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JournalTOCs and other “pushy” scholarly tools

Here’s a little current awareness tip.

But first, a little library history.  In my first library jobs, in special libraries at the Newspaper Advertising Bureau and the Franklin Institute, one of my jobs was to copy and distribute tables of contents from new issues of journals and magazines to the professionals and scientists whose practice depended on staying up to date and making discoveries.  After reading those copied TOCs, they’d circle articles they were interested in and we’d make copies and send the articles back in interoffice mail.

I continued this practice in school libraries, sending TOCs from incoming journals and magazines to our science, art, social studies teachers, reading specialists and administrators.  Not only did this practice garner quite a bit of social capital, it increased my own awareness of the needs and interests of those I served.

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My LJ TOC update

Current awareness is now an end-user activity.  We can show our students and classroom teacher partners how to set up feeds, alerts and curation tools based on their information needs–to have information pushed to them. The tool can also help you keep up with LIS and education content. (See my LJ update to the right.)  For college bound high school students with a specific discipline in mind, this will provide an early introduction to the journals and the type of writing they will encounter in the the next several years.  This type of exposure may serve to pique some students’ serious interest in a particular area of knowledge or research.

JournalTOCs makes that old TOC work way easier. A free service for individual users, JournalTOCs is another proof-of-concept push approach worth teaching or demonstrating.  The current awareness service was developed by a team at Heriot-Watt Universtiy in Scotland, It offers international coverage and allows users to discover personally useful new publications as soon as they are published online.  So faculty members and your more serious secondary students can connect with current papers in their areas of specific interest.

Yes, I know that the full text of all of the articles discovered will not be easily available,  But, it is possible that some will be available in your high school level databases, or to those associated with faculty in university programs. More and more articles are now published in the indexed open access journals. For those really critical articles, where there’s a professional will, librarians can generally find a professional way.

According to its home page, the service now offers” articles’ metadata of TOCs for over 28,642 journals directly collected from over 2769 publishers. JournalTOCs will alert you when new issues of your followed journals are published. The current list of most followed journals includes a number with the Open Access label.  The current list includes the science heavy hitters as well as an array of information science journal and titles relating to policing. Journals may be sorted by title, followers, publisher and access rights  TOCs are browsable by 73 subjects. Currently there are 1350 journals in the field of education and they may be drilled down into such subheadings.  Users may search for journals by title or ISSN and for articles by keyword.

Most followed journals

JournalTOCs’ most followed journals

A premium version of JournalTOCs is available and customizable for institutions.

It’s a challenge for anyone, even a scholar, to keep up. So many journals, so many new vehicles and strategies for publication. Certainly setting up alerts and feeds for that killer database search in your existing subscription services is one effective method.

And here are just a few other ways to keep your faculty and your younger scholars current with emerging research as well as grey literature.

Google Scholar:  Launched in 2004, Google Scholar is one of the primary first steps many students take in finding scholarly research online. A Google Scholar search yields a continually updated result list of  journal articles, conScreen Shot 2016-07-13 at 11.22.09 AMference papers, theses, dissertations, academic books, pre-prints, abstracts, reports and other scholarly literature, as well as patents and case law. Some of the results will lead to full text open access content, others will lead K12 researchers back to your subscription databases. You may be able to connect them. An advanced search offers a great deal more opportunities to hone a search. Users may save citations and create alerts.  If you research and set up a profile,  Google Scholar will analyze your articles, scan the web for new articles relevant to your research, display the most relevant references as a preview on the homepage, and show a bell icon on search results pages.  


Finally, while these three academic search portals do not appear to offer pushy current awareness options, they are nevertheless good to know about:

Microsoft Academic: Searchable by keyword and browsable by fields and subfields of study, this portal includes a Leaderboard Top 10.  Since its closing in 2012, the site has been rebuilt from the ground up in partnership with the Bing team to be much more scalable, responsive, and compatible with modern web browsers. Semantic query through the Microsoft Academic Graph allows searchers to see relationships among scholars within a body of research and suggests relevant authors, topics, journals, and conferences. Microsoft Academic offers more that 150 million entities.

Smithsonian Research Online: Managed by Smithsonian Institution Libraries, SRO offers research references from both within and outside the Smithsonian Institution.

OAIster offers access to digital holdings from thousands of libraries worldwide it currently includes over 30 million records contributed by over 1,500 organizations.  Searches may be saved.

Joyce Valenza About Joyce Valenza

Joyce is an Assistant Professor of Teaching at Rutgers University School of Information and Communication, a technology writer, speaker, blogger and learner. Follow her on Twitter: @joycevalenza

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