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Archive for the ‘TOC RSS feeds’ tag

How good are the RSS feeds of the best journals? [1]

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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.

The TOC RSS feeds of Postmedieval implement very well the recommendations and guidelines made by the RSS Advisor Board as well as the Recommendations on RSS Feeds for Scholarly Publishers.

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:

Cancer Discovery

Physical Review X

Written by Santiago Chumbe

September 14th, 2012 at 12:55 pm

Set up alerts for when pre-pub articles became officially published

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Sometimes you may want to be made aware of articles that you know they have been submitted for a journal for peer-review. For example if you are an author you would want to be automatically notified when your article is published on the web. If you are the manager of an Institutional Repository (IR) you may want to run some kind of automated queries from your repository to the publisher’s database, for records without final publication details so that you can pick up the missing metadata as soon as the articles are officially published.

The JournalTOCs API can help you in these cases. It is not the perfect solution because there are publishers that are still not using DC and PRISM modules in their RSS feeds to enable aggregators to unambiguously identify authors and institutions. However, JournalTOCs still can help you to reduce the number of articles you may be missing to update in your IR.

A small webapp to run queries against the TOCs of journals that have been updated in the last 24 hours

Simon Greenhill, a research fellow in the Psychology Department and Computational Evolution Group at the University of Auckland, New Zealand, has recently released a python wrapper for the JournalTOCs API to retrieve journal TOC RSS feeds by ISSN and then run local queries against the journals that have been updated in the previous 24 hours.

Simon uses the wrapper to load in a collection of articles using JournalTOCs various RSS feeds from a sizable list of journals. His application would require polling each journal RSS feed via the JournalTOCs API periodically. In order to make the calls to the API more efficient and less bandwidth-demanding, he uses the JournalTOCs API call latest_updates so he can call that single feed once a day or so, and see if any of the journals he cares about have been updated.

Wrapper Code:

JournalTOC API (RSS feed) to retrieve the journals that have been updated in the last 24 hours:

Using JournalTOCs API to be alerted when pre-pub articles became officially published

Let’s suppose you have a pre-pub article deposited in the IR of the University of Warwick by academic Ian Philp. To setup an alert to be informed when journalTOCs identifies that an article of Ian Philp has been published officially, you could complete these steps:

  1. sign in to JournalTOCs
  2. search for: PhilpUniversity of Warwick” (Philp is a simple keyword and “University of Warwick” is the the name of the university enclosed by double quotes to signify phrase searching)
  3. You will get the search hits.
  4. From your Account Menu (top drop down list of options at the top corner under your account name) select & click on “Saved Searches“; or just point your browser to
  5. Under “You have recently searched for:” find your search query: Philp “University of Warwick” and click on its [Save] link
  6. Your search query will move up to your list of Saved Searches, from where you can choose to be alerted by email (click on “Alert-me“) or you can click on its RSS icon to create the RSS feeds for this search, so you can get the result via your RSS reader when the article is published.

By using the RSS feeds for your saved searches it might be possible to build some sort of application/plug-in that would automatically query JournalTOCs database from “in print” records in a repository to notify the IR manager when they were published. Just remember that the metadata in JournaTOCs is not good enough to identify articles by author uniquely because JournalTOCS only has what the publishers put into their RSS feeds. For example it might not work in practice with names like Smith and with universities like Birmingham (UK or Alabama?)

Written by Santiago Chumbe

February 28th, 2012 at 12:18 pm

Percentage of scholarly publishers that have adopted the Recommendations on RSS Feeds

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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:

  1. there was a wide variation amongst the journal TOC RSS feeds produced by scholarly publishers, and
  2. 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.

Publishers and journals are using 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.

Written by Santiago Chumbe

October 29th, 2011 at 3:01 pm

A scenario in which OPML could have avoided “Page Not Found” errors for TOC RSS feeds

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One of the most frustrating problems in navigating websites is to be presented with a “Page Not Found” webpage.

Page Not Found

This is precisely the scenario that aggregators and discovery systems are facing with the 1,600 journal TOC RSS feeds of Taylor & Francis.

Since Monday 27th June, when Taylor & Francis moved its journals platform from Informaworld to Tandfonline, the previous URLs for all the Taylor & Francis journal TOC RSS feeds are returning the infamous “Page Not Found” webpage. Although we were informed by Taylor & Francis that they have redirects in place for those TOC RSS feeds, the fact is that as today, those TOC RSS URLs are still unable to be redirected to their new web addresses.

This “Page Not Found” problem could have been easily avoided if Taylor & Francis had had an up-to-date OPML file listing the RSS feeds for all their journals. Aggregators, service discovery and individual RSS users would have been able to automatically and immediately update the URLs for the TOC RSS feeds by just consulting the OPML file.

In general OPML allows RSS feed aggregators and indexers to more easily find the TOC RSS feeds exposed from a particular publisher website. OPML is a standard XML file that is used to describe a simple list of RSS feeds that includes the title of the feed, a link to the home page of the feed (e.g. the journal homepage), and a link to the RSS feed itself.

Annual Reviews, Biomed Central Ltd., BMJ Publishing Group, Elsevier, Inderscience Publishers, Institute of Physics (IOP), Nature Publishing Group, Oxford University Press (OUP) and Érudit are the pioneering publishers that are using OPML files to enable aggregators to dynamically detect any change in the list of journals they publish. When their OPML would get updated, so would the aggregators.

Publishers are therefore recommended to publish OPML documents that list all of the feeds from their websites and in particular for their current issues. Unfortunately publishers that don’t have OPML files listing their current journals are not able to prevent information on their journals from growing stale at the aggregators’ databases.

Unlike RSS feeds, there is no standard way to link to an OPML file from the publisher website. However publishers are advised to put a link to their OPML files on a suitable and freely available webpage. For example Inderscience provides a link to its OPML file here.

As today, JournalTOCs has been able to update the URLs for the TOC RSS feeds of 80% of the journals published by Taylor & Francis.

Written by Santiago Chumbe

July 19th, 2011 at 9:06 pm

Open Access journals using OJS platform: How to enable journal TOC RSS feeds

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From time to time, and increasingly recently, publishers of Open Access journals ask us to add their journals to JournalTOCs.

When we let them know that in order to be part of JournalTOCs, they
must produce RSS feeds for their current or latest journal Table of Content (TOC), we receive mixed answers but in most of the cases either they simply were not aware of the importance of RSS feeds or they do not know how to enable RSS support on the software they are using to publish the journals.

Taking into account that a vast majority of publishers use the Open Journal Systems (OJS) to publish OA journals, here we have a simple bullet list of steps to setup TOC RSS feeds support with OJS.

  1. Login as a Journal Manager
  2. From the Management menu, select System Plugins
  3. Select Generic Plugins
  4. Find the Web Feed Plugin and select the Enable link
  5. Next, return to the Web Feed Plugin and choose Settings
  6. Use the buttons to determine where the Feeds will display, and select how many items should display
  7. Hit the Save button
  8. Next, return to the Journal Manager home page
  9. Select Setup
  10. Select Step 5 – The Look
  11. Scroll down to Step 5.6 – Journal Layout
  12. You wil see the Web Feed Plugin listed in the “Unselected” column. Select it, and then use the right-arrow button to shift it into the Right Sidebar column
  13. Scroll to the bottom of the page and Save

The list has been prepared with input from the OJS technical support team.

We are aware that in addition to OJS, there are other open source journal management and publishing systems available. They do not have as many users as OJS (currently more than 6,000 journals are using OJS) but they are still important and we would like to invite them to provide us with a set of clear instructions to produce TOC RSS feeds with their software. In particular we are interested in hearing from DPubS, GAPworks and ePublishing Toolkit.

Please note that new journals can be suggested using our Suggest Form

Written by Santiago Chumbe

May 31st, 2011 at 8:39 am

Posted in Development,Dissemination

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