by Paul Ginsparg, founder of Los Alamos laboratory physics archive, aims to foster the global development of e-print archives to common standards.
Fred Friend, director of scholarly communication at University College London, said: "E-print archives can be an author-friendly way of making the results of academic research widely available."
The convention recommends that material in e-print archives become available through a variety of online services. It contains a framework for making information available about archives themselves and about trusted parties developing services around them. This puts in place a mechanism of communication between providers of data and service providers to allow a community of open, "interoperable" archives.
The authors believe the convention will be adopted by existing archives and will encourage new scholarly archives operating within its framework. Commercial and non-commercial parties have expressed interest in creating services for archives that comply with the convention.
Several online archives have agreed to adopt it, including CogPrints, a cognitive sciences archive based at Southampton University, founded by Stevan Harnad. Professor Harnad is also working on creating free software to allow existing and future e-print archives to comply with the convention.