How many electronic journals might we want to preserve in our LOCKSS Box?

De Montfort University is one of a number of university libraries in the UK, and a wider group around the world, preserving electronic journals as part of the LOCKSS network. The aim is to ensure continuing access to the content that we care about. However, there is a large number of electronic journals in existence, each producing new issues on a monthly, quarterly or annual basis, which raises questions about how much storage capacity we will need to get near to achiving this goal.

What content can be preserved?

There are a number of digital preservation schemes around which cover electronic journals. The best way of tracking who is archiving what is The Keepers Registry. You can use this to check on individual titles to see if they are included by any of the Archival Agencies. There are, of course, different access rights associated with each service. To view material archived by the British Library, you may find yourself having to visit London. Portico is a membership driven organisation which would release content to its subscribers only. From De Montfort University’s point of view a journal might be adequately covered if included by two or more Archival Agencies to which we have access. We might be quite happy if a journal was covered by both CLOCKSS and the e-Depot for example.

What content do we care about?

The University has access to a range of electronic journals from different publishers. They are all listed on the Journals A-Z web pages. The current count of individual journals is over 55,000. It in not true to say that we care equally about each one of these. Some will be valued because they report on DMU research or are heavily used in teaching and learning activities. Some useful categories of journal might be:

  1. Content of value because of institutional investment via subscriptions;
  2. Content of value because of institutional investment in open access subsidies;
  3. Content at risk because of uncertain financial support.

Plainly there will be electronic journals which do appear in the A-Z list that the university will not have an interest in preserving. They could be outside the range of teaching and research in the University or adequately preserved elsewhere.

There will be other journals which we are not able to preserve even if we wanted to, either because:

  • The publisher does participate in any of the relevant schemes;
  • Our access to the content is not directly from the publisher, but through an intermediary, like EBSCO or Proquest.

The first case might be quite worrying. For example, the journal Diversity in health and social care is edited by a member of staff at De Montfort University, but not listed as being included by any of the agencies participating in The Keepers Registry.

Which journals might we want to preserve in LOCKSS?

We can use the Journals A-Z list to identify publisers and the tiles they publish to at least scope out a maximum number of journals. We will not wish to commit to preserve all of these. There are, for example, about 5600 titles listed in the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ), but many of these will fall outside the university’s range of interests.

  • Directory of Open Access Journals: 5600 titles;
  • Edinburgh University Press: 3
  • Elsevier: 5200
  • Emerald: 163
  • Highwire: 255
  • Metapress: 105
  • Nature: 1
  • Oxford University Press – current: 47
  • Oxford University Press – digital archive: 94
  • Palgrace MacMillan: 10
  • Portland Press: 2
  • Project Muse: 2
  • Sage: 127
  • Springer: 93
  • Taylor & Francis: 164
  • Thieme: 1
  • Wiley: 194

Of these Wiley and Elsevier titles are not available to LOCKSS. So, roughly 6500 titles are of potential interest to librarians at De Montfort when it comes to preservation. The bulk of these would be in the DOAJ grouping (+ Open Access subsidies or Uncertain support, – Subject matter out of the range of DMU interests). That leaves no more than 900 journals where there may be a subscription involved. It is still a lot of journals, but much less than the original figure of 55,000.

About Philip Adams

Senior Assistant Librarian at De Montfort University. I am interested in digital preservation and the use of data to measure a library's impact. All comments own.
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