Keeping up to date with research


It is vital for researchers to keep completely up to date with the latest results from their discipline. This leads to new contacts and new opportunities for collaboration, which can lead to new projects and more funding. If nothing else, knowing what’s going on in their field allows researchers to ensure their own research is novel. With the bewildering number of ways in which researchers can now communicate – e-mails, blogs, RSS, Facebook, Twitter – tools are needed to help researchers hack through this jungle of communication to find the relevant information.

Visit the JournalTOCs website.

JournalTOCs at Heriot-Watt University is an online service to search and bookmark RSS feeds from the tables of contents (TOCs) of over 14,000 online journals. These feeds inform subscribers when new editions are available online, and what each issue contains. The JournalTOCs' interface is a portal, which can be accessed using a web browser. The portal allows users to search for journals and bookmark the RSS feeds from journals that are important to their research. Every time a user logs in to JournalTOCS, they are notified of updates to the journals they are watching. JournalTOCs also expose a service interface, which allows its services to be called from within other services or applications.

The JournalTOCs team approached the Software Sustainability Institute for advice on various aspects of sustainability. We assessed the usability of the JournalTOCs' interface. We reviewed their documentation to check whether it was suitable for their intended market. We gave advice on how JournalTOCs could compete against commercial competitors, and we advised them on how to prepare press releases.

Santy Chumbe, head of the JournalTOCs project, described his work with us as “a turning point for JournalTOCs. SSI analysts helped us to identify the potential as well as the pitfalls of JournalTOCs” and said that “We strongly recommend that other JISC projects looking for advice in sustaining their deliverables and outputs contact SSI”.

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