Standards: journal table of contents alerting

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I work a lot with the academic community at university, and I note that a lot of the work of finding new articles can be simplified by using news feeds. Unfortunately, the quality of news feeds that can be subscribed to varies immensely.

If I were to take the step of aggregating the various news feeds for the different academic communities using the Java-WS FeedAggregator, the content I would be presenting would not be coherent. Some of the news feeds do not contain the journal information (“hey this is the feed for journal X”, which works fine as long as the content isn’t aggregated away from the context of “this journal’s feed”, others lack other information such as year, volume and issue.

Not a problem you might say, but I have a scenario I’d like to paint for you: all of the journals use a common standard design for their feeds containing at a minimum:

  • Article title
  • Article authors
  • Article abstract
  • Journal title
  • Journal year, volume and issue
  • Journal ISSN (print and online)
  • an OpenURL
  • DOI

Based on this standard, it wouldn’t be difficult to aggregate content from various sources and create a simple, duplicate-free feed that staff and students could use to keep themselves up to date.

As it is at the moment, the best a library user can hope for is that their favourite research database provides a search-to-RSS service.

This thing is though that as journal publishers slowly realise that content of this kind is best represented in multiple formats that an XML format will allow them to transform their journal TOCS to precisely this: email alerts, RSS, ATOM, JSON and so on. There is no real incentive to create a standard way of presenting this kind of data as a feed, but it would provide benefits for everyone concerned (yes, the publishers too!)

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2 Responses to “Standards: journal table of contents alerting”

  1. protoscholar Says:

    Have you seen http://www.tictocs.ac.uk/ ? They are aggregating some (although nowhere near all) of the major publishers and providing an export feature for adding the TOC to an RSS feed….. It’s a start.

    • brinxmat Says:

      Yeah, I like tictocs, and I have recommended it before. Unfortunately, tictocs just gathers together the differently formatted TOCs and presents links to them. What I’m really looking for is some way of creating an aggregated master feed from a particular subject area, and this requires more structure in the metadata contained in the ATOM/RSS 2.0 feeds.

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