85 years of steel research going online

by | Dec 3, 2012

Key 20th century research on fundamentals of steel to be digitised, uploaded, and indexed for the first time.

Before I began editing Steel Research International in 2010, our flagship materials science journals Advanced Materials and Advanced Functional Materials were still celebrating 20 and 10 years of publishing, respectively. Steel Research International, however, with its modern layout and strong online presence, betrays a considerably longer and more colourful history reporting the growth and maturation of a worldwide industry.

The articles contained in these backfiles are still in demand and are cited regularly despite their near-total absence from the internet, the primary source of information for all scientists and engineers; this is presumably because much of the fundamental work on steel research is published in this journal and remains sought after.

Forword to the first issue of Archiv für das Eisenhüttenwesen, first published in July 1927. Click to read the full version.

It is because of this demand that we are publishing all the backfiles on Wiley Online Library, where they will be as discoverable and as accessable as Steel Research International itself.  This is a time-consuming project that involves many steps, repeated many times.  As a starting point what we have is a collection of bound volumes boxed-up and resting on a pallet in our store room!  So we first have to go through each volume by hand, checking that nothing is missing and looking for anything that could create a problem during digitization (already we’ve found extra-large figures that fold-out to twice the size of the page).

You can’t upload that! Preparing a large volume of historic printed articles for online publication.

Digitization is only half the story.  It’s not simply a case of scanning each page and uploading a lot of PDFs, though that in itself is a big project.  Each article must be accompanied by a set of data – metadata – that includes the article title, author, keywords, and so on, to allow indexing services and search engines such as Google and Baidu to quickly and accurately incorporate the backfiles into their search results.  All this requires a small army of people working in various corners of the world to make sure the articles are published correctly and in a way that they are discoverable.

While we work towards the finished product, you can sign-up to receive updates and free previews of historic articles from the backfiles of Archiv für das Eisenhüttenwesen, Steel Research and Steel Research International.

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