We have recently achieved two significant steps in the development of The Scientist on the Web. In the past few weeks, we have launched a new design for our Web site at www.the-scientist.com, and the 16-year online full-text archive of The Scientist back issues has been completed. Our newly designed site is, effectively, the fourth generation of The Scientist presence on the Web.
In 1992--almost prehistory in "Internet time"--The Scientist launched an experiment in cooperation with the National Science Foundation. We provided a text file of each issue as it was published, through a Gopher site. The idea of Gopher now seems as quaint as a half-timbered house, but in the late '80s and early '90s, it was the height of Internet sophistication, allowing the small number of users of the Internet to search for and download useful text files from a wide range of sources. We believe that through this service, The Scientist was the first regularly published science periodical available in full text on the Internet.
In 1995, The Scientist started its own Web site in partnership with the library of the University of Pennsylvania. We laboriously exported the text and graphics from our page layout system for the print edition, and created handcrafted HTML pages. The site was hosted on a server in the basement of the library and stood us in good stead for several years.
In 2000 we moved our Web site to a commercial provider using our current domain name. This change brought a more sophisticated design and production system, allowed us to register users of the site, and to send out contents page alerts by E-mail. We now have a worldwide audience of more than 440,000, of whom more than 300,000 receive our contents alert.
Now we have changed our design again, to make the site easier to navigate. We have developed a specialist site, at www.biomedscientistjobs.com, devoted to career development and job advertising, and we have added a daily news section, where professional science writers in New York and London report on breaking news in the world of science.
With the completion of our electronic archive, our earliest issues from the 1980s are now available on the Web site. Since we had no electronic version of issues from that era, we developed a laborious procedure of scanning the pages from those yellowing printed copies, running them through an optical character recognition program, creating HTML files, and posting the issues through our publishing system. We take considerable pride in being able to make our entire archive available to anyone, free of charge.
Looking back at older issues provides a fascinating glimpse of the concerns of scientists over the past 16 years. We strongly encourage our readers to visit our site, not only for the latest news and features, but also for the valuable perspective it offers on the development of our field.