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Re: Linking

As one who has expressed opinions that may be (incorrectly) taken as
critical of linking, I'd like to explain a little further:

First, though it is somewhat useful to have links, even just to other
articles the same journal, and more useful to have links to other journals
from the same publisher or aggregator, it will be extraordinarily useful
to have links to all major journals, regardless of publisher. I, and some
publishers I've spoken to about this, have been thinking that this would
be quite utopian in the present competitive world. But I now realize that
A&I services, such as PubMed or ISI , could serve as intermediaries: the
reference in one publisher's journal would link to the abstract;  the user
is now in, say PubMed, and there will be a link there to the other
publishers article.

Second, not all links will work. For one thing, there are still many
journals which, unfortunately, will not accept ip based access; the fact
that our users have access to these titles will not register when accessed
from PubMed. For another, for a long time no library is likely to
subscribe to all possible electronic versions, and it is quite confusing
to the user (especially remotely) when some links do not work for this
reason, some for password problems, some for technical hitches--and the
users cannot tell which. (With printed journals they would at least be in
the library to ask if we have the journal!) We need some way of providing
this information online when the user does NOT go through our catalog or
web pages.

A related problem is the pressure this will put on libraries to subscribe
to packages of all the journals of a publisher. Some libraries accept
this; I at least do not, because it amounts to guaranteeing the publisher
a market for bad journals as well as good, thus removing the only
incentive a publisher has for publishing high quality material. I think we
should be moving in the opposite direction--of finding ways to adjust
publishers' revenue to better reflect the quality of journals (and perhaps
even of individual articles).

I suspect publishers costs for providing linking are probably quite low,
and I think their provision justified. The other added element I thin
justified is supplementary material, and I suspect the publishers may save
money doing this by reducing the size and complexity of the printed

I do not think the publishers' search services and front ends are
justified; indeed, I think they serve a branding function only, and are
detrimental to the users needs. I think such services as sdi's, journal
clubs, etc. are more appropriate for individual subscribers--which the
publishers presumably want to encourage.

As usual, I am expressing my personal view, though I suspect that some of
my colleagues here agree with some portions.
David Goodman 
Biology Librarian, Princeton University Library 
dgoodman@princeton.edu         http://www.princeton.edu/~biolib/
phone: 609-258-3235            fax: 609-258-2627