Directory of Electronic Journals, Newslettersand Academic Discussion Lists

Introduction to the 6th Edition (1996)

Ann Shumela Okerson

[See also her Forward to the 5th Edition 1995]

[Part I: Electronic Journals and Newsletters] [Part II: Directory of Scholarly and Professional E-Conferences] [Article of the Year] [Highlights of the Past Year] [A. Essays about E-Journals] [B. Serials Sites]


Purpose and Scope:

What began as one of the first Internet directories of any kind (first edition in July 1991) has now become a standard reference work. This is the sixth year of publication of the Directory of Electronic Journals, Newsletters and Academic Discussion Lists. Again it offers readers a snapshot of serials on the Internet. (Serials are defined by library and information professionals as "publications intended to be continued indefinitely.") The book is organized into two sections prepared by two different groups of cybrarians. Both groups welcome any additional information and entries that readers provide to them.

Part I: Electronic Journals and Newsletters

The first section of Part I comprises journals, magazines and 'zines; the second (newsletters) includes not only newsletters but also other hard-to-characterize types of serials such as certain digests, reference works, bulletins, and other network hybrids. Based on work initially begun by Michael Strangelove at the University of Ottawa, the Journals and Newsletters portion of this Directory has become a database created and maintained by Directory staff at the Association of Research Libraries.

In this sixth edition, the number of journal and newsletter titles (nearly 1700) has more than doubled since last year's and multiplied by over 15 times since the first edition (there were 110 listings in 1991,240 in 1993, and nearly 700 last year), and, as the acknowledgments make clear, many people contribute information and assistance to the project. The Journals and Newsletters Section aims to be as comprehensive as possible, and the entries represent all information that was received and verified through the end of March 1996.

Inclusion Criteria: ARL's Directory Staff scan serial announcements from several Internet lists and sites (see below) but not all those titles are included. Only those whose editors or producers return completed templates with full information to ARL, or those titles for which templates can be created at ARL from the e-serial site, are included in this book.

Part II: Directory of Scholarly and Professional E-Conferences

The scope of this section is electronic conferences, bulletin boards, and discussions of an academic nature that are found on Bitnet, Internet, and various other linked networks. A team headed for the sixth year in a row by Diane Kovacs uses its judgment in deciding what topics are of primary interest to scholars, researchers, and students.

Since 1991, these listings have increased in size six-fold times, from 517 originally to over 3,100. There is no precise count of the whole universe of electronic discussions, groups, conferences, and bulletin boards, though numbers such as 30,000 or more are frequently advanced. Therefore, the Kovacs team provides a particularly valuable service in culling that universe. The other service they offer is making the information available on the Internet for free to all users through the facilities of Kent State University. They update the resources twice a year. This printed book is derived from the first of each of those two annual revisions, with re-formatting, editing, and indexing enhanced at ARL. The directions for access to the networked versions are given in Diane Kovacs' introduction at the start of the Lists section.

E-Publishing Article of the Year

Every year, Directory staff seek out some of the best articles on electronic publication written in the past twelve months and request permission to include it in this volume as state of the art thinking. This year's choice is the survey article by Steve Hitchcock, Leslie Carr, and Wendy Hall, all of the Multimedia Research Group, Department of Electronics and Computer Science, University of Southampton in the U.K. In their "A Survey of STM Online Journals 1990-95; the Calm Before the Storm," Hitchcock and his co-authors reviewed all the extant full-text, peer reviewed journals in the areas of science, technology, and medicine towards the end of 1995 and analyzed the nature, form, and trends in the STM ejournal arena. They concluded that the numbers of such titles are exploding as current publishers create Internet publications. "Despite this," the authors point out, "the new online medium is not being exploited, since many new online journals are simply electronic editions of paper journals." This important review highlights the dilemma.

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Highlights of the Past Year in Electronic Serials on the Internet

It has been our annual practice in this Introduction to outline e-journal trends of the preceding year that seem particularly significant. For the sixth edition of the Directory what strikes us most is, in part, the intensification of earlier trends, so we first review some observations from last year's Introduction and offer comments.

Continued Growth Rate in Publications Created on and for the Internet

In 1993, ARL's Office of Scientific and Academic Publishing started an e-mail list, NewJour, to report on a daily basis new serials published over the Internet. By early 1995, NewJour had posted well over 200 items to that list, a number that represented one of the factors that inspired last year's point about continued phenomenal growth rate. At this writing (May 1996), the total number of titles registered in NewJour has shot past the 2,000 mark, or a sustained average of about six new titles every working day for well over a year. One cannot help but be conscious that librarians have some specific areas where we are scrambling to catch up. While many new titles are non-traditional, and some "old" new titles have already disappeared into virtual oblivion, the clear sign is that explosive growth is still accelerating.

Critical Mass on the Internet

No reader of the mass media can fail to have observed that the Internet has become a daily household word, even to the point where TV news reports pontificate worriedly about "Internet addiction" - leading one wag to ask: What exactly are television commentators saying to us? Is it a bad thing to sit staring for hours on end at a video display tube? Whatever the implications, the fact is that the Internet has become increasingly a medium of choice for certain kinds of standard and reliable business practices. The growth of "Intranets", Internet-like information sources maintained internally to a single corporation for its own business affairs, is a sign that we have turned a corner. In particular, the boom in searching tools such as category-defining Yahoo, Alta Vista, Lycos, and WebCrawler, has made the world of Internet information far more accessible than ever. Whether such tools truly scale up is an urgent and worrying question, rising to the surface every time a user performs, say, an AltaVista search and receives thousands of hits. But for the moment, the boom feels almost manageable and many users are making the Internet a working place of first resort. The largest anxieties regularly expressed relate to traffic overload, the need for better network backup, and redundancy, with gloomsayers suggesting that commercial providers will shortly begin abandoning the medium, while some academics speak of needing an alternate network of their own. None of those anxieties, however, has translated itself into a reduction in the flood of new information and users.

Formal Publishers on the Internet; and the Move to Licensing Over Ownership

The most striking novelty of the year, apart from sheer quantity, is the arrival on the electronic journal scene of a growing number of very serious major players: traditional print publishers now moving aggressively to bring their journals into cyberspace. Academic Press, Blackwell Scientific, Cambridge University Press, Columbia University Press, Elsevier, Institute of Physics, Johns Hopkins Press, Kluwer, MIT Press, and Oxford University Press are only some of the publishers whose titles are now becoming broadly available - for a traditional print price plus - and it is becoming the case that only the exceptional publisher will not have a burgeoning Internet presence. With the arrival of today's current publishers comes a whole new set of pressing issues for librarians and researchers. Typically, such publishers make their material available on the Internet under a licensing agreement rather than on a per-copy sale basis. Those licensing agreements need to be hammered out with libraries and consortia of libraries over and over again. Each publisher's arrangement needs to be made with many suppliers, and each library's collectors need to work with many publishers and different license documents in order to build a new access program. We are still very far from having a clear sense of what "standard" terms might look like. Publishers often offer e-access to their journals as a bonus to traditional paper subscriptions and at a surcharge (10-40% over paper publication); but with astute negotiation, mutually beneficial arrangements can be made that increase a given library's access to useful material over the near term.

Big Journal Projects from the Not-for-Profit Sector

The Johns Hopkins University Press's Project Muse, for example, has made dramatic progress in offering their entire list of distinguished humanities journals via the Internet; Stanford University's High Wire Press, an entrepreneurial venture led by the University Library, is a startup enterprise with new partnership models, impressive credentials, and product; and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation's JSTOR project brings fifteen mainstream journals in fields such as history and economics online in bit mapped images backed by searchable OCR text. JSTOR's policy is to offer complete runs of its journal titles back to Volume 1 through 1990. This Project is leaving the pilot phase and working through the hard issues of access and economics as well as scaling up to key titles in a number of disciplines. OCLC is currently the publisher of some three dozen online journals for a number of journal publishers. All these services use the Internet and the World-Wide Web in one form or another, but neither the commercial nor the non-commercial sector so far shows progress with an interconnected system of publication, whereby users of one publisher's product would have easy links to material in another's. Many hopes are expressed in that direction, with much work to be done to bring dream and reality together. These initiatives can be accessed at the following sites:

  • High Wire Press:
  • Project Muse:
  • OCLC Electronic Journals Online:
  • JSTOR:

    Evolution not Revolution - so far

    Some things are not happening, at least not as rapidly as the other observed changes. First, traditional publishers are very chary about experimenting with new forms of journal publication or with innovations in electronic-only publication. For the moment, the bulk of the boom in new scholarly and scientific journal publication on the Internet consists of e-versions of existing periodicals ( Hitchcock), reflecting the print contents down to the question of issue numbers and "clumping" and even pagination. Second, available studies (admittedly premature) suggest that e-specific publication is not yet widely cited or referenced ( Harter), nor yet again taken as strong material for promotion and tenure. (We have heard this year of what seem to be the first cases of tenure awarded in major universities for dossiers with significant e-published content, but so far those cases are only a trickle.)

    Intellectual Property Issues

    The Green Paper of 1994 published by the U.S. Department of Commerce's Working Group on Intellectual Property became with modest revisions the White Paper of September 1995 and now creeps in some part towards becoming a Congressional act of 1996 or 1997. Behind that process, the Conference on Fair Use (CONFU) discussions on the nature of fair use in an electronic environment make limited progress, with no one willing to say yet whether real fair use will survive and how important a part it will play. The decision of the 6th Circuit Court in the Michigan Document Services case (finding in favor of a bulkpack copyshop producer in a suit brought by Princeton University Press and others) surprised both publishers and readers, but at this writing the outcome of further appeals in that case is very much up in the air.

    On the Net and About the Net

    We close by calling attention to a representative sampling of the best new scholarly work that discusses trends in electronic scholarly publishing and some of the most reliable sites on the Internet for collecting and indexing electronic serial publications.

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    A. Important Internet Essays About E-Journals

    Stephen P. Harter and Hak Joon Kim
    "Electronic Journals and Scholarly Communication: A Citation and Reference Study."

    This essay studies the impact of electronic journals through a citation study. Impact on scholarly discourse has so far been very small in measurable terms. The journal is fundamental to formal scholarly communication. This research reports highlights and preliminary findings from an empirical study of scholarly electronic journals. The purpose of the research is to assess the impact of electronic journals (ejournals) on scholarly communication, by measuring the extent to which they are being cited in the literature, both print and electronic. The intent is to provide a snapshot of the impact ejournals were having on scholarly communication at a given point in time, roughly the end of 1995. This study provides one measure of that impact, specifically on the formal, as opposed to informal, communication process. The study also examines the forms in which scholars cite ejournals, the accuracy and completeness of citations to e-journals, and practical difficulties faced by scholars and researchers who wish to retrieve ejournals through the networks.

    Bernard J. Hibbitts
    "Last Writes? Re-Assessing the Law Review in the Age of Cyberspace."

    This article examines the precarious position of the law review in the age of cyberspace. Part I provides essential background for this examination by showing how the law review originally developed from the interaction of academic and technological conditions in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Part II of the article canvasses the many criticisms made of the law review over the years, exploring why various criticisms arose when they did, and assessing the consequent attempts at reforming the law review system for the benefit of its academic and professional constituencies. Part III of the article notes that although new computer-mediated communications technologies - embodied in WESTLAW, LEXIS and the Internet's electronic journals - have improved distribution of and expanded access to law review material, those technologies, at least in those forms, have neither resolved the law review's fundamental problems nor realized their own potential. In Part IV, the author offers a "modest proposal" for the self-publishing of legal scholarship over the World Wide Web that would use the full potential of today's computer technology to overcome the limitations of the current law review system while providing legal scholars (and others) with an unprecedented range of intellectual and professional opportunities. The Conclusion of the article considers what legal scholars, law school Deans, the AALS and even the student editors of law reviews might do to accelerate and accommodate the transition to the new system of scholarly communication in law.

    Rob Kling and Lisa Covi
    "Electronic Journals and Legitimate Media in the Systems of Scholarly Communication."

    While the number of electronic scholarly journals is growing steadily, they have not yet been accepted as legitimate publication outlets by the scholarly communities. This article examines how moving from paper to electronic distribution alters the legitimacy and perceived quality of journals. It also examines the prospects for creating diverse high quality electronic journals in the next two decades.

    Philip McEldowney
    "Scholarly Electronic Journals: Trends and Academic Attitudes: A Research Proposal."

    The number of electronic journals has grown steadily in the 1990s. A large part of this increase has been in scholarly or academic electronic journals. Some academics are very aware of these trends in scholarly communication and participate actively in their production. Other academics remain unaware of these new trends. This study examines two related issues: (1) What is the growth rate of these scholarly electronic journals? (2) What are the factors which affect acceptance or resistance toward electronic journals among academics? Is it possible to discover a difference between disciplines for these factors of acceptance or resistance? Information or answers to these issues will help academic librarians and researchers anticipate trends in serials collection and subscription, and help in financial planning and budgeting.

    Two methodologies are used: (1) the collection of numbers, and (2) the use of a survey. The research project will collect information on the number of scholarly electronic journals, newsletters, and other electronic communications, as they have changed over time, in order to show trends and growth rates. A questionnaire will be developed to provide information on the factors of acceptance or resistance among scholars toward electronic journals.

    David Pullinger and Christine Baldwin
    "Super Journal: A Project in the UK to develop multimedia journals."

    This piece outlines the ambitious SuperJournal project, supported by 20 major UK academic and commercial publishers. SuperJournal is a project in the Electronic Libraries Program (eLib), and is supported over three years by the Joint Information Systems Committee of the Higher Education Funding Councils and DENI. It is a major collaboration between publishers, universities, and libraries to develop multimedia electronic journals and answer the key questions about successful electronic publishing:

    (1) What do readers want from electronic journals? (2) What do authors want from electronic journals? (3) What factors are involved in scaling production up from single journals to large volumes? (4) How can libraries make electronic journals available to their readers cost effectively?

    Andrew Odlyzko
    "On the Road to Electronic Publishing."

    Publishing is moving rapidly in to the digital age. However, the transition has just started, many players are reluctant participants, and neither the final shape of the industry nor the path there are clear. It is certain that evolution could be much faster, and great increases in efficiency and effectiveness of communications could be achieved. But little of the older printed material is being digitized, though in most scientific and technological areas, all the published material could be made available in electronic form for under 5% of the annual world-wide spending for journals in those areas. User resistance to new media, copyright constraints, and the politicians' and public's liking for visible edifices make it hard to take that step.

    Frank Quinn
    "A Digital Archive for Mathematics."

    If you publish an article in an electronic journal, where will it be in 50 years? How will anyone find it? How much will it cost? If you publish in a paper journal, how many people will bother to look it up if it is not available electronically? We want long-term stability so that articles will still be available in 50 years. And it must be affordable. This draft suggests the establishment of a central archive designed to provide these capabilities, and specifically tuned to the needs of mathematics. Before describing the proposal, the author discusses other models and describes some of the problems facing publication and archives in the next decade.

    See also:

    Journal of Electronic Publishing (University of Michigan Press)

    Scholarly Journals at the Crossroads: A Subversive Proposal for Electronic Publishing. An Internet Discussion about Scientific and Scholarly Journals and Their Future. Ann Shumelda Okerson and James J. O'Donnell, Editors. Washington, DC, Association of Research Libraries, June 1995.

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    B. Important Electronic Serials Sites

    E-doc, an Electronic Journals and Publishing Site

    This is the WWW Virtual Library Electronic Journals List. Entries in this catalog are added and maintained through WILMA (Web Information-List Maintenance Agent). If you know of a journal or of other lists of electronic journals, please use the addition form to notify us of the URL and e-doe will add it to the listing. Links include:

    Academic and Reviewed Journals; College or University Serials; Email Newsletters; Magazines, Newspapers; Print Magazines that Maintain Web Resources; Publishing Topics; Other Resources

    NewJour, an Electronic Serials Site

    This URL is the WWW archive of the NewJour list that posts announcements of new electronic serials to over 2500 readers every day. The WWW archive is updated twice a day and is searchable by full text for the entire archive, by title, or within letter of the alphabet. URLs are "hot-linked" so that readers can go directly to the ejournal site. Routine checks of the URLs are used to identify "dead" addresses, and staff research and identify new URLs where they can be found. NewJour draws on announcements about new e-serial startups that are posted to the list and on work of cybersurfers at the ARL and other locations. As of May 1996 there were over 2000 titles listed.

    Serials in Cyberspace - a Site of Sites

    Maintained by Birdie MacLennan of the Serials Department at the Bailey Howe Library, University of Vermont, this is easily the best site of academically oriented serials sites on the Internet today. It contains links to the following sites with electronic journal collections and services:

    Academic/Research Sites (U.S.); Academic/Research Sites (Outside of the U.S.); Miscellaneous Collections and Resources (International; Selected EJournal Titles; Associations, Societies, Organizations, Programs, etc.; Other Useful Sources (Not EJournal Specific).

    (1) zines - on-line publications

    Offers an extensive archive of ASCII text and PostScript e-zines. Also offers hypertext-based zines via this Web server.

    (2) John Labovitz's e-zinc list

    A directory of 900+ electronic zines around the world, accessible via the Web, Gopher, FTP, email, and other services. This list is updated approximately monthly.

    Table of e-zines by keywords; List of all e-zines, sorted alphabetically; Text version of e-zinc-list [700kb+]

    Once again, in another spring rendering of this directory, its creators wish the readers much happy cybersurfing. The poet Ezra Pound once wrote that "the book should be a ball of light in one's hand." We hope the light in the pixels the Directory describes will brighten and enlighten your quest for learning.

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    Ann Shumelda Okerson
    Associate University Librarian
    Yale University