GLOSSARY OF TERMS FOR ONLINE JOURNALS
Just as you can subscribe to print journals in many ways—by
purchasing individual journal titles through a publisher or by
consolidating your subscriptions with a vendor, you can use a
variety of mechanisms to access and subscribe to journals online.
The glossary below is meant as a guide to some of the more arcane
terms involved in the distribution models of electronic publishing;
the glossary may appear more relevant to librarians than to users,
but anyone who makes decisions concerning accessions, including
university administrators and teaching staff, should understand
the different ways e-journal publishers and distributors work
because it affects ease of access, budgeting, and finances.
Aggregator and Gateway Services
The first term is the most complicated and confusing because
there are similarities and differences between aggregators and
gateways. Indeed, in some instances, aggregators and gateways
are merging to become one.
Aggregators are to online publishing as vendors or subscription
agents are to print. Instead of selling subscriptions to hard
copy, they provide links on their Web pages to e-journals that
are produced by a number of different publishers.
Some aggregators require that you subscribe to all of the journals
in their "bundle;" others let you pick and choose. This
distinction is very important; before subscribing to a "bundled"
service, it is essential to evaluate whether the journals included
in the "bundle" will justify the cost. How many of the
journals will users want to read regularly, and what would an
individual subscription cost? If the amount is lower than a "bundled"
subscription, don't use the aggregator for your subscription services.
The big advantage to accessing journals through aggregators is
that they provide a single interface and access route to a large
number of journals so you don't need to worry about lots of different
usernames, passwords, and search engines.
Gateways provide services to publishers and to users. Stanford
University's HighWire, for example, works with learned-society
publishers to package their journals electronically and to add
value to the content. You can go to the HighWire Web site to select
one or more journals and to search across journal titles, but
you are then linked to the publisher's Web site for actual access.
Finally, some aggregators and gateways are attempting to establish
a "one stop shop" in that you can search across multiple
databases, consult tables of contents and abstracts to many journals,
and then link to journal titles. The aim is to bring all services
together for the ease of the user.
Current awareness information allows you to keep abreast of recent
developments in your field. You can register for free table of
contents and topic alerts. A number of services offer current
awareness information free of charge-journal publishers, aggregator
services, and other organizations. This is discussed more fully
in the following pages.
Distribution by Author
Many researchers now mount their research results on the Web
without intermediaries, such as a journal publisher. They may
have their own home page, for example, or they may use an e-print
service, such as the physics preprint server, BioMed Central,
and the Open Access Initiative (described later in this guide).
In essence, the whole concept of scholarly communication is changing.
Methods of Accessing Full-Text
Some journals, such as the British Medical Journal, are available
online free of charge. You do not need to worry about "authentication."
Some systems require a password; still others register the IP
(Internet Protocol) address of the computers al lowed to access
the journals in question. No password is required; users simply
In addition, it is possible to pay to download the full text
of journal articles. Some journals allow you to pay for timed
access to an entire issue, usually 24 hours. Others only permit
access to the article you have selected. Credit cards are usually
required for "pay-per-view" privileges.
Some publishers provide free electronic access to print subscribers.
Others offer electronic access at a surcharge. An increasing number
of publishers offer the option of subscribing to the electronic
version only. In addition, as mentioned above, some aggregators
require libraries to subscribe to a bundle of journals.
Commercial organizations, learned societies, universities, etc.
are directly responsible for publishing monographs, journals,
and other publications. They solicit, review, select, edit, package,
and distribute their publications. Publishers run the gamut in
size and price-from large commercial publishers, such as Elsevier,
to smaller learned society publishers. But these differences are
beginning to blur, particularly because some learned societies
are turning their publishing over to academic and commercial publishers.
Price and supply models go hand in hand. Journals can be supplied
through a vendor by license-occasionally for a single user, more
typically for multiple users. The license determines how many
people can access the journal simultaneously. It is possible to
take out a site-wide license, which is calculated according to
the number of users at your institution. Countrywide licenses
are also possible. Increasingly, many institutions are forming
consortia to negotiate jointly with vendors and publishers to