Ejournals and journal services: What is worth paying for?
This post has been bubbling up for a while, but I'm finally taking time out to say it. (see a discussion about crossref and free cloud on J.R.'s site
This is in response to
a) Statements by some that anyone can publish a journal (and do it well), that journal hosting services provide little or no value, and that stashing copies of articles anywhere in a random pdf format is just as good as publishing in a journal
b) The ICOLC Statement
, which says in part:
1. Purchasers will trade features for price; that is, we can do without costly new interfaces and features. This is not a time for new products. Marketing efforts for new products will have only limited effects, if any at all.
Part of what we (libraries) pay for when we license electronic journals is:
- an interface that allows browsing, searching, and known item retrieval (like if you can just put in a jnl name, v, p and get the answer)
- an interface that does alerts
- an interface that allows you to export metadata
- an interface with extra features like similar articles, times cited, post to delicious
- an interface that shows you what you have access to and what you don't
- probably most importantly one that our machines will talk to so that we can use tools like open url resolvers (SFX) and metasearch (like metalib) to integrate into discovery platforms
AIAA and some other publishers have chosen to ignore most if not all of these requirements, and to strike out on their own - but we still subscribe because they're the only game in town. Some libraries are so cash-strapped, that they use aggregators for journal full text instead of using the journal platform. This limits the features available and the context provided for the article as well as frequently imposing an embargo on access (new articles are not available, articles are available after 12 months or so). (I choose to believe that they use aggregators because they're cash-strapped, not because they're too lazy to make individual subscription/platform decisions).
Publishers (like small societies) do not have to figure this out on their own - they join crossref, and they hire an organization like atypon or highwire or ingenta or even (eek) Elsevier or Wiley Blackwell to make their journals available.
It IS worth money to:
- be standards compliant
- to have a useful/useable web site that facilitates information discovery - we KNOW that scholars browse journal runs for information, and chain from article to the next, our platforms MUST support this or they are not useful!
- be reliable!
- tell us (librarians) what you're up to and offer us training on how to use your services
- ask us (librarians & users) what we want/like/use
- have a long term digital preservation plan
We DO NOT want to give publishers (like aiaa) and others more money to:
- reinvent the wheel - to build their own site, from scratch, which is pretty but not useable or useful or standards compliant
- lobby congress against things that we hold dear
- hire lawyers to prevent us from doing what you have already licensed us to do
- generally be evil
*done ranting, I feel better now, thank you*
Update, later that day: AIAA now has DOIs, thank goodness, but they still have issues. You could host your journal on BMC (if you are in Biomed!) or on some open journal service - not all of these are created equally! Your data export should be available in every format major bibliographic/citation managers take (ris, txt, endnote ,refworks, BibTeX...). Nice text and online as well as offline readability (how about readable html and readable pdf!)