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Hypermedia Online Publishing: the Transformation of the Scholarly Journal

9.2.3 Insights from thesis surveys

The surveys did not contain questions specifically targeted at the form of the scholarly journal because the original email survey was originally carried out for another purpose. However, it is still possible to make some useful comments on the results obtained and infer information from the pattern of responses.

One of the standard barriers listed to move to online scholarly publishing is the lack of technology in the reader population. At the beginning of 1997, over 60% of the total respondent pool had access to a personal computer with sound output, CD-ROM and colour display. The rate of technological change has if anything increased and most Wintel personal computers only have a three-year useful life. It is therefore reasonable to infer that the situation will only have improved since these surveys. The technology base for hypermedia journals exists.

Arguably, the more interesting electronic publications are those with an online component (either for delivery or feedback or both). Despite large differences between the different survey sub-populations overall slightly under 60% of respondents had access to a direct network connection and slightly over 60% had access to a modem connection to the Internet. Since these surveys, the push to network organisations has continued. The trend towards greater Internet access in the general population has also gained momentum. Again, it is reasonable to infer that the situation will only have got better. The technology base for hypermedia online journals also exists. It should be pointed out that the constraints of Internet access speeds would require careful consideration in designing the form of an online hypermedia journal if a significant proportion of users were to be accessing it from home via modem. Such a user population might include any of:

The vast majority of current e-journals are accessed via the Web [Hitchcock et al., 1997]. Nearly 45% of the survey respondents used the Web frequently or regularly. Therefore they would have the skills to access these e-journals and this would not be a barrier to the journals transformation.

Without wishing to discuss individually each of the proposed advantages often given for e-journals (already discussed - see 7.3.4: Advantages of electronic scholarly publishing on page 128), the overall pattern was that the respondents were very positive about e-journals. The majority of responses were for the Strongly Agree or Agree ratings in each question (with the exception of Multimedia for reasons already outlined). The survey populations were enthusiastic about the advantages which should encourage those who are advocating change.

With respect to the proposed disadvantages, the overall pattern was that responses clustered around the Neutral choice. In other words, respondents were less concerned about the disadvantages than they were enthusiastic about the advantages. The responses to the proposed Format Unfriendly disadvantage were noticeably lower indicating less concern about e-journal forms. Stronger responses were reported for the Refereeing, Copyright and Need for Equipment questions. Nonetheless, the disadvantages do not appear to be a major barrier to change.

Last modified: Monday, 18-Sep-2017 03:29:20 AEST

© Andrew Treloar, 2001. * *