Emory Report

 September 29, 1997

 Volume 50, No. 6

Databases make journal
research a mouse click away

Emory libraries have signed onto two new online databases that put volumes and volumes of scholarly publications at the fingertips of anyone on campus or using EmoryConnect.

JSTOR (Journal Storage) and MUSE both came online at Emory recently, and each greatly increases the accessibility of many titles. The two projects use different approaches to achieve the same goal of convenient online research that cuts down on the need for storage space for printed volumes.

Emory is a charter member of JSTOR, having been an participant in the project during its experimental stage. JSTOR is a repository of some 50 academic journals that preserves the publications in exactly the form in which they were printed.

By logging on the JSTOR website, either through EUCLID or by simply typing in the site's address <www.jstor.org>, a user can look at scanned pages of any of the publications offered. Most databases retype published information to put it into electronic form, but JSTOR offers the original text with the option of increasing or decreasing the size of the image onscreen for readibility and/or printing quality.

Illustrations and artwork accompanying the printed text are also available on JSTOR and may be enlarged or reduced. Researchers who need a citation for their references can be confident they are making a precise page/issue citation since human error in retyping information is not an issue.

"A lot of faculty are very excited about this," said Betsey Patterson, virtual library project coordinator. "They're being assured that what they're seeing is an accurate, valid reproduction of the item. No one has rekeyed anything; it's an actual scanned document. That kind of validity is hard to find in the electronic world."

JSTOR's core titles, which will increase to about 100 by late 1998, are mostly social science texts and some mathematics. Each journal JSTOR offers is available in its full publication run, and Patterson said as the project adds more titles, each will come online complete from the first issue.

While JSTOR's membership works like a time-share condo-Emory paid an upfront permanent membership price to be followed by annual maintenance fees-MUSE works on a traditional subscription basis.

Maintained by the Johns Hopkins University Press, MUSE <http://muse.jhu.edu> offers more than 40 journals in fields such as literature, theater and political science. It adopts a more "current delivery" approach than JSTOR. Current editions of JSTOR's titles are not available online; Patterson said many publishing companies have established a "moving wall" of online availability to maximize print sales. But MUSE gets its electronic versions out as quickly as possible, often before the print versions hit the stands.

"With some disciplines, like medicine, the currency of the work is important," Patterson said. "But with others, like the humanities, the entire body of material is useful because some issues develop over time."

MUSE journals are rekeyed before being put online, although page breaks are noted in the electronic text. Illustrations are available as separate image files. MUSE currently does not keep a backlog of issues more than about three years old, but Patterson said the organization is talking with JSTOR about establishing such an archive. "I think that's going to happen in the not-too-distant future," she said.

Before joining these projects, Emory library staff conducted focus groups involving more than 200 people from throughout the University to determine of information resources they wanted. Overwhelmingly, Patterson said, the two major points were quick accessibility and searching.

Both JSTOR and MUSE read the Internet protocol address from computers trying to access them, so anyone working from an on-campus computer or through EmoryConnect can get in. Both databases offer extensive search functions by subject, title, author, date and other relevant criteria. And both are available to everyone on campus.

"It's an extraordinarily rich resource," Patterson said. "Being able to access these kinds of core materials anywhere on campus via the Web, when and where you need them, will be a tremendous benefit for both faculty and students."

-Michael Terrazas

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