the future of the journal

pontificating on the impending demise of the journal

Karen Schneider will be speaking on a panel at ALA Midwinter on the topic of tech trends. She asks her readers if they have any thoughts about what is on the horizon.

The other day I was pontificating on the impending demise of the journal to a patient friend. Well, okay, not pontificating, but I was going off a bit about it. And not really the demise of the journal per se, but more about the change in how journals will be published in the future. The electronic format suits the nature of journals very well, and the trend towards born digital content is plainly glaring us in the face. However, one thing I have not heard discussed much is what this is doing to the concept of units within a journal.

Will we continue the arcane practice of breaking up journals into discrete volumes and issues? I don’t think so. Already we are seeing publishers take advantage of the electronic format by providing access (for subscribers) to articles in press prior to the actual publication date of the issue. I think that eventually, the journal as an entity will be comprised of an editorial board and review process, with a certain quantity of articles per year made available to subscribers as they clear that process.

Unless an issue has a particular theme, there’s almost no need to maintain the discreteness of paper publishing in the electronic world. Sure, we’ll need identifiers for citations and references and such, but we have that already with the DOI and OpenURL frameworks.

And besides, if our students no longer think of the journal as an entity, then eventually researchers will do the same because today’s students are tomorrow’s content providers.

openurl, firefox, and google scholar

Peter Brinkley of the University of Alberta Libraries has developed a Firefox extension that adds an OpenURL button to Google Scholar search results.[web4lib] “The purpose is to enable users at an institution that has an OpenURL link-resolver to use that resolver to locate the full text of articles found in Google Scholar, instead of relying … Continue reading “openurl, firefox, and google scholar”

Peter Brinkley of the University of Alberta Libraries has developed a Firefox extension that adds an OpenURL button to Google Scholar search results.[web4lib]

“The purpose is to enable users at an institution that has an OpenURL link-resolver to use that resolver to locate the full text of articles found in Google Scholar, instead of relying on the links to publishers’ websites provided by Google. This is important because it solves the “appropriate copy problem”: the link to a publisher’s site is useless if you don’t have a subscription that lets you into that site, and your library may provide access to the same article in an aggregator’s package or elsewhere.”

From all appearances, this is a fantastic tool that embraces Google while still providing even more of that useful service that librarians do. If you have an OpenURL link resolver that you are able to tweak like SFX, go for it! (Next step, educate your users about Firefox….)

Update: One of the library coding gods, Art Rhyno, has developed a bookmarklet that prepends your library’s proxy server URL string to the links in the Google Scholar results. That’s another work-around if you don’t have an OpenURL link resolver. If it’s something your library gets, then you’ll get passed through authenticated to the full-text content. If not, then you can obtain access or the content some other way.

One snag I seen in all of this is that depending on how your proxy server is set up, this may not work. Some libraries *cough*UofKY*cough* use a proxy server that requires the user to make modifications to their web browser before authenticating them. I’m not sure whether or not this would cause confusion for the users who haven’t done that modification.

recent articles read

I’ve been catching up on some professional reading.

I’ve read a few articles recently that I’ve found quite interesting and would like to share some thoughts on them.

Van de Sompel, Herbert, et. al. “Rethinking Scholarly Communication: Building the System that Scholars Deserve.” D-Lib Magazine. 10:9 (2004), doi:10.1045/september2004-vandesompel [open access]

I was immediately intrigued by what the creator of OpenURL (and his co-authors) might suggest as a technological solution to the current problems with scholarly communication. I couldn’t follow all of the technological details (they lost me at the flow charts and diagrams), but I was pleased to read this in the conclusion: “The NSF has recently recommended funding the authors of this paper to investigate these problems, building on our collective research and development. In a future article we will discuss our current work in moving toward a network overlay that promotes interoperability among heterogeneous data models and system implementations. We will describe our architectural vision for addressing the fundamental technical requirements of a next generation system for scholarly communication.”

Antelman, Kristin. “Do Open-Access Articles Have a Greater Research Impact?.” College & Research Libraries. 65:5, 372-382. [open access]

The author set out to find data to confirm or debunk the common assumption that open access articles have a greater research impact than those which are not open access. She looks at four disciplines in different stages of open access development, and all of them have had a history with the use of pre-print articles. The data she gathers leads her to conclude that open access articles do have a greater research impact than those which are not freely available. I would like to see these types of studies extended to other disciplines, but I am pleased to see that someone out there is gathering data for the rest of us to share with the teaching/research faculty in the discussions about scholarly communication we should all be having.

Siebenberg, Tammy R., Betty Galbraith, and Eileen E. Brady. “Print versus Electronic Journal Use in Three Sci/Tech Disciplines: What

conference presentation

Musings about my presentation at KLA last week.

I gave my first conference presentation last week at KLA, and I haven’t really had the time to sit down and write out my thoughts about it. The topic was my library’s implementation of SFX, an OpenURL linking software. My library is the first in the state to go with this particular company, and possible the first to make use of the technology at all. I had two co-presenters who provided perspectives from other areas of the library (public service and systems administration) to balance the presentation.

We were very prepared with the material. I wanted us to make sure we weren’t using PowerPoint as a crutch, so we limited its use to slides that contained screen shots of our SFX setup. Turns out that was a good thing, since our antiquated projector was so weak that even with most of the lights turned out it was difficult to see. Despite our efforts to encourage attendees to move towards the front, most stayed in the back few rows. Later, we received comments about the dim, small images. Gee, no kidding.

Other than the technical glitches, everything went well. I fielded quite a few questions on the fly that I hadn’t expected, but thanks to my improv theatre experience, I think I handled them pretty well. Attendance was smaller than I had hoped for, but there were a lot of other conflicts at that time. Still, 20+ attended and about 17 actually filled out the feedback slips. It seemed to me that most everyone who was there was interested in the product and our experience with it. I think we’ll be writing up the presentation for publication in Kentucky Libraries, since the feedback indicated that would be desired. Also, a friend in Oregon has talked me into submitting a proposal for Online Northwest on this topic. I plan to modify the presentation from not so much of how we did it but why other comprehensive universities should do it and how it has effected the usage of our A&I databases.

I’m still stunned that anyone would want to hear what I have to say about something in my profession.

homegrown OpenURL

If you are developing (or plan to develop) your own OpenURL link resolver, there is a listserv for you.

If you are developing (or plan to develop) your own OpenURL link resolver, John Weible of University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has created a listserv for you.

A small but growing number of libraries have already or are now developing non commercial link resolving solutions with OpenURL at the core. These libraries need a peer support group for the exchange of ideas and solutions. Specific information about how to construct deep linking URLs for a particular target site is likely to be a frequent topic. I expect that the exchange of open source software tools related to link resolution will also be a frequent topic.

So, if you are involved in the development or maintenance of an open source or “homegrown” OpenURL link resolver at your library or institution or interested in doing so, this list is available for you.

To subscribe, send a message to listserv@listserv.uiuc.edu The body of the message should be:

subscribe lib-openurl-dev-l Your Name

OpenURL

One of my big projects at work has been getting our SFX database set up. For those unfamiliar with the name, SFX is an OpenURL link resolver that connects (among other things) citations with content. My department head sent me a press release a couple of weeks ago about NISO releasing a trial standard for … Continue reading “OpenURL”

One of my big projects at work has been getting our SFX database set up. For those unfamiliar with the name, SFX is an OpenURL link resolver that connects (among other things) citations with content. My department head sent me a press release a couple of weeks ago about NISO releasing a trial standard for OpenURL. I have not attempted to understand all of the technical verbage used in the documents, but I am excited that the world of electronic resources is moving towards creating standards that will allow different resources to talk to each other.