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Collections policy recommendations
Submitted by amanda on Mon, 2011-03-21 16:14
A final option for gradual collection development is to focus initially on high impact journals.
A formal collections policy for Knowledge for All should be developed and approved by the Board of Directors and/or appropriate Committees and members. The collections policy should delineate what will and won't be included in the Knowledge for All digital collection. Thus far it has been decided that the Knowledge for All collection will consist of journal and journal article metadata for all published scholarly journals, but within that are many grey areas which will be explored here. Recommendations are based on information found in library and information studies scholarly literature, publications by academic libraries, and interviews with researchers.
It is recommended that Knowledge for All adopt a collections policy that allows for gradual collections development and expansion, starting off with a narrow focus and outlining a schedule to expand over time. This would allow the collection to expand as the project becomes more established and acquires more resources.
Defining scholarly journals
The Collections Policy should define what is a scholarly journal in contrast to a book, magazine, grey literature, or other types of publications. Here is a working definition:
A scholarly journal is a publication that is published annually, semi-annually, quarterly, or monthly in print and/or electronic format. Its primary purpose is to to report primary results of research or overviews of research results to other researchers. Articles are written by experts in the field who cite their sources. Scholarly journals exercise quality control on content, usually through a peer-review system.
One easy way to distinguish scholarly journals from other types of publications is whether it is peer-reviewed. However, there are journals which meet all other criteria but are not peer-reviewed and so could still be considered scholarly. The Knowledge for All community will need to decide whether to include non-peer-reviewed scholarly journals. A search in Ulrichsweb retrieves 28,693 active and "refereed" (peer-reviewed) journals. There is another option to search for "academic/scholarly" periodicals, which retrieves 47,191 publications. However, this list includes things like "1,012 GMAT Practice Questions" and "Allyn Museum Bulletin" so the numbers cannot be considered accurate for our purposes. We are in the process of gathering our own data about journals, but in the meantime we will use Ulrichsweb.
It is recommended that Knowledge for All develop a checklist for definining a scholarly journal.
By this definition, the following types of publications would not be included in the Knowledge for All collection:
- Scholarly articles which have been published in books or other non-journal publicaions
- Scholarly books
- Conference presentations which have not been published in scholarly journals
- Graduate theses and dissertations
- Conference proceedings
- Government publications
- Articles that have only been published in books.
- Trade publications
- Association newsletters
- Literary journals that primarily publish fiction and poetry
However, pre-prints will be included in the collection in order to considerably increase accessibility to free, full-text versions of articles. And it may be desirable or advantageous to include other publication types noted above in the Knowledge for All database in the future, as the project grows or as requested by the community. It should also be acknowledged that scholarly research is constantly evolving, with new forms of scholarly publication appearing, such as blog posts. The Knowledge for All Collections Policy should be frequently revisited and adapted based on the fluid nature of scholarly publishing and the needs of the community.
Within some disciplines there are special types of research sources which may not strictly fit the definition of scholarly journal but could be considered for the Knowledge for All collection because of their importance to researchers in those disciplines. Further consultation is needed with subject experts to identify these sources and determine the importance of these publications. Knowledge for All will then need to consider what would be required to accommodate inclusion of these sources in the collection and then determine the best approach. Here is a working list of these publications and their disciplines:
- Journals published by historical societies (history)
- Systematic reviews (health and medicine)
- Working papers (economics)
Additional researchers should be consulted to identify other special types of publications relevant to specific disciplines.
It is recommended that we begin with an initial list of journals that fit into the standard definition of scholarly journal and add other journals and types of publications if recommended by the community. A community consultation process will be developed that facilitates making these decisions.
A major strength of the Knowledge for All citation database is that it will allow users to to search across disciplines, and so the aim is to include journals from all subject areas, including scientific, technical, and medical; law; social sciences; humanities; and fine arts.
During the initial stages of building the Knowledge for All community, we may not have contributors with the expertise to index in all subject areas, or we may not have access to full-text journals in all subject areas. Thus, it may be necessary to limit by subject area during initial pilot and development phases.
Format, availability of metadata, and availability of full-text
Until the 1990s all journals were published in print format and article-level metadata was available in printed indexes. The first electronic journals began appearing in the late 1980s (Langschied, 1991), but did not become significant until the 1990s, when there was rapid growth. In 1991 there were 110 peer-reviewed electronic journals and by 1997 there were approximately 1,049 (Chan, 1999). A search for “refereed” and “online” active journals in Ulrichsweb, a comprehensive periodical index, yields 21,610 results while a search for just “refereed” active journals yields 28,693 results. Thus, approximately 75% of current peer-reviewed scholarly journals are published electronically. Many older print journals and their metadata are now available electronically. It is recommended that Knowledge for All include both print and electronic journals in its collection. However, we could choose to focus on electronic journals if metadata for these journals is more readily available.
Harvestable metadata could be more readily available for some journals for a number of reasons, and the Collections Policy could specify that these journals are collected first. This could include focusing on free and open access journals. The Collections Policy could also favour free and open access journals under the assumption that users will prefer to be able to link to full-text not dependent on access via subscription.
The first peer reviewed journals were published in 1665. In the 19th century there was an explosion in the number of journals produced caused by the increased specialisation and diversification of academic research and also inexpensive mass publication on cheap wood pulp based paper. Another growth period occurred post-WWII and commercial publishers began to take up journal publishing. In 1962 it was estimated there were around 30,000 scientific and technical journals (Bourne, 1962). Data regarding number of journals published during different time periods will be collected. As Knowledge for All aims to index all published scholarly journal literature, it will not exclude older publications. However, due to data availability issues, the resources required to index past literature, and the prioritization of research published in the last ten years for most disciplines, it is recommended that we focus first on current and recently published research, then work our way back.
It is recommended that Knowledge for All aim to include scholarly journals published in every language in its collection in order to truly be an international project. Indeed, providing localized international access to multilingual resources could be a unique advantage of K4All over other databases. A search in Ulrichsweb finds there are 25,528 refereed periodicals published in English and 3,165 that are not published in English. Some of the English language journals are also published in other languages or contain some text in other languages, but it is impossible to determine how many using Ulrichsweb. The number of non-English scholarly journals may increase if we broaden the definition of scholarly beyond peer-reviewed.
However, in order to include non-English scholarly journals for non-English speakers in the Knowledge for All collection, we will need to have:
- Sufficient numbers of contributors who have the linguistic expertise to index publications and edit metadata in all applicable languages
- Mutlilingual and localized database and interface
- Multilingual documentation
- Multilingual thesauri
Internationalization of Knowledge for All will be discussed further on the Internationalization page and in the Technology Plan.
It is recommended that we first focus on the collection English journals until the project is established enough internationally to include non-English language journals.
A final option for gradual collection development is to focus initially on high impact journals.
Bourne, Charles P. “The World's Technical Journal Literature: An Estimate of Volume, Origin, Language, Field, Indexing, and Abstracting.” American Documentation (April 1962): 159-168.
Biblarz, Dora. Guidelines for a Collection Development Policy Using the Conspectus Model. International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions - Section on Acquisition and Collection Development (2001). Retrieved from http://www.ifla.org/VII/s14.
Chan, Lisa. “Electronic journals and academic libraries.” Library Hi Tech 17.1 (1999): 10-16.
Langschied, Linda. "The changing shape of the electronic journal." Serials Review 17.3 (Fall 1991): 7-13.