Archive for the ‘Discussion’ Category
In the past, hybrid journals (where some articles are Open Access (OA) and others are not) were often dismissed as a temporary entity, something which would fall to the wayside in favour of purely open access (gold OA) or subscription journals. However, no matter how OA is being adopted, the number of hybrid journals is growing fast. This is a result of the increased demand for open access content in reputable subscription-based journals. More and more, high-profile publications are becoming hybrid journals to accommodate authors who choose (or are required by funding mandates) to make their work open while still being able to publish in top non-OA journals.
Consequently, hybrid journals are very important journals. According JournalTOCs statistics, they account for at least 30% of the total number of journals and it is likely that they will continue being an essential part of the scholarly publishing industry for years to come. This is particularly relevant if we consider that almost every hybrid journal is being indexed in at least one of the popular citation indexing services such as Scopus, Clarivate Analytics and CiteScore. While the number journals selected by JournalTOCs is not an exact representation of the whole scholarly journal landscape, its stats illustrated in the following image can give us a good idea of how the number of hybrid journals has steadily been increasing in the last five years.
Figure 1: Last five years trend of the proportion of journals by publishing model.
(Source: JournalTOCs Aggregator Database. Values calculated each end of April of each year.)
This increased popularity has made it essential for services like JournalTOCs, which provide users with alerts for new issues from their favourite journals, to consider the need to identify OA articles within these hybrid journals. Not only will this make users aware of OA articles published together with subscription-based articles, but it also acknowledges how important OA articles are in the world of academic publishing.
To be able to programmatically pull OA articles from hybrid journals, it is necessary to find one identifying feature of OA articles that can be used across the board. Luckily for us, members of our JournalTOCs team led the search for this holy grail feature by the means of the Open JEMO project. The project identified that practically every hybrid journal was already using CC licenses in 2015. Currently, the Creative Commons (CC) license has become the de facto standard to identify the type of copyright license of OA articles. The conclusion of this project determined that the ‘cc:license tag’ could be used to set apart OA articles.
The cc:license tag is the main way to identify articles with a creative commons license which enables the free distribution of otherwise copyrighted work. In other words, this article is open access. At JournalTOCs, we already have the ability to indicate OA articles from hybrid journals right on the website if the cc:license tag is present in the RSS feeds of the current issue.
Figure 2: An example of how A&I Databases, Discovery Services and Aggregators can identify
OA articles in hybrid journals using the cc:license provided by the journal RSS feed.
(Source: JournalTOCs webpage for the ‘Acta Crystallographica Section D :
Biological Crystallography’ journal. Visited on 13 June 2018.)
Atypon steps in
Atypon is following the lead of a handful of small but important publishers that were first to adopt the cc:license tag when identifying OA articles five years ago. Their number has been increasing steadily but Literatum is the first commercial publishing platform that has enabled full support for the cc:license in their RSS feeds following the JEMO guidelines. It is a commendable effort that should be emulated by every scholarly publisher and publishing platform. Similarly, OJS – the open source publishing platform – has enabled the use of the cc:license tag in their RSS feeds since approximately two years ago.
Atypon hosts a wide range of popular publishers, six of whom regularly use the cc:license tag in their RSS feeds and are, therefore, extremely useful for JournalTOCs.
These publishers are:
- American Society of Clinical Oncology. Apart from publishing successful journals and case reports which revolve around the study of oncology, it primarily acts as a professional organisation for physicians and oncology professionals who care for people with cancer. They are particularly involved in the realm of cancer research and the care of cancer patients. They publish three journals which represent a mixture of hybrid, open access and subscription formats. We are also lucky enough to be able to use them as a great example of cc:license tagging in action!
- FASEB (Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology). This organisation promotes research and education in biological and biomedical sciences. They are the publisher of one hybrid journal: the well-known FASEB journal which focuses on transdisciplinary research covering all field of biological science.
- Wageningen Academic Publishers are an independent publishing house which focuses on life sciences. This includes animal and veterinary studies, nutrition and health, social and environmental studies and plant sciences. They currently publish seven journals which represent a mix of hybrid and subscription journals.
- Taylor & Francis is a leading publisher of scholarly journals, books/ebooks, text books in a wide range of fields. This includes the humanities, social sciences, behavioural sciences, science, technology and medicine sectors. T&F is already using the cc:license tag in over 900 of their journals.
- Physical Society of Japan. This publisher is one of the oldest academic societies for natural sciences in Japan and aim to bring the latest achievements and research in the study of physics to the forefront. They do this by regularly publishing two hybrid journals.
- Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht is a German publisher of academic literature and is one of the oldest independent publishing houses in the world. They primarily publish journals about history, the humanities, pedagogy and psychology and are responsible for a mix of subscription and hybrid journals.
By enabling publishers to use the cc:license tag to identify OA articles, Atypon is leading the change towards providing accurate information to library knowledgebase systems. This will, therefore, solve the issues affecting OA discovery and adding value to the publishing supply chain. We hope that other publishers, hosted on Atypon or elsewhere, will begin to see the benefits of using the cc:license in their APIs and RSS feeds and will choose to make OA articles even more accessible to eager readers.
One year ago (21st March 2014 to be exact) we contacted Helen Duce, the Head of E-Publishing at Maney Publishing, because after Maney migrated to its new Atypon’s e-publishing platform (Literatum), JournalTOCs was unable to crawl the TOC RSS feeds of Maney’s journals.
JournalTOCS not only uses the effective and simple RSS feeds to get the latest articles from over 25,000 journals. It also uses a very basic version of the simple, but still effective,
wget unix command:
wget -O newtocs.tmp "journal-RSS-feed-URL" 2>&1
That is it. A
wget that has nothing to hide or try to use its rich options to force crawling.
As we can only communicate with the publishers, we couldn’t discuss the problem directly with Atypon. So, we contacted Maney many times. While Helen was very helpful, Atypon was telling Maney that everything was OK at their end, but we knew that we were being refused access to the RSS feeds.
Today, Helen gave us the good news that Maney have finally heard back from Atypon on this issue. It turns out that our IP range was blocked by Maney Online (Atypon) because of “abuse monitoring“, given that JournalsTOCs was crawling content (RSS feeds) which Atypon flagged up as abuse.
Fortunately the misunderstanding has been resolved. Atypon has noticed that crawling RSS feeds is not abuse. The very reason for having RSS feeds is to enable other services to crawl and reuse your feeds to facilitate the widest dissemination of your content, which at the end of the day will benefit your business because it would increase the number of visitors to your site.
We are glad to be able to access the RSS feeds of Maney again. We will restore the Maney journals that were selected by the JournalTOCs Index and start to update their TOCs. In the last year, usage (number of followers) for Maney’s journals have decreased at JournalTOCs, but we hope that once users see that Maney’s journals are being updated, they will start to follow Maney journals again.
Publishers that are changing platforms should make sure to check that their RSS feeds continue being accessible for aggregators and discovery services. By working together, publishers, discovery services, aggregators and e-publishing platforms, can create positive impact in facilitating the dissemination of research.
“the success of these systems [link resolvers and knowledgebases] and services is ultimately dependent upon the cooperation of the various players across the supply chain of electronic resource metadata”
(van Ballegooie, Marlene (2015) Knowledgebases: The Cornerstone of E-Resource Management and Access. Serials Review 40(4) pp. 259-266. DOI: 10.1080/00987913.2014.977127)
LM created LibTOC thanks to a JournalTOCs Premium license, which gave LM full access to up-to-date information to the entire database of JournalTOCs as well as premium access to journal’s metadata daily updates. LM didn’t renew the license in July 2013 and as a consequence LibTOC lost access to up-to-date journal information.
The agreement between LM and JournalTOCs was intended to provide LM with privileged access to JournalTOCs database to power the LibNet system, which was launched by LM last year.
Almost every day, many journal titles are transferred between publishers, cease publication, have their URLs changed, new titles are published, etc. Using the JournalTOCs Premium API, services can keep track of those changes in a systematic and automated way. In particular JournalTOCs can identify when the URL for a journal TOC RSS feeds have been changed, removed or when new TOC RSS feeds are made available. Thus, through its customised APIs, JournalTOCs constantly is providing up-to-date information on journal metadata to other current awareness services. Per each journal, the information includes:
– subject classification
– RSS feeds URL
– homepage URL
– access rights
– e-ISSN and print-ISSN numbers
– number of followers at JournalTOCs
– last issue publication date
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