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December 1996 Progress Report

Application and Functionality

At the Steering Committee meeting on 10 September we showed the demonstration SuperJournal application. This contained some, but not all, of the functionality we would like to test out on users. We therefore had to take an important decision: what functionality needs to be present on “Day 1” when SuperJournal is launched, and how do we phase in new features thereafter? The starting point was the list of value-added features we think will be important to readers and authors (from the Evaluation Plan). A proposal was agreed for the functionality that should be present on “Day 1” when the Communication & Cultural Studies cluster (CCS) would go live, and rollout of features thereafter. Considerations were:

Using this spec, Manchester developed the demonstration into the final application, this was tested, the publishers signed off on their content in the application, and the CCS cluster was launched in November. It contains all the features agreed for Day 1 and is available to 3 of the user sites (Birmingham, Ulster, and Warwick). The milestone agreed with JISC (application available by the end of 1996 at one user site) was met ahead of schedule and with more user sites.

Development work is under way to implement the new features for the next cluster (Molecular Genetics and Proteins or MGP), including searchable PDF, display of full text as HTML (where the publisher can supply appropriate files), current awareness alerts based on user profiles, and a discussion forum feature.

Rollout Plan

In consultation with the libraries, a rollout plan was agreed:

Evaluation Research: Readers and Libraries

HUSAT are now conducting the baseline studies at the user sites for CCS: Birmingham, Ulster, and Warwick. This has involved identifying potential users, inviting them to answer a baseline questionnaire to profile their use of printed journals and expectations of electronic journals, and organising focus groups to discuss their preferences and expectations in greater detail.

We are now engaged in an activity to maximise user registration at each site. All the libraries have received briefing documents on the application, the implementation plan, registration, and handouts for users. However there are broader issues to consider:

In addressing the above we need to take into consideration that the participating librarians have a limited amount to time to spend on SuperJournal, and HUSAT cannot really participate directly in promoting SuperJournal as there is a conflict of interest with their evaluation role. So in addition to planning promotional activities, we are likely to need a part-time person to coordinate the activities at each site.

Evaluation Research: Authors and Publishers

In parallel to implementing the research focusing on readers, the research focusing on authors is being planned. The content and functionality that readers can have will ultimately depend on what authors are willing to supply. In a meeting with the publishers an overall approach to the author research was outlined:


Work focused on the following activities:

In September a part-time Production Coordinator was appointed to handle the scheduling of files and follow up on file submission.

Other Activities