Over the years I’ve had dealings with various journal publishers, and I must say that I’ve normally found them very helpful and professional. There have been one or two exceptions, and of course their staff come and go, so things sometimes change.
With respect to the websites of journal publishers, usability seems to vary considerably. I’ve seen some journal websites and thought: “What were they thinking of? A big commercial publisher, yet their site is confusing!”
Here are some examples of the Good, the Bad and the Ugly, with respect to journal publisher websites and their customer relations.
Some time ago, I wrote a series of five posts entitled ‘Rubbish stuff from publishers”. The first one was about links which went nowhere on the Springer website. None of that appears to have been fixed since I posted, in February. Someone should tidy up the old Springer pages. I wanted to write some more about problems with the various Springer websites, especially SpringerLink, but the site is terribly sloooooow!
Ah – after two minutes, the examples I was looking for have loaded: Advances in Difference Equations, and Advances in Difference Equations. The same journal, but two different interfaces. Now, I know that the reason is because this title is a SpringerOpen title, and SpringerOpen has a different website to SpringerLink. But the whole thing can be confusing, and the two sites are completely different in design.
Springer’s RSS Table of Contents (TOC) feeds are good, though. Here’s a typical example from their journal: Energy, Sustainability and Society
Third-generation feed stocks for the clean and sustainable biotechnological production of bulk chemicals: synthesis of 2-hydroxyisobutyric acid
07 September 2012 07:45
The synthesis of 2-hydroxyisobutyric acid (2-HIB), a promising building block for, e.g., Plexiglas® production, is described as an example for a clean and sustainable bioproduction.
A derivative strain of Cupriavidus necator H16, impaired in the poly-ß-hydroxybutyrate synthesis pathway and equipped with xenogenic 2-hydroxyisobutyryl-coenzyme A mutase from Aquincola tertiaricarbonis L108, was applied. Batch cultivation was performed in the presence of vitamin B12 by supplying a gas mixture comprising hydrogen, oxygen, and carbon dioxide.
Exploiting the chemo-litho-autotrophic potential of this so-called knallgas bacterium, 2-HIB was synthesized and excreted into the cultivation broth under aerobic conditions when inorganic nitrogen-limited conditions allowed an overflow metabolism of carbon metabolites. 2-HIB synthesis proceeded at a rate of 8.58 mg/[(g bacterial dry mass)·h]. Approximately 400 mg/L in total was obtained. The results were subsequently compared to calculated model data to evaluate the efficiency of the conversion of the substrates into the product. To achieve overall yield data regarding the substrate conversion, the model describes an integral process which includes both 2-HIB synthesis and biomass formation.
This study has confirmed the feasibility of the microbial synthesis of the bulk chemical 2-HIB from hydrogen and carbon dioxide by exploiting the chemo-litho-autotrophic metabolism of C. necator H16 PHB−4, additionally expressing the foreign 2-HIB-coenzyme A mutase. The product synthesis was satisfying as a proof of principle
but does not yet approach the maximum value as derived from the model data. Furthermore, the biosynthesis potential of an optimized process is discussed in view of its technical application.
Content Type Journal Article
Category Original article
Pages 1-9DOI 10.1186/2192-0567-2-11
Denise Przybylski, UFZ – Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research, Permoserstrasse 15, Leipzig, 04318 GermanyThore Rohwerder, UFZ – Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research, Permoserstrasse 15, Leipzig, 04318 GermanyHauke Harms, UFZ – Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research, Permoserstrasse 15, Leipzig, 04318 GermanyRoland H Mueller, UFZ – Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research, Permoserstrasse 15, Leipzig, 04318 Germany
Journal Energy, Sustainability and Society
Online ISSN 2192-0567
Journal Volume Volume 2
Journal Issue Volume 2, Number 1
Very helpful – having all that information helps someone decide whether the article is relevant or not. Contrast that with Taylor & Francis who currently produce poor RSS TOC feeds with hardly any information in them, and no abstracts. Here’s an example from Applied Economics. No wonder that they have so few people who subscribe to their feeds on Google Reader, or anywhere else.
Taylor and Francis: Applied Economics: Table of Contents
Table of Contents for Applied Economics. List of articles from both the latest and ahead of print issues.
Productivity effects of land rental market operation in Ethiopia: evidence from a matched tenant–landlord sample
01 October 2012 16:05
Applied Economics, Volume 45, Issue 25, Page 3531-3551, September 2013.
Because of the way they are compiled, in my Google Reader, T&F TOC feeds all appear under the heading “Taylor & Francis…”. I don’t want that. I want to see the journal title, and also abstract, etc. Why are T&F not being helpful to their potential readers? Isn’t that supposed to be a function of a publisher? Such things may also dissuade potential authors from wanting to publish in T&F titles.
Authors of research papers with funding available for publishing in Open Access journals or journals with OA options are becoming the new consumers with considerable purchasing power in the publishing chain. They want to know not only the impact factor of a journal, but also how well the journal and its contents will be marketed, and how easily their paper will be found, at a publisher’s website, in library discovery services, and via aggregators. Given that some journal TOC RSS feeds have many thousands of subscribers, and that these feeds are also used in many different ways, providing a good quality TOC feed is likely to become increasingly important.
The Recommendations on RSS Feeds for Scholarly Publishers available at the CrossRef site state that “There is increasing evidence that providing users with more information in a feed will drive more users to your site. Conversely, there is also evidence that users will choose not to subscribe to “partial-feeds” due to the inconvenience associated with reading them.”
I was looking at the De Gruyter website recently, for a journal’s Table of Contents feed. Each journal has a Get eTOC Alert link, but they seem to take you to a subject alert feed option rather than a TOC feed. De Gruyter redesigned their website not very long ago – it seems they haven’t got it right yet.
Here’s a journal publisher website that I like, Inderscience. Well, I would say that, wouldn’t I, because I had a small amount of input into its design :-) Look at a typical Inderscience journal home page – for the International Journal of Social Network Mining. It is very clear, there are no broken links, and it contains all the relevant information about the journal that I need.
Here’s another example of the Good, with respect to journal publishers. I spend quite a bit of time looking for journals with RSS TOC feeds in order to add them to JournalTOCs, the free service where researchers (and others) keep up-to-date with the scholarly literature. This can be a long and sometimes frustrating process, especially when I find a publisher with what look like good journals, but there are no TOC RSS feeds (JournalTOCs ingests and aggregates TOC RSS feeds from multi-publishers and presents them within one neat and easy-to-use interface). Now, sometimes publishers are on the ball, and actually contact me, or JournalTOCs.
This is what happened recently with Schweizerbart Science Publishers.
I just read your liblicense post on JournalTocs. We’d like to add our
journals, what would be the best and easiest way to do it ?
They publish a number of journals, and we’re now in the process of seeing the best way to add their TOCs to JournalTOCs.
More Bad. Some journals are not even sure what, exactly, is their title. For example, the South Carolina Journal of International Law & Business uses the ampersand on its home page, but the title in the RSS TOC feed is South Carolina Journal of International Law and Business. Such things may seem small, but they can make a difference when using some search engines.
Medknow, and Annual Reviews, have been very responsive to enquiries, but not Begell House journals. I contacted them recently about getting feeds for their journals into JournalTOCs. So far, I haven’t had a response :-(
More Good. Contrast that with Human Kinetics journals. I emailed them: “Do you have RSS Table of Contents feeds for your Human Kinetics journals? I’d like to add them to JournalTOCs http://www.journaltocs.ac.uk/index.php ”
The reply from Graham Smith came within 7 minutes!
13:56 (7 minutes ago)
I’ll get them to you ASAP
Bentham Science publish a number of quality subscription journals. You can see their latest TOCs at JournalTOCs. They also publish 230 Open Access titles. As I couldn’t see any sign of RSS TOC feeds for these OA titles anywhere on their site, I contacted them. They haven’t got back to me :-( As RSS is a major way for publishers to promote their content, one has to ask oneself whether they are going to pocket submission fees for OA articles, and then not promote their OA titles as much as their subscription titles.
The ‘Ever-On-The-Ball’ Aaron Tay alerted me to the following ruse by, in this case not a journal publisher but rather an aggregating vendor. We have a problem… another vendor appearing to need education about exactly WHO owns library data.
And so, what about the other four posts in the ‘Rubbish stuff from publishers” series that I mentioned near the beginning of this post?
Rubbish stuff from publishers 2 – Elsevier have fixed that one.
Rubbish stuff from publishers 3 – Cultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology is no longer found via Gooogle at Elsevier’s website. There are still 10 subscribers to the RSS feed on Google Reader. The links to articles seem to now go to the journal: Computers & Graphics.
Rubbish stuff from publishers 4 – there are now 35 Google Reader subscribers to the Atypon feed which is no longer available. Previously, when I wrote the post, there were only 32! What’s going on there?
So – that is some of the Good, and some of the Bad. What about the Ugly?
Well – did you know that my surname – MacLeod – actually translates from the Norse/Gaelic as: Son on Ugly?