Learned Periodicals and Scholarly Journals

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1.  Introduction


Learned societies or academies are organisations established to promote specific subjects. Membership can be open to anyone with an interest or an honour by election by other members. These organisations usually promote and ensure the standard of research with their subject through academic publications and conferences, and some act as professional bodies by offering accreditation via membership. Membership may be open to all, may require possession of some qualification, or may be an honor conferred by election. One of the means of outreach of these societies is to bring out publications on specific and contemporary areas of research. The publications could be books, journals, occasional papers and other grey literatures.


1.1 Learned Societies


According to Wikipedia, a learned society is basically an organization set up to promote at academic discipline or profession. They are also known as scholarly society or academic association. These societies are classified based on the specific subjects on whom they are into research. The objectives of these societies depend on their mandate they have defined. A few prominent examples are:


1. Indian Economic Association

2. Indian Adult Education Association and

3.  Indian Anthropological Association


In general, learned societies are non-profit organization. Their core activities include holding conference and seminars or their respective academic disciplines. The purpose is to present and discuss new research results. Also a few of the learned societies regulate the activities of their members (e.g. Supreme Court Bar Associations) for the benefit of general public. They play an important role in the development of a particular discipline and also act as a pressure group while negotiating with the government or a public agency. Membership is generally awarded to the practitioner of the profession. A minimum academic or professional qualification prescribed for the purpose.


Learned societies also publish or sponsor academic journals in their disciplines. They also facilitate development of new disciplines. In the field of library and information science, most prominent learned society is Indian Federation of Library Association and Institutions (IFLA) which has members in almost all countries of the world.

Most learned societies are non-profit organizations. Their activities typically include holding regular conferences for the presentation and discussion of new research results and publishing or sponsoring academic journals in their discipline. Some also act as professional bodies, regulating the activities of their members in the public interest or the collective interest of the membership. Learned societies are of key importance in the sociology of science, and their formation assists in the emergence and development of new disciplines or professions.


1.2 Evaluation of Periodicals in Social Sciences


Researchers find much of their best information in periodical articles. Periodicals are publications that are printed on a periodic—or regular basis. Typically periodicals are put out on a daily, weekly, monthly, or quarterly basis. Usually newspapers come out daily; most magazines come out weekly or monthly; and most journals come out bimonthly, quarterly, or semi-annually.


Periodical articles are important for researchers because they are much shorter and more specialized than most books. In addition, articles take less time to write and get published, and so will always be more current than books. But periodicals vary greatly in quality and just because something is written do not mean that it is reliable. One factor to consider is the kind of periodical. Newspapers cover current events, so the articles have to be written quickly, usually by reporters, not by specialists. Magazines tend to be written for entertainment purposes, and their content might be a bit shallow and, as with the newspapers, most magazine articles are written by reporters, not specialists. Journal articles are generally written by specialists who are sharing their research with other specialists. Since specialists who are explaining and publicizing their research generally write journal articles, these articles generally provide the highest quality information. Another thing to remember is that most journal articles provide either footnotes or a bibliography so that the readers can learn about the other sources of information that were used when the article was written. Few magazines do this. When evaluating periodical articles, consider relevance, currency, author’s credentials, content, and bibliography. Since many newspaper and magazine articles do not provide bibliographies or information about their authors, the next step in evaluating an article is to evaluate the quality of the periodical. As depicted in the Table 1, start by determining if the article being evaluated comes from a magazine, a newspaper, or a  journal.

Increasingly researchers access periodical articles through a variety of electronic databases. These databases allow users to read articles via their computers. These articles are full-text articles taken from various national periodicals as they were published. Sometimes it is difficult on a computer screen to determine which of these articles come from journals and which come from magazines or newspapers.


2. What is a periodical, how to filter scholarly information 2.1 What is a Periodical?


A periodical is considered the single most important vehicle for global scholarly communication. The management, acquisition and preservation of periodicals is a challenge for librarians. It is important that libraries all over the world make best possible use of the periodicals they are able to acquire. A major portion of a library’s budget is spent on this resource.


Periodicals are treated as primary sources of information that are issued at regular intervals. The examples are journals, magazines, and newspapers. They are also often referred to as serials. Periodicals usually consist of a collection of articles, which may range from a single page story in a magazine to a forty page study in a scholarly journal.

While using periodicals, it is important to understand the difference between scholarly and popular periodicals. The broad term for any publication issued periodically, including newspapers, journals, magazines, annuals, numbered monographic series and the proceedings, transactions and memoirs of societies. The characteristics of a periodical are:

  • Contains multiple articles, often written by different authors, on a specific topic or subject area;
  • All periodicals are serials, which issued at regular intervals an specific periodicity such as (i.e. daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, etc.) and are intended to continue indefinitely;
  • Include newspapers, magazines, journals, and trade publications;
  • Usually has the option of being received through a subscription.


Periodicals have some advantages over books depending upon the requirement of a reader. They are enumerated below:


1. Because they are published frequently, periodicals are the best sources for current information.

2. Current events are usually discussed in periodicals long before they become the subject of a book.

3. Periodicals often contain information on the latest trends, products, research and theories.

4. Periodicals are the best source for ephemeral or very specialized information.

5.Periodicals exist for every field and every interest, providing access to a variety of hard-to find information.

6.Due to the shorter length of periodical articles, more topics may be covered within one volume of a periodical than in one book.


However, periodicals or serials by definition are published in successive parts and intended to continue indefinitely. They are different from monographs or books for they continue and change. Normally, monograph entries in a catalogue or bibliography stay unchanged where as characteristics of a serial may change during its lifetime; say the title, sponsoring body or publisher of periodical may be changed at a later stage.


Table 2: A comparative statement showing basic characteristics of three main categories Scholarly, Popular, and Trade Journals.




2.2 Importance of Scholarly Journals


In the academic world, journals play a major role in research or knowledge creation. Scholarly use journals as a medium to communicate with each other in order to keep up-to-date with the developments taking place in their domain. The process perhaps started with the publication of Philosophical Transactions, 1665 in England. The communication between scholars has now become easy and fast with the advent of the Internet. In fact, the electronic environment appears to provide a better opportunity we mainly focus on communication. Electronic journals have proved to be superior to print and perhaps less expensive. Academic journals also filter scholarship by communicating the results of research in specific disciplines journal title. It lowers the cost of information searching, In addition, peer review process provides a means to filter out substandard paper and assures that only high quality work appear in print. Another important role journals play has to do with the recognition of scholars who publish in them. Publishing paper in a reputed journal is an indication of knowledge, expertise or skill of a person. In an academic institution, scholars with the greatest number of papers in most prestigious journals are considered for promotion or academic reward. For a library, the cumulative collection of journal also serves the purpose of an archive or a historical record of knowledge. The archival role is important for it facilitates preservation of scholarly output in a chronological order. Print version of a scholarly journal fixes content into unchangeable artifacts: and consequently archiving or print artifacts becomes a passive effort. There is no need to do anything to make it sure that the library collection will remain readable for an indefinite period. On the other hand, technological up gradation or investment in infrastructure on a regular basis is needed to keep the electronic versions of journals readable in future.


2.3 Growth of Scholarly Publishing and Usage


When challenged to evaluate scholarly work in the social sciences and humanities, we are rudely forced to work outside this comfort zone in a messy literature. In the social sciences, indexed English language journal publication co-exists with non-indexed book publishing, national literature and non-scholarly literature. In the social sciences, referencing mixes archival and current patterns and the referencing pattern is quiet scattered, lacking focus. A core literature is less clearly delineated. In almost every study the psychology and economics literatures are found to be most science-like and in this contrast with the sociology literature.


2.3.1 What is Social Science Citation Index


Social Sciences Citation Index (SSCI) is an interdisciplinary citation index product of Thomson Reuters’ Healthcare & Science division. It was developed by the Institute for Scientific Information (ISI) from the Science Citation Index.


This citation database covers some 2,474 of the world’s leading journals of social sciences across more than 50 disciplines. It is made available online through the Web of Science service for a fee. This database product provides information to identify the articles cited most frequently and by what publisher and author.


The Arts & Humanities Citation Index (A&HCI), also known as Arts & Humanities Search, is a citation index, with abstracting and indexing for more than 1,300 arts and humanities journals, and coverage of disciplines that includes social and natural science journals. Part of this database is derived from Current Contents records. Furthermore the print counterpart is Current Contents.


Subjects covered are the Arts, Humanities, Language (including Linguistics), Poetry, Music, Classical works, History, Oriental Studies, Philosophy, Archaeology, Architecture, History, Religion, Television, Theater, and Radio.


Available citation (source) coverage includes articles, letters, editorials, meeting abstracts, errata, poems, short stories, plays, music scores, excerpts from books, chronologies, bibliographies and filmographies, as well as citations to reviews of books, films, music, and theatrical performances.


This database can be accessed online through Web of Science. It provides access to current and retrospective bibliographic information and cited references. It also covers individually selected, relevant items from approximately 1,200 titles, mostly arts and humanities journals but with an unspecified number of titles from other disciplines.

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_Science_Citation_Index


2.3.2 Journals Articles


The first literature of social sciences comprises internationally oriented, largely English language, peer-reviewed journal articles. The Social Science Citation Index (SSCI) indexes these enabling evaluation applying classic bibliometric technique whose authors acknowledge to varying degrees their exclusion of the three other literatures. Many author concluded that increased publication output by small countries in the SSCI makes it increasingly relevant for analysis of non-US countries in five to seven of the nine fields examined. Bibliometric indicators may provide a reasonable measure of the size and impact of international and scholarly social science research in some field like psychology and economics.


Social scientist publishes in more than just SSCI-indexed journal articles. Beginning at the broadest level, Leydesdorff reports that 79% references from papers indexed in the SCI are references to other papers indexed in the SCI. In contrast, 45% of references from papers indexed in the SSCI are within the database.


2.3.3 Books


The second literature of social science is books. The association between books and transdisciplinarity is supported by citation evidence. Books are a small percentage of social science output, and so one might choose to ignore them. The reason one cannot is that books have a high impact in social science. Small and Crane (1979) analyzes references from journal articles indexed in the SCI and SSCI and found that the share of the cited items that were books was:


i. 15% in Psychology

ii. 25% in economics

iii. 39% in Sociology


Thus books are ignored in studies of science, but in social science although a relatively small percentage of output, they account for a substantial proportion of citations in the SSCI – as much as 40%. Indicators built from SSCI indexed material – journal articles and citations to them – will miss the 40% of citations received by the book.


Sociological Association’s Distinguished Scholarly Publication award. They find that “books are clearly cited more frequently than journal articles by a ratio of 3:1”. Citations to the 20 most cited articles ranged from 16 to 55 while citations to the 20 most cited books ranged from 34 to 512.


This evidence establishes that books are huge impact, and thus under the rules of bibliometrics should not be ignored. The danger of ignoring books is further illustrated by exploring the differences between the worlds of book and journal publishing. Books are not just large journal articles. Evidence is found in the lack of correlation between cites to books and journal articles.


Journals represent a more scientific type of research and books a more humanities type of scholarship. Both are transdisciplinary, books are more so. Because books are very highly cited and often produced by different people than journal articles, SSCI-based analyses will differ from more inclusive studies. Bibliometricians ignoring books risk distorting our picture of social science.


2.3.5 National Literatures


In contrast to science, social science research agendas are influenced by national trends and by policy concerns of the national government. Theoretical concepts are subtle, and without the unifying language of mathematics, are expressed in national languages and can often be fully appreciated only in the original language.


Bibliometric evidence suggests that both producers and consumers of social science are nationally oriented. Research shows that compared to national scientists, social scientists both write for and read fewer foreign language or even foreign journals.


Maintain a database is far more demanding than compiling list, and so database coverage can be compared against more comprehensive worldwide journal lists. Schoepflin (1990) compared the UNESCO 1986 World list of Social Science Periodicals with the list of journals indexed in the SSCI. Table below shows the comparison between journals produced in the US, UK, Germany and France that appear on the UNESCO list and in the SSCI.




As depicted in the table above, UNESCO’s lists at 3515 journals were two and half times as long as SSCI’s 1417. Interestingly, SSCI indexed more American journals than UNESCO, confirming the comprehensiveness of US coverage in the SSCI. The UK is also over-represented in the SSCI at 18%. German and French literature is not as well covered in the SSCI, nor is the rest of the world.


Except for the US and UK, national social science literatures are largely excluded from the SSCI. SSCI indicators will represent internationally-oriented research. However, the prospects for social science indicators may be improving as social scientists become more internationally oriented.


There are clearly forces working towards the homogenization of social sciences – economic globalization; the internet; European level research funding that requires international collaboration; the transitions of east and central European nations that freed communication and travel, and national level evaluations that emphasize publishing in high impact journals.


3.  Journal Ranking Method


Journal ranking is widely used in academic circles in the evaluation of an academic journal’s impact and quality. Journal rankings are intended to reflect the place of a journal within its field, the relative difficulty of being published in that journal, and the prestige associated with it. They have been recently introduced as official research evaluation tools in some countries such as Norway, Australia and France.


3.1 Different Measurement / Ranking Method


3.1.1 Impact factor


Reflecting the average number of citations to articles published in science and social science journals.The impact factor (IF) of an academic journal is a measure reflecting the average number of citations to recent articles published in the journal. It is frequently used as a proxy for the relative importance of a journal within its field, with journals with higher impact factors deemed to be more important than those with lower ones. The impact factor was devised by Eugene Garfield, the founder of the Institute for Scientific Information. Impact factors are calculated yearly starting from 1975 for those journals that are indexed in the Journal Citation Reports.


3.1.2 Calculation-In a given year, the impact factor of a journal is the average number of citations received per paper published in that journal during the two preceding years. For example, if a journal has an impact factor of 3 in 2008, then its papers published in 2006 and 2007 received 3 citations each on average in 2008. The 2008 impact factor of a journal would be calculated as follows:

A = the number of times that articles published in that journal in 2006 and 2007, were cited by articles in  indexed journals during 2008.


 B = the total number of “citable items” published by that journal in 2006 and 2007. (“Citable items” are usually  articles, reviews, proceedings, or notes; not editorials or letters to the editor.)


2008 impact factor = A/B.


 (Note that 2008 impact factors are actually published in 2009; they cannot be calculated until all of the 2008

publications have been processed by the indexing agency.)


New journals, which are indexed from their first published issue, will receive an impact factor after two years of indexing; in this case, the citations to the year prior to Volume 1, and the number of articles published in the year prior to Volume 1 are known zero values. Journals that are indexed starting with a volume other than the first volume will not get an impact factor until they have been indexed for three years. Annuals and other irregular publications sometimes publish no items in a particular year, affecting the count. The impact factor relates to a specific time period; it is possible to calculate it for any desired period, and the Journal Citation Reports (JCR) also includes a five-year impact factor. The JCR shows rankings of journals by impact factor, if desired by discipline, such as organic chemistry or psychiatry.The impact factor is used to compare different journals within a certain field. The ISI Web of Knowledge indexes more than 11,000 science and social science journals.


3.2 Bibliometric Studies of Social Sciences


Bibliometric provides powerful tools for the evaluation of scientific research. The application of bibliometric method to research in disciplinary areas in which consensus is reached has become almost routine activity. Bibliometric work is facilitated in such areas because their literature exhibits certain characteristics: research is published predominantly in English language journals and references predominantly recent papers in a set of core journals recognized for their high quality and impact. Thus a focused body of citations is generated that is fairly current and is accessible if a bounded set of journals is indexed. The Science Citation Index (SCI) of courses takes advantage of these characteristics to provide the indispensable basis for citation analysis of scientific output.


4. Importance of Periodical Collections in Libraries.


Learning how to quickly determine the relevance and authority of a given resource for your research is one of the core skills of the research process. Use the following criteria below to critically evaluate each source.



Table 4: Criteria for evaluation of resources



Reasonableness  ·     Given what you already know about the subject, it should seem reasonable

·         Should not contradict information you have found elsewhere; if it does check other sources to determine which information is correct



Other importance of periodical collections in libraries is given below:


1. Year wise distribution of issues and Articles

2. Authorship pattern and quantity of author in articles

3. Gender wise distribution of Authors

4. Position of Authors in Articles

5. Author productivity of articles published by single articles

6. Prolific Authors in Library and Information Science E Journals

7. Types of institutions and their involvement in Publication

8. Prolific institutions and their involvement in publication

9. Pattern of collaborative research

10.Appearance of continent name in articles

11. Country of origin of articles

12.Percentage of share of International authors

13. Journal wise quantity of articles under broad subject headings

14.Patten of cited references in Library & Information Science open access articles



5. Recent trends: Full Text Databases and Scholarly Publishing


We are in era where we share, receive, and store information; an era of profound, still-unfolding changes in professionals, friends, and family connect and keep in touch with one other using web 2.0. A decade or so ago when print journals and books still housed the bulk of scholarly publications stationed in the libraries and information centers. In current scenario, the accessible information is also mobile using mobile devices.


Stepping back and taking a breather from the onslaught of hyped devices and adroit acronyms, let’s look briefly at six key trends impacting the development of scholarly publishing at present. It is helpful to keep in mind that, cumulatively, these six trends have impacted positively on the dissemination of research, regardless of the discipline, by making content more accessible, visible, and sustainable.


1. Digital forms of publishing. As of 2011, digital bytes convey and store formal discourse among researchers more than printed words. Scientific, technical, and medical (STM) journals, monographs, and reports are disseminated primarily online in electronic form; the increasing excellence and affordability of print-on-demand technologies also allow printed versions of such publications to remain an option for most readers. Although publishers, authors, and readers in the humanities and social sciences have notoriously lagged behind their STM counterparts in capitalizing on digital publishing, this transition is escalating in those fields as well.Such an immense, foundational transformation in how we communicate research demands further interrogation: Why publish electronically?


It’s usually more affordable (though keep in mind that the development and maintenance costs of electronic publications are not free, especially for multimedia applications). Digital publishing eliminates extensive upfront costs such as printing and shipping. Readers across the globe thus have equally affordable access to research online; also, some traditionally expensive types of print publications such as those of inordinate length, steeped in color, and/or laid out on glossy paper stock can be disseminated digitally in a more cost-effective manner.


Readers no longer need to wait for a publication to be shipped to them; instead, through any number of electronic portals they can readily access the desired content on the actual day it is made available.


It’s so much more robust and versatile than the printed page. By incorporating multimedia components and/or by seamlessly pulling in and linking readers through a text to additional research content and data elsewhere, electronic journals and books encourage more potent and more interesting types of scholarly dissemination. It’s more durable. It’s easy to overstress this advantage since changes in technology make problematic long-term digital archiving. As electronic platforms evolve, archivists and publishers need to remain vigilant and upgrade constantly the digital encoding and means of access for all of their publications, past and present. Digital publishing isn’t completely green, since the devices needed to access and store information need to be manufactured and shipped to users.


2. Parsing and leveraging content. An increasingly prevalent trend among journals publishers, particularly in STM, is to maximize the availability (and profitability) of publications by enabling readers to access (and purchase) discrete units and bundles of content beyond a journal issue or subscription. Like the listeners using


iTunes, researchers today are empowered increasingly to gain access to the precise configuration of content they 15 desire—an individual article, a handful of articles within a journal issue, or a bundle of content across journal issues, different journals, or, for some publishers, across a range of topically related books and journals. Such fracturing of the print-bound journal issue and book is not new—faculty and graduate researchers have been selectively picking and assembling content for themselves since the long-ago days of the Kinko’s-printed course packets.


3. Connecting with associated content environments. One of the great perceptual shifts accompanying the communication revolution is the acknowledgment that, upon release, each digital publication—book, journal issue, journal article, research report, and whatnot—does not stand alone but is intrinsically embedded within a greater semantic world, a dynamic, relational landscape of content resonance and search ability. Through meta-tagging and linking, scholarship disseminated digitally emerges not in a vacuum but as part of a research or discovery pathway interconnected with discourse and content elsewhere online: a host of robust commercial and library search engines, data repositories, and information commons; related blogs, Listservs, forums, e-mail blasts, Facebook pages, YouTube content, and Tweets.


4.Increasing receptivity to multimedia components. As noted above, the digital medium possesses great potential to accommodate multimedia components, most notably video and audio streams. Working within the constraints of cost and familiarity with new technologies, researchers across many disciplines are increasingly capitalizing on this potential of electronic publications to communicate their findings. The ability to include multimedia files as an integral part of research dissemination is redefining the nature of scientific writing (see JoVE to experience a visual journal). It is likely that this revolution will not only affect how research is reported but also how clinicians, and other consumers, use the information.


5.Growing interactivity and dialogue. Scholars and students today are increasingly comfortable using Web 2.0 social media sites such as wikis, blogs, MySpace, Second Life, and Facebook, where they participate in virtual communities through collaboration and interaction. In 2011, the impact of such interactivity and community-building on researchers has chiefly occurred around their content—through forums, Listservs, and blogs—rather than affecting directly the form or process of dissemination itself.


6. Moving to mobile. Perhaps the most profound recent consequence of the communication revolution has been a gradually accelerating shift from a web-based to a mobile-based method of accessing online information. Such mobile devices as the Kindle, Nook, iPad, Droid, and iPhone are increasingly becoming the preferred way for both casual users as well as researchers to read and retrieve. The increasing individualization and mobility of researchers places a special burden on scholarly publishers to anticipate such portals and pathways to their content and respond accordingly. Online journals need to be refitted for cross-platform mobile viewing; downloadable applications for the most popular mobile devices need to be made available to readers.


6. Research Output


A broad idea of the locus and nature of social science research can be obtained from the distribution, by discipline and institutional affiliation, of published papers, monographs and books. NASSDOC, which is a division of ICSSR, compiles a comprehensive list of social science articles and monographs published in the country. The number of listed publications is too large to permit such analysis within the time and resources available to us. Moreover, the listing covers journals and publishing houses of too widely varying a quality to permit a meaningful assessment of the outputs of the research system. We have therefore limited our focus to (a) books and monographs on social science themes byselected well-known publishers; and (b) articles in social sciences in selected journals. We have considered only the institutional affiliation and disciplines of the authors of publications listed in the latest catalogues of five publishing houses, most of whom get manuscripts refereed before; publication; and of articles published in 7 refereed journals and in the Economic and Political Weekly during the last two years.


Table 5 gives the distribution of authors of articles in selected journals by institutional affiliation. Of the 542 authors covered by the review, nearly 40% were from research institutes (including ICSSR institutes); about a third was from universities and a fourth fromNRI/foreign scholars. Most had only one article in the selected journals in the 2 years covered by the survey period. More than 60% of the 393 articles reviewed had single authors; nearly one fourth were authored by two scholars and a little fewer than 10% by more than 2 authors.


Table 5: Institutional Affiliations ofAuthors ofArticles Published in Selected SocialScience Journals in India, 2004-05


Institution Number  ofAuthors
ICSSR Supported Research Institutes 58
Other Autonomous Research Institutes 156
Foreign Scholar/NRIs/Foreign Universities 131
International Organisations 7
Universities/Colleges 179
GovernmentDepartments 9
Independent Researchers 2


Institution Number  ofAuthors
Total 542



onarticlespublishedinthefollowingjournals:ContributionstoIndianSociology;DemographyIndia;IndianEconomica ndSocialHistoryReview;Indian JournalofAgricultural Economics;IndianJournalofLabourEconomics;Journalof Quantitative Economics; and Sociological Bulletin.


The pattern of authorship of EPW articles is rather different. The contribution of Indian research institutions (including ICSSR-aided institutes) and those of foreign contributors is roughly the same as in journal articles; the share of Indian universities and colleges issubstantially higher and that of contributors from NGOs and individuals is much lower at 2% compared to around 11% in the selected journals. (Table 6)



Table 6: Institutional Affiliation ofAuthors ofEPWArticles, 2006


Institutions Number of Papers Percentage
Universities 45 22
ICSSR-aided Institutes 20 10
Colleges 5 2
Other Institutions 59 29
NGOs/Individuals 22 11
Foreign Universities 40 20
Other Foreign Scholars 12 6
Total 203 100



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