Stories

D-Lib Magazine
October 1999

Volume 5 Number 10

ISSN 1082-9873

Evaluation of Usage and Acceptance of Electronic Journals

Results of an Electronic Survey of Max Planck Society Researchers including Usage Statistics from Elsevier, Springer and Academic Press (Full Report)

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Diann Rusch-Feja
Max Planck Institute for Human Development
ruschfeja@mpib-berlin.mpg.de

Uta Siebeky
Fritz Haber Institute
bib@fritz-haber-institut.mpg.de

 

Abstract

Within the Max Planck Society, the German basic research organization similar to an academy of the sciences, a survey of researchers' use and acceptance of electronic journals was carried out from April 15-May 15, 1999. The results of this survey show a significantly high acceptance of electronic journals and an unwillingness to return to print versions only. The frequency of use of electronic journals from four scholarly publishers was evaluated. The researchers also rated the advantages and disadvantages of electronic journals related to various aspects, such as currency, ease of access, timeliness, uptodate information, additional searching modi, etc. The questionnaire also allowed capture of additional information, such as which additional journals were desired in electronic form, which services could be done without in case of budget restrictions, what information might be felt necessary for additional assistance in using electronic journals, etc. Data from publisher-provided usage and transaction statistics shed more light on the distribution of use among the inter- and cross-disciplinary fields of research within the 84 Max Planck Institutes and additional Working Groups and Research Centers. Subject-oriented comparisons between the researchers' use in the biomedical section, the chemical-physical-technical section, and the humanities section of the Max Planck Society are drawn. A review of the recommendations resulting from the survey, as well as a suggestion for expansion of the information provision structures through establishment of a new Center for Information Management within the Max Planck Society, close the paper.

Overview

  1. Introduction and Goals of the Survey
  2. The Questionnaire, Participation and Comments
  3. Results of the Survey
  4. Data from the Publisher-provided Usage Statistics
  5. Conclusion and Future Considerations

1. Introduction

Electronic journals promise to change the future of scholarly research -- both in their function as the distribution organ of research results and in their function as the basis for scholarly research and information. In Germany, the importance of electronic journals in changing library and research structures, publisher --library relationships, paradigms of ownership versus access and even the methods of scholarly research have been recognized by the regional library consortia, learned societies[1], leading researchers in individual disciplines at German universities, research funding agencies such as the German Research Foundation[2] and by the cross-disciplinary research societies for research, such as the Helmholtz Society[3] and the Fraunhofer Society[4], as well as the basic research society, the Max Planck Society[5].

The Max Planck Society encompasses 84 research Institutes of varying sizes plus several additional Working Groups and Research Centers devoted to research in virtually all disciplines ranging from various aspects of physics, chemistry, mathematics and computer science, biological and biomedical sciences, to varied areas of the humanities and social sciences. Researchers at these Institutes have access to the highest level of technology in their field. In total, Max Planck researchers produce more than 10,700 publications annually, and various MPG projects have led to many awards for scientific excellence and innovation including numerous Nobel Prizes[6]. The researchers are provided with a comprehensive offering of databases, library collections, journals, and other information to support their research. In July of 1998, an advisory committee of researchers within the MPG, formed to advise on all large computer acquisitions, established a Project entitled "Information Provision," which had as its aims to investigate the feasibility and usability of electronic resources for research purposes, and to assure updating of the technological information infrastructure in the MPG. Furthermore, this advisory committee recommended and funded a test installation of major publishers' journals in electronic form to determine the usability and acceptance among the Max Planck researchers. A Task Force to study various aspects of electronic information provision within the MPG was founded to carry out the aims of the Project and led by a Steering Committee consisting of one representative from each of the three disciplinary sections of the Max Planck Society (biomedical, chemical-physical-technical, humanities) and one representative from the General Administration of the MPG[7]. To determine if the Project "Information Provision" had succeeded in its aims, the Task Force was also to conduct a survey of the test installation of electronic journals and provide a report which would be the basis for future decisions regarding electronic resources.

The following survey results represent a major shift in research information use. They are important in that the survey was completely cross-disciplinary and cross-organizational, basically the equivalent of a consortium of special libraries and their parent institutions in highly individual fields with little content overlap spread among more than 90 physical sites. The results of the survey can be seen as having exemplary character as they are not restricted to certain subject disciplines or to a single type or size of institution. The data and the interpretations thereof have provided important insights and are the basis for further decisions within our organization, but may also be appropriate for other organizations. Above all, the data here demonstrates how important network access, electronic journals, and even publication in electronic journals has become for the top-level researcher. There are exceptions and gradations in the data reported here, but even these confirm the shift in use and significance of electronic publications and information. Despite the great wealth of detailed interpretation here, it is felt that the significance of this data may be indicative of further changes in the scholarly field, such as how researchers organize their basis of knowledge and how they integrate the research of others into their work. Since no other survey that we know of has taken on the full breadth of disciplines nor attained a similar sampling, we recognize certain limitations to our results and their interpretation. However, our organization is large and one of the recommendations ensuing from the survey results is to retest using the same criteria and perhaps a wider scale of journals in early 2000 to follow the pattern of development within the shift. The data here will be interesting for other libraries, research institutions, and learned societies, but also for publishers and aggregators.

The Goals of this Survey

In addition to obtaining direct feedback from a large number of researchers throughout the Max Planck Society on the usability of electronic publications during the test phase, this survey was also to provide information on areas for expansion, development and perfecting of the interface provided to accessing these journals and on the value in general of electronic information resources and services. Furthermore, the data gathered here can be used as a gauge to measure how familiar the researchers are with the current offerings of electronic journals and to what extent additional needs for other electronic journals exist.

Four prior surveys capturing data on the transition to and acceptance of electronic journals (and in some cases also other electronic information resources) preceded this comprehensive survey of all Max Planck Institutes. These included two surveys conducted in 1997 and 1998 at the Fritz Haber Institute in Berlin and one survey at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development in Berlin in 1998, as well as a brief interview survey via the librarians of the MPG at the end of 1998 parallel to the beginning of the test phase for electronic journals in all the Max Planck Institutes. For several years prior to the test installation of electronic journals in the MPG, the Fritz Haber Institute and the Max Planck Institute for Molecular Genetics (located near each other in Berlin) had both subscribed to a number of electronic journals. Despite the lack of content overlap, they share a number of information facilities, including a Web-based information system and helpdesk[8] for all electronic resources.

2. The Questionnaire, Participation and Comments

The Questionnaire

The present survey, conducted as an electronic survey and commissioned by the Max Planck Society Task Force on Information Provision[9], established direct contact to the researchers and non-research staff of all Max Planck Institutes. In a letter in August 1998 to all directors of the Max Planck Institutes, the General Secretary of the MPG described the tasks of the Project Group and Task Force "Information Provision." The survey on the use and acceptance of the electronic journals was announced on March 19, 1999, and participation in the survey was encouraged to help the Project Group evaluate the researchers' information needs. The electronic questionnaire was formulated by a working group of the Task Force and was available internally within the Max Planck Society from April 15, 1999, to May 15, 1999. In addition, information on the questionnaire, as well as a more detailed description of the goals of the survey, were placed on the MPG Intranet web site with introductory pages in German and English linking to the questionnaire (also available in both languages).

For purposes of ease of evaluation, it was decided the survey would only be conducted in electronic form: answers to the web-based form were sent via email to a central server where they were fed into an ORACLE database configured for this purpose. This data was then processed using SPSS software and evaluated using various tables.

The questionnaire included the following questions:

1. Do you use electronic journals? From which publishers? How often?
Do not use at all ___ (if checked, the following 8 input fields must not be filled)
spacer.gif (43 bytes)  
Elsevier Science
Springer other publishers
Academic Press other electronic journals
Institute of Physics (IOP) Learned Societies

 

2. In your opinion, what are the advantages and disadvantages of electronic journals (scale of 5 answers ranging from very disadvantageous to very advantageous):
spacer.gif (43 bytes)  
Prompt Availability (24 hours a day) Currency -- Uptodate information
Accessibility (Password, ease of entry) Poor graphic quality of electronic journals
Desktop availability Dependency on network
Reading on the monitor Technological possibilities (animation, video, etc.)
Incomplete volumes Long-term access unsolved (archiving)
Citation status not standardized Lack of standardized formats
Lost aspects of print version Searchability / Retrieval possibilities
Downloading possibilities Full text retrieval (in some journals)
More Journals (Cross Access)

 

3. Would you be interested in a wider range of electronic journals? (Please list desired titles)

 

4. If budget constraints require cutbacks in services, which of the following services could you do without? (choice of electronic journals, print journals, journal binding, purchase of monographs, individual journal titles, databases, other services)

 

5. Would you be interested in more specific information on using electronic journals better than at present? (Yes/No -- with the possibility of stipulating what type of information was desired)

 

In addition to these questions, the status of the participants and their particular Institute were requested. The questionnaire was otherwise totally anonymous. The email addresses of the respondents were not included in the data stored for evaluation.

Distribution of Respondents

Researchers from 61 of the 84 research institutes of the MPG, from four of the Working Groups and Research Centers and from the Max Planck Archives filled out the questionniare and submitted this information. Several Institutes sent the contact person for the survey email messages to the effect that their Institutes were just in the process of moving to a new building during this time and would therefore not participate, or that because of the technical infrastructure their institute did not yet allow installation and use of the electronic journals and they would therefore not be participating in the survey.

A total of 1042 valid sets of answers were received. This included answers from 811 permanent researchers (of a total of 3842 in the entire MPG, thus a sampling of 21.1%), 165 answers from visiting researchers and doctoral or post-doctoral fellows (of a total of 5063, thus a sampling of 3.21%) and 66 answers from research support staff (usually student assistants or secretarial support staff). The total number of answers received from researchers including visiting scientists and fellows was 10.85% of the total number of current Max Planck scientists.

The 84 Institutes, working groups and research centers in the MPG are categorized into three sections: the biomedical (BM) section (31 Institutes with 1456 researchers and 1592 visiting scholars and fellows), the chemical-physical-technical (CPT) section (29 Institutes with 1956 researchers and 2557 visiting scholars and fellows) and the humanities (GW) section (17 Institutes with 430 researchers and 914 visiting scholars and fellows). The latter group includes a few true humanities Institutes, but also those concerned with law and legal studies, the social and psychological sciences, etc.). The participation in the survey according to section is depicted in Figures 1a and 1b:

Figure 1a

Figure 1a. Total MPG Respondents According to Section and Status

 


 

Figure 1b

Figure 1b. Respondents According to MPG-Section

Of the 1042 valid answers 50.09% (522) came from the biomedical section, 37.81% (394) from the CPT section and 12.09% from the humanities section. The high quota in the biomedical section (representing approximately 16.36% of all the biomedical researchers in the MPG at this time[10]) can be linked to the fact that the general offering of electronic journals in the biomedical field is very high (e.g., Elsevier, Springer, HighWire, etc.)[11]. The lower participation from the Institutes of the humanities section (12.09% representing approximately 8.63% of all the researchers in the humanities section of the MPG) was expected, since the nature of the journals in these areas is different than in the "hard-core" sciences with considerably longer articles in journals not predominately included in the offerings of the publishers chosen for the test installation. Furthermore, some of the humanities researchers have less experience with information technology and there is greater dependency on text and reading for research in these fields as opposed to more emphasis on empirical, laboratory work in the biomedical and "hard-core" sciences represented by the BM and CPT sections.

The high percentage of users among the participating researchers (86.78%) and the guest fellows and doctoral candidates (86.34%) show that these researchers (10.96 % of all MPG researchers) consider this new publication form important for research and publication of research results. Even the survey participation of non-research staff shows a relatively high percentage of usage of electronic journals (73.84%). (See Figure 2)

Figure 2

Figure 2. Respondents According to Status, Section and Usage of E-Journals

The terminology used to describe and define the categories of participants were used to parallel the description of research levels and staff used in the Max Planck Society Yearbook. The divisions used were "research scientist," "visiting scientist and research fellow" and "non-scientific staff and student assistants." Doctoral candidates and postdocs (who usually have a scholarship or stipend for their work in the Institutes) did not always recognize that they were meant by the term "research fellow" -- especially in combination with "visiting scientist." The category "Non-scientific staff and student assistants" was to include secretarial and technical support staff (especially those who worked on literature research and text production for the permanent research staff of the Institutes). This included library staff, computer department staff, laboratory technicians, secretaries, etc., (many of whom have a subject-oriented scientific background), support staff in technical services, student assistants (some of whom are also working on their own "Diplom" or "Master's" degree in a nearby university), etc. The results tallied from this last group are especially difficult to correlate numerically as it is not known how many of the overall non-research staff would actually have the need to use electronic journals for their work.

3. Results of the Survey

Use of Electronic Journals by Publisher

The MPG had begun negotiations with various large publishers of scientific journals in July 1998 with resulting test installations as of September 1998 for Elsevier journals, December 1998 for Springer journals, January 1999 for Academic Press, and April 1999 for IOP journals. The negotiations were for the entire sets of electronic journals from these publishers. They were offered via the publishers' servers directly and also through an alphabetical listing on the "Info-Project" Site in the MPG Intranet. Some of the individual Institute libraries included links to the alphabetical list of electronic journals on their Intranet information services pages for direct access, often on the same Intranet site as the entry pages to other information services such as databases via OVID technology, inhouse databases, etc.

The first question on the electronic journals survey focussed on the use and frequency of use of the individual publishers' corpus of electronic journals. Respondents could choose between "daily", "several times a week", "weekly," "every two weeks," and "monthly." The frequency of use selected by the researchers indicated that the greatest percentage of use of electronic journals by all categories of users oscillated between every two weeks to once a month. However, there were a sizeable number of users who indicated that they had used the electronic journals from the above publishers "daily," "several times a week" and "weekly." These results also confirmed the significance which researchers are now attributing to electronic journals.

Elsevier journals were used the most, but the number of Elsevier electronic journals is also the highest offered by one publisher in terms of number (ca. 1100 journals, as opposed to 412 from Springer, 174 from Academic Press and 33 from IOP). Especially the researchers from the biomedical (BM) section of the MPG used electronic journals from Elsevier more frequently (several times a week and weekly). The researchers responding to the survey from the chemical-physical-technological (CPT) section used these journals more on a monthly basis, although there was also considerable indication of weekly use and use several times weekly from researchers from this section. Electronic journals from Springer Verlag, consulted by researchers in all MPG sections, were primarily used on a monthly basis, although in the BM and CPT sections, a number of respondents used Springer journals on a weekly basis. The BM and CPT sections showed considerable differences in the use of the electronic journals of Academic Press: Respondents from the BM section were strong users on a weekly basis whereas the CPT sectional members used the journals from Academic Press more often on a monthly basis. However, many of the respondents from the CPT section indicated that they did not use the electronic journals from Academic Press at all. (See Figure 3)

Figure 3

Figure 3. Frequencies of Use by Publishers

The highest number of users of the electronic version of Science indicated they used it weekly, every two weeks or monthly. Electronic journals from publishers other than those included in the MPG test installation of electronic journals and the electronic journals offered by the learned societies were used very little and at most on a monthly basis. Usage frequency of other electronic journals (here there was no further definition made but was meant to include "pure" electronic journals available on the Internet) were scattered broadly across the usage scale with most of the answers in the categories "several times a week," "weekly," "every two weeks" and with a higher peak in the category "once a month." IOP -journals were used only minimally, probably because this test installation had only been established in April 1999, and was therefore not as familiar to many. In addition, IOP journals are very specialized and of primary interest to the CPT section researchers.

Advantages and Disadvantages in Using Electronic Journals

The questionnaire requested the respondents to rate certain aspects of using electronic journals for their advantages or disadvantages. The scale of responses offered was:

Very advantageous
Less advantageous
No advantage
No disadvantage
Less disadvantageous
Very disadvantageous
No experience
(No answer)

This questionnaire section focussed on defining more specific aspects of electronic journals which were indicative of acceptance levels among both researchers and non-research support staff. The results indicate that certain aspects contribute to considerable positive acceptance but, at the same time, other aspects of electronic journals elicit some very strong non-acceptance. For purposes of determining what the respondents saw as prime advantages and explicit disadvantages (as shown in Figure 4), each answer was given a weighted rating and the sum of these weighted ratings was used for comparison. Thus, a rating "very advantageous" was given double the positive weight as compared to the answer "less advantageous." The answers "No advantage" and "No disadvantage" were considered neutral and equal, the answer "Very disadvantageous" received double weighting in negative numbers as "less disadvantageous." Thus, the sums in the weighting scale represent the weighting results.

Figure 4

Figure 4. Advantages and Disadvantages Total

In general, the positively rated aspects demonstrated that certain aspects were considered highly advantageous for electronic journals. In comparison, the general level of the disadvantages was only half as strong, thus showing that although disadvantages were still perceived, they did not have the gravity in comparison with the positive aspects. The greatest advantages of electronic journals -- as seen by the respondents in this survey -- include the direct accessibility from the researcher's desktop, the prompt availability, the possibilities of downloading (or printing out) the desired document or information segment, the currency and uptodate information electronic journals provide over print versions, and full text retrieval possibilities.

The greatest disadvantages were seen in the lack of long term access (and with it the assurance which archiving provides) and incomplete volumes where either individual issues had been only sporadically scanned or digitized or back volumes had not been digitized. Surprisingly enough, the following aspects -- often considered to be the major drawbacks to electronic journals -- proved to be considered more often as "lesser" disadvantages in comparison to the stronger advantages: network dependency, reading from the monitor, loss of certain attributes of the paper version, graphic quality, lack of standardization, lack of citation status, and standards. Each of the aspects has also been examined individually:

The dependency on the computer and on networks was a disadvantage for almost half of all the respondents -- though not necessarily a large disadvantage. A similar distribution of answers was apparent for the aspect of "reading on the monitor." The lack of standardization and the incompleteness of the electronic holdings was seen as a disadvantage by about 40 % of the respondents, though predominately as "less disadvantageous."

Aspects of "Accessibility" which regarding use of various password entry, technical difficulties, and organisational requirements differing between each of the test installations, was seen as a large disadvantage by approximately 40% of the respondents, and as a minor disadvantage by a further 28%. The aspects of quality of the electronic journals in the test installation were seen by the majority of the respondents as neutral, although 40% saw at least a lesser disadvantage in this. Sixty-five percent of the respondents viewed the incompleteness of the electronic journals -- especially in the case of Elsevier in the early half of the test installation (September 1998 - February 1999) -- as very disadvantageous. Search and retrieval mechanisms in comparison to print versions were considered as neutral (no disadvantage, no advantage), and only 22% saw this as an advantage. Almost just as high a number of respondents indicated that they had no experience with searching in electronic journals. One of the reasons for this may be that no overall access system was being used. Journals were accessed directly from the publishers' servers or from an alphabetical list located on the Project website or linked to from the library intranet in some Institutes. The dependency on the publishers' servers necessitated using only the search mechanisms offered by that specific publisher (and not all publishers offered this possibility). Nevertheless, the positive responses to this aspect were predominately "large advantage" with a further number seeing this as a lesser advantage.

Certain aspects of print versions of a journal disappear (or are not considered as important) in the electronic version, such as the ability to page through a single issue, check advertisements, job offers, and death notices, etc. These and other aspects which fall into this category, were seen as disadvantageous by 42%, although more than 40% considered these issues as neither advantageous nor disadvantageous.

Seventy-seven and a half percent of the respondents considered that obtaining the electronic journals quicker than print versions as very advantageous. A further 12.4% of the respondents saw this as less of an advantage, but overall this was interpreted as an overwhelming acceptance of electronic journals in terms of their prompt availability. The percentage of total respondents answering this question was 95.9%.

Use of electronic journals from the desktop was seen as very advantageous (78%) and less advantageous (10.9%). Similarly, the possibilities for downloading (or printing) articles were considered very advantageous (72.9%) and less advantageous (12.6%).

The currency of information content in the electronic journals was seen as almost as advantageous as use from the researcher's desktop. The advantages of new technological possibilities in electronic journals (i.e., animation, integration of video, interactive segments) were only viewed as advantageous by 28% of the entire group of respondents. Around 19% felt they had no experience on which to judge these new technological possibilities, and the greatest number of respondents to this question answered that they found neither advantages nor disadvantages to this aspect. This may indicate that only a small number of the researchers responding to the survey were using electronic journals which incorporate animation, video, sound, multimedia or other new technologies.

Full text searching was evaluated as especially advantageous by the respondents. Almost 60% designated this as a great advantage with an additional 20% who saw this as a lesser advantage. Therefore, both full text searching and improved access possibilities achieved a high ranking among the advantages of electronic journals.

Number of Journals Offered by the Publisher and Coverage of Scientific Areas

The supplementary offering of electronic journals (in addition to print versions) was viewed by at least half of the respondents as a great (30%) or a lesser (20%) advantage. Close to 25% of the respondents answered this question, however, with "no experience" -- though only 14.3% of the respondents to the questionnaire had classified themselves as "non-users" of electronic journals. Some of the verbal comments dealt with the limitation to only the large three publishers' offerings: they complained primarily that the electronic journals' test installation gave partiality to the larger scholarly journal publishers and did not focus on those particular journals which could be considered as important for the highly specialized Max Planck Institutes.

The questionnaire allowed the participants to list journal titles which they saw as particularly important for their work and which were not yet in the group of titles in the MPG test phase. The most frequently listed titles have been cumulated here as the "top twenty" electronic journal titles desired in the MPG in addition to those already in the test phase.

TOP-Twenty Titles Desired in the MPG
(with the number of researchers requesting each title)

1. Nature 99
2. Cell 59
3. JBC - Journal of Biological Chemistry 42
4. PNAS (Proc. Nat. Acad. Sciences) 37
5. Science 28
6. EMBO 25
7. Neuron 25
8. Development 19
9. Nature Neuroscience 16
10. Genes and Development 14
11. Biochemistry 13
12. Journal of Neuroscience 12
13. Biophysical Journal 10
14. Nucleic Acid Research (NAR) 10
15. Current Biology 10
16. Nature Medicine 9
17. Molecular Cell 9
18. Nature Genetics 9
19. Journal of Cell Biology 9
20. Journal of the American Chemical Society 8

These top twenty desired journals have not been differentiated according to MPG-Section for this evaluation. Differentiation of these titles according to the Section responses can only be done in a second, more extensive evaluation. However, it is apparent that the high number of respondents from the biomedical section have influenced the forming of this list and knew of additional, key electronic journals for their research. In addition to these top twenty, further journal titles were listed by the respondents. These were cumulated alphabetically, as well as according to publisher, and appended to the internal, German-language report to the MPG to provide a basis for negotiations with additional publishers. However, not all of the desired journals were available in electronic form at the time. From the list of desired journal titles cumulated according to publisher, it was apparent that a high number of the desired titles were journals from HighWire Press, as well as from Wiley, Blackwell Science, Kluwer, Oxford University Press, MIT University Press and Cambridge University Press. Some desired titles were not available in electronic form, which was also true of other titles on the list, not just those of the publishers included in the test phase.

The Question of What the Researchers Would be Willing to Do Without

All institutes in the MPG have been confronted with the drastically rising costs of journals, especially with respect to double subscriptions of electronic and print versions of the same journal. One of the questions on the questionnaire was intended to investigate the willingness on the part of the researchers to do without certain types of acquisitions or services if budget restraints required reduction of service. The answers (in Fig.5) demonstrate a very strong predominant opinion for retaining the electronic journals. Five hundred and forty-four answers from researchers and 108 visiting scholars and fellows indicated that they were not willing to dispense with electronic journals (as opposed to 147 answers from researchers and 35 from visiting scholars and fellows who were willing to do without). One hundred and twenty researchers (and 22 visiting scholars and fellows) either gave no answer to this question, or answered that they felt they could not judge this question. A slightly higher number of researchers (549) and 39 visiting scholars and fellows responded that they were not willing to do without print journals (as opposed to 189 researchers and 109 visiting scholars and fellows) who said they could do without. In contrast to this, a relatively high number of persons indicated willingness to forego binding journals, or even to do without certain journals. The proportion of researchers willing to do without binding of journals was slightly higher (345 plus 74 visiting scholars and fellows) than the number of researchers who indicated they could not dispense with binding (314 plus 49 visiting scholars and fellows). The willingness to do without certain journal titles -- especially if these were listed specifically in the verbal answer -- varied from Institute to Institute. Very few researchers (only 27 of 811 researchers and 12 of 165 visiting scholars and fellows), however, indicated a willingness to forego other services such as bibliographic databases. A moderately high number of respondents (including 148 researchers and 27 visiting scholars and fellows) showed a willingness to reduce the number of books being purchased, but in comparison with the other options offered to this question, a considerable number of respondents (including 477 researchers and 89 visiting scholars and fellows) were willing to do without new books.[12]

Figure 5

Figure 5. Willingness to Do Without

Additional opportunity was given to list services or specific journals which could or could not be done without. This opened an opportunity for comment on various aspects of budget allocation for libraries, for specific reduction of certain services (which ironically were seen as optional by some and indispensable by others). In a few cases, there was even a vehement comment on fighting against any sort of budget reduction for library and information services in the MPG.

In addition, specific types of publications were noted that researchers felt they could do without. These included (these are not in any ranked order):

Among the verbal answers, the following text in various slightly different forms appeared several times:

  1. "I could only do without the printed form of a journal if it has been determined that all older issues remain available for at least 20 years and that new editions appear online immediately."
  2. "Let me use this space to express my opinion that electronic access to scientific information is going to be much more important than access to this information on paper. The MPG should give priority to digital over printed material."
  3. "The guarantee of maintaining a comprehensive archive is essential for any theoretical research."

Often these commentary lines would be used by the respondents for comments on the questionnaire itself or on the general policy topics in connection with electronic journals, i.e., the costs, the usability, the effects of electronic journals on research, and the status of the library within certain MPG Institutes, etc.

Further Information on Electronic Journals

Of all the responses (1042), 478 (389 users of electronic journals, and 89 non-users of electronic journals) responded with "yes" to the question "would you want more information on the topic of electronic journals?" In addition, space was given for the participant to list the type of information desired. The wish which was expressed most frequently (118 times) was the desire for an overall coherent and well-structured summary of all electronic journals on one "homepage" which is directly accessible and most likely can be spontaneously generated as a byproduct of a database system. This was referred to as "a one-stop MPG-home page for electronic access that gives the occasional and frequent visitor a constant overview of what is available, help in research and swift journal access. Right now, too much information is there, but not easily accessible."

Within the Task Force activities, attempts to define an optimal access system which would be the basis for such a referral system had already been discussed -- though not conclusively as no existing system fulfilled all the necessary criteria. Such a database would contain a short description of the topics of a journal, as well as price and usage limitations. Links to the individual Institute OPAC should be established by linking between the Institute's library catalog and the central electronic journals database, in which all the information regarding electronic journals would be accessible for the entire MPG. As an alternative to this, one researcher suggested in his verbal comment that journal titles which the individual Institute library did not subscribe to, but which were in the overall MPG offering should be listed with a clickable link in the Institute's local library catalog, as well as links to "pure" electronic journals available on the World Wide Web without corresponding print versions. This database should also contain citation frequency information, i.e., whether an article in one of the accessible journals has been cited. Several researchers desired a refereed list of the electronic journals which were accessible to the MPG researchers. The database or alphabetical list should ideally contain freely accessible journals on the network. Also a number of German-language electronic journals on the Internet was desired.

As mentioned before, the alphabetical list of electronic journal titles with direct links to the journal issue pages in the publishers' servers was available on the web site of the Information Provision Project, but not always on the individual Institute's library homepages. Although only one questionnaire respondent noted how positive the current alphabetical list of the various journal titles -- irregardless of the publishers' offerings -- had been for his or her work, approximately 20 respondents indicated that they did not know of such a list.

Desire for a Unified, Comprehensive Access System

A unified access system was desired by many which could provide access via one password -- as opposed to individual passwords for each publisher's server and special service. Ideally, it should have a search mechanism for all current journals as well as references on all available volumes of electronic journals, copyright and licensing conditions, especially for printing and downloading, for storing a full text article in a personal database, etc. The searching options should enable a key word search in the entire spectrum of electronic journals available -- which at the moment is not possible in any access system. Attempts should also be made to influence the publishers to digitize back volumes of core journals.

Alerting Services

In connection with an improved, "transparent" access system which contains information on which publisher offers which journal title and which electronic journals are available to the MPG, an email alerting service[13] which would also be integrated into the access system and which would rely upon a personal user profile was stated as desirable by 38 respondents. Similarly, email alerting for new subscriptions of electronic journals available to the Max Planck Society should be established and should include information on usage limitations, etc. One of the respondents who mentioned this wish for targeted, personalized information also desired "more readily available help texts and information only on journals which would be relevant for my field." In connection with an improved access system or an alphabetical list of clickable journal titles, the ideal access system should also have an activatable link to a list of electronic journals in specific subject areas.

Integration of Local Holdings and Document Delivery Services

According to the comments made to this question, the unified access system should be multilevel: eight respondents suggested that the list of journal titles should integrate journal titles which are available within the local Institute library or even in nearby university libraries, thus adding regional resources at the local Institute level. In addition, several respondents expressed the desire to be able to order individual publications and articles from non-subscribed journals directly from publisher via their computer (direct document delivery)[14]. One respondent from one of the approximately five Max Planck Institutes which allow researchers to order articles directly via the accelerated German document delivery service "SUBITO" stated: "My reason for not using the electronic journals is that it is much easier to order manuscripts through "SUBITO." Virtually every journal is represented and it is unnecessary to first determine the publisher of the particular journal I am looking for. " [as is the case with only linking to the publishers' servers without an alphabetical list or a full-fledged, multilevel access system].

Furthermore, an access system should guarantee the integration of other word processing systems and database software (e.g., EndNote, WORD, Databases, etc.) to allow downloading into a personal work space for the researcher.

Unification of Passwords and Access Requirements

The desire for unification of the access passwords, or better information concerning user ID's and passwords, was mentioned often in the verbal comments on what information the researchers would still want. Similarly, criticism was expressed for the system prompt for an access password -- regardless of Max Planck Society wide access -- as well as the rapid change of passwords which had a detrimental effect on the use of the electronic journals. The different access methods should be explained online. One respondent commented: "[electronic journals can only be] reasonable if one can access the journals of different publishers via a central user interface. If one has to be authorized by each use of a publisher's server, that is too time-consuming "

Comments on the Publishers' Offerings of Electronic Journals

Specific wishes directed at one of the test installation publishers ( such as "more currency in Elsevier journals") were mentioned frequently. One of the greatest criticisms was that the very expensive set of Elsevier journals contained only a few of the journals that researchers of certain subject areas found important and interesting for their research. In general, search options of the electronic journals publishers were considered poor and this aspect was brought into connection with an improved access system. Furthermore, the lack of information on the electronically available volumes of a certain title was criticized on the publishers' servers. Journals from other publishers were also expressly desired.

The access and search performance times of the publishers' servers were criticized strongly and often, which seemed to have contributed to the preference of many MPG-researchers for the print version of a journal and, instead of desktop access, a walk to the library. Furthermore, the expansion of the OVID-interface to enable downloading possibilities for electronic journals' articles (in PDF-Format) was expressly desired and the current attempts to establish this were encouraged. The Ovid-interface serves in some ways as an access system although, at this point, the Ovid database does not offer all the possibilities which a full-fledged access system for such a multidisciplinary consortium of research libraries would need.

Indications of Desired Help and Support

In addition to the more content-oriented information needs concerning electronic journals, there were additional desires and suggestions expressed in the verbal comments to the question as to what additional information could help the researchers use electronic journals better. These included:

"Uniform instructions for use with typical situations where someone did something wrong and avoidance mechanisms for this,"

"Price-Performance comparisons, user analysis, usage statistics,"

"Hints about the hidden difficulties in doing literature searches via the Internet,"

"Concise introduction to a non-time-consuming, efficient search,"

"Downloading of tables and import into one's own EXCEL system,"

"Possibilities for optimizing the quality of images when printing,"

"How can one download an article for further reference purposes and organize one's own literature system efficiently," etc[15].

Other suggestions included adding notes for use and short reports on experiences in using electronic journals that could be referred to during the course of a search. Several respondents suggested creating a small help brochure (even a printed one) or an information sheet (similar to a reference card for databases) on the use of electronic journals for the MPG-researchers so that the above types of information could be found easily and directly at the desktop when needed.

4. Data From the Publisher-Provided Usage Statistics

The results from the publisher-provided statistics are based on completely different values and can only be compared with those of other publishers or to those of the survey to a minimal degree. Elsevier provides differentiated statistics based on individual transactions in the host server, but the statistics lacked information on all Max Planck Institutes and the categories of the statistics were difficult to interpret. For some of the Max Planck Institutes, particularly those sharing one computer department, a range of IP-numbers had been assigned, but this range was skewed between two or even three Institutes so that the exact usage per individual Institute was not possible. Other Institutes were given internal designations by Elsevier and were thus not recognizable without consulting the appropriate Elsevier staff. Nevertheless, the Elsevier staff was very compliant in determining the exact meaning of the statistics categories.

The statistics from Springer referred only to the PDF files of articles. Academic Press provided statistics on the numbers of log-ins and PDF-downloads per Institute. At the time of evaluation, only the March statistics were available from Academic Press. The statistics of both other publishers cover the time period of April 1999.

Elsevier

1,100 electronic journals from Elsevier were available to Max Planck researchers via the ScienceDirect server in Ohio, USA, from September 1998 to the present. Introductory sessions to the available electronic journals and their use were provided by Elsevier in five different locations throughout Germany during September and October 1998. These information presentations were only sparsely attended by the researchers and somewhat more by the research support staff. The sessions offered a mixture of company portrayal and product introduction, but could have offered more in terms of tangible user tactics. Initially, use of the Elsevier electronic journals was slow, as there were incomplete volumes, the visual quality of the scanned articles was poor and search mechanisms (i.e., for authors' names) were not precise. In many cases, the electronic issue offered no time advantage over the print version. By the end of January 1999, Elsevier had committed itself to solving the problems and improving journal coverage. Thus, some of the problems had been improved by the time of the survey and the use statistics provided by ScienceDirect show a definite increase in use during March and April 1999. Similarly, the survey itself stimulated use of the electronic journals (not only for Elsevier journals). The ScienceDirect transaction statistics for the Max Planck Institutes during May, June and July 1999 demonstrate a marked increase of use.

Max Planck Institutes in the humanities section criticized the content offerings of ScienceDirect in that only very few of the journals suited their research needs and they appealed for a greater spectrum of selection. (This was even echoed by researchers from some very specialized institutes in the chemical-physical-technical section, so it is by no means only a humanities problem.)

ScienceDirect provides the MPG with individual transaction statistics for each registered Institute as well as a cumulated monthly overview report. Each set of Institute statistics provides data for the following information:

These statistics are cumulated in a monthly report. For the month of April 1999, ScienceDirect's transaction statistics show that Max Planck Institutes accessed the ScienceDirect server 36,915 times. During the same period, 1731 PDF files were accessed, 1426 journal entry pages were viewed, and 597 HTML articles or summaries were used.

For the time period of April 1999, ScienceDirect's data indicates that six Max Planck Institutes from the biomedical section, nine from the chemical-physical-technical section and eight of the humanities section did not use the Elsevier server at all. This number may, however, be higher, as not all 84 Max Planck Institutes were registered users at this time. Furthermore, some of the Max Planck Institutes used the Elsevier server in the Netherlands instead of the ScienceDirect server in Ohio and were thus not included in the ScienceDirect statistics. These researchers did so because the Netherlands Elsevier server was more complete, and because European network traffic was significantly less than transatlantic network traffic necessary to use the ScienceDirect server. Among the Institutes which are registered users of Elsevier electronic journals but which had no transactions in the ScienceDirect server in April 1999, seven did not participate in the MPG electronic journals survey. At least one of these Institutes was just moving to a new building during the survey period, which may explain its nonparticipation.

On the basis of the Elsevier transaction statistics, the most frequent users in the MPG of the Elsevier electronic journals were

TOP TEN Elsevier Users in the MPG - April 1999

Institute Number of
Accesses

 

Section
MPI for Molecular Genetics & 2,364 BM
Fritz Haber[16] Institute 1,450 CPT
MPI for Aeronomy 1,545 CPT
MPI for Chemistry 1,444 CPT
MPI for Biochemistry 1,339 BM
MPI for Nuclear Physics 1,298 CPT
MPI Working Group f. Structural Molecular Biology 1,116 BM
MPI for Biophysical Chemistry 1,063 BM
MPI for Biogeochemistry 996 CPT
MPI for Polymer Research 929 CPT

Users from the humanities section have far lower transaction numbers. However, the highest users of the Elsevier electronic journals from the humanities section are the Max Planck Institutes for the Study of Societies, Demographic Research, Psychological Research, History of Science, and Human Development.

Figure 6 gives an overview of the types of pages accessed throughout the entire Max Planck Society on the ScienceDirect server. This data was provided by ScienceDirect in conjunction with the contractual negotiations conducted with Elsevier for the test installation of Elsevier electronic journals. The chart in Figure 6 shows the average monthly use of Elsevier services for the time period March and April 1999. The highest number of accessions was for downloading PDF files, i.e., the individual articles or parts of articles. The second most frequent type of page accessed by Max Planck Institutes during this period was the "list of journal titles" which is also the starting point for subject searches in the journal titles. If the user wants only "physics" journals, this page offers a filtering mechanism for such purposes, which ScienceDirect designates as a "type of subject classification." "Journal issue pages" refers to the tables of contents of individual issues. "Searches" refers to searching within the ScienceDirect abstract database and/or a full length article. "Journals" designates the number of transactions within the top twenty most frequently accessed journals which in Figure 6 means that the average number of accessions in the top twenty most frequently used journals was 37 accessions per month (for the time period March-April 1999). Similarly, the average number of accessions of HTML articles, abstracts and summaries numbered 28 per month. This number, however, only refers to subscribed journals. The category "List Articles" refers to a list of articles produced by a subject search. This list includes only HTML articles, abstracts and summaries and represents article statistics at the journal level.

Figure 6

Figure 6. Elsevier Statistics - Average Monthly Use of Elsevier Services according to Transaction Statistics

Springer

From December 1998 during the test installation in the MPG, Springer Press offered 412 electronic journals. Although training sessions were planned, no wide-scale training took place, as in the case of Elsevier. Instead, if any, there were internal training and introductions to the Springer LINK for the researchers via the librarians in the individual institutes. Since Springer LINK offers ease of use and great similarity to bibliographic databases which are familiar to many researchers, it could be debated if training sessions were necessary. Springer provided usage statistics solely on the basis of access transactions. These showed that use prior to and during the survey, eleven Max Planck Institutes did not use the Springer journals at all. Again, this includes at least one Institute which was moving into a new building during this time, but the rest of these non-user Institutes were primarily Max Planck Institutes belonging to the humanities section. The most frequent users of the Springer E-journals are shown in the following table. The first category, however, refers to those transactions by researchers who used a remote access password for connecting to the LINK server from venues other than an MPG Institute.

TOP-TEN Springer Journals Users in the MPG - April 1999

Institute Number of
Accesses

 

Section
MPG Remote Access (Travel) 149 (all)
MPI for Radioastronomy 107 CPT
MPI for Plasma Physics 75 CPT
MPI for Chemical Ecology 69 BM
MPI for Astrophysics 65 CPT
MPI for Extraterrestrial Physics 61 CPT
MPI for Physics of Complex Systems 59 CPT
MPI for Nuclear Physics 54 CPT
MPI for Biological Cybernetics 50 BM
MPI for Experimental Medicine 40 BM

Several of the Institutes from the humanities section use some of the electronic journals from Springer Press although no completed questionnaires were submitted from two of these Institutes (MPI for History and MPI for Foreign and International Social Law). The fact that the numbers of transactions here are far less than those using the Elsevier electronic journals can be attributed to the nature of the electronic journals Springer offers, many of which are not of immediate interest for the basic research being done in the Max Planck Institutes (nursing, pharmaceutical, etc.), as well as the size of the Springer Press offering of electronic journals in comparison with that of Elsevier.

Academic Press

Academic Press had 174 electronic journals in its offering at the time of the survey. Training or introductory seminars were not carried out by Academic Press -- at most, the librarians gave training sessions in the individual Institutes. The electronic journals from Academic Press seem to have had wide usage in the Max Planck Society with the exception of two Institutes in the biomedical section, four in the chemical-physical-technical section and four from the humanities section which did not use these journals during the period of comparison. The Institutes which used the electronic journals from Academic Press, on the basis of the statistics obtained from Academic Press for accessions of their journals on both the European and on the American server are shown in the following tables whereby the number of accessions (login report) differs from the PDF downloading report:

TOP-TEN Academic Press Users in March 1999
Login-Report

Institute Number of Accesses

 

Section
MPI for Aeronomy 380 CPT
Fritz Haber Institute / MPI for Molecular Genetics[17] 285 CPT / BM
MPI for Biochemistry 230 BM
MPI for Molecular Cell Biology & Genetics 196 BM
MPI for Physiological & Clinical Research 174 BM
MPI for Biophysical Chemistry 141 BM
Kerckhoff Clinic (Clinical Psychiatry) 114 BM
MPI for Infection Biology 81 CPT
MPI for Cell Biology 76 BM
MPI for Metals Research 66 CPT

Academic Press Use by the MPG - PDF Download Report

Institute Number of Accesses

 

Section
MPI for Aeronomy 301 CPT
MPI for Biochemistry 217 BM
Fritz Haber Institute / MPI for Molecular Genetics[18] 209 CPT / BM
MPI for Molecular Cell Biology & Genetics 144 BM
MPI for Biophysical Chemistry 119 BM
MPI for Colloids & Interfaces 102 CPT
MPI for Physiological & Clinical Research 95 BM
Kerckhoff Clinic (Clinical Psychiatry) 63 BM
MPI for Polymer Research 73 CPT
MPI for Cell Biology 68 BM

A comparison of the two tables indicates that researchers in these Institutes are making very targeted use of the electronic journals from Academic Press.

Comparison of Use by Subject Section of the MPG

The comparison of use based on the publishers' transaction statistics necessitates several disclaimer statements. First, the statistics obtained from the three publishers differed greatly in terms of what exactly is measured, the scope and their absolute validity since not all Max Planck Institutes were registered by the publishers' servers at that time, especially in the case of Elsevier. Second, the various publishers' statistics often used different definitions of what types of transactions were being measured (pure transactions, use of specific types of documents, entry into server, etc.). However, on the basis of the statistics obtained from the three publishers participating in the test installation for the month of April 1999 (in the case of Academic Press for March 1999), an attempt was made to determine the most active Max Planck Institutes using the E-journal offerings. The fact that these statistics showed that the most active users of electronic journals were in the BM and CPT sections relates directly to the content of the journals in the offerings of these three publishers and to the number of researchers in these two sections as opposed to that in the humanities section. Furthermore, the type of information in these areas is currency oriented and its "information half-life" is much faster (i.e., lower) than in the humanities where wider mixture of "older" and "newer" literature is necessary for most research projects.

In addition, it is interesting to observe that according to the publishers' statistics for this time period, several Institutes belonging to the "most active user" Institutes did not submit a single completed questionnaire to the survey. This, however, may be able to be traced to other reasons which at present are not able to be researched. These may include, for instance, the fact that a JavaScript enabler was necessary to submit the questionnaire. Since many researchers contacted the administrator of the survey regarding difficulties with this aspect, it may indicate that additional questionnaires were completed but could not be submitted (if no JavaScript enabler was present, the "submit" button was not visible on the questionnaire, thus preventing submission of the completed questionnaire).

Most Active Users of Electronic Journals
In the Biomedical Section

Institute Number of Accesses

 

Total
MPI for Molecular Genetics[19] 2,364 (Elsevier)
4115
    *& Fritz Haber Institute 1,450 (Elsevier)
285 (Academic Press)
16 (Springer)

 

MPI for Biochemistry 1,339 (Elsevier)
34 (Springer)
230 (Academic Press)

1603
MPI for Biophysical Chemistry 1,063 (Elsevier)
141 (Academic Press)

 

1204
MPI Working Group f. Structural Molecular Biology 1,116 (Elsevier)
47 (Academic Press)

 

1163
Kerckhoff Clinic (Clinical Psychiatry) 114 (Academic Press)
862 (Elsevier)

 

976
MPI for Infection Biology 81 (Academic Press)
871 (Elsevier)
4 (Springer)

 

956
MPI for Brain Research 801 (Elsevier)
7 (Springer)
6 (Academic Press)

 

814
MPI for Terrestrial Microbiology 741 (Elsevier)
26 (Springer)
10 (Academic Press)

 

777
MPI for Biological Cybernetics 50 (Springer)
652 (Elsevier)
65 (Academic Press)

 

767
MPI for Molecular Physiology 528 (Elsevier)
174 (Academic Press)
702

Most Active Users of Electronic Journals
In the Chemical-Physical-Technical Section

Institute Number of Accesses

 

Total
Fritz Haber Institute[20] 1,450 (Elsevier)
285 (Academic Press)
16 (Springer)
4115
    *& MPI for Molecular Genetics 2,364 (Elsevier)

MPI for Aeronomy 1,545 (Elsevier)
380 (Academic Press)
34 (Springer)

1959
MPI for Chemistry 1,444 (Elsevier)
16 (Academic Press)
54 (Springer)

 

1485
MPI for Nuclear Physics 1,298 (Elsevier)
54 (Springer)
23 (Academic Press)

 

1375
MPI for Biogeochemistry 996 (Elsevier)
24 (Academic Press)

1020
MPI for Polymer Research 929 (Elsevier)
44 (Academic Press)
11 (Springer)

 

984
MPI for Chemical Physics of Solids 787 (Elsevier)
35 (Academic Press)
8 (Springer)

 

830
MPI for Microstructure Physics 774 (Elsevier)
6 (Academic Press)

 

780
MPI for Colloids and Interfaces 681 (Elsevier)
61 (Academic Press)
9 (Springer)

 

751
MPI for Meterology 717 (Elsevier)
6 (Academic Press)
723

Most Active Users of Electronic Journals
In the Humanities Section

Institute Number of Accesses

 

Total
MPI for Demographical Research 226 (Elsevier)
34 (Academic Press)
12 (Springer)

272
MPI for Evolutionary Anthropology 152 (Elsevier)
24 (Academic Press)
3 (Springer)

179
MPI for Human Development 14 (Academic Press)
155 (Elsevier)

169
MPI for the Study of Societies 164 (Elsevier)
3 (Academic Press)

167
MPI for Research into Economic Systems 87 (Elsevier)
39 (Academic Press)

126
MPI for History of Science 3 (Springer)
2 (Academic Press)
55 (Elsevier)

60
Project Group: "Law of Common Good" of the MPG 8 (Springer)
18 (Academic Press)
26

5. Conclusions and Recommendations from the Evaluation

The data collected from the survey and that provided by the publishers show both a growing interest in electronic journals among the researchers in the Max Planck Institutes and certain reservations including a lack of trust in this medium. The latter could possibly be reduced through more effective information flow from information personnel in the Institute libraries and information retrieval units[21], as well as through a wider offering of training opportunities for the end users. Ideally, modules of training sessions could be provided which could be used by librarians in user education events throughout the MPG or even an online self-tutorial could be maintained with the possibility of direct email contact with the resident librarian or information specialist of the individual researcher's Institute. Furthermore, it would seem that a certain lack of information about the journals offering, about the central alphabetical list of electronic journals which was available and which must be kept uptodate, as well as about the exact electronic holdings availability, should be bridged with better informational webpages, links from key pages on the individual Institute library's intranet pages and other informational means (announcements, newsletters, ad hoc referrals in context of information search assistance, etc.). Thus, the role of the librarians and information service personnel is challenged to increase its information-giving character in providing this information to the end user to enable him or her to most efficiently and most effectively use the electronic journals being offered.

The advantages which the respondents in the survey ranked indicate that the major motivation for turning away from the print version of a journal to the electronic version is based on ease of access from the desktop around the clock, the ease of downloading and citing elements, and in particular the currency of content. The survey also showed that although there is certain willingness to "do without" certain services, greater indications were given that the information services provided were indispensable and desired. Thus, the survey results, though certainly supporting the continuation and development of electronic journals collections within the Max Planck Society, show that all aspects of information provision will be necessary to maintain sufficient and quality information provision to researchers in the Max Planck Society. The greatest impact, however, of the survey was that the test installation was received surprisingly positively and that the offering of electronic journals should not only be continued but increased in the future. Significant also is the fact that more respondents in the survey (653 as opposed to 588) were not willing to discontinue their use of electronic journals. This is an important conclusion for the future information provision policy within the MPG. This also shows that the Max Planck Society must react adequately and rapidly to the changing paradigm in scholarly publication and dissemination so that its researchers do not lose touch with the developments in their fields.

A second survey based on the same information could be implemented in early 2000 to compare the results. At that time, more researchers would be familiar with the offerings of electronic journals and more publicity within the MPG could lead to greater use and more demand. Currently, in September 1999, negotiations are being conducted to expand the offering of journal titles to include major publishers listed by the respondents on the April-May survey. Furthermore, the Task Force has advised implementing a database format to enable easier and manageable updating. In addition, more exact publisher usage statistics should be included in the evaluation, with efforts made to ensure inclusion of all Max Planck Institutes in the statistics -- both publisher statistics and participation in such a second survey.

In context of the work of the Information Provision Task Force, the electronic journals survey results must also be seen as important indications of the need to continue the efforts started in the Task Force in terms of examining pricing models and establishing guidelines for licensing negotiations, establishing a set of criteria for the optimal integrated access system, and developing an adequate archiving system for electronic information within the Max Planck Society -- both for electronically subscribed journals, as well as for Max Planck publications and research results. To gain greater awareness of the problems and opportunities connected with electronic information provision and how they are being dealt with in prototypical research models and in implementations in other countries and other similar research organizations, the Max Planck Society organized a conference entitled "The Transformation of Science: Research between Printed Information and the Challenges of Electronic Networks" (<http://www.gwdg.de/elmau/>). This gave MPG researchers, Institute directors, and administrative officials the opportunity to exchange ideas with the project coordinators and implementors of the US National Science Foundation Digital Libraries Initiative, telecommunications experts from industry and academia, as well as representatives from other library consortia, publishers, and learned societies. It also allowed Bernard Schutz to present the electronic review journal, Living Reviews in Relativity, an innovative electronic journal from the Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Research which demonstrates the need for support within the MPG for innovative development in non-traditional journal production and in methods and means of dissemination and review of research results.

Also at this conference, the Steering Committee of the Task Force for Information Provision in the Max Planck Society proposed the establishment of a "Center for Information Management of the Max Planck Society (CIM)"[22] which would function to improve information management and innovation within the MPG. This "innovation and service" Center would provide needed research and development capacities to keep the MPG at the leading edge of information provision tools and techniques, and help implement them within the libraries and the information infrastructure in the MPG, and promote their use among the researchers in the MPG. The decision on incorporating the Center for Information Management in the MPG will be made in the final quarter of 1999. With this Center, existing information provision structures and units would be strengthened and information services throughout the MPG could be streamlined and made more effective.

Acknowledgements:

The Project "Information Provision in the MPG" was comprised of the Steering Committee and the Task Force. The Steering Committee was made up of Prof. Dr. Ian Baldwin (Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology), Prof. Dr. Jürgen Renn (Max Planck Institute for the History of Science), Prof. Dr. Robert Schlögl (Fritz Haber Institute) and Dr. Wolfgang Steigemann (General Administration of the MPG). The Task Force consisted of the above members of the Steering Committee, as well as Ernst von Biron (General Administration of the MPG), and the following representatives from the information retrieval units and libraries of the various sections: Dr. Benjamin Bowman (Max Planck Institute for Biochemistry), Reinhard Harbaum (Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry), Dr. Werner Marx (Max Planck Institutes, Stuttgart), Ulrike Krause (Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology), Dr. Harald Müller (Max Planck Institute for Comparative Public and International Law), Bernd Reuse (Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry), Dr. Diann Rusch-Feja (Max Planck Institute for Human Development), Urs Schoepflin (Max Planck Institute for the History of Science), and Uta Siebeky (Fritz Haber Institute).

In addition, the following persons are to be thanked for their supporting work in carrying out the survey and preparing this paper: Dr. Roland Baier at the Society for Scientific Data Processing (Gesellschaft für wissenschaftliche Datenverarbeitung GmbH - GWDG) in Göttingen designed the electronic background for the questionnaire and database configuration, and maintains the original database. Michel Knigge (Max Planck Institute for Human Development) assisted in evaluating the SPSS data, making the tables, and giving suggestions during the evaluation phase. Dr. Burkhard Heise, Prof. Dr. Peter Scherber and Frank Hame of the GWDG are also to be thanked for their support in the various phases of executing and evaluating the questionnaire. The authors are also grateful to Roland Bertelmann and Dr. Helmut Köhler (Max Planck Institute for Human Development) for detailed reading of this text and their suggestions, as well as to Gerhild Richter (same Institute) for her help in tabulating the publishers' statistics for the tables in this paper and to Kai Knote (same Institute) for his help in transforming some of the graphics.

Copyright 1999 Diann Rusch-Feja and Uta Siebeky

At the request of the authors, the following corrections were made: Dr. Rusch-Feja's affiliation was corrected to read Max Planck Institute for Human Development (the initial "M" was missing from "Max"); and periods were replaced with commas in the numbers in the table labeled "TOP TEN Elsevier Users in the MPG". These corrections were made 10/20/99, 11:16 am. Table column headings regarding "most active users" in the MPG sections were changed from "Section" to "Total" at the request of the authors. The column headings were changed 10/21/99, 9:42 am.

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DOI: 10.1045/october99-rusch-feja-rpt