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Free Full-text E-journals and EEVL's Engineering E-journal Search Engine

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Nicola Harrison and Roddy MacLeod describe what EEVL has to offer in the area of e-journals.

EEVL is the Hub for engineering, mathematics and computing. It is an award-winning free service, which provides quick and reliable access to the best engineering, mathematics, and computing information available on the Internet. It is created and run by a team of information specialists from a number of universities and institutions in the UK, lead by Heriot Watt University. EEVL helps students, staff and researchers in higher and further education, as well as anyone else working, studying or looking for information in Engineering, Mathematics and Computing. It is funded by the Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC) through the Resource Discovery Network (RDN).

E-journals and EEVL

EEVL's Engineering Section contains details of over 820 sites which contain full-text engineering journals. EEVL's Mathematics Section includes over 80 sites with full-text mathematics journals, and the Computing Section includes over 120 full-text computing journals. Quite a number of e-journals appear in EEVL's Top 100, which is a listing of the sites which are accessed most frequently via EEVL. It comes as little surprise, therefore, that one of the most popular additional services provided by EEVL is the Engineering E-journal Search Engine (EESE). At present, this search engine covers only engineering e-journals, however the hope is that not only may it be possible to develop similar search engines for the other two sections of EEVL, Mathematics and Computing, but that the functionality of the service could be considerably developed, and even extended to cover other subject areas within the RDN.

This article looks at some features of the EESE service, and discusses the various kinds of e-journals indexed by EESE. It then looks at ways in which search engines for freely available e-journals, such as EESE, could be further developed in the future.

Engineering E-journal Search Engine (EESE)

EEVL's E-journal Search Engine currently indexes the full text of over 100 engineering e-journals which are free, which offer all or most of the journal content as full text, and which are available without registration. Most of the e-journals included in EESE are not indexed by other abstracting and indexing databases.

Fig 1 Screenshot (30K): Eng home page graphic

Figure 1: EESE is one of the Hot Links on the Engineering Section page of EEVL

A limitation of the gathering software used to create the index means that it is only possible to include those e-journals where the root URL remains the same for each issue, and where articles and other pages to be indexed are HTML, PostScript, PDF or Word pages and not created by Java. Because of these restrictions, EESE will never be able to include all of the 820 e-journals noted above (many of which either do not provide the complete full text of all articles, or require registration), but a number of new e-journals will shortly be added to the index. The full text of nearly 100,000 Web pages is indexed by EESE, and a basic search facility, with filters for 'Exact word' and 'Title only' is available. In addition, searches can be limited to 'Any' or 'All' search terms.

Fig 2 Diagram (5K): Sample EESE record

Figure 2: Typical EESE search result

A typical record from an EESE search result is shown above. It gives the title of the article, the URL, information about the article, and the title of the e-journal from which it originates (or was gathered).

Types of engineering e-journals

An analysis of the titles included in EESE shows that several different types of freely available engineering e-journals can be identified. These are discussed below, and in each case, the e-journal in question is indexed by EESE.

Scholarly e-journals

Scholarly journals contain articles which either report research findings or which discuss theoretical issues. They are peer-reviewed before publication, and include documentation in references and footnotes. They do not, generally, contain advertisements. Most scholarly journals are available only via subscription, however a few are freely available on the Internet, sometimes as a result of sponsorship, or as a means of publicising the research output and interests of a particular group, centre or academic department. Examples of scholarly journals which are indexed by EESE include:

Electronic Journal of Information Technology in Construction [1]
This journal is sponsored by the Swedish Council for Building Research. It covers academic research and industrial development in the application of information technology for the design, construction and occupancy of buildings and related facilities. It is published every three months. At the journal site, contents can be browsed or searched. Full-text articles are available in either HTML or PDF format.

Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication [2]
Published by the Annenberg School for Communication, University of Southern California, this journal covers topics related to human-computer interactions. It is published every three months, often in the form of special issues which address a particular aspect of CMC. The site includes the full text of articles in HTML format and can be searched by keyword.

Professional society e-journals

Many journals published by engineering professional societies are subscription-based, and sometimes consist of multi-volumed scholarly proceedings containing the results of recent research. A number of professional societies also publish less formal magazines or newsletters, and some of these are made freely available on the Internet. Examples indexed by EESE include:

ASRANet newsletter [3]
This newsletter is published once a year and covers structural safety, risk and reliability. Earlier editions are provided in html format, but the current issue (October 2002) is only in PDF format. ASRANet has members from both industrial and academic organisations, and is funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) in the UK.

Ecoal [4]
This is the newsletter of the World Coal Institute, which is published four times a year. It covers aspects of the coal and electricity industry worldwide. Articles from current and previous newsletters are available in PDF format.

Company e-journals/newsletters

Traditionally, some engineering companies produced printed technical journals which were made available to their members of staff, but were also sometimes sent to customers as a reasonably efficient form of advertising. In their electronic form, of course, company journals or newsletters can easily be made available to any interested party. Buyers may be happier with information which comes directly from technical staff at the company, rather than having been passed through a sales team. In addition, such publications not only draw people to a company's website, but also promote their products. Two examples indexed by EESE are:

Reports Magazine [5]
This is published by CH2M HILL, a company involved in project development, planning, design, construction, operations, and maintenance of public and private industrial facilities and infrastructure. Their Reports Magazine features articles showcasing the company's projects.

MetalsWatch [6]
This is a newsletter about the metals industry which is published every two months by Metals and Forge LLC, a speciality steel supplier based in the US. Issues of the newsletter are provided in HTML format.

Government department e-journals

Some government departments publish e-journals and make them freely available over the Internet. They may do so in order to encourage public awareness in their areas of interest or to showcase relevant technical developments. Examples indexed by EESE include:

Energy Science News [7]
This is provided by the US Department of Energy. It aims to inform scientists, engineers, educators, students and the public about the progress of scientific research supported by the Office of Science. Articles are in HTML format and the newsletter is published every three months.

Alternative Fuel News [8]
This is the official publication of the Clean Cities Program and the Alternative Fuels Data Center in the USA. It is published every three months and is available in HTML or PDF format.

Commercially published trade magazines

Commercial trade magazines are normally produced by publishing houses and are funded mainly by advertising. Advertising space is sold on the basis that the magazine is read by professional people, or others with purchasing power, and so the articles are usually of good quality, having been written by experts in the field on topics of practical concern. They tend to include reports on industry issues, technical developments, applications and products. Many have been made freely available on the Web, and those indexed by EESE include:

The Engineer [9]
This is published by Centaur Communications, and is one of a stable of engineering titles marketed as part of the E4 Network. Other E4 titles include Design Engineering, Process Engineering, Metalworking Production, and What's New in Industry. The online version of The Engineer includes articles, news, event notifications and product information.

ElectronicsWeekly.com [10]
This is an online magazine with articles, news stories, classified advertisements, training material and a recruiting section. There is a searchable archive.

Maintenence of EESE

The content of an e-journal webpage changes each time a new issue is published. E-journals which have been freely available may sometimes become subscription-based. This may happen when a title which has been published free as a 'taster' is subsequently made available on a more commercial basis. Titles, and even subject coverage, occasionally change. A site may move from using standard HTML to Java. The source e-journals indexed by EESE must be gathered on a regular basis. When a new title is added, the editor or webmaster needs to be contacted. For reasons such as these, EESE requires a fair amount of maintenance. However, EESE is a very popular service. According to Google, there are more than 800 links to it from other sites, and it consistently appears in the top 10 of all EEVL's pages according to usage statistics.

Future developments

EESE covers only engineering e-journals, and its present interface and functionality are both fairly limited. The subject coverage and functionality of EEVL's e-journal search engine service could be further developed in a number of useful ways, to allow, for example:

  • Searching within e-journals from the other two main subject categories covered by EEVL (mathematics, and computing), or even other subject areas covered by the other RDN Hubs
  • Searching within e-journals from narrower subject categories, such as subdivisions of engineering, or mathematics, or computing
  • Searching within different categories of e-journals, such as the ones discussed above
  • Specifying and saving of particular search landscapes of selected journal titles or categories
  • Saving of searches, and the running of alerts based on saved searches
  • Saving of records
  • Limiting searches by date, or range of dates
  • Truncation and use of wild characters
  • Providing a subject based classification scheme to permit browsing of resources
  • Providing links from search results to Internet resource catalogue descriptions

All of the above developments are currently under consideration as part of the further development of the EEVL service which will arise out of the Subject Portal Project.

The Internet has enabled publishers of journals to make their content available electronically to a far larger audience than could be reached via traditional means. Subscription-based e-journals are a major resource for academics, but freely available e-journals, whether scholarly or commercial, can also be a valuable source of information. Because many freely available titles are not indexed by traditional abstracting and indexing databases, services such as EESE perform an important function and help to facilitate access to otherwise somewhat hidden content.

References

  1. Electronic Journal of Information Technology in Construction http://www.itcon.org/
  2. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication http://www.ascusc.org/jcmc/
  3. ASRANet newsletter http://www.asranet.com/Public/asranet newsletter selection page.html
  4. Ecoal http://www.wci-coal.com/web/list.php?menu_id=1.3.2
  5. Reports Magazine http://www.ch2m.com/flash/AboutUs/Reports/Reports.htm
  6. MetalsWatch http://www.steelforge.com/infoservices/metalswatch/issuesidx.asp
  7. Energy Science News http://www.pnl.gov/energyscience/index.html
  8. Alternative Fuel News http://afdc3.nrel.gov/documents/altfuelnews/
  9. The Engineer http://www.e4engineering.com/home.asp?pub=eng
  10. Electronics Weekly http://www.electronicsweekly.co.uk/

 

Author Details

Nicola Harrison
EEVL Cataloguing Officer
Heriot Watt University Library
Edinburgh
EH14 4AS

E-mail: N.J.Harrison@hw.ac.uk

Roddy MacLeod
EEVL Manager
Heriot-Watt University Library
Edinburgh
EH14 4AS

E-mail: R.A.MacLeod@hw.ac.uk
Website: http://www.hw.ac.uk/libwww/libram/roddy.html

 

Date published: 
30 April 2003

This article has been published under copyright; please see our access terms and copyright guidance regarding use of content from this article. See also our explanations of how to cite Ariadne articles for examples of bibliographic format.

How to cite this article

Nicola Harrison, Roddy MacLeod. "Free Full-text E-journals and EEVL's Engineering E-journal Search Engine". April 2003, Ariadne Issue 35 http://www.ariadne.ac.uk/issue35/eevl/


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