A Comparative Analysis of the Role of Multi-Media Electronic Journals in Scholarly Discipline: A Support Project in the JISC Electronic Libraries (eLib) Programme

Ken Eason, Chris Carter, Susan Harker, Sue Pomfrett, Kathy Phillips, John Richardson

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Abstract

Scholarly practices differ considerably in the way they store, use and disseminate information. It may be hypothesised that they may also differ in their need for electronic journals and these journals may have different effects on scholarly practice. This brief study used secondary sources of information to compare the impact of electronic journals on different disciplines. An analysis of the literature is presented which describes the characteristics of disciplines in the natural sciences, the social sciences and humanities and in applied disciplines. The analysis examines the use of information in these disciplines and demonstrates the different roles that traditional journals play in different disciplines.

From the literature and with the assistance of domain experts who attended a workshop, a set of propositions were formulated about the implications of scholarly practice for electronic journals. These propositions were tested with reference to 14 disciplines by the examination of secondary sources of information about each discipline, through the literature, through inputs from eLib projects working in these disciplines and through interviews with academics.

As a result of the analysis it is proposed that there are some universal characteristics of scholarly activity which lead to general specifications for electronic journals and there are other characteristics which lead to differing requirements. There is a general requirement to have access to search facilities to locate relevant articles but the requirements to read full text on-line and to have advanced forms of multi-media within articles are more limited. The majority of disciplines would value an electronic full text service as a means of assured access to a printable document. Many disciplines would value an opportunity to link electronic journals with other electronic data sources and communication facilities. There is some evidence that it is the natural sciences which would find the most advanced forms of electronic journals of benefit and they are already the most advanced in the adoption of these services. However, there are sub-disciplines across the spectrum of the disciplines which have characteristics suggesting they would value the potential of multi-media, electronic journals. The report offers a preliminary causal model to characterise disciplines in terms of their likely use of electronic journals and the speed of uptake and presents recommendations for research and practice which will further the appropriate uptake of electronic journals in different disciplines.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationBath
PublisherUKOLN, University of Bath
Commissioning bodyJISC
Number of pages81
Publication statusPublished - Nov 1997

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    Eason, K., Carter, C., Harker, S., Pomfrett, S., Phillips, K., & Richardson, J. (1997). A Comparative Analysis of the Role of Multi-Media Electronic Journals in Scholarly Discipline: A Support Project in the JISC Electronic Libraries (eLib) Programme. UKOLN, University of Bath.