Here’s a quick survey of some Open Access (OA) journals added recently to the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ). I wanted to see how many of the newly added titles had RSS feeds for their Tables of Contents (TOCs).
There are many reasons why all scholarly journals should produce a TOC RSS feed. Lisa Rogers wrote RSS and Scholarly Journal Tables of Contents: the ticTOCs Project, and Good Practice Guidelines for Publishers which explains how RSS is an effective sharing mechanism for journal TOCs, and a CrossRef working group produced Recommendations on RSS Feeds for Scholarly Publishers which explains good practice.
RSS feed consumption can occur through many feed aggregators, such as Google Reader, iGoogle, Bloglines, etc. Some journal TOC RSS feeds have hundreds of subscribers via each of these services, and this drives considerable traffic to their sites.
The large and successsful commercial publishers all know the benefits of producing journal TOC RSS feeds – Elsevier, Springer-Verlag, Informa, John Wiley and Sons, Sage Publications, Biomed Central Ltd, Wolters Kluwe, Emerald, Thieme Publishing Group, MedKnow Publishers, Nature Publishing Group, Brill Academic Publisher, Maney Publishing – and many more, produce TOC RSS feeds for their journals.
TOC RSS feeds are ripe for aggregation in other ways, through such services as JournalTOCs (where as well as finding over 14,000 journal TOCs, you can also search the contents of TOCs and get RSS feeds for search results), ticTOCs, and Zetoc RSS. These services help researchers find the latest scholarly articles, and in turn drive traffic to journal websites. There’s also subject-based services such as TechJournalContents which make it easy to search the current issues of technology journals.
TOC RSS feeds can also be re-used in various ways. For example, the JournalTOCs API gives access to an entire database of articles, journals and publishers, collected from the publishers’ own TOC RSS feeds, as soon as they are published on the web. Search results come in RSS format, which can then be parsed and used in other environments, or an RSS reader, or the search results can be included in other web page. Localised versions of JournalTOCs are also possible, providing a library’s users with a current awareness service which guarantees 100% access to the full text of subscribed titles.
Jönköping University has integrated ticTOCs RSS TOC data with it’s catalogue (so that users can view the TOC from the library catalogue) and Wageningen Digital Library has done similar.
So, journal TOC RSS feeds have many benefits and uses, and help to expose scholarly journals to a wide audience.
But, to get back to the main subject of this post, how many Open Access journals are taking advantage of all of this and producing RSS TOC feeds? Hindawi is one notable example (feeds available here at JournalTOCs). What about other OA journals?
I looked at the weekly RSS feed of new journals added to the DOAJ. Of the recent OA titles added to DOAJ I found that only a few were producing feeds:
* Even though Open Journal Systems, through which a growing number of OA journals are published, has a plugin giving the option to generate nice RSS 1.0 feeds with prism etc, not all OJS journals produce RSS TOC feeds. I really don’t understand why!
All publishers of Open Access journals should ask themselves the following question “Over 14,000 journals from nearly 500 publishers now make available RSS Tables of Contents feeds. Does mine?”
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