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Vol. 12 No. 4, October 2007

 

Editorial


Introduction

This is a bumper issue of Information Research as it includes a supplement containing the proceedings of the 6th Conference on Conceptions of Library and Information Science (CoLIS 6) as well as the usual clutch of papers and reviews. I shan't say much about the CoLIS Proceedings, since they have their own introduction, except to thank the Editors, and particularly Nils Pharo, who have spent a great deal of time in getting the papers into publishable form. Without their efforts it would have been completely impossible to publish the proceedings so quickly after the conference.

It has not been possible, however, to put the papers through the usual copy-editing and revision process used by the journal, so readers may find the occasional typographic error or other blemish. It is for this reason that the papers are published as a supplement, with their own numbering series, rather than as papers in the main part of the journal.

In this issue

Turning to the usual section of the journal, we have our usual mixture, beginning with an 'invited paper' from Marcia Bates, who subjects the notion of 'browsing' to a new analysis from the perspective of the behavioural sciences. Marcia presents a four-step model of browsing, which, she suggests, is closer to actual human behaviour than are other models.

We also have two papers about Weblogs, one by Judit Bar-Ilan on their use by librarians and libraries to dissemination information and they other by Mike Thelwall and colleagues on the kinds of news stories that prove attractive to 'bloggers'. Bar-Ilan concludes that only a minority of libraries use this mode of dissemination and that the number of 'library blogs' is likely to increase rapidly. Thelwell and his colleagues show that there is a strong relationship between 'blogged' news and the stories that appear on the main news channels such as the BBC, CNN, etc. They also find a right-wing political bias in the Weblogs and suggest that they may serve to push the news in general in this direction.

Three papers address one or another aspect of information behaviour: Huang and colleagues propose the concept of the 'concentration' of users' online information behaviour, using the Gini coefficient to measure the concentration of users' visits to Websites and pages. Sen and Taylor use the critical success factor technique in two case studies of small and medium-sized companies, and Kim and colleagues explore predictors of information overload, in which they show that lower socio-economic status, poor health, low media attentiveness and high affective components of information seeking were associated with overload. The study drew on a national survey with more than 3,000 seekers after information on cancer.

We then have one paper on information literacy, where Sheila Corrall sets out a model for the policy engagement of higher education institutions with notions of information literacy; then two papers in Spanish, one by FernŠndez-Molina and Chaves Guimar„es on the relationship between digital preservation and intellectual property laws, the other by Romanos de Tiratel and Giunti on the visibility of Argentinian journals in the field of anthropology in international bibliographic databases.

Finally, we have a couple of 'regulars': another 'Watch this' column by Terry Brooks, this time on the use of ePrints DC XML to transform and re-use Web-based information. The second is the fourth in our series of case studies on open access publishing, by Paul Haschk, which deals with E-JASL: The Electronic Journal of Academic and Special Librarianship, a journal he founded and which, like Information Research follows the 'Platinum Route' to open access, i.e., one that relies upon collaboration and voluntary work and in which no money flows.

With authors from Argentina, Brazil, China, Israel, Spain, Taiwan, the UK and the USA, we once again have a truly international issue. When you add in all the countries represented by the authors of papers in the CoLIS Proceedings, the picture is even more global.

Why not .pdf files?

I was recently asked, not for the first time, why I don't use Adobe's 'portable document format' for the files in the journal. The answer involves several elements, but is quite straightforward. Over-riding everything is the fact that pdf is not a 'native' format for the Web: it was designed to ensure that documents intended to be printed could be moved from computer to computer without the loss of any formatting detail and would look the same regardless of which machine it was held. That is not the purpose of the files in Information Research, they are in the native format of the Web, html - or xhtml, rather - and are designed to be viewed on screen and manipulated by a browser, or by any other program for manipulating Web pages.

There are other, serious disadvantages to the use of pdf files: first, they are very much bigger files than xhtml files. For example, the Invited Paper in this issue is a mere 68kb in size, but a pdf file for the same paper inflates to 216kb, i.e., more than three times the size. Yes, storage gets cheaper all the time, but that is no reason to ignore the economics. Secondly, because the files are non-native and require a third-party reader, the files are much slower to load, thereby affecting the user's experience of the site. On my machine, the Bates file takes less than one second to open, while the pdf version takes about four seconds (if older versions of Acrobat Reader are used, up to ten seconds) - not much of a difference on paper, but an age when you are waiting for it to pop up on screen. Thirdly, because the files are intended to print, more time has to be spent on composing the page for printing: this means moving tables and figures from their 'natural' positions in the text and this puts a higher workload on the layout editor (i.e., me!). You can read more about the disadvantages of pdf elsewhere.

Thank you!

My thanks to all the usual suspects for copy-editing, link-checking, translations, etc., and, this time a special thanks to those who have helped with reviews over the past year. As a result of using the journal management system (OJS) we are now able to list the reviewers and thank them for helping to maintain the journal's standards.


Professor Tom Wilson, Publisher/Editor-in-Chief
October 2007
How to cite this editorial
Wilson, T.D. (2007)  "Editorial."  Information Research, 12(4), editorial E124   [Available at: http://informationr.net/ir/12-4/editor124.html]

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