Your Humble Blogger has been hoping to type something about the death of the Research Works Act. But I was hoping to type something that would perhaps clarify the immensely complicated stuff around it, and I don’t have time to do anything like that at the moment. So I’ll just ask for a tiny bit of it—as I was enumerating, in my head, the many things that a journal publisher does that largely remains undone when scholars put together on-line journals, amongst the things that I hadn’t thought of before is that the publishers often will make it easy for libraries to include on-line works in their digital collections. Perhaps expensive, particularly when the publisher is evil, but easy.
For one thing, the really large (and mostly evil) publishers have their own databases of articles; a library can link to those databases in a variety of ways, including within the on-line catalogue. Of course, an individual on-line journal can contact the library, and then the library can catalogue the thing and link to it, but that’s one of those things that I think gets left undone most of the time. A publisher not only has an incentive to contact the library, but has a big old list of libraries to contact, and perhaps has ongoing contacts with humans who work there. And even then, a link from a catalogue line is a very different matter than inclusion in the big searchable databases; again, I don’t know to what extent a small publisher can get a journal included in such databases, but certainly it’s more up the publisher’s alley than the scholar’s. And, of course, it’s different field to field; PubMed will be very different from Academic OneFile; publishers will likely be doing different tasks, field to field, and have experience in their own fields.
So. While I think most academics and academic librarians would like to have something like PubMed or ERIC, huge government-run databases that will include any upstart (peer-reviewed) journal (after appropriate review), where those do not exist or where they are insufficiently inclusive (and I have no idea if those big government-run databases are really sufficiently inclusive) (and sufficiently exclusive to make their inclusivity useful) or where they do not cover what the journal covers, what is useful to librarians? I mean, yes, it’s useful for a journal not to be published by one of the Bad Guys (and there really are some big bad guys), but beyond that, what’s good? Because Google Scholar just isn’t going to cut it, guys.
Tolerabimus quod tolerare debemus,