Archive for the ‘Discussion’ Category
Many would argue that there is no excuse for software developers not to support old browsers, aka browsers that have been released more than five years ago or do not support the advanced web apps commonly used in modern websites.
Some will point out that developers should apply standards that all browsers should support, and that the whole point of well formed HTML is that it should render in any browser.
But what about security vulnerabilities commonly found in older browsers and what about the support for the rich and interactive web apps that have transformed the way we interact with websites nowadays? Shouldn’t those two reasons be enough to convince anyone to upgrade their browser? Our experience with the NHS, the major UK Heath service, has shown us that sometimes the answer is no.
JournalTOCs is used by hundreds of professionals from the NHS. Sometimes we receive enquiries from NHS librarians, who are using JournalTOCs to support the current awareness demands of their patrons. A recurrent question, made by those librarians in a rather apologetic manner, is whether JournalTOCs web pages will work and render without problems by the browser being used by many in the NHS, which is the old version 7 of the Microsoft Internet Explorer (IE7). Those librarians are pleased to learn that JournalTOCs has been developed to work with IE7 and also newer browser versions.
IE7 was released by Microsoft in October 2006. It was shipped as the default browser in Windows Vista systems and was offered as a replacement for IE 6 for Windows XP systems. IE7 was superseded by IE8 in March 2009, which in turn was replaced by IE9, released in March 2011. IE9 no longer supports Windows XP systems. IE7 is now a seven years old browser. However, it is estimated that IE7’s global market share is still 4%.
The issue becomes relevant in particular when you need to provide an external web service to NHS users. Probably a sizable chunk of the IE7 market share comes from the NHS and other departments from the UK government such as the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). The NHS alone has more than 800,000 workstations and laptops nationwide, where IE7 is installed by default.
Why is an organisation with the importance of the NHS letting its staff use a seven years browser that has already been superseded by two versions? And why IE only? The clue to the answer can be found by the fact that the NHS is one of those organisations that are more concerned with maintaining the stability of their major critical intranets than being compliant with external services and websites that are occasionally used by their staff. Google can be omnipresent and very important for millions of users and can afford to stop supporting old browsers (Modern browsers for modern applications) and develop its own browser, but it will not deter those organisations from continuing using a browser that is strongly interrelated with their enterprise intranets.
As long as critical NHS enterprise applications are still depending on IE7, JournalTOCs will continue supporting IE7. We understand that enterprise applications are not easy to upgrade. They deal with booking services, expense claims, corporate accounts, staffing changes, CRM systems, payroll, etc. Upgrading these expensive systems is not a trivial task. It’s one process that is full of risks. So, it makes sense that these systems are upgraded at large intervals of time, with the process being rigorously controlled and methodically run. It also makes sense that JournalTOCs should be able to be useful to staff working in the NHS and other national organisations from other countries that are in a similar situation to the NHS.
As we know there a range of variations in the quality of the RSS feeds that publishers produce to announce the latest issues or articles published in their journals. But we wonder if there is any correlation between quality of a journal and quality of its RSS feeds. In particular what about the best journals, I mean the journals with the highest impacts, most-cited articles and the most prolific content? Are their TOC RSS feeds a reflection of their outstanding position and quality?
Surely the publishers of the top journals are aware of the advantages of providing excellent RSS feeds (with rich content, tagged with standards elements and focused in enabling re-usability and early awareness.) We can get a good idea of the quality of the RSS feeds of those top journals by checking that their RSS feeds are valid and well formed, follow the RSS specifications for scholarly publishers, and in particular are making use of the main RSS 1.0 modules recommended by the “Recommendations on RSS Feeds for Scholarly Publishers“, namely the Dublin Core and PRISM modules. We are carrying out such analysis, which will take some time. In the meantime we could check the RSS feeds of the winners of the ALPSP Award for Best New Journal 2012, recently announced.
It is interesting to notice that Postmedieval, from Palgrave Macmillan, which is the winner of the ALPSP Award for Best New Journal 2012 is among the journals with the best TOC RSS feeds too.
The TOC RSS feeds of Postmedieval include all the metadata required to support efficient reuse (e.g. OpenURL resolution) and dissemination (e.g. current awareness) of latest articles, making Postmedieval a good example of how to use RSS feeds.
Similarly the winner of the Highly Commended Certificate (Methods in Ecology and Evolution, from the British
Ecological Society and Wiley-Blackwell) as well as the shortlisted journals (Cancer Discovery, from the
American Association for Cancer Research, and Physical Review X, from the American Physical Society) have excellent TOC RSS feeds.
Clearly there is a direct relationship between the quality of those new journals and the quality of their RSS feeds. In a next post we will report on the results of our analysis of the RSS feeds collected by JournalTOCs to determine whether the top journals tend to have the best TOC RSS feeds or not.
Postmedieval TOC RSS feeds:
Methods in Ecology and Evolution TOC RSS feeds:
Physical Review X
Predatory publishers are already damaging the Open Access reputation. Unfortunately, the uncontrolled proliferation of new Open Access journals is also negatively impacting on the standing of the Open Access movement.
From the list of 3,850 Open Access journals currently indexed by JournalTOCs, we detect that in average two of those Open Access journals cease publishing or disappear altogether every month. In addition, we noticed that various Open Access journals indexed by JournalTOCs are struggling to continue publishing new issues. The temptation for some of those journals to publish “anything” is real.
The questions we would like to ask to our friends at DOAJ are:
1. How many of the Open Access journals, registered with DOAJ, have ceased to publish?
2. Can DOAJ provide us with an API to help us to detect the OA journals that no longer exist?
In average, JournalTOCs receives 10 requests per day to add new Open Access journals to its database. In most of the cases, those journals do not meet our selection criteria and consequently they are not added to JournalTOCs.
Open Access journals are helping researchers to boost their number of publications and citations. For example Prof. Syed Tauseef Mohyud-Din has achieved an impressive number of 350 new papers published in less than four years. However, aren’t we abusing the current explosion of spurious scholarly Open Access journals? Is the peer-review model working in the same way for both Open Access and commercial “traditional” publishers? Many questions are still to be answered regarding Open Access.
It is now two years since the ticTOCs Best Practice Recommendation group, headed by CrossRef and consisting of members from Talis, Nature Publishing Group, Oxford University Press and Heriot-Watt University; published the “Recommendations on RSS Feeds for Scholarly Publishers.”
RSS feeds are designed to be aggregated and reused by other services and software applications. In general RSS feeds should always be created with this in mind. The Recommendations are in full agreement with this principle.
Back in 2009, two practices were noticed by the ticTOCs Project:
- there was a wide variation amongst the journal TOC RSS feeds produced by scholarly publishers, and
- in most of the cases the feeds’ content had very limited information on the articles, such as uniquely the title and the link to the article’s webpage.
Variations in the way publisher implement RSS feeds basically preclude the consistent and automated aggregation of feeds. At the same time, having little content to offer, limit the reusability and value of feeds for other services that want to create interesting applications by combining the feeds. The Recommendations were created to help publishers avoid the inconveniences created by those two practices, and to advocate good practice in the production and provision of TOC RSS feeds for scholarly journals.
There are signs that the Recommendations are gradually being embraced to a certain extent, but how many scholarly publishers have really implemented the Recommendations in their journal TOC RSS feeds? There’s no way to get an exact number, but we can get a good idea of the progress being made by taking a look at the number of journals that are using the four RSS 1.0 modules recommended by the group, namely Admin, Content, Dublin Core and PRISM modules.
Today we have examined the RSS feeds of the journals collected by JournalTOCs to get an approximate picture of how many publishers are making the move. Currently 17,112 journals from 917 publishers are being indexed by JournalTOCs.
Interestingly no journal uses the Admin module in their RSS feeds. Only a few hundreds of subscription journals make use of the Content module. However those two modules are not particularly relevant from the re-usability perspective (the Admin module is intended to be used by consumers of a feed to provide feedback on errors encountered in the feed and the Content module is used to include formatted HTML marked up content for browsers.) The modules that really can give us a good indication of the Recommendations’ uptake are the Dublin Core and PRISM modules.
8,025 journals are using Dublin Core, PRISM or both modules; but only 3,673 of those journals are using both modules.
If we put the figures from the number of publishers’ perspective, 425 publishers are using Dublin Core, PRISM or both modules; and 295 of them use both Dublin Core and PRISM modules.
Regarding Open Access Journals, there are 2,660 Open Access journals in JournalTOCs, and 708 of them have implemented either the Dublin Core or the PRISM module; but only 288 of Open Access journals use both Dublin Core and PRISM modules.
In conclusion: There is still a long way to go. Only 31% of the publishers are using the two main modules and in some extend have adopted the Recommendations. This is equivalent to 22% of the journals. To make a real progress two things should happen: (1) Elsevier, Springer-Verlag and Taylor and Francis together publish over 6,000 journals. A significant step forward will only be made when those three large publishers adopt the Recommendations. (2) An inexplicable low number of Open Access journals have implemented the recommendations. Without proper orientation and guidance, the publishers of OA journals so far haven’t been able to grasp the benefits of adopting best practices and using standard modules for their RSS feeds.
One might expect that journals in computer science are using the latest computer science technologies to publish their journals. Well that is not always the case. For example we found two publishers in computer sciences that do not give their own publications platforms the benefit of their “expertise”.
ACTA Press publishes eleven scientific and technical journals in the general areas of engineering and computer science. For example it publishes the International Journal of Computers and Applications (IJCA), an outstanding title, but where is the homepage of this journal? Google will give you this page (Sorry, Google seems to be a year behind). Other sources will point to here or here. Can you find a unique or persistent URL for IJCA’s homepage? We couldn’t find it. It seems that its “homepage” changes with every issue. The same happens with all ACTA Press journals. Their journal TOC RSS feeds have a sub-standard implementation too. For example IJCA’s RSS feeds point to this page or here, but all that you get from those RSS feeds are “Object moved” messages. The RSS link shown at the bottom of all IJCA pages point to an “Acta Press New Papers” feeds which in fact is a list of relatively new papers published in conference proceedings! That is confusing. Worse, if you go to the proceedings section you will see that actually those RSS feeds are out of date or one year behind.
The International Society for Computers and Their Applications (ISCA) publishes the International Journal of Computers and Their Applications (IJCA). There is no mention of an OA option for authors. However, ISCA’s instructions for authors say: “After a manuscript has been accepted for publication, the author will be invoiced a page charge of $35.00 USD per printed page to cover part of the cost of publication.” Does that mean the papers are OA? Nope. In fact this is a subscription journal. There is no need to navigate through all IJCA pages to immediately feel that you have travelled 10 years back in the past. Its web pages are pre Web 1.0! Although ISCA claims that the journal is abstracted and indexed by Scopus, INSPEC and DBLP, and we can see that the journal webpage displays an impressive list of Editorial Board members, it is not possible to gauge its value. Can I see the abstracts? Nope. Links to full-texts, citations or to something? No, there are not links to any content at all. DOIs are not used. Of course there is not a remote mention of RSS feeds in this international journal of computer sciences.
Why these two journals are not up to the web technology standards expected for journals specialising in computer sciences?