Journals on CD-ROM (Summary, longish)

Keith Robison robison1 at HUSC10.HARVARD.EDU
Sat Sep 11 11:46:00 EST 1993

Here's a summary of what I found out about journals on CD-ROM.  My apologies
for being slow to put this back.  Thanks to everyone who replied!
(perhaps this should be an annual survey?)

Keith Robison
robison at

>From Frank Norman (f-norman at

The only CDROM journal I have seen (in the flesh) is J Biol Chem on CDROM.  
Someone here has a personal sub to JBC (in addition to our library sub) and 
he decided to switch to the CDROM version since it cost just the same but 
took up less room in his office.  While it was a reasonably well produced 
thing, I had severe reservations.  Firstly, it is issued only 4 times a year 
and therefore you are always going to be AT LEAST 3 months behind.  This 
would be unacceptable to most scientists here.  Second, I got the feeling 
that JBC put out this version "because it was there" - i.e. they had the 
data in machine readable form and it doesn't take much to press a few 
CDROMs.  They didn't set out to design an electronic version of their 
journal - each article is just one big text file, with graphics for photos.  
They have not made it easy to use, e.g. there is no easy way to flip from 
intro to discussion to methods, nor from the main text to the citations etc 
etc.  Thirdly, though you can search on any word in the article, this is a 
pretty blunt tool.  Research has shown that full-text searching cannot 
compare with (eg) Medline subject indexing.  The JBC CDROM has no indexing.  

Finally, JBC is just one of many journals.  Several are now available on 
CDROM (ASM journals, NEJM, BMJ, Lancet ...) but by no means a complete set 
of all the journals you would want to have access to, and all on different 
systems.  Hence, you need to master different interfaces for each title, 
and must remember when searching them that many titles are excluded.  I 
don't believe that this is going to be route to go, longterm.  

An alternative approach is provided by ADONIS - a Dutch consortium of 
international publishers.  They scan the entire contents of over 500 
biomedical journals and issue a CDROM every week containing the latest 
week's issues as image files.  This has its own problems, but is at least 
an attempt to provide a total solution, not just a few pin-pricks.  

Yet another model is provided by projects like Red Sage, TULIP and CORE - 
providing journals via the net.  

>From Wayne Lee Forday   fwl at

Try the ASM again. They have all their journals on CD-ROM. The subscription
includes a copy of the each issue on separate CD-ROM. At the end of the
year, you receive a CD-ROM which contains all the info from the separate
CD-ROM. So you can donate all the year's CD-ROM to some needy institution.

(K.R: detail I left out -- we tried to get the Mac version, which is
      apparently vapor.  The PC version is available, as Dr. Forday pointed out)

The CD-ROM's contain the full article with pictures. You need a 386 or 486
with a hard drive and a VGA or EGA. These are very common over here. The
year-end CD-ROM also contains abstracts of all articles dating back to

The CD-ROM's come with software which allow you to search the CD-ROM for
titles, authors or any phrases or words.

You can also subscribe to the year-end CD-ROM alone. Its costs about $75 and
is very good value.

>From Dieter Czeschlik   czeschlik at

American Soc. for Biochem. and Molecular Biology) exists on
CD-ROM. I tried it out: it works. However, it is focussed on
screen-work. If you want to print anything from the CD the
result looks rather poor.
We (Springer-Verlag) will "publish" our journal EUROPEAN
JOURNAL OF BIOCHEMISTRY on CD-ROM as well but not before
next February. I intend to make it useful for both, work
(searches) on the screen and proper print-outs (lay-out
like the corresponding pages in the printed journal).

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