- On the Scholarly Use of Electronic Journals: Trends and Issues from the Mid 1990s
- No.51, p.17-39
In the past decade, electronic journals have received much attention from both researchers and practitioners in scholarly communication. A large amount of research has been conducted to explore how faculties and graduate students use electronic journals. In this article, the main literature on this topic is reviewed in terms of 1) overall trends of use and users, 2) factors that affect their usage, and 3) users’ perceptions from 1995 to early 2004.
Most faculty members, especially natural scientists, use electronic journals as a useful and convenient tool for reading articles. They usually visit library web sites to obtain an article as a PDF file and print it out for reading. Specific functions of electronic journals, such as links to references and early view, are highly valued by users, but motion picture, animation, and pay-per-view are not frequently used. Although some faculties visit the library less frequently, they valued the library as an institution that provides scholarly journals and as a repository.
Each users’ discipline, age, rank, work place are often recognized as factors that affect their usage of electronic journals. Those who major in natural science, are young, and belong to a large university or institution, tend to be heavy users and early adoptors of electronic journals.
In its early stage, the legitimacy and authenticity of electronic journals were doubted by most users. Such doubts, however disappeared by degrees as prestigious commercial publishers and learned societies have begun to provide their own scholarly electronic journals. Users value usefulness, timeliness, accessibility, and the ability to search electronic journals. However, at the same time, they feel that electronic journals are hard to read on display and their perpetual archiving is not guaranteed.
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