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Issues in Science and Technology Librarianship
Fall 2000

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Free Scholarly Electronic Journals: An Annotated Webliography

Michael Fosmire
Physics and Earth and Atmospheric Sciences Librarian
Purdue University
West Lafayette, IN 47907
fosmire@purdue.edu

Elizabeth Young
Assistant Coordinator, Technical Services
SUNY Oswego
Oswego, NY 13126

Editor's note: This article is a companion to "Free Scholarly Electronic Journals: How Good Are They?" which appeared in the Summer 2000 issue.

[Biological Sciences/Agriculture] [Engineering/Computers/Technology] [Mathematics] [Medicine] [Physical Sciences] [STM Education] [Interdisciplinary/Complex Systems] [Directories of E-journals]

Free scholarly electronic journals form a small but important, and growing, segment of the science, technology, and medicine (STM) information landscape. Roes (1994) was able to identify 39 peer-reviewed scholarly electronic journals, and, by 1996 Harter and Kim (1996) and Hitchcock, Carr, and Hall (1996) found 77 and 115 such titles, respectively. In 1997, ARL's Directory of Electronic Journals, Newsletters, and Academic Discussion Lists (7th Edition) claimed 1,002 peer-reviewed e-journals (Mogge 1997). Of these electronic journals, Hitchcock, Carr, and Hall (1996) found 47 out of 83 STM titles investigated were free and planned to stay freely accessible. Looking at all disciplines, Harter and Kim (1996) found almost 90% of e-journals were free in their study. With the increase in commercial publishers entering the electronic journal market, the numbers have changed considerably, and Fosmire and Young (in press) found only 213 out of 1,209 (18%) of scholarly journals are free, with ~125 coming from the STM disciplines. The absolute increase in the number of free scholarly electronic journals shows that the genre is still viable despite the increasing commercial presence in the field of electronic publishing.

In spite of their impact on the information landscape (Harter 1998), these free electronic journals are underutilized and underappreciated by the library community (Fosmire and Young in press), perhaps due to the lack of publicity and marketing that goes hand in hand with the low budgets of these innovative enterprises. The authors see this webliography as one way to increase the visibility of these journals, especially at a time when the library community is very concerned with the spiraling costs of STM serials. Providing access to, perhaps publicizing, those titles you find to be scholarly enough and within the subject scope of your libraries will reward the efforts of the publishers and editors for their efforts to reduce the impact of the serials crisis.

As with any Internet resource, this webliography is only a snapshot of the free scholarly electronic journal literature. Every attempt was made, however, to make this list as comprehensive as possible. Several directories of electronic journals were consulted to create this list. However, none of these directories provided a complete, up-to-date, picture of the state of free scholarly electronic publishing. And none of the directories provides information on where a journal is indexed or annotations about the scope and nature of the journal. This webliography, then, provides information available nowhere else.

Methods:

In compiling this list, one first must determine what exactly a free scholarly electronic journal is. We will take this definition one word at a time. "Free" refers to a journal that is available without any restrictions or membership requirements, basically a journal that can be viewed in full by anyone with access to the Internet. "Scholarly" refers to the nature of the articles in the journal. Whereas the authors are not an expert in the fields studied here, two rules of thumb were used to ascertain whether a journal was scholarly or not. First, the articles must have references to the literature, and second, the journal must profess to be peer-reviewed, and at least appear to mean it. If those two requirements appeared to be met, it was kept in the pool of titles. An electronic journal in this case refers to the title having a collection of articles that are published relatively regularly and made available at that time on the Internet. For the purposes of this webliography, a journal was not disqualified because it had a print equivalent, as long as the electronic version of the journal was published at the latest simultaneously, and as long as it contained as least as much content as the print version. The requirement was also made that the journal be currently publishing, as defined by having at least one 1999 issue published at the time of review (January 2000) or show some other sign of activity (for example, an announcement of an upcoming conference that will be published in the journal, etc.) All journals were accessed to make sure, at the time of the access, they were indeed free scholarly electronic journals. The links in this webliography were re-checked in September 2000 to make sure they were still active.

Once a valid free scholarly electronic journal has been identified, the journal's web site was searched to find a statement of the scope or mission of the journal (all the scope statements in this webliography are taken verbatim or with very small editing from the journal's web site). Ulrich's International Periodicals Directory was consulted to determine where the journal has been indexed, and several individual indexes were also independently consulted (MathSciNet, INSPEC, CINAHL, Agricola, Medline, GeoRef, and Web of Science), as Ulrich's does not contain all the titles in this webliography, nor does it necessarily show all the A+I services that index the journal. The list of indexing services in not meant to be comprehensive, rather, it gives a flavor of the kinds of indexes that cover that journal.

References:

Fosmire, Michael J. and Young, Elizabeth. In press. "Free scholarly electronic journals: what access do college and university libraries provide?" College and Research Libraries 61.7 (November 2000).

Harter, Stephen P. 1998. "Scholarly communication and electronic journals: an impact study." Journal of the American Society for Information Science 49.6: 507-516.

Harter, Stephen P. and Kim, Hak Joon. 1996. "Electronic journals and scholarly communication: a citation and reference study." Proceedings of the Midyear Meeting of the American Society for Information Science, San Diego, CA, May 20-22, 1996: 299-315. [Online.] Available http://php.indiana.edu/~harter/harter-asis96midyear.html. [October 2, 2000].

Hitchcock, Steve, Carr, Leslie, and Hall, Wendy. 1996. "A survey of STM online journals 1990-95: the calm before the storm." [Online.] Available: http://journals.ecs.soton.ac.uk/survey/survey.html. [October 2, 2000].

Mogge, Dru, editor. 1997. Directory of Electronic Journals, Newsletters, and Academic Discussion Lists, 7th edition. Washington, D.C.: Association of Research Libraries. [Online.] Available: {http://db.arl.org/index.html} [November 2, 2000].

Roes, Hans. 1994. "Electronic journals: a survey of the literature and the net." Journal of Information Networking 2.3 (1994): 169-186. [Online.] Available: {http://cwis.kub.nl/~dbi/users/roes/articles/ej_join.htm}. [October 2, 2000].

Ulrich's International Periodicals Directory. 38th Ed. (2000) New York, Bowker.

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