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Major landmark reached by JournalTOCs

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Now that we’ve hit the halfway point of April and are longing for our summer holidays, the tendency of most people at this point in the year is to start running out of steam.

We are delighted to announce that we just reached over 30,000 journals in our database thanks to the newly introduced JSON feeds by Cambridge University Press which pushed us over the edge to reach our goal. This is an extremely exciting development for us and it allows us to provide you, our users, with even more content.

JSON Feeds were originally developed by Brent Simmons and Manton Reece who are prevalent figures in the Apple community. For those of you who don’t know, JSON feeds are essentially the easier-to-read, less-buggy big brother to RSS and Atom feeds. They all follow a similar format but JSON feeds provide a more efficient way to accomplish the same tasks.

They are found everywhere these days from apps to websites such as Facebook. JSON has quickly become a developer’s favourite to use when developing API, so it’s no surprise that the websites of publishers of scholarly journals have started using this format. For us, Cambridge University Press’s decision to push JSON feeds is a huge step forward in content consumption. We expect that other journals follow in their footsteps.

JSON feeds also represent the opportunity to reverse the decreasing popularity of RSS feeds. JournalTOCs is extremely reliant on RSS feeds to bring you daily content but a few journals are now deciding not to offer them. Through the increasing prevalence of JSON feeds, we have an opportunity here to bring feed content back into the mainstream. JSON could be a good alternative for those publishers who are hesitant to implement RSS feeds for their journals. After all, JSON feeds are easy to create and use and do not rely on a third party platform while allowing the users to have more freedom and access to the content they want to follow.

More than anything, JSON feeds represent an additional source of content for JournalTOCs and will allow us to crack on with our important work by providing a more efficient route for us to take.

Keep your eyes peeled for other exciting JournalTOCs news on the horizon that we’re very eager to share with you all.

 

Written by Hayley Gibson

April 17th, 2018 at 10:05 am

Are OA journals frightened of TOC RSS feeds?

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Today, Roddy MacLeod tells us that he has added 25 Open Access (OA) journals to JournalTOCs recently. These new journals will increase the number of OA journals in JournalTOCs. Although finding and uploading individual OA journals is not a sustainable model for us, the work of Roddy is exposing a pattern that can be found in various OA journals. A lot of OA journals do not have TOC RSS feeds. For some reason they didn’t yet grasp the benefits of TOC RSS for the OA movement. Most of those journals use the Open Source software OJS, so it should be very easy for them to produce TOC RSS feeds. In the case of the OJS chosen journals, all that will be necessary is for them to do is to activate the RSS option. In other cases, it may involve some small development work.

Something needs to be done. OA journals cannot fail to notice the power of RSS. As Roddy has expressed here, there are many reasons why all scholarly journals should produce a TOC RSS feed. All the large and medium commercial publishers are producing journal TOC RSS feeds. So what happen with the OA publishers?

Written by Santiago Chumbe

November 1st, 2010 at 1:48 pm

WattJournals User Survey Results

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Between 1st and 11th June 2010, the JournalTOCs Project team conducted an online user survey for students and academic staff from the Heriot-Watt University. The purpose of the survey was to help to determine the usefulness of the new service WattJournals and to receive feedback from users to correct or improve WattJournals. As expected there were few responses to the survey due that in this period of the year almost no student is on campus and staff and students are busy preparing for exams. We would like to express our gratitude to all who participated in the survey, the results of which are summarised below. Any further comments and suggestions are welcome at icbl@icbl.hw.ac.uk

Q1 Please Enter your position and school.
Position

school

Q2 Do you think this service which searches the latest articles from journals that Heriot-Watt University subscribes to, and therefore guarantees you access to the full text, would be useful?
Do you think this service is useful

It offers significant internet search efficiencies.

It could be useful, but it is going to take a while to work out what words to enter into the search so that the stuff I want will not be swamped.

It’s useful. However, this should not be a slippery slope to phasing out WoS or Science Direct.

This could be very useful as it saves having to search across different databases etc and guarantees that the full text is available.

Definately. I’ve found it useful already.

It’s very useful to be able to search only articles to which I can gain access, so that I don’t have to scour through pages of articles which I can’t read.

It is wonderful, especially for Postgraduate students who need to research lots of articles. (more convenient)

Q3 Please rate each feature of the Watt Journals service.
Search current issues of journals Heriot-Watt subscribes to:
Current Issue
Search past issues of journals Heriot-Watt subscribes to:
Past issues
Full Text Link:
Full Text Link
Direct link to article (by clicking on article titles):
Direct Link
Save searches:
Save Searches
Export citations to EndNote/EndNote Web:
Export Citations
Help Page:
help

Q3 Are there any features you would like to see added to WattJournals?

List of journals searched available.

An all issue search option and an advanced search function; returns are too large otherwise

How do we access journals not covered by HW’s subscription?

Q4 Are there any features you would like to see removed from WattJournals?
No.

Q5 Do you have any other comments about the features of WattJournals?

I appreciate the hard-work that’s gone into this. Keep it up.

The Help feature needs to be more clearly displayed (maybe at the top of the page?) as it wasn’t until I was completing this questionnaire that I realised there was a help feature and then that answered some of my queries. It would also be a ‘nice to have’ to have more options than just current / prior for searches – maybe previous year, previous 5 years etc

Q6 This question is about the user interface. Please indicate your level of agreement with the following statements about the WattJournals service.
The service is easy to use:
easy to use
I like the design of the WattJournals home page:
design
Help is easy to find:
find help
The presentation of results is clear:
results
The service is user friendly:
user friendly
Q7 Do you have any other comments about the user interface of WattJournals?
No
Q8 How important is it that the following pieces of information about each article is shown in WattJournals?
Title:
title
Abstract:
abstract
Authors:
authors
Journal:
journal
Volume/Issue:
volume
Page Numbers:
pages
Q9 Were there any articles that you were not able to access the full text of?

* One respondent answered yes to this question and although the full text wasn’t accessible through the full text link, access was available through the direct link.

Q10 If you have any more comments about the WattJournals service please enter them here.

Current issue search is OK, but when I return the search will presumably include some articles I have already seen (because it is still the current issue). Therefore the search should be by date, e.g. published in last week, published in last month, published since XXX (date).

If possible, I’d prefer the search to include ALL Web of Science journals, whether there is a full paper link or not. Then I don’t have to repeat the search in two databases.

It would be great if you can add a function to filter search results by article/book review/etc.

Up to now I have managed reasonably well using the Web of Science. This service will be useful if it is better than the Web of Science, e.g. if it is easier to get hold of the abstracts and article texts than it is with Web of Science.

I think this has the potential to be a very useful service and may help divert students away from Google and other general search engines.

The “full text” link does not actually link directly to the full text (contrary to expectations raised by similar search engines such as Google Scholar), and so it is in fact quicker and easier to click on the text title to find a direct link for the full text. It’s a rather misleading button.

It’d be useful rather than having to choose to search current issues or past issues, to be able to search both collections at once.

Should make more convinience for off campus students. couldn’t access to the database off campus most time. (tried the VPN, but it never allowed!)

From the results of the survey we have concluded we need better integration with Heriot-Watt’s OpenURL resolver as the Full Text link did not always take the user to the full text of the article and many users preferred the direct link to the article.

Aside from the survey we have been getting some comments by email requesting access to Journals that Heriot-Watt subscribes to but do not provide RSS Feeds, therefore it might be possible to use APIs of external databases to complement the existing feeds.

Some users did not like having to perform separate searches on current and past issues, it may be preferable to search all articles archived by the JournalTOCs project. The survey has brought to our attention some issues which may need further investigation including access through the VPN and displaying the help page more prominently.

Written by lisa

June 17th, 2010 at 11:21 am

Announcing WattJournals: The first customised version of JournalTOCs for Academic Libraries

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A new, low-cost effective search tool for Heriot-Watt University, WattJournals, was pre-launched today to help their students and researchers keep up to date.

spineless? – the official blog of Heriot-Watt University Library – announced the pre-launch of its new WattJournals search tool. The announcement explains that WattJournals is a new service developed by the University Library and ICBL which gives fast and easy access to the full-text of over 4,000 electronic journals to which the Library subscribes. WattJournals is planned to be launched and linked from the Library website early in July 2010 after completing its final testing stage with students and academic staff.

WattJournals is an innovative and economic alternative to large and sometimes complex e-journal systems.  It helps students and researchers find papers as soon as they have been published, access the full-text of all papers being searched, save searches for later use, and export citations to EndNote.

Gill McDonald, Acting Librarian for Heriot-Watt University unveiled WattJournals saying that “This new service will be particularly useful to students and researchers who want to get some up-to-date articles and research papers quickly and easily. We know that some students find the whole process of navigating several databases and e-journal sites quite confusing at first, and to do a search and then find that the Library doesn’t have a subscription to the journal you’ve found is really frustrating.”

This statement may sound familiar to many university library users as it is well known that complex web interfaces and library database systems can sometimes actually discourage students from using library e-journal sites and they often use Google instead.

McDonald added, “WattJournals can be a gentle introduction to searching, with the added benefit that all the articles found will be available – no more dead ends! I’m delighted that the Library and ICBL have been able to work together to develop WattJournals for the benefit of all Heriot-Watt staff and students.”

Although WattJournals is specially designed for Heriot-Watt University, it is powered by a software toolkit provide through JournalTOCs that can be installed and configured by any academic library wanting to provide their users with a webpage that searches only journals to which that library subscribes. This has been done by integrating the functionality of three different web applications through an agile development and lightweight technique known as mashup, which makes extremely easy the wiring of the Library Subscription Management System (Subscriptions Filter), the Institutional OpenURL Link resolver and the RSS feeds exposed by the JournalTOCs API.  The implementation of WattJournals is illustrated in the following picture.

WattJournals

The JournalTOCs Toolkit is at the core of this mashup. The software toolkit, developed by the JournalTOCs Project, is to be installed on web servers of institutions wanting to create localised customised instances of JournalTOCs, under a “licence-to-use” access model. WattJournals is a typical example of using this economic and easy-to-use model. The University library administrator only needed to download and install the toolkit on the library web server and register the new installation with the central JournalTOCs web site.

JournalTOCs is a free service, covering almost all the journals currently producing RSS feeds (over 14,000 journals). The JournalTOCs API output is just a simple and easy-to-use RSS feed. Papers searched by the API come directly from the publisher as soon as they have been published online. For more information about the JournalTOCs API and the JournalTOCs toolkit for Academic Libraries, please contact icbl@icbl.hw.ac.uk

Working towards sustainability: SSI review JournalTOCs

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On the 12th of May I travelled to London to attend the software sustainability workshop offered by the newly funded Software Sustainability Institute (SSI). Neil Chue Hong, Director of the SSI, presented the services and the goals of the institute. After lunch, the participants had the opportunity to discuss their projects with analysts from the SSI and I think that was an important part of the workshop. We discussed JournalTOCs (and BayesianFF) with two experts from the SSI.

The workshop was a productive event for JournalTOCs. The main outcome for our project was a follow-up with Dr. Michael (Mike) Jackson from the SSI to undertake an in-depth review of JournalTOCs website from four perspectives:

  • Users who use the site to run searches across the registered journals
  • Developers who wish to call the API from their own applications.
  • Developers who wish to understand how the services work and how they could extend or change them if they had access to the source code e.g. developers joining the JournalTOCs project.
  • Publishers who wish to contribute to JournalTOCs

We received the full review from Mike last Wednesday 26th May. The document covered the above perspectives, uncovered issues with the website and provided recommendations. The review also compares JournalTOCs site to those of its competitors and offers suggestions as to how we could promote JournalTOCs site more effectively. Quickly it became apparent to us that the SSI review was going to be an important tool for the Project. The study done by the SSI has deciphered before our eyes the issues that are affecting the current JournalTOCs website. Some of the issues will be possible to be solved in a relatively short time and be done as part of the JournalTOCs Project. However, a few of those issues would require careful thought and it seems that we will not be able to implement them in the final stages of the project, for example the recommendation that it would be useful if the site could allow users to specify a search just over the journals in their MyTOC.

In conclusion, the SSI review has helped us to identify important issues affecting JournalTOCs such as the difficulties posed to our users by the present website, the API quality service offered to developers, the copyright and licensing implications for publishers, etc. In some way, we had an idea of the existence of those issues, but the SSI study put names to those issues and provided us with a clearer and complete picture of them, plus recommendations to tackle those issues. For example, we knew that there was something wrong with the usability and friendliness of the site but we were unable to find the details by ourselves. SSI’ expertise helped us to realise which parts of the web design was negatively affecting the user experience and consequently the sustainability perspectives of JournalTOCs, including the sustainability of its software itself. Being JournalTOCs concerned mainly with the creation of APIs for web applications, the web site was seen as something secondary by the project. However, the work carried out by the SSI opened our eyes to the importance of the website for our users. It provided us with the external unbiased opinion of a new user that came to our site for the first time trying to search the TOCs or to use the API.

The full SSI study of JournalTOCs will be published as part of the Project deliverables.