International Network for the Availability
of Scientific Publications


INASP Newsletter No. 18,  October 2001   ISSN: 1028-0790   
In this issue:

Guest editor: Jamie Cameron
Newsletter editor: Ard Jongsma
Contributors to this issue: Amy Brand, David Brown. Jamie Cameron, Richard K. Johnson, Sally Morris, Graciela Muñoz, Abel Packer, Kurt Paulus, Diana Rosenberg, Praditta Siripan, Ellen Tise, Rollo Turner, Dee Wood.

INASP would like to thank Jamie Cameron for his invaluable support with the compilation of this special issue of the Newsletter.

Editorial address:




Special issue: Online journal publishing

The Internet has probably had a greater effect on the journal publishing industry than any other, and the effects have probably affected it more quickly.

Furthermore the revolution - and it has all the signs of a revolution rather than an evolution - continues apace and the final outcome is far from clear. It affects the publishing process in almost every aspect - technology, economics, behaviour and even politics.

Many of these topics are covered in this issue. However, it is not comprehensive and it cannot be so because of limitations of space. For the same reason the treatments will be considered superficial - or rather incomplete. I have tried to include the most important aspects and I believe the authors have covered the crucial issues in each article.

Personal views on the outcome of this revolution abound and many are contradictory. While I will not take this opportunity of expressing mine on the outcome, I will make the point that, in my view - which is shared by many others - traditionally the assessment function of journals has been more important than that of communication. It is an essential quality control system for research findings and is the only way research work and researchers are judged - except perhaps in some areas of directly applied work such as industry and medicine. It is not infallible, but what system is?

The peer review system has been operating satisfactorily for over 200 years, and there is no convincing evidence of anything emerging to replace it.

However, I don't wish to detract from the enormous benefits (many not yet fully realised) of immediate, global and virtually free dissemination of information - in spite of the problems of navigation, searching and browsing.

My thanks go to all the authors who, apart from agreeing to contribute, had the unenviable task of limiting their contribution to the required length.

Jamie Cameron, Guest editor


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The pros and cons of electronic journals

by Sally Morris

Electronic journals bring enormous benefits to the user. They are accessible wherever the users are, and whenever they want; no need to go to the library during opening hours. Electronic journals can be searched, singly or as a group, and individual articles can be linked from a bibliographic or other database, or from references in other journals. Supplementary data, which might be too extensive for paper publication, can be included, sometimes in a form which the users can themselves manipulate to answer 'what if?' questions.

Disadvantages for the user are relatively few. The most significant, of course, is that without access to electricity, telephone system, a computer, up-to-date software, and Internet access, electronic journals are completely useless, whereas a printed journal can be used without any of these things. Users often prefer to print out lengthy articles, rather than read them on screen; this can be inconvenient if printing facilities are not readily available. And, while the most advantageous licensing deals can make a great deal more information available to the user, the subscription (or licence) cost to the library is generally higher - particularly for as long as libraries prefer to retain a print subscription as well.

Publishers see benefits too. Electronic journals make it possible to publish material more rapidly, sometimes even article by article, and to make it much more widely available. Linking from databases and other journals increases the opportunities for users to find articles in the publisher's journals. New licensing options enable publishers to sell their journals to customers who could not previously buy them at all - such as the smaller members of consortia - and to make more of their journals available to existing and new customers. It is also much easier to sell individual articles to people who do not subscribe.

However, the main difficulty for publishers is that, although some costs such as paper, printing and distribution disappear, new costs appear in their place. Creating, developing and maintaining a system which will make journals visible and searchable, and which will restrict access only to those who have paid for it, costs a great deal of money and, as publishers are discovering, this is not a one-off investment but a continuing cost. A system which does not restrict access is less expensive, but this is only economically viable if costs can be recovered in some other way. For the time being, most libraries are unwilling to give up print subscriptions, partly because of their users' preferences, but also partly because they are uncertain whether they will be able to access the electronic material in future years, and indeed whether it will be adequately preserved at all in the longer term. Continuing to offer both print and electronic versions increases publishers' costs. Furthermore, solutions to the question of long-term preservation are also likely to be costly. Another new cost (to both publishers and libraries) is that of licensing - it takes time, the time of well-qualified and expensive people, to create, negotiate and sell a licence for an electronic journal.

I have no doubt that, in the long run, electronic journals will turn out to be a boon to authors, readers, librarians and publishers alike. They will, however, force those of us who make the links between authors and readers - librarians and publishers - to re-examine our roles and our business models.

Sally Morris
Association of Learned and Professional Society Publishers



INASP is a co-operative network of partners whose aim is to enhance world-wide access to information and knowledge. It has three immediate objectives:

- to map, support and strengthen existing activities promoting access to and dissemination of scientific and scholarly information and knowledge;

- to identify, encourage and support new initiatives that will increase local publication and general access to high quality scientific and scholarly information;

- to promote in-country capacity building in information production, organisation, access and dissemination.

INASP is a programme of the International Council for Science (ICSU).

Chairman: Kai-Inge Hillerud Director: Carol Priestley



and also:  

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Editorial requirements for online journal publishing

by Rosemary E Grimes

In this article, I offer some thoughts on handling the non-technical aspects of preparing for online publishing - the parts that you tend to find out by bitter experience!


If you are lucky (?) enough to run a number of learned journals, the differing approaches and emphases of the individual journals are apparent. Each journal has its own needs and focus. The influence of the editor varies - some editors have almost total control of content and others leave the day-to-day running of the journal to the editorial staff. This has a major effect on developing strategies for managing change in the journal. The push for online publishing may come from the editor or it may be from the author/reader community or from the publisher, seeking to keep competitive advantage. Do you have a clear view of where the demand is from and why? If not, consider why not? Perhaps this is indicative of a need for more market knowledge.


What do you mean by online - a facsimile of the printed version, or a small or large enhancement of the printed version? If the demand is from the editor, expectations need to be managed. Does your planned online journal match the editor's view and if not, how do you keep the editor on board? Similarly, if the demand is from elsewhere, how do you ensure that the editor supports the change?


Planning is the key. In the printed world, the structure of the journal is not vital. In the electronic world you have to think 'how would an article be found by the search engine?' and the framework in which the articles are placed is of great importance. What is the smallest component to be accessed? Think about the structure of the journal - the different article types, the internal structure of each article type, the format of the references and bibliography. Are these consistent across the whole journal? If so, it aids the task of defining the components that make up your journal, facilitating the process of putting it online.


What about electronic rights? Do you have the rights to publish the articles online? This needs to be established well before the online version is released. A related issue that comes up is whether or not you are willing to allow authors to mount their articles on their ownwebsites. An agreed policy on this will avoid panic at a later stage!

What are you planning to make freely available to all users? If only parts of the online version are freely available as 'tempters', then their importance increases. For example, if abstracts (or synopses) are to be available, are these specifically looked at in the peer review process?

Similarly, the titles of articles become increasingly important in the electronic world. If the user searches on keywords, would he or she find all the relevant articles in your journal? All of these questions may raise management and/or editorial issues and changes to be implemented before going online.

Many questions, but certainly not an exhaustive list! And this is without looking at the technical side! Electronic publishing offers an opportunity to look afresh at your journal, and to look at publishing from another angle. Ask yourself why you are doing it! An honest, open approach to answering these questions will help direct your processes towards, hopefully, a smooth transition to the online environment.

Rosemary E Grimes
Journals Publisher
Professional Engineering Publishing Ltd

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Peer review: from snail mail to cyberspace

by Dee Wood

Email and the web has already made a huge difference to the way scholars communicate and as early as 1996 there was a growing pressure on publishers to carry out the peer review system entirely online. The ESPERE (electronic submission and peer review) project started at that time, funded by the UK Higher Education sector. The word 'electronic' seems somewhat outdated now having been replaced by 'online', however OSPERE doesn't have quite the same ring to it so we decided to retain the name!

Back in 1996 we asked the views of authors, reviewers and publishers on the prospect of an online peer review process. In parallel, others - notably Steven Harnad - were experimenting with alternative peer review models. Authors were very much in favour of the change, anticipating reduced costs, but many doubted their ability to create the appropriate files. Referees were also keen, observing that academic expertise rather than the speed of the local postal service would become the deciding factor in choice of referee. Publishers were the least enthusiastic, as they contemplated the extent of the changes that it would require.

The practical problems were many; transmitting papers to authors and referees all over the world, with unknown computer systems and applications was difficult. But things have changed; transfer via the web is now commonplace, email systems have improved, word-processing applications have become more standardised and graphics packages have become part of the author's tool kit. Perhaps the most important change for ESPERE was the choice of Acrobat PDF files for online journal archives, leading to a widespread familiarity with this cross-platform format.

More than 20 UK-based journals are now experimenting with the latest ESPERE software. The project (now a self-funding consortium of publishers) is directed by Sue Thorn, Society for Endocrinology and Professor David Brailsford, Department of Computer Science and Information Technology, University of Nottingham.

The ESPERE system provides a secure cyberstore for papers. Rather than sending papers around by email, authors submit their details and their paper file via a web form, and referees and administrators view the paper via a coded URL. This URL provides access to the paper for printing. Yes, referees can still do their work on trains, planes and in the bath! Administrators manage the papers through a simple web interface. They can also enter the status of the paper so the author is able to check its progress without phoning the office.

Authors have been very positive about the system. Questionnaire results indicate a high level
of satisfaction with the ESPERE system: 98% regard online submission as cheaper, 84% regard it as quicker and 78% regard it as easier. Here are two of the many positive comments received.

"Electronic submission is far more convenient than postal submission. It is so much easier, that it is a factor in deciding to which journal a manuscript will be sent."

"I am sure it is the way to go. I wish every single journal will use the same submission process in a near future."

Referees have been enthusiastic too, and the reduction in postage costs and simplicity of the system has converted publishers. Further development work is planned during 2001 to provide an interface for referees. For more details and an online demo of the ESPERE system, please visit our web site at  or contact the author at  .

Dee Wood
Project manager
The ESPERE Project

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CrossRef: the citation linking backbone

by Amy Brand

CrossRef is a not-for-profit network founded on publisher collaboration, with a mandate to make citation linking throughout the online journal literature, across publishers, efficient and reliable. All scholarly publishers of digital content, whether large and small, commercial or non-profit, may participate. By joining the network, they will add reader utility to their online content through outbound links to cited material, while augmenting access to their material through inbound links. As a result of these cooperative efforts among publishers, readers of participating journals already find themselves in a world of enriched information access, able to journey from one journal website to another via linked references. While CrossRef is not a magic carpet - subscription and pay-per-view barriers to full text content access still exist - it is actively working to reduce some of the friction in electronic research communications.

CrossRef uses Digital Object Identifiers (DOIs), a NISO standard syntax, to identify digital property entities - in this case, journal articles - reliably. For more information on DOI, please visit the International DOI Foundation website at The crucial feature of the DOI system is persistence: a link created using a DOI is forever, whether or not the publisher or URL of the target entity changes.

But what CrossRef does is perhaps best answered by what we intend to become: the complete citation linking backbone for all scholarly literature online. We are currently expanding our citation linking services to conference proceedings and major reference works; other types of book content are sure to follow.

The term backbone, or infrastructure, is an apt analogy here because the end-user need not know we exist, and does not pay anything to use CrossRef. All the researcher knows is that reference linking is enabled from one source to the next regardless of publisher.

There is no centralised repository of abstracts or full-text involved, and no mandatory branding of CrossRef links. As an infrastructure for linking rather than a product, we work with academic and commercial entities that access the CrossRef system for their own purposes. These include libraries aiming to enrich their online catalogues with outgoing links to electronic full-text, and to augment researcher use of their own digital archives via incoming links; affiliates/agents, such as secondary publishers and journal hosting services, who wish retrieve DOIs from CrossRef to enhance their products with full-text links; and technology companies creating software tools that interface with CrossRef.

We currently have over 4,900 journals and 3.2 million articles in our system, from 77 member publishers. We expect those numbers to increase dramatically in coming months and years, as more journals and other types of publication are brought online. This will include not only current material, but also back-files and archival material. At present, the oldest articles in CrossRef date from the 1849 volume of the Astronomical Journal.

As a result of CrossRef, more researchers across the world find themselves with much easier access to crucial literature, both current and archival. This is an important step toward lowering barriers in the means of discovering and accessing scholarly content online. Publishers, librarians, and researchers working together will surely produce other means of lessening the friction in the scholarly communication chain. We expect to play an active role in this process.

Amy Brand
Director of Business Development

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Business models

by Jamie Cameron

The journal publishing business remained virtually unchanged for around 200 years, in fact until the 1980s. The process and structure altered only slightly and the significant changes of the 1950s accompanying the global explosion of research and tertiary education were ones of degree rather than nature. While the initiatives came originally from the learned societies - 'not for profit publishers' - they produced increasingly significant revenue for their organisations. For a number of reasons the emphasis in journal publishing moved from the learned societies to commercial publishers in the 1950s and 60s' with the great increase in output of research results at the time.


The general availability of the Net for all those involved in the scholarly communication chain has changed the situation dramatically and possibly fundamentally. It is now possible for research workers to make their findings globally available at negligible or no cost. Because of the perception that information on the Net should be very cheap, if not free, it is difficult for publishers to make journal material available online in a way that is commercially viable. Apart from this, the cost savings in production are offset by the expense of creating a digital version and establishing a reliable and appropriate computer system - whether in house or with a third party.

Possible Solutions

There is a wide range of possible ways being developed to bridge the gap between commercial viability and electronic availability. They have to take into account, first, that the journal article is increasingly becoming the basic unit of publication rather than the issue or volume; second that institutions have insufficient funds to keep up with the steadily increasing output; third, that the market place - users and librarians - are not happy to forego the print version.

Subscription model: There are a number of variations on the traditional way that journals are purchased. Some publishers include electronic availability in the subscription price to the print, others make an additional charge. There is an argument that the electronic price should be higher because of the ease of access and the additional cost involved. Sometimes subscription to the electronic version only is possible. Pricing strategies vary widely but somehow publisher's costs have to be balanced against expected revenue and some control is required through, for example, passwords.

Document delivery: Selling individual articles, whether by post, fax or email can be a supplementary source of income. A number of specialist organisations are doing this on behalf of several publishers with varying business arrangements. The benefits of this are that researchers have access to a critical mass of journal articles.

Consortia: A number of libraries are joining together to deal with publishers, or groups of publishers, for access to their material, whether print or electronic, or both, in return for a fixed sum, over several years, on terms negotiated.

Site licenses: This involves making material available to a site, with limited restrictions, from a publisher, or group of publishers, again on carefully negotiated terms, involving, among other things, security and site definition.

Portals: These combine journal material with other information and services appropriate to a specific population, e.g. the membership of a society. This is a complex activity requiring particular IT skills, almost certainly from a specialist organisation.

Free electronic distribution: This can either involve those submitting articles making a payment, with electronic access free at point of use (a variation of page charges), or making the journal material freely available. For the second of these there is sometimes pressure from the learned society, with the hope of advertising revenue - for example in medicine.

There are many variations and combinations of the above and business models are continually evolving and changing.

Jamie Cameron
Publishing Consultant

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Document delivery

by David Brown

Few topics in scholarly information raise as much passion as 'document delivery' in its various forms. On the one side is the library community, acting on behalf of their patrons, their readers, claiming that fair (and free) access to individual documents on demand is a justifiable entitlement to those active within the academic and research communities. Both academia and research rely on open access to quality information as the necessary fuel to sustain growth in knowledge.

On the other hand there are the producers or creators of the journals in which articles are contained, who claim that the provision of easy and cheap access to documents is at the expense of the journal subscription. That the sheer costs of sustaining the journal publishing system is a cost to private industry and learned societies which need to be profitable if the existing system of information and knowledge exchange is to continue and be of benefit to society.

The crux of the issue is that the business model which supports the end user case for free access is in conflict with the publisher model which seeks to sustain printed journal subscriptions. Article delivery and journal sales are in mutual conflict, it is believed.

This assumption of inherent conflict is bandied about without there being any hard evidence either way. In fact for years publishers and librarians have fought over the need for document delivery without either side producing anything other than generalities and apocryphal detail. This is in fact a huge indictment of the players in the business - that it has not been seen useful to generate some independent and impartial evidence on which sound and supportive business models could be produced for allowing, or disallowing, article delivery to sit alongside journal sales.

A further indictment is that this problem has continued for so long. In fact document delivery is only part of the issue. The delivery of 'separates' or individual articles has been part of the information scene forever. But it has arisen in different forms:

Reprint distribution

One of the biggest sources of individual article distribution comes from within the publishing system itself. Many of the large commercial and society publishers find one way they have to entice potential authors to their journals (leaving aside impact factor ratings) is to offer free reprints of their articles. The authors get no payment in money - this is payment by another way as the author is able to circulate copies among his peers and friends, helping to enhance his career and reputation. In some cases authors buy more than the free minimum from the publisher if he/she feels that the circle of friends, colleagues and peers is greater than the 20-30 supplied as of right. It could mean that 15 million reprints in total are in circulation which oil the separates distribution system.


A derivation of Preprints is where the author submits his draft manuscript directly to a central server, by-passing all intermediaries such as publishers and libraries, so that the community at large can pick up the essence of his work for free. No financial transaction takes place. This system has been seen to work in the physics and mathematics areas in particular.

Interlibrary loan

This is the difficult area, where publishers feel that the journal subscription system is being violated. Using the network of contacts within the libraries, those that specialise in certain subject holdings are willing to share their holdings with other libraries as it means their own weaker subject holdings can be enhanced as and when needed. When a particular article or journal is not held locally, a request can go out through the network to deliver the article for free under national (fair use or fair dealing) provisions within copyright law. The fact that there is a hidden cost attributable to such loans (or photocopies) has been little understood until a survey undertaken by the Association of Research Libraries in the US identified a hidden cost to both lending and borrowing libraries which amounted to almost $30 per request fulfilled. None of this goes back into the publication system - it is swallowed up in library administrative budgets.

National document delivery

A derivation of ILL, one which some publishers are more sanguine about (but which is still abhorred by many large commercial journal publishers) is the small income derived from royalties paid to the publisher of an article for their articles delivered under procedures which fall outside fair use copyright provisions. This used to be big business, with organisations such as the British Library Document Supply Centre (BLDSC) flourishing as lender of last resort for articles from their 55,700 serial holdings. 85% of the 3.9 million request received by BLDSC in 2000/2001 were filled from BL's own holdings. INIST, a research library serving CNRS, operates in a similar way for French researchers, and CISTI does the same for Canadian staff. Small royalties are paid to publishers where the request does not mean strict national regulations on fair use. Most of the articles delivered by them - 10 million each year - are supplied with no royalty going back to the publisher.

Commercial document delivery

This is more acceptable to many publishers in that none of the requests submitted to a number of commercially-driven companies supplying documents to end users and libraries are subject to fair use; these commercial agencies all pay the asking royalty rate back to the publisher. It is not a particularly viable sector with many of the traditional players having gone out of business, and reliance is now on a few organisations such as Infotrieve and UnCover. Total document deliveries, from both national and commercial organisations, is estimated at 20 million annually.

Document downloads

A relative new aspect of document delivery, one which has emerged as publishers have sought to lock in their customer base by negotiating specially discounted site licence deals, is the (free) downloads of articles from the publisher's electronic server without any increase in price for doing this. It has meant that such downloads has become a substitute for traditional reading of articles from journals in a library. The numbers being quoted for document downloads has become dramatic - one large publisher claims in excess of 50 million downloads of articles a year from zero some four years ago.

Document delivery therefore remains a complicated interaction between different types, each suitable for a specific range of instances. As the library market changes, as its adherence to the site licensing principle gains ground, so the extent of traditional ILL and national/commercial document delivery systems declines. We have seen a 10% fall in BLDSC traffic alone during the past year, much of it due to the impact which the National Electronic Site Licence (NESLI) has had on the need for remotely delivered articles. But will site licensing continue in the same dramatic way in future, or will there be a reaction to supporting a few large publishers at the expense of the many small publishers? If there is a reaction then the potential need for document delivery from third party sources may rise again.

The total market for separates in all its forms is estimated at 100 million per annum. If each of these items generated on average some $10 royalty, then the separates business could, theoretically, amount to $1 billion. Or one quarter of the traditional subscription business. For such a large slice of scholarly communication to be undertaken through such misunderstood, unclear, unresearched systems, is a remarkable tribute to the existing structure of STM dissemination. But if there are changes in the mix of document delivery systems in future this could well have profound effects on the bottom line of those publishers who have not read the signs well.

David Brown
Director of Strategy
Ingenta plc

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Electronic journals and the role of subscription agents

by Rollo Turner

The role of subscription agents is to provide the means for both libraries and publishers to buy and sell subscriptions more easily and more cheaply. Electronic journals do not change this reality. They may change some of the services on offer and the way in which journals are delivered or accessed, but they do not change the underlying necessity for a simple and effective means to buy and sell subscriptions. Indeed electronic journals seem to increase the need for intermediaries and as a result a number of new companies have sprung up offering a variety of different services to both libraries and publishers relating to electronic journals. These range from companies such as Ingenta offering portal, access and electronic publishing services to publishers, to small specialist companies such as KnowledgeWire or TDNet, and newer innovative agents such as Prenax as well as all the new services from the larger agents such as Ebsco, Swets Blackwell and RoweCom to name just a few.

Customer requirements

A medium size library has to buy several thousand journals from hundreds of publishers. It is simply too inefficient for every library to keep a supplier file of all the publishers with which they deal. Using agents helps the library to limit small payments and save on administration and bank charges for drawing up small cheques, many of which are highly likely to be in a foreign currency. All this also helps the publisher reducing the chances of error, providing payment in the currency of publishers preference and resulting in fewer, larger invoice transactions.


For electronic journals the customer must, in the majority of cases, negotiate and sign a licence, initiate the subscription by logging on to the publishers system, determine and notify the publishers of the IP addresses and send any changes as soon as they occur to all the publishers for whom they have electronic subscriptions. They also need to log the URLs of all the electronic journals and keep them up-to-date and accurate, make sure that the electronic journals paid for are in fact available for users for the period subscribed, and ensure that the terms of the licence are not abused within their institutions. This last must be getting close to impossible since each publisher provides slightly different conditions of use.

New roles for agents

Into this step the agents and intermediaries who can, and do, offer to take on many of these activities on behalf of others, enabling the library staff to concentrate on running their library or information centre. Every time libraries outsource these services they are seeking to reduce their costs, and as long as this occurs libraries will continue to use agents and intermediaries for such services. This has benefits for publishers too, simplifying considerably both access to the market and gathering market intelligence.

Libraries may also need to provide themselves with a single means to access all their electronic journals and possibly other resources for the institution. This is becoming an essential service to users for whom it is very inconvenient and expensive to have to remember how to access and search many different publishers' websites. Agents and intermediaries offer services to help libraries by providing gateways services and portals or in-house management systems to help them access their subscriptions more cost-effectively .

All this has considerable relevance to publishers, because wherever intermediaries thrive, publishers will find there is a simple and cost-effective channel to their market which promotes the acquisition of subscriptions and helps build usage through the introduction of cost-effective solutions to the challenges facing the market.

Electronic journals require a simple and effective infrastructure for purchase and access of content, not on a publisher-by-publisher basis but across all publishers - big and small. This is what the users require. Therefore, publisher support for agents and intermediaries will benefit the development of electronic journals. And in a world where there are tens of thousands of libraries, 30,000 publishers of scholarly and research journals and about 200,000 publishers of periodicals of all sorts this is a classic case of an industry that needs intermediaries.

Rollo Turner
Consultant in Electronic Journals Distribution and Marketing, and Secretary General of the Association of Subscription Agents and Intermediaries

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An African librarian's view of online journal management

by Ellen Tise

In most cases where online journals now form part of collections in South African libraries, it is interesting to note that it was not the result of specific library policy or strategy, but it happened out of necessity due to a number of factors beyond the control of library management. Some of the factors that contributed to this scenario are:

  • Library budgets have been cut gradually over the last couple of years. This had a negative impact on collection development in general;
  • Budget cuts also led to retrenchments of key library staff in some libraries;
  • Demands placed on libraries by academic staff and students to provide access to online journals.

On the other hand, librarians have recognised the advantages of online journals, i.e. easy access to journals from any desktop, and have decided to include this in their own planning and started to see it as an additional, basic library service. However, very few libraries have integrated this service in the normal functioning of the library. Here and there it is now part of medium- and/or long-term planning of libraries or institutions. In some libraries it is not yet seen as a long-term solution to supplement or replace print subscriptions.

Most libraries' first policy was to provide access to free online journals. The journals were linked on the library web site and/or on the OPAC. Staff in the technical services divisions of the library automatically took responsibility for activating the journals.

Decisions around planning, funding, staffing, needs, training, IT infrastructure and marketing are some of the main issues facing libraries in the management of online journals. Identifying appropriate dedicated staff to administer and manage online journals is also critical. Some libraries have appointed dedicated librarians who are responsible for all e-resources. However, it is still seen as an additional task of the periodicals and/or cataloguing librarians in some libraries.

Marketing of online journals to users needs constant attention. Libraries that subscribe to full-text databases such as ScienceDirect have found that 99% of the online journals used by patrons, are the journals that the library subscribe to in print and only 1% access additional titles.
I have focused mainly on academic libraries, because very few public libraries have the necessary information technology infrastructure in Africa to make online journals available to their users.

Due to some of the issues listed above, it is difficult to really say what the impact of online journals is in facilitating access to information in Africa. African libraries must develop a management model that will suit our circumstances best. Models are being developed in some library consortia such as the Gauteng and Environs Library Consortia (GAELIC).

Ellen Tise
University of the Western Cape

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Declaring independence

by Alison Buckholtz

Scientific communication seems increasingly driven by factors that have little to do with researchers and more to do with commercial publishers' profits. Even amid talk of the Internet-driven rise of scientific publishing, the researcher and the lab - where scientific communication originates - seem to be forgotten entirely. Restoring the researcher in research publishing requires long-term, cultural shifts to right the balance in favour of the scientist. To stimulate this process, SPARC has published Declaring Independence: A Guide to Creating Community-Controlled Science Journals.

A handbook and a Web site, Declaring Independence, outlines for editors and editorial board members of commercial journals how to determine whether a journal is serving its community.


SPARC is an alliance of approximately 200 research institutions, libraries, and organisations world-wide that encourages competition in the scholarly communications market. SPARC Europe, which launched in July 2001, tailors this mission to a U.K. and European audience. Our shared goal is to introduce new solutions to scientific journal publishing, facilitate the use of technology to expand access, and create partnerships with publishers that bring top-quality, low-cost research to a greater audience. Since SPARC's inception three years ago, researchers have requested guidance to help them navigate a course away from journals whose costs have skyrocketed. Specifically, they asked how - as editors and editorial board members of commercial journals - they could counter the high cost of scientific information from commercial publishers and address the need for wider, low-cost access to that information.

In scholarly publishing, competition centres on winning authors. Authors give a journal its prestige. SPARC's approach in Declaring Independence is to focus on the researcher, who is key to restoring competition to the scientific journals marketplace.

Editors Declare Independence

The pricing trends associated with recent publisher mergers are part of the reason why some editors and editorial board members of commercial journals have begun to break away and launch alternative, lower-cost publications. Although those who have resigned from their commercial journal have done so for a variety of reasons, many of these editors felt that due to the journal's high cost, it no longer served its community of researchers. Many of these alternative journals from well-known editorial boards have become SPARC publishing partners. They have continued to attract prestigious authors and publish regularly, in some cases surpassing their former publication.

For example, in 1999 the complete 50-member Editorial Board of the Journal of Logic Programming (now called the Journal of Algebraic and Logic Programming) took a stand against the rising cost of their journal. The team unanimously resigned from the Elsevier Science publication, and launched its own lower-priced publication, Theory and Practice of Logic Programming (TPLP). It is published by Cambridge University Press and costs just $300 - 60% less than the JLP had cost before its editorial board resigned. TPLP, the sole official journal of the Association for Logic Programming, is able to attract the most important authors in the field; since its launch in January 2001 it has published 800 pages. By contrast, in the first eight months since the commercial competitor installed a new editorial board, it has published only five articles with 200 pages total.

TPLP is one of over a dozen SPARC Alternative, Leading Edge and Scientific Communities partners which facilitate competition in the scientific journals marketplace. A complete list of SPARC partners can be found on the SPARC website.

The value of Alternatives

SPARC's Alternatives program supports high-quality, non-profit journals launched as alternatives to commercial titles. The Alternatives program is based on two beliefs:

  • If authors have superior alternatives to existing high-priced journals, they will ultimately move to the outlet that better satisfies their need for both recognition and broad dissemination,
  • If publishers have market support for bold (but inherently risky) new ventures, they are more likely to make the investment.

We have seen both of these ideas succeed with a number of SPARC Alternative journals. Before the SPARC partner journal Evolutionary Ecology Research (EER), for example, there was only Kluwer's Evolutionary Ecology (EE), whose price jumped 19 percent per year during a twelve-year period. Now, many libraries have switched to EER, which was founded to compete with EE after its editor and entire editorial board resigned to protest its pricing and policies. While EE has published a limited number of issues in 1999 and 2000, EER published eight complete, on-time issues each year. This year, EE reduced its price to $560. Meanwhile, EER continues to charge just $305, attracts the most prestigious authors in the field, and is covered in the major indexing services. Other success stories include that of Organic Letters, an American Chemical Society journal that competes with the commercially published Tetrahedron Letters. Organic Letters now ranks number seven in impact factor according to the 2000 ISI Journal Citation Reports, ahead of Tetrahedron Letters, the commercial competitor, which ranks at number 13.

Through Declaring Independence and its partnership initiatives, SPARC seeks to create a vibrant, competitive marketplace that squeezes out inefficiencies. This marketplace should focus on the researcher in his role as creator and disseminator of scientific communication. The scientist, after all, is the reason this debate exists.

Alison Buckholtz
Associate Enterprise Director
WWW:  and  
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Case Study:
EJB - the Electronic Journal of Biotechnology

by Graciela Muñoz

The EJB Electronic Journal of Biotechnology is a peer-reviewed, scientific, international and electronic journal edited exclusively in electronic format. It was created in 1997 jointly by the Chilean ICSU and the Catholic University of Valparaiso in order to provide the worldwide scientific community with a new dynamic, efficient, rapid and innovative communication media committed with rigour and objectivity, the basic principles that characterises the scientific process. In order to enhance visibility EJB is situated in two servers, in the Southern hemisphere and in USA.

EJB launched its first issue on April 15th 1998. The journal is published three times a year, although accepted articles are immediately released under the icon "Next Issue". Articles are published only in English using HTML and PDF formats, accepting review and research articles and short communications with the requirements of originality and scientific quality. EJB covers a broad spectrum of areas, from molecular biology to industrial biotechnology applications, including policy and ethical issues directly related to biotechnology. All published and current issues are always available online and our commitment is to maintain in perpetuity the electronic publications and to file the information periodically in compact disks.

The editorial board is truly international as it is made up of 73 members from 23 countries. Dr James D. Watson (Nobel Prize Laureate 1962) is Honorary Member of the Board. Also the journal is equally international in the origins of it's authors and readers who are from more than 80 countries all over the world. The number of visits to the site is continuously increasing, reaching over 30,000 during last May.

In order to support the widest scientific communication, EJB is free of charge for authors and also for readers (no subscription is required). Moreover, in addition to the HTML and PDF formats, we have created a new style called BIP which means Biotechnology in Public. This is a shorter version of the article written by the same author in a language appropriate to the non scientific audience. The author is required to write this version only after the manuscript has been submitted to peer review and accepted for publication.

All manuscripts are sent out for peer review, which is double blind. This anonymity is because articles are considered as confidential documents as stated by our code of ethics.

EJB is indexed in BIOSIS, Chemical Abstracts, Biotechnology Abstracts, Ulrich's Periodical Directory and the ARL Directory of Scholarly Electronic Journals.

Finally the Electronic Journal of Biotechnology recognises the highly valuable cooperation of the international scientific community represented by the editorial board, peers, authors and readers which through their collaboration and increasing interest have made possible the successful development and consolidation of this Journal.

Prof Graciela Muñoz
Universidad Católica de Valparaíso

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Electronic journal development at the Institute of Physics

by Kurt Paulus

The Institute of Physics is an international learned society and professional body for the advancement and dissemination of physics, pure and applied, and the advancement of physics education. One of the main ways of achieving its purpose is through the publication of refereed learned journals, in which it has been engaged since 1874.

Physicists have long used computers and electronic communication in their work, so it is not surprising that they quickly adopted new text processing languages and desk top publishing techniques for writing their research papers. At Institute of Physics Publishing, the publishing subsidiary of the Institute, we began receiving and processing papers in electronic form as early as 1989, principally in the TEX language. Now, nearly three quarters of papers are submitted electronically and after acceptance nearly all authors have their final papers available in and electronic format.

With this background, we were well placed to take advantage of the Internet and especially the world wide web when it was developed. In 1994 we published the first electronic journal in physics on the internet, Classical and Quantum Gravity, whose author community is particularly computer literate. The format was TEX, familiar to many physicists though not all scientists. The response was very good, and in 1995 we decided to publish all our journals on the world wide web. Months of development work followed and we were able to launch our electronic journals service in 1996.

The economic model underlying electronic journals was, and still is, that subscribers to the print version of the journal get free access to the electronic version. This means that all members of an institution get access to the journal from their desktop, if the institution subscribes to one copy. This principle has now been extended to consortia of libraries and institutions: all staff and students at all members of the consortium then have electronic access to the journals subscribed to by the consortium, even if their own institution does not subscribe.

Both approaches mean that access to the information published in the journals has become much wider than in the print era, supporting the Institute's objective of disseminating physics. The information itself has been enhanced by features not available in the print version, for example greater use of colour, the inclusion of multimedia elements such as movies and simulations, the linking of references first to abstracts databases and now to the full text of the articles referred to and the provision of free access to the full text journal archive, now going back ten years to 1991.

Recent initiatives have included the launch of the all-electronic Journal of Turbulence. While this uses the conventional subscription model, the all-electronic New Journal of Physics uses a different one: the author's institution or funding body pays a publication charge and the journal is available free to everyone. This journal is published with the German Physical Society and a group of associated societies throughout the world.

Within the economic constraints of publishing one of our main aims continues to be to widen access throughout the world. The Institute's increasing international membership enhances this, as all members have free access to three journals. For some years now we have provided free access to our journals to physicists in Africa. We have made special arrangements in some countries where there are funding problems. Finally, following a two-month period in 2000 when access to all our journals was open, we are now providing free access to the current issue of each journal to everyone whether their institution subscribes or not.

With author and reader expectations changing continually, and with the continuing need to make physics research information available as widely as possible, we expect to see many further developments in the future.

Kurt Paulus
Operations Director
Institute of Physics Publishing

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Science Asia: born but still in need of good care

by Praditta Siripan

From print to e-journal - from JSST to Science Asia

Science Asia is both an old journal and a new journal. It is an old journal, under the name of Journal of the Science Society of Thailand - JSST, which started publication in 1975. However, JSST changed its title to Science Asia in 1999 to reflect its international scope, publication in English and the fact that one quarter of the articles published in each issue were from outside Thailand.

Science Asia is available in two formats - in print and electronically. The printed Science Asia is distributed on a subscription basis while the on-line version is available for free. The development from print only availability to an accompanying on-line version has passed through several stages.

Stage 1: PDF files for reading full text articles

Initially the method of converting the journal from a printed edition into an electronic version was as simple as copying the file and posting it on to the Web page. The only additional task was to edit the cover page for better viewing. Readers with Acrobat Reader had access and downloaded the whole journal freely.

The easy steps began from opening the PDF file received from the Editor of the print version, changing to a full screen mode. This displayed the result as a full cover page with background in black. A second step was then is to capture the whole page and paste on the new file using the editing software for creating a proper graphical image. Adobe PhotoShop version 5.0 was used for the case of Science Asia. Size adjustment was required to make a desired image size. The next step was to lay out the Contents page and match the titles with the articles in the Web page. The Table of Contents was for viewing only. There were no links to the corresponding articles. In fact, all the articles of the journal were prepared in PDF and reading was only possible by browsing. The final step was made by copying the whole PDF file, which contained all the content of the individual issue, and pasting it onto the HTML page (the home page).

It must be noted, however, that the printed Science Asia appeared very attractive from the cover page. Almost all articles contain illustrations in black and white, but not yet in colour, because the cost of printing has to be kept as low as possible. This means that the view from the Web page was the same - in black and white. However, it was not difficult to change the style of presentation of the Web version to include colours and use HTML for hypertext linking. It should be noted that Science Asia receives funds for printing from the Science Society of Thailand but had to seek additional funding to cover the extra costs involved in going on-line. The Web version has been made possible through a contribution from the Technical Information Access Center (TIAC) and the Public Information Department of the National Science and Technology Development Agency (NSTDA).

Stage 2: Tables of content and web-based searching

Science Asia now provides on-line searching to the individual articles from the Tables of Content database produced by TIAC There is also a link to browse all titles of the archival issues which the readers of electronic Science Asia can click from a button 'Past issues', provided on the first page. Readers can also now search from the keyword in title, and the authors' names as well as browsing from the articles listed under the title of the journal. To read the full article, readers must open the on-line Science Asia from and click to the referred pages.

Stage 3: New content plus links to cited articles and web discussion forum

In the near future, Science Asia will add HTML format to all articles and will link to cited articles from bibliographic references published in Science Asia, JSST and other Thai journals. Additionally a Web forum will be opened so that readers and scientists can communicate with each other and exchange ideas.

The Future: Towards the use of metadata and XML for electronic Science Asia

It is now not far for Science Asia to move towards the international standard of electronic publishing. The editor has planned to encourage authors to participate in publishing directly on-line. The use of XML and Dublin Core Metadata are possible new approaches that Science Asia considers necessary, as it needs to serve a wider group of readers in the digital world.

Praditta Siripan

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AJOL expands

by Diana Rosenberg, INASP

African Journals Online (AJOL) offers free online access to the tables of content and abstracts of scholarly journals published in Africa, together with document delivery. Since its re-launch in September 2000 (INASP Newsletter November 2000), AJOL has introduced a number of new features:

  • inclusion of many more titles; there are now 64 titles (8 in agriculture, 12 in health, 18 in science and technology, and 26 in social sciences) from 18 countries available. More are in the pipeline;
  • addition of journals from South Africa and Francophone Africa;
  • pages available in French as well as English;
  • information about and links to full text of journals about Africa but published elsewhere;
  • instructions to authors.

A full evaluation of the service is planned at the end of three years. Statistics that are available indicate a high usage that continues to increase, month on month:

  • on average, the AJOL pages receive around 15,000 hits each month and every month shows an increase of between 1,000 and 2,000 hits
  • at the end of June 2001, 1,789 persons had registered to use the service and around 100 new registrations are received each month.

Not many African journals are currently available full text online. Yet this is becoming the most popular delivery mode for journal literature in the Western world. To address this problem, AJOL has established a sister project: African Journals Online Publishing Project, 2001-3. Ten AJOL journals, in different subject areas and from different regions of Africa, are being encouraged to explore the various processes and routes of going online and will be provided with advice and financial support in getting online by their preferred methodology.

Journals in AJOL at September 2001

African Crop Science Journal (Uganda)
African J. of Tropical Hydrobiology and Fisheries (Uganda)
Agro-Science (Nigeria)
East African Agricultural and Forestry J. (Kenya)
Ghana J. of Agricultural Science
UNISWA J. of Agriculture (Swaziland)
UNISWA Research J. of Agriculture, Science and Technology (Swaziland)
Zimbabwe Veterinary J.

African J. of Reproductive Health (Nigeria)
Central African J. of Medicine (Zimbabwe)
East African Medical J. (Kenya)
Egyptian J. of Medical Laboratory Sciences
Ethiopian J. of Health Development
J. of Medicine and Medical Sciences (Nigeria)
J. of the Egyptian Society of Obstetrics and Gynaecology
J. of the Nigerian Infection Control Association
Nigerian J. of Surgical Research
Nigerian Quarterly J. of Hospital Medicine
Scientific Medical J. (Egypt)
Southern African J. of Child and Adolescent Mental Health (South Africa)

Science & Technology
African Environment (Senegal)
Bulletin of the Chemical Society of Ethiopia
Discovery and Innovation (Kenya)
Ghana J. of Science
Global J. of Pure and Applied Sciences (Nigeria)
Insect Science and its Application (Kenya)
JASSA: J. of Applied Science in Southern Africa (Zimbabwe)
J. of Applied Science and Technology (Ghana)
J. of Aquatic Sciences (Nigeria)
J. of Food Technology in Africa (Kenya)
J. of the Ghana Science Association
J. of Science and Technology (Zambia)
Malawi J. of Science and Technology
SINET: Ethiopian J. of Science
Tanzania J. of Science
Transactions of the Zimbabwe Scientific Association
Tropical Freshwater Biology (Nigeria)
Zimbabwe Science News
Social Sciences
Africa Development (Senegal)
Africa Insight (South Africa)
African Anthropology/The African Anthropologist (Cameroon)
African Finance J. (South Africa)
African J. of Finance and Management (Tanzania)
African J. of Food and Nutritional Security (Kenya)
African J. of International Affairs (Senegal)
African J. of International Affairs and Development (Nigeria)
African J. of Library, Archives & Information Science (Botswana/Nigeria)
African J. of Political Science (Zimbabwe)
African Sociological Review (Senegal/South Africa)
Annales Aequatoria (DRCongo)
CODESRIA Bulletin (Senegal)
Eastern Africa Social Science Research Review (Ethiopia)
IFE PsychologIA (Nigeria)
Institute of African Studies Research Review (Ghana)
J. of Cultural Studies (Nigeria)
J. of Humanities (Malawi)
J. of Social Development in Africa (Zimbabwe)
LBS Management Review (Nigeria)
Review of Southern African Studies (Lesotho)
Revue Burkinabe de Droit (Burkina Faso)
South African J. of Higher Education
SAFERE: Southern African Feminist Review (Zimbabwe)
The Uganda J. (Uganda)
Zambezia (Zimbabwe)
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The SciELO model

by Abel Packer

SciELO,, demonstrates that scientific journals from developing countries can have an active role in today's increasingly globalised scientific communication. SciELO provides electronic publishing with a replicable methodology and a networked operational environment that helps to address endemic problems related to visibility, accessibility, measurability and credibility. These are problems that particularly affect journals that do not belong to the 'mainstream' as defined by international indexing products and services, such as ISI and MEDLINE. SciELO aims to overcome the divide between developed and developing countries that has characterised scientific communication. SciELO seeks to restore the so-called lost science of third world.

SciELO values scientific research related to developing countries. Such research has more impact if published locally, for various reasons. Local publication contributes to the value of authors' curricula vitae and alleviates the obligation to publish outside as the only way to be rewarded.

The SciELO methodology includes criteria to evaluate journal quality, guides and tools for text editing and SGML text mark-up to identify bibliographic elements and database tools to organise, store and manage metadata and full texts. The SciELO Internet interface provides complete access to a journal collection, internal and external hyperlinks, and retrieval and navigation tools that operate over titles, issues and articles. In addition, the site publishes current data on online usage transactions as well as bibliometric indicators related to citation analysis. Launched in 1998 by a partnership between FAPESP and BIREME, SciELO is now operating in Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica, Cuba and Spain, and publishes more than 80 titles, including a collection of five of the best Latin American public health journals. New countries from Latin American and Caribbean are expected to join SciELO in the near future a total of more than 200 journal titles is expected within the next two years.

Abel Packer
SciELO, FAPESP/BIREME Project, Operational Coordinator

The next INASP Newsletter will be published in February 2002. 
If you would like to contribute to its contents, please write to the editorial address above. 
Contributions must be received by 15 January 2002.
The International Network for the Availability of Scientific Publications

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