ticTOCs in a nutshell

The aim of the ticTOCs project is to develop a service which will transform journal current awareness by making it easy for academics to find, display, store, combine and reuse tables of contents from multiple publishers in a personalisable web-based environment. Scholarly Journal publishing is a $5billion per year industry, and around 25,000 peer-reviewed journals are currently being published. More than 60% of these are now published online. There are about 120,000 journals (peer and nonpeer reviewed) being published in total, by a few hundred publishers (commercial, non-commercial, Open Access, university press, and so on). There are 200,000 researchers in the UK, and 5.5 million globally, for whom this published content may be relevant. The latest issues of these journals might be seen as the cream on the cake, in that they contain the results of the latest research. At the present time, the contents of latest issues are ‘discovered’ in various ways. This is known as journal Current Awareness. None of the existing discovery methods is particularly efficient, and this whole area is ripe for R&D. Current discovery methods include: 1. Physically browsing current issues or table of contents photocopies. This suits some users, but is declining as the importance of print journals declines. 2. Browsing latest issues online via publishers’ websites, or aggregator websites. This suits some users, but can be time consuming, and not efficient. 3. email Table of Contents alerts. These are very popular. This method suits some users. There are various problems however – for example, there are numerous services, services sometimes change, publishers change, titles move, extraregistrations and passwords may be necessary, re-registration may be necessary, users move – therefore there are administrative overheads involved in using email table of contents services. Some people report being “haunted by alerts” and “selfinflicted spam”. 4. RSS feeds of TOCs. In March 2005 there were 1,139 journal TOC RSS feeds available from 13 publishers, and by October 2006 this had risen to 7,042 feeds from 38 publishers. In addition, there are third party feeds from services such as Zetoc and Ingenta. Today, therefore, there are metadata syndication possibilities for TOCs. The way it works just now suits some people, however it requires some understanding of the concepts, and can be confusing. There are various publisher websites and feeds and aggregator feeds, various desktop readers and web-based readers, and various confusing icons.

There is little standardisation, and the process requires some effort and understanding, and is therefore not very user friendly. The time is ripe to take advantage of recent developments, Web 2.0 possibilities, and make this process much more user-friendly. The proposed ticTOCs solution is to transform journal current awareness services for Higher Education and research. ticTOCs intends be a catalyst for change by incorporating existing technology plus Web 2.0 concepts in the smart aggregation, recombination, synthesization, output and reuse of standardised journal Table of Contents (TOC) RSS feeds from numerous fragmented sources (journal publishers). These TOCs, and their content, will be presented in a personalisable and interactive web-based interface that requires little or no understanding, by the user, of the technical or procedural concepts involved. It has been called ticTOCs because in certain instances it will involve the selective ‘ticking’ of appropriate TOCs, and also because ticTOCs is a memorable name, something which is important in today’s online environment. ticTOCs will incorporate: 1. A user-friendly web-based, AJAX enabled ‘TOCosphere’ for the smart aggregation, personalisation, output and reuse of TOC RSS feeds and contents. It will allow users to discover, select, personalise, display, reuse and export (to bibliographic software). 2. Within this ‘TOCosphere’ there will be a Directory of TOCs to allow easy selection by title, subject, ISSN, and so on. 3. Re-use of data – this will involve embedding TOCs and combined TOCs in research output showcases, gateways, VREs, websites, etc. 4. Easy links from a multitude of journals lists to ticTOCs using chicklet subscribe buttons 5. Data gathered for analysis presents many possibilities. 6. Community networking possibilities, within the TOCosphere. The intention is that both the demand side of the journals market, as well as the supply side, will benefit from ticTOCs. The ticTOCs Consortium consists of: the University of Liverpool Library (lead), Heriot-Watt University, CrossRef, ProQuest CSA, Emerald, RefWorks, MIMAS, Cranfield University, Nature Publishing Group, Institute of Physics, SAGE Publishers, Inderscience Publishers, DOAJ (Directory of Open Access Journals), Open J-Gate, and Intute. ticTOCs has been funded under the JISC Users and Innovations programme.