Information Exchange Groups

1) Information Exchange Groups: In the 1960s an interesting experiment was supported by the National Institutes of Health of the United States for facilitate rapid communication of research information among scientist by creating a formal organization for the exchange of preprints. The experiment, hailed as one of the most revolutionary innovations in the history of science communication, consisted of setting up a series of Information Exchange Group (IEG) for different field of inquiry. Membership in the group was free and opens to any scientists actively engaged in research and each group had a chairman whose task was to ensure smooth functioning of the group. Any member could submit a written communication for distribution to the other members of the group. The IEG head office in Bethesda, Maryland, then made copes of the communication called IEG Memoranda, and mailed them to the group member without charge. There was no restriction on the material submitted for distribution, copies of papers submitted for publication in primary journals, preliminary reports of unfinished research, comments on other communication, reviews, abstracts, notes on events and even enquiries were accepted and distributed as IEG Memoranda without any editorial scrutiny. In all seven IEG were established and were in operation between 1961 – 67.
            During the initial years of the project, the IEG were successful and become quite popular with the participating scientist, mainly because of the speed with which papers could be transmitted to their peers through the IEGs. In fact the IEGs became so popular that both the membership and the number of communication submitted for distribution grew to unmanageable proportions resulting creation of the following problems.

i) The cost becomes so increases that it becomes impossible of raising their sum of money every year from any source on a continuing basis.

ii) Overwhelming inundation of memoranda many of which were of questionable quality and doubtful utility.

iii) Unaccepted delay in the duplication and transmission of the memoranda.

iv) A suspected lowering of the standard of scholarship (presumably due to the absence of any editorial scrutiny).

v) Strong wave of opposition from a group of editors of primary journals.


  Thus despite its initial success the IEGs was called off by the National Institute of Health in 1967 and resulted abandonment of the whole project.

            The main conclusion of the whole project or the experiment were that IEG concept was workable and the IEGs could be a valuable adjunct to complement the primary journal provided that compact groups could be built around well defined problems or phenomena under active investigation by a small group of scientist.