3.4 Electronic Databases of Journals
Electronic databases of scholarly journals are globally available to researcher communities through institutional subscription or open access mode. Any database essentially consists of several electronic records of related items. Each electronic record stores relevant metadata information. In the context of academic databases, an electronic record of an academic database contains information on article title, names of authors, their affiliation, institutional address, journal title, pagination, issue number, volume number, year of publication, abstract, DOI, and other relevant metadata. Five types of academic databases are usually available to researchers, namely:
- Bibliographic Databases
- Citation Databases
- Full-text Databases
- E-Journal Gateways
- Online Directories of Journals
These databases are briefly discussed in the following sections.
3.4.1 Bibliographic Databases
Bibliographic databases contain bibliographic records of papers, published in different peer-reviewed scholarly journals. Many indexing & abstracting (I&A) periodicals covering contents of published literature in different disciplines are available in print format. These periodicals systematically obtain and disseminate bibliographic records of recently published literature in their respective academic disciplines. Later, many of these I&A periodicals have discontinued publishing in print format. Instead, they started offering online I&A services in machine readable format. Many of these indexing services are available in dual print and online formats. These online databases are searchable using metadata. As these databases contain abstracts of scholarly literature, free text search is also made possible. These databases also provide external full-text links to journal contents available in publishers’ portal, so that users can easily obtain full-texts of relevant literature. Table 2provides an illustrative list of bibliographic databases and online I&A services.Many of these databases are freely available to researchers, while some of them are available to subscribing institutions. Many bibliographic databases are available at multiple platforms as well as online citation databases, e.g. Web of Knowledge.
3.4.2 Citation Databases
In addition to providing access to bibliographic records of source documents, citation databases systematically record referred literature listed with every published document as its list of references. The first major citation index – the Science Citation Index – was launched in 1964 by the US-based Institute for Scientific Information (ISI). Some important online citation databases of journal literature available these days are, namely:
- Scopus34, produced by Elsevier B.V.
- Web of Science35 (WoS), produced by Thomson Reuters. WoS consists of Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI-Expanded), Social Sciences Citation Index (SSCI) and Arts & Humanities Citation Index (A&HCI).
- Indian Citation Index36 (ICI), produced jointly by the Knowledge Foundation and Diva Enterprises India Private Ltd. SciELO Citation Index37, produced jointly by SciELO and Thomson Reuters.
- Chinese Science Citation Database38, produced jointly by Chinese Academy of Sciences and Thomson Reuters. These online citation databases are available to subscribing institutions only. There are a few citation search engines, namely:
- Google Scholar Citations39, produced by Google, Inc.
- Microsoft Academic Search40, produced by Microsoft, Inc.
- CiteSeerX41, hosted by Pennsylvania State University, USA.
- INSPIRE-HEP42 – the High Energy Physics Information System, hosted by CERN, Switzerland
- ChemxSeer43, hosted by Pennsylvania State University, USA.
Citation databases cover many open access journals and open access articles published in hybrid journals. You will learn more about citation databases and citation-based tools for evaluation of scientific productivity in Unit 2 of Module 4.
3.4.3 Full-text Databases and Journal AggregatorsThe e-journals are scattered on respective publishers’ portals and individual journals’ websites. Academic researchers sometimes don’t get access to many of these contents as some journals are not subscribed by their respective institutions. Some journal aggregating databases aggregate full-text journal contents in common searchable databases for providing unified/ single interface online access to researchers. Aggregators usually provide access to relatively few months’ older journal contents, as aggregators are third party service providers – not actually publishers of scholarly journals. These are not designed initially as full-text resources but as secondary information resources. Earlier some of the aggregators also offered CD-ROM-based full-text databases, released at periodic intervals containing collections of journal content. With the passage of time they discontinued producing CD-ROM-based products, and have started online portals for disseminating full-texts of journals. Table 3 provides an illustrative list of journal aggregators. The EBSCOhost and ProQuest are leading aggregators’ databases having considerable market share in both developed countries and developing countries. They earlier offered CD-ROM-based full-text journal contents to many libraries around the world. Table 4 provides illustrative list of full-text databases, which are mostly available in open access domain. Subject repositories and institutional repositories are also online full-text databases having varieties of scholarly contents. These searchable online databases store and retrieve journal literature and other forms of scholarly literature such as book chapters, conference papers, dissertations and monographs. Some repositories only store pre-print and post-print versions of journal contents due to copyright restrictions or embargo policies of for-profit publishers. Although, authors are allowed to self-archive publishers’ version if these are made available through Creative Commons or copyleft or other unrestrictive licensing.
3.4.4 E-Journal GatewaysElectronic journal gateways host full-texts of different scholarly journals, published by various publishers. E-journal gateways are collaborative efforts of mainly non-profit publishers including research councils and learned societies for freely reaching out global audiences through single searchable portals. These gateways are often supported by the regional research councils or international research funding agencies. These gateways greatly increase the journals' accessibility to researchers and educators around the globe –particularly intra-region and also inter-region, thus making the research works useful to a wider audience. This aggregation also helps in crosscutting academic disciplines in a larger context to support discourses in multidisciplinary and trans-disciplinary subject areas within the region. Table 5provides an illustrative list of e-journal gateways. Some the e-journal gateways, as mentioned, were launched with supports from the INASP's the Journals Online (JOL) project. International Network for the Availability of Scientific Publications (INASP) helps in capacity development of non-profit academic publishers in developing countries in launching e-journal gateways for their respective country or a region using the open source software PKP Open Journal Systems (OJS).
3.4.5 Online Directories of Journals
In Unit 1 of Module 1 you have learned about various online directories available for identifying scholarly journals along with their additional details. Table 6 provides an illustrativelist of Online Directories of scholarly Journals. The Ulrich's Periodicals Directory – owned by ProQuest LLC – is highly popular in academic and research circles. Its online edition, known as UlrichsWeb, is a searchable database covering about 336,000+ periodicals. It provides information about popular and academic magazines, scientific journals, trade journals, newspapers and other serial publications. Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) is a searchable multidisciplinary directory of open access scholarly journals. In addition to providing detailed information on scholarly journals, DOAJ is also searchable at article level for about 5,700 journals. SHERPA/RoMEO on the other hand provides information about open access policies of the journals and publishers, to help researchers in self-archiving related decision making. In this database RoMEO offers four colour-codes depicting four different archiving policies of journals and publishers. For example, Green indicates that authors can archive pre-print and post-print or publisher's version/PDF; blue indicates that authors can archive post-print (i.e. final draft post-refereeing) or publisher's version/PDF; yellow indicates that authors can archive pre-print (i.e. pre-refereeing), while white indicates that archiving is not formally supported. You will know about many other useful online directories of academic periodicals in Unit 1 of Module 1.