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How to filter journals based on Open Access licensing conditions

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Yesterday I found this post by Tony Hirst where he reported that unfortunately JournalTOCs didn’t include metadata that identifies whether a journal is Open Access or not. In fact he pointed out that he couldn’t find a service that returns a simplistic “yes/no” response to the query “is the journal with this ISSN an open access journal?” In the same post, Kevin Ashley from the Digital Curation Centre commented that he couldn’t believe that we didn’t already have something to do that.

So, today we have added to the API the option to filter journals based on Open Access licensing conditions.

The option has been implemented as part of the journal API call:

So far this call has been used to search for journals. For example to search for journals whose title contains the keywords learning AND technology you will use: technology?output=journals

In the above example the parameter key is output and the parameter value is journals . If you know the ISSN number of a journal (electronic or print ISSN, it doesn’t matter for the API) you will use for example:

to retrieve the content of the latest TOC of the journal whose ISSN is 1687-7489.

OK, until now nothing is new. What we have added today are these new parameter values:

– title
– url
– rss
– rights
– issn
– eIssn
– publisher
– subjects

For example to find out whether the journal with ISSN 1687-7489 is Open Access or not, you will use output=rights:

The API will return one of these simple texts:
– Subscription
– Free
– Partially Free
– Open Access
– Unknown

You can still identify whether a journal is Open Access or not from the <dc:rights> element provided in the RSS that is returned by queries for journals, without parameters, such as for example

You need to be aware that currently only a thousand of Open Access (OA) journals are indexed by JournalTOCs. A small quantity if we take into account that the number of OA journals is estimated to be more than 6000 journals. There are three reasons why JournalTOCs has such a small number of OA journals:

– Most of the OA journals do not have TOC RSS feeds and very few OA publishers provide OPML to list their journals.

– Quite a lot of OA journals seem to be relatively new, do not have regular issues or haven’t published yet.

– Few OA journals are ranked among the high quality journals. JournalTOCs is very carefully in including only journals that have shown evidence of being scholarly publications.

However, JournalTOCs is working with our OA community to leverage the presence of OA journals in its index. Thus, Roddy MacLeod, our User Community and Marketing Advisor, is using the DOAJ database with the aim of adding more than 500 OA journals by before the end of 2010. We have been liaising with the developers of OJS (probably the most popular Open Source software used by OA journals), with the aim that OJS have their RSS feeds enabled by default, to encourage OA publishers to use the RSS feeds. Coincidently, today System Developer James MacGregor from PKP has informed us that the most recent versions of OJS now have their RSS feeds enabled by default on installation. That is very good news and we would like to encourage OA publishers to upgrade their OJS software and make sure that support for RSS is activated in their OJS installations.

We hope that this new API options be useful to our community of users. Let us know any bug or send us your comments.

Other examples using the new options:

Written by Santiago Chumbe

November 19th, 2010 at 8:56 pm

Final Progress Post

with one comment

Title of Primary Project Output: JournalToCsAPI: An API to search current issues of journals for up-to-date content.

Screenshots or diagram of prototype:

Diagram of prototype

Use Cases:

Project Use cases

Description of Prototype:
JournalTOCs is a prototype of a web API(*) that uses the REST software architecture style to search the directory of journals and articles obtained directly from the publishers’ websites by aggregating their TOC RSS feeds (TOC: Table of Contents). The API produce search results in RSS 1.0 web feed format.

The API has four “calls”: journals, articles, user and institution. A “call” is a URL consisting of a base URL, the name of the call and the search query.

JournalTOCs API base URL is ““. To use the API you need to combine the base URL and the name of one call. Most calls require a search query or otherwise they won’t work. Guidelines for using each of the calls is found here.

(*) API is an abbreviation of Application Programming Interface. An API is a software programme that enable interaction between two software applications.

End User of Prototype:
The end-user for this API is a developer wanting to combine journal TOC RSS feeds with multiple services into new applications known as mashups. The API is written in PHP and uses MySQL as its back-end database system. You do not need an account to use the API which is free to use for anyone.

When your application points to the API base URL the API returns a brief description on how to use the API. The description is found in the <description> element of the unique item encoded in the RSS response. The following screen shows how the response is presented on a browser.

API base URL

Below there is an example showing how to use the API from a PHP script so that you can get an idea on how to use the API calls.

PHP example

If you print the content of $xmlRSS1, you will see that it is an XML file where each article of the search results is included in an <item> element as shown in the following screenshot.

API output showing the item content

Link to working prototype:

Link to end user documentation:

Link to code repository:

Link to technical documentation:

Date prototype was launched:
– Beta Version Released 28th November 2009
– Alpha Version Released 23rd September 2009

Project Team Names, Emails and Organisations:
Roger Rist – Project Director
Santy Chumbe – Project Manager
Lisa Rogers – Project Officer
ICBL, Heriot-Watt University

Project Blog:

PIMS entry:

Table of Content for Project Posts:

  1. Welcome to the journalTOCsAPI Project blog
  2. JournalTOCsAPI Project
  3. OAI-PMH instead of RSS feeds for Use Case 2?
  4. Community engagement: A special invitation
  5. Do we need a “best practice” for generating RSS’s URLs for IR search results?
  6. Community Engagement: Response to Invitation
  7. Methods of Engaging with JournalTOCsAPI Project
  8. Preparing the framework for our RESTful API
  9. Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats analysis
  10. Clarification of Use Cases
  11. Use Cases and Prerequisite Data
  12. Alpha Release of JournalTOCs API
  13. How do you want to be alerted?
  14. User Feedback (1-2 Development Cycle) – I
  15. User Feedback (1-2 Development Cycle) – II
  16. Author Affiliation
  17. The ticTOCs Best Practice Recommendation has been released
  18. Presentation at EUROCRIS
  19. journalTOCs API Project Workshop
  20. JournalTOCs Workshop: Presentation 1 – Introduction and Feedback
  21. JournalTOCs Workshop: Presentation 2 – Repositories and Alert Services
  22. JournalTOCs Workshop: Presentation 3 – Testing the First Use Case
  23. JournalTOCs Workshop: Presentation 4 – Bibliosight Project
  24. JournalTOCs Workshop: Presentation 5 – The Other Side of The Interface
  25. JOURNAL TOCS API Beta 1 Released
  26. JournalsTOCS API Technical Documentation
  27. JournalTOCs Workshop: Presentation 6 – TechXtra and TechJournalContents
  28. JournalTOCs Workshop: Presentation 7 – JournalTOCs in a CRIS
  29. Measuring the usefulness and effectiveness of the API: A retrospective view of prototyping the use cases
  30. Demonstrations of Using the JournalTOCs API

Written by lisa

December 11th, 2009 at 6:58 pm