I’ve been meaning to write this up for a while. I think JournalTOCs is excellent, and it’s nice to see they’ve used their recent redesign/relaunch to make the site much more usable. JournalTOCs is one of those things—LibraryThing‘s another—where I don’t understand why more library people (especially subject/research support librarian types) aren’t raving about it.
Put simply: JournalTOCs is a tool to search for (and within) the Tables of Contents for electronic journals which are available as RSS feeds. You can find it at: www.journaltocs.ac.uk
“JournalTOCs is the largest, free collection of scholarly journal Tables of Contents (TOCs): 16,424 journals (including 2,149 Open Access journals) from 840 publishers.”
(An aside: what did happen to the suspiciously-similar ticTOCs? Were the two projects/services related? Is JournalTOCs just the ‘production’ version of the ticTOCs experiment? Or were they in competition somehow? I can’t seem to tell.)
Here are some of the fun things you can do with JournalTOCs:
- Search for articles within journal by keyword – as well as for the journal itself by name or ISSN;
- Browse for journals by subject or publisher;
- Export individual article references to RefWorks;
- Register for a JournalTOCs account, sign in, then select journals to ‘follow’ by ticking a box next to each one. You can then export your followed list of journals as an OPML file—effectively, a bundle of RSS feeds—and import the bundle into a feed reader of your choice. (OPML is itself quite cool.)
For instance – here’s an OPML bundle of food science journals to which the Holbeach Campus Library has a subscription. I created it by searching for and following those journals in JournalTOCs, then going to my full list of followed journals (at: http://www.journaltocs.ac.uk/followedJournals.php) and clicking the ‘Save & Export‘ link at the bottom of the screen. This creates an OPML file of your followed journals, which you need to save to your computer.
I can then go to my Google Reader account and upload the OPML file (you’ll find the option to do that under the Settings > Reader settings menu). JournalTOCs have a little help guide of the process you’ll need to follow in Google Reader. Other feed readers (srsly? There are other feed readers?) will do something similar.
Once you’ve uploaded your OPML bundle to G. Reader, you’ll probably want to add all the TOC feeds to the same folder (I created one called ‘foodjournals’). It would be really nice if Google Reader allowed you to specify a destination folder on import (similar to what RefWorks does): instead you have to do this manually – unless I’m missing something?
- JournalTOCs has a set of monster APIs, well-documented, with calls for both journals and articles. We’re hoping to make some productive and constructive use of those APIs as part of the Jerome project (that’s another blog post I need to write), but frankly this sort of thing is a Mashed Librarian’s dream. I’m already [mashup alert! mashup alert!] started using the APIs (amongst others) to populate a Google Spreadsheet with information about food science journals by ISSN. Then we use the spreadsheet to mailmerge to a PowerPoint show which forms our rolling digital photo frame mini-display at Holbeach. (This is probably another blog post I ought to write up.)
- There’s a user API as well, which you can use to retrieve a list of the journals followed by a registered user of JournalTOCs (identified by email address). So, if I wanted to share my list of favourited journals, instead of publishing an OPML file I could just provide a link to: http://email@example.com – this is more dynamic than OPML, in that if I start following a new journal, it’ll automatically be picked up by the API, without my having to export a new OPML file each time;
- JournalTOCs also provide advice for administrators of e-journals published using OJS (Open Journals Systems) software. This is something we could do with our own University of Lincoln-published e-journals (Neo and the Occasional Working Papers series) which are hosted on ojs.lincoln.ac.uk
For more of this sort of thing, see the official JournalTOCs blog, their news updates page, and Roddy MacLeod’s blog.
For the sake of completeness, I should also mention the Zetoc RSS feeds service. It’s not quite the same as JournalTOCs, in that these are feeds mediated by the British Library’s TOC service rather than the ‘native’, publishers’ own feeds, but it’s useful for different reasons – and it does cover some of the gaps in JournalTOCs. It’s all RSS, so you can mix and match in your feed reader.