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Easy feeds of tables of contents: Archana Venkatraman finds how to keep up to date with TOCs without the faff of an RSS reader.

TicTOCs is a free service that gives users access to recent tables of contents (TOCs) of more than 12,000 scholarly journals produced by 430 publishers. Scholars, researchers and academics can use TicTOCs to help keep up to date with the latest issues of journals across different subjects.

The name of the service derives from its functionality: professionals can view TOCs by putting ticks on the webpage alongside the content that interests them. Users can find relevant journals by searching for title, subject or publisher's name. Once they find journals of interest, users can view their TOCs and link through to the full text of more than 250,000 articles.

Lawrie Phipps, users and innovation programme manager at JISC, which funded the development of the TicTOCs service, says: "Keeping up to date with the latest articles in scholarly journals is vitally important for researchers. Authors and publishers will also benefit from more widespread dissemination of their content."

It is increasingly important to publishers for their content to be optimised and referred to immediately after publication and before articles are made available in institutional repositories. TicTOCs is therefore a valuable platform for publishers, researchers and authors to discover and exploit information as soon as it is published.

TicTOCs' developers include the University of Liverpool Library, Heriot-Watt University, CrossRef, Proquest, Emerald, RefWorks, Mimas, Cranfield University, the Institute of Physics, Sage Publishers, Inderscience Publishers, Directory of Open Access Journals, Open J-Gate and Intute.

Content includes journals from publishers such as Elsevier, Springer, John Wiley and Sons, Informa, Sage Publications, Sabinet Online, OUP, Inderscience Publishers, CUP, BMC, Wolters Kluwer, Emerald, IEEE, Revues, Nature, Hindawi and the Institute of Physics.


The open access service aggregates RSS feeds for TOCs produced by journal publishers. The TOCs data displayed is based on the information contained in the publishers' RSS feeds. RSS feeds exported via TicTOCs are the publishers' own feeds, and links to articles are either to the full text, or landing pages, on publishers' websites.

Following the free registration process, the service allows researchers to save the files they locate to a MyTOCs page and to access future TOCs. It also allows users to export TOCs RSS feeds to feed-readers such as Google Reader and Bloglines, and to import article citations into RefWorks.


Links to RefWorks

Professionals can export a bibliographic reference to RefWorks and link to a particular journal TOCs. The link feature is particularly helpful for librarians, as it lets them avoid confusing readers with RSS details. Likewise, publishers and webmasters can add a link for their journals for easy TOCs viewing.

The only currently available free service similar to TicTOCs is Feed Navigator from the National Library of Health Sciences in Finland. But Feed Naviagator is restricted to health sciences and library and information sciences.

Just three months after TicTOCs' launch, more than 3,000 professionals have already registered with the service and use it regularly, although it does have limitations. For example, only about half of STM (scientific, technical and medical) scholarly journals publish their TOCs on TicTOCs. And the site can add TOCs only when publishers make TOCs RSS feeds available, although TicTOCs believes more publishers will start producing such feeds.

Also, coming from different publishers, the feeds tend to vary in what they provide and sometimes fail to appear in TicTOCs. TicTOCs intends to produce best-practice recommendations for information that publishers should include in journal TOCs RSS feeds, and the best way to structure that information, which should improve the quality of data and facilitate interoperability.

TicTOCs is different from--and less flexible than--feed readers such as Google Reader and Bloglines. However, the aim of the service is not to duplicate those readers' functionality but to make it easy to read and export journal TOCs in a user-friendly environment. Planned enhancements include new content alerts and searches across all content.

Archana Venkatraman is a reporter for IWR

VERDICT TicTOCs This product seems guaranteed a warm welcome from info pros. Inferior to RSS readers in terms of flexibility and range of content, but a great deal easier to set up
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Author:Venkatraman, Archana
Publication:Information World Review
Date:May 1, 2009
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