E-Journals and the Academy


Scholarly journals have been of great importance to academics and researchers. The first scholarly journal to be published was Journal des Scavans in 1665. Shortly after, the Philosophical Transaction of the Royal Society was published. However, with technological innovation in the communication industry, the conventional paper journals like many other medium have been altered into electronic forms. The development of electronic journal started in the late 1970s; however it was in the 1990s that e-journals started to be used effectively.
Definition of E-Journal
Based on the definition from the library of the University of New York, e-journal is “a publication, often scholarly, that is made accessible in a computerized format and distributed over the internet… [It] may have traditional paper counterpart or historical antecedent” (University of New York). An example of an e-journal which is published both electronically and on paper is the Scientific American.

Trends of E-Journal
Since the 1990s there has been gradual increase in the usage of e-journals. According to Suzanne D. Gyeszly, there has been an increased usage of e-journal compared to that of paper journals (2001, p10). This increase in the use of e-journals is mainly due to its adoption by university libraries, and of the growth of online libraries. Despite the increase in usage, and in the number of e-journals it has been argued that prices of scholarly journals continue rising (et.al).

Suzanne D. Gyeszly, also points out that the number of e-journals available to different disciplines is uneven (et.al). For instance, there are a large number of e-journals dedicated to the discipline of economics, whereas there are very few e-journals available for the Political Sciences. As a result, the area of Political Sciences has to rely largely on paper journals

Benefits of E-Journal
The adoption of e-journal by libraries has brought great benefits to scholars.
• It is easily accessible through the internet and computer (from anywhere at all times).
• It ensures the availability of current issues of scholarly journals.
• Easier access to archival materials.
• It can be used by a number of people all at the same time.
• Provides links to other resources, questions and exercises, animations etc
• It saves shelf space in libraries
• It makes monitoring of journal use easier, which in turn can help in the decision of journal acquisition.

Problems with E-journal
There are some disadvantages concerning e-journal that affects academic institutions.
• It is costly, thus causing financial strain on certain libraries.
• Archival materials can be lost if publishers loses their business.
• Its high cost makes it unavailable to academics in developing world.
• It can be inaccessible in future with the development new technologies.

Manifestation against E-Journal
Though there has been an increased usage of e-journal there have been a number of manifestations against it by publishers and authors. They argue that it is inappropriate to present scholarly publishing in electronic format, which in turn demonstrate the cultural dominance of print (R.E Lonsdale & C.J Armstrong). The refusal to move towards electronic by publishers is due to their perception of being “traditional academic researchers” thus they reject technologies that threaten their traditional working ways. Publishers’ audiences also contribute to some of the manifestation brought publishers against e-journal. They argue that certain age groups of their targeted audience are not computer literate thus it is not business wise to adopt e-journals.

A number of scholars are also against electronic publishing of scholarly journals, especially towards publication by non-profit organizations, which provide open access to e-journals. Though these scholars want free access to full text of journal articles online, as authors they are reluctant to provide their work to organizations supporting free access to e-journals (H. Falk, 2003). As authors, they prefer their work to be published by prestigious and traditional publishers. To have a prestigious publisher publish scholars work brings great benefits to their career and the department they work for (et. al). A number of scholars also believe that publication of e-journal by non-profit organization violates copyright laws and avoid peer review. As a result, open access e-journal becomes less credited amongst scholars (et.al).

Future of E-Journals

According to Andrew Odlyzko, with the increase usage of e-journal, it is most likely that e-journal will be adopted almost universally; however these e-journals will follow a similar layout as that of the print versions (1998). He further, argues that e-journals will be as expensive as print journals (et. al). It has also been said that free and less expensive e-journals will become more available, but it will be a slow process (A. Odlyzko, 1998).

In sum, the use of e-journal is becoming more widely available and used amongst scholars, and slowly taking over paper journals. However, the cost of scholarly journal, even with the introduction of e-journal, continues to spiral. E-journal has some advantages, which eases scholarly works, but it has a number of disadvantages too.

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