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Home :: Archive :: 2004 :: February ::
Journals, Old and Electronic
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 15.0561  Friday, 27 February 2004

From:           Gabriel Egan <
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Date:           Friday, 27 Feb 2004 10:34:55 -0800
Subject: 15.0548 Journals, Old and Electronic
Comment:        Re: SHK 15.0548 Journals, Old and Electronic

David Hale writes

 >A side note is that electronic versions may differ from hard
 >copies in many ways. I recently compared two versions of
 >an article on _Edward II_ in _Studies in English Literature_
 >(1999). Most annoying, the electronic version prints a long
 >passage of verse as prose. No italic type is used, so one
 >must read carefully to determine if a sentence refers to the
 >title character or the play. Capitalization in the titles varies;
 >there is no indentation of paragraphs or quotations. At one
 >point, "Edward II" becomes "Edward H"--no doubt a scanner
 >failure.

This can't happen with JStor because it doesn't attempt to turn the
digitized pictures of the pages into electronic text. The user gets
something functionally equivalent to a xerox: an image of how the
printed page looks, not an encoding of its words. (Actually, to be
precise, JStor does Optical-Character-Recognition (OCR) processing in
order to generate a full-text index to each article, and allows the user
to search this index, but it never presents the electronic text to the
user.)

One final point to correct a misapprehension: it is not the case that a
journal is either "in Jstor" or not. Subscribing institutions (that is,
primarily libraries providing JStor to their readers) pay a subscription
rate that varies according to how much of the archive they want their
users to be able to access. An institution might decide that its own
History holdings are so good that it doesn't want to pay for access to
History journals, only for Literature journals. So, for users in that
institution JStor appears not to cover History, but in fact it does.
(Obviously, a journal is entirely "not in JStor" if its publishers
haven't joined the JStor project.)

I believe that the above is also essentially true for Chadwyck-Healey's
"Periodical Contents Index (PCI) Full-Text" product, JStor's main rival.
My understanding of the differences centre on such things as how
carefully the OCR'd text is check for errors prior to the making of the
full-text index.

Gabriel Egan

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