[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

Re: Re : E-journals in the era of print cancellations

An issue that I think continues to be left in the dust in some of these
discussions of dropping print in favor of journals online is the quality
of the figures for print versus electronic versions of many journals.

Our technical journals are image-rich, and we have had to make the
decision to store and deliver a lower resolution version of the figures
for our electronic versions because the figure files stored at full
resolution would be prohibitively large and would make using the online
version unwieldy.  We deliver both HTML (generated from the native SGML
database) and PDF, and while the lower resolution GIF figures in the HTML
version look OK on the screen and the PDF versions print out about as well
as a good photocopy, neither rivals the higher resolution images present
in the print journal.  For some articles, that higher resolution image is
critical to full understanding and most researchers would not willingly
give up access to it.

Thus, even though the online versions of our journals offer wonderful
features in terms of searching, linking, and direct delivery to the
desktop, we currently consider the print version to be the "official"
archive product. This decision was reconfirmed just last June by the body
that governs our journal policies and the decision rested entirely on the
issue of figure resolution (the electronic and print versions of our
journals are precisely identical in content in all other ways).

At this stage in the evolution of the delivery of journals online, I view
the online versions of our print journals as being a "super" bibliographic
tool that provides outstanding search capabilities as well as full content
delivery.  It should serve 90% or more of the needs of the scientists and
students in our community.  There is still that remaining percentage of
usage that requires the full resolution imagery of the print version,
however, and it can be argued that this small percentage is, in fact, the
most important since it represents the researchers using the journal
content to carry forward with their own related research.

So, at least for journals like ours whose content depends on high
resolution imagery that cannot currently be delivered online effectively,
I think it is premature for libraries to consider the online version as a
replacement for the print.  Instead, I think it provides a terrific
addition to the print that will serve most, but not all, of the patrons'
needs. (In time, with increased bandwidth, this issue gets better and
better, but I'm not sure when it disappears.)

Keith Seitter

Dr. Keith L. Seitter               phone:  617-227-2426 ext. 220
Associate Executive Director       fax:    617-742-8718
American Meteorological Society    e-mail: kseitter@ametsoc.org
45 Beacon Street
Boston, MA 02108-3693              http://www.ametsoc.org/AMS