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Re: OJCCT Stevan Harnad 08 Oct 1993 02:23 UTC

> Date:         Thu, 7 Oct 1993 15:48:15 EDT
> From: "Natalie S. King" <>
> There is currently a discussion on MEDLIB-L (a list for medical librarians)
> about the Online Journal of Current Clinical Trials (OJCCT--a joint
> publication of AAAS and OCLC).  Overwhelmingly, respondents are
> expressing disappointment with the product--both in use by patrons and
> ease of use of the product itself.  A number of librarians have indicated
> that they will probably not re-subscribe.  Since this is one of the only
> e-journals with which I have direct experience, I'm wondering what success
> other e-journals are having in libraries or out.  In addition, (and I'm
> *really* exposing my ignorance here) are most e-journals set up like
> OJCCT (i.e., rather like a print journal with discreet peer-reviewed
> articles published in a regular cycle; housed in a central location (OCLC)
> which provides document delivery for a fee; subscription fee over $100)?
> You can respond to me directly.  Thanks.  Natalie

I'm responding to the list as a whole, because some of these issues are
of general interest. There have been different approaches to
implementing electronic journals. OCLC/AAAS consciously took one path
with OJCCT, and this was the path of making the journal emulate as many
of the features of paper journals as possible with current technology.
This they did admirably, but at a price (which is why it costs $100+),
and with only as much success as current technology allows.

PSYCOLOQUY, has taken the other path, not making any special effort to
emulate the features of paper (though psychology has the admitted
advantage of subject matter that is mainly textual). As a consequence,
the costs (generously subsidized for the first three years by the
American Psychological Association) are low enough so subscription is
free. Access (using the remarkable new search/retrieval tools that are
being perfected daily, such as gopher, archie, wais, veronica) is so
simple and convenient that more and more libraries (e.g., University of
Michigan, CICnet, WWW) are developing platforms for making PSYCOLOQUY
and the other free electronic scientific and scholarly journals
available to their readers for free.

It is too early to say yet which model -- paid/paper-like vs.
free/non-paper-like -- will prevail. The libraries' reaction to OJCCT,
if it is indeed as described here (I have not yet heard anything like
this elsewhere), may be a temporary one, part of the uncertainty and
indirection with which many are first reacting to this new medium.
Hybrid models are also on the way: MIT Press is beginning to publish an
electronic journal of computation whose papyrosimilitude is intermediate
between PSYCOLOQUY's and OJCCT's and its intermediate cost is being
borne by a consortium of libraries, while individual subscribers can
access it for free. Meanwhile, more free journals, such as the new
differential equations journal from University of North Texas, are being
born every few weeks.

The advantage of free journals, of course, is that they are much less
of a gamble for a library to keep subscribing to, and hence to carry the
experiment through long enough for it to catch on (this may require
several years). But there is also something to be said for emulating
paper as a means of attracting a readership and authorship, at least in
the initial transitional period, when the scholarly community has not
yet been weened from paper.

My advice: Don't draw any premature conclusions. It's too early to say
which way things are going and where they will end up.

Stevan Harnad
Editor, Behavioral & Brain Sciences, PSYCOLOQUY

Cognitive Science Laboratory |    Laboratoire Cognition et Mouvement
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