Electronic Shoes for the Cobbler's Children Treatment of Digital Journals in Library and Information Science Databases

Article excerpt

Electronic journals have become an increasingly important topic since the early 1990s. A simple free-text search for electronic journals (without synonyms like ejournals or electronic periodicals) gives a snapshot of the ten data bases on Dialog that have the best coverage of the topic. Limited to articles published in 2000, Gale's Trade & Industry database added 352 records, LISA 291, Gale Magazine Database 194, UMI Periodicals Abstract and Full-Text 171, Information Science Abstracts 128, ABI/INFORM 88, and Library Literature 84. Even limiting the search to the title field, guaranteeing that the focus of the article is electronic journals, and evening out the advantage that full-text databases have over abstract-only databases, brings up an impressive number of records.

There's a big difference between covering the topic and including the journals themselves in the databases. When it comes to containing the electronic journals, there are only a handful of databases with substantial coverage. H.W. Wilson and INSPEC were the first to recognize the importance of the most important library and information science (LIS) digital journals. ERIC was next, although with only three titles. ERIC, however, deserves credit for the most comprehensive coverage of the pioneering ejournal, PACS-R, the Public Access Computer Systems Review. LISA came a little late in 1999, although with a good selection of 16 ejournals. PAIS picked four outstanding LIS ejournals at about the same time. Information Science Abstracts (ISA) waited the longest. It was late January 2001 when it started to offer re cords for eight ejournals in its Dialog version. Those records first appeared in the third week of March on SilverPlatter. However, the SilverPlatter version was worth the wait for it offered a far better implementation from the perspective of ejournals than Dialog. On the various systems, the postings may be different depending on the latest update of the database. I used the postings information from Dialog.

THE TOP ELECTRONIC LIS JOURNALS

I am certainly not alone believing that many of the electronic journals in library and information science have far more relevant and timely articles for today's librarians and information specialists than many of the traditional scholarly LIS journals. They are also accessible to far more readers.

Electronic journals is not the best term (I prefer digital journals), and can be ambiguous. Some directories list among their electronic journals, even those with only a few full-text articles; others include those that have the entire current issue and several years of archive online of the print edition for subscribers. The electronic version is but a surrogate for the printed one. Here, I use the term for those serials whose complete run is available only electronically, universally available, without a paid subscription. This excludes some worthy titles that have substantial number of volumes in digital form free of charge for anyone (at least temporarily), such the IATUL Proceedings (http://educate2. lib.chalmers.se/IATUL/proceed.html), or the excellent Australian title, LASIE in PDF format (http://www.slnsw.gov.au/lasie/welcome.htm).

Even with this limitation, there would have been about 25 qualifying LIS electronic journals. I chose ten of these that have the widest coverage in six databases with LIS coverage.

THE DATABASES

Surprisingly, some of the databases that have good coverage of library and information science don't cover LIS digital journals at all. Although some of these databases include only a dozen or so LIS journals, like the Gale Trade & Industry database, or Bell & Howell's Information and Learning's Periodical Abstracts and Full-Text database, one or two LIS electronic journals would certainly merit inclusion. This is even more true with the PASCAL database that has many LIS journals (although the breadth of coverage is not easy to determine because the unprecedented level of inconsistency in journal names makes it as difficult as herding cats), and the Social Science Citation data-base that covers more than 60 purely LIS journals, some of which are cited less often than many of the electronic LIS journals). …