Journals – an academic Spring?

As reported widely this week, including The Chronicle Elsevier Publishing Boycott Gathers Steam Among Academics and The Economist  The Price of Information a series of posts  by Professor Timothy Gowers of Cambridge University has prompted a huge debate in the online community (including Twitter #RWA  #openaccess ) around the current model for scholarly communication via journals, high fees from publishers, and alternative models which could be much less costly.

Professor Gowers has organized a boycott of Elsevier because, he says, its pricing and policies restrict access to work that should be much more easily available. Since the boycott website opened on January 21 over 3,000 researchers have signed, pledging not to publish, referee, or do editorial work for any Elsevier journal.

Elsevier and other publishers exist to make a profit, they can’t be criticised for that, but is this how public-funded research should be disseminated? We pay for the research, then we pay again (if we can afford it) to have access to research papers.

The technology exists to use alternative models, and although can’t happen overnight – it will need a significant change of culture, if there is a will amongst the academic community then this could represent a tremendous step forward for ‘open research’ and save a large amount of public funds along the way.

As the Economist article notes “publishers need academics more than academics need publishers”.

Update: March 12 2012
Elsevier announced on their website on 27th February that they had withdrawn their support of the Research Works Act. Further comment on this action can be found in the Chronicle article “Legislation to Bar Public-Access Requirement on Federal Research Is Dead“.

To explore the possibilities for Open Science and how online tools could be used to transform scholarly communication see Michael Nielson‘s book “Reinventing Discovery“.

Cracking Open the Scientific Process

A very thought-provoking article appeared in the New York Times this week entitled “Cracking Open the Scientific Process” written by Thomas Lin which discusses the ‘Open Science’ movement and possible moves away from the traditional journal publishing model.

Also this week Michael B. Eisen, a strong supporter of Open Science, gives his response to the US The Research Works Act in another New York Times article Research Bought, Then Paid For and in several posts on his blog.

Similar issues have been discussed in the Guardian article by George Monbiot in August 2011 “Academic publishers make Murdoch look like a socialist” .

Digital Researcher event at British Library, Feb 14th 2011

Are you making the most of new technologies in your research?

On 14 February 2011, Vitae and The British Library are running the Digital Researcher 2011 day to help researchers make the most of new technologies in their research.

This interactive event, which will be held at the British Library, is for postgraduate researchers and research staff. It will include presentations and interactive sessions on subjects such as microblogging, RSS feeds, social networking and social citation sharing.  Participants will explore and develop the skills needed for research in an increasingly digital world and gain ideas for managing information. This event is free but requires a refundable £25 deposit to book a place.

Institutional digital repositories for scholarly material

Many institutions have created digital repositories to store a wide range of scholarly material including research papers, student theses, scientific data.  The drivers behind this are to make research material available as widely as possible, so authors are encouraged to self-archive as well as publish in peer-reviewed journals. For a broader discussion of issues around creating e-print repositories see this paper Creating institutional e-print repositories by Stephen Pinfield, Co-Director of the SHERPA project which has established several e-print repositories in UK universities.

Here are links to some of the major search services for a range of repositories:
Sherpa UK (coverage: UK, all disciplines)
EThOS – (coverage: UK, all disciplines, theses)
BASE (coverage: global, all disciplines)
CORE (coverage: global, all disciplines)
OAIster (coverage: global, all disciplines)
OpenDOAR (coverage: global, all disciplines)
SORA (St George’s Online Research Archive)

There are also several search services to find repositories including:
Registry of Open Access Repositories (ROAR)

Updated: December 12 2016 to remove redundant links.

EThOS (Electronic Theses Online Service)

EThOS (Electronic Theses Online Service) is a repository of UK theses which has now been launched in beta test mode. The EThOS service gives online access to the full text of selected UK Higher Education institutions theses. A list of participating institutions can be found on the EthOS home page.

Currently, details for over 250,000 theses can be searched.The service is free to use but you must register and log in to download the full text, or order a digitised copy of any thesis. In addition, many UK institutions support Open Access to their theses, so download of their digital theses is free. A small number of participating institutions may not be able to offer Open Access and in this case you may have to pay for the digitisation.

This service is provided by the British Library. Details of the project to provide this service can be found on their website

New subscription: Royal Society of Medicine journals

The Library now subscribes to the Royal Society of Medicine collection, which

Annals of clinical biochemistry 2000-
Clinical Ethics 2006-
Clinical risk 2001-
He@lth Information on the Internet 2001-
Health Services Management Research 2001-
International Journal of STD & AIDS 1996-
Journal of Health Services Research & Policy 2001-
Journal of Integrated Care Pathways 2005-
Journal of Medical Biography 2005-
Journal of Medical Screening 1998-
Journal of telemedicine and telecare 1996-
Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine 2000-
Laboratory animals 1967-
Menopause International 2000-
Obstetric Medicine 2008-
Phlebology 2003-
Tropical doctor 2005-

These titles are only available in electronic format, on and off-site; search by journal title here:

Services to keep up to date with journal content

There is a growing number of services available to keep up to date with scholarly journals.  Below some of the main ones are described. All are free to use although Zetoc is a subscription service and off-site requires a login using either your SGUL username & password or NHS Athens username & password.

Some of these services use RSS feeds. What is RSS?

Zetoc RSS / Alerts
The Zetoc database contains details of approximately 20,000 current journals and 16,000 conference proceedings published per year. It covers all subject areas for publications from 1993 to date, and is updated daily. A list of journals included can be found here Three features are provided:

Zetoc Search: for citations of journal articles and conference proceedings
Zetoc Alert: to set up alerts to receive emails for new articles which match your search criteria 
Zetoc RSS: to set up RSS feeds for journal tables of contents (TOCs)

Zetoc is a joint venture between the British Library and MIMAS at the University of Manchester.

ticTOCs – Tables of Contents Service
ticTOCs is a new scholarly journal tables of contents (TOCs) service.  It’s easy to use, and it provides access to the most recent tables of contents of over 11,000 scholarly journals from more than 400 publishers. Search for Tables of Contents, view the latest TOC for each journal, link to the full text of around 250,000 articles (where subscription allows), export TOC feeds to popular feedreaders, and select and save (by ticking them) journal titles in order to view future TOCs. Register to ensure your MyTOCs are permanently saved. In addition you can import article citations into RefWorks.

Heriot-Watt University is one of the partners involved in developing this service, which was funded by JISC.

Sub-titled ‘Your Life Science Magazine Rack’, this site delivers the most recent life science literature as it is published direct from RSS feeds. You can browse over 100 journals within life science by subject, see the most recently updated TOCs, search the content of TOCs (it’s a bit slow), see the most ‘popular’ articles. If you register extra features are available, eg add articles to your reading list, browse other people’s reading lists. There are links to the full text of articles (access will depend on subscription status).

FeedNavigator – medical sources only
From the University of Helsinki, FeedNavigator downloads medical RSS feeds published by websites and aggregates their content into a single feed, latest news first. This gives access to over 4,000 medical sources, including numerous journal Tables of Contents, which are updated continuously. Citations can be exported to RefWorks.
The latest issues of popular science journals on one page. You can select from various subject areas. There is also a facility to search journal content.

Reminder: How to check SGUL journal subscriptions

Here are some instructions for how to check whether SGUL subscribes to a journal  – in print and/or electronic format.

For most of our e-journals, when you are on-site at SGUL they authenticate by location ( IP address) so you will not need a username / password to open the full text article. Off-site you will need your SGUL username / password.

** For electronic: **

go to

in Title begins with, enter title eg Journal of Interprofessional Care

You should see
Journal of interprofessional care (1356-1820)
from 2000 to present in InformaWorld STM – NESLi2
from 2000 to 2008 in SwetsWise Online Content

So we have access electronically to this journal from two publishers which is fairly common. You can click on either link to navigate to the Journal home page, and then to the required article.

** For print: **

go to the Library Catalogue
in the journal title field, enter the journal title! eg

Journal of Interprofessional Care

click Search button
This should find this journal
Click Details button
Click Catalog Record tab

This will show print holdings:   6-17: 1992-2003

(ie our subs run from vol 6-17, which represents years 1992 – 2003, no current print subscription)

Please note!
This is the best method to use for electronic journals to ensure you access via the provider’s site that we subscribe to. Other providers may have the same journal title, for example the journal itself like the New England Journal of Medicine, but if we don’t buy through them then you won’t be able to access full text articles. ‘tree’ of academics – from Oxford University

Dr Richard Price, a Fellow of All Souls College Oxford, has just launched a website,, which in his words does two things:
” – It displays academics around the world in a ‘tree’ format, according to what university/department they are affiliated with.
– It enables researchers to keep track of the latest developments in their field – the latest people and papers. ”

He is hoping that the site will list every academic in the world — Faculty members, Post-Docs, and Graduate Students.

Current professors on the site include:
– Richard Dawkins –
– Noam Chomsky –
– Stephen Hawking –