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Hypermedia Online Publishing: the Transformation of the Scholarly Journal

6.3.1 Journal of Biological Chemistry


The Journal of Biological Chemistry Online (JBC) is published by the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology in collaboration with Stanford University's Highwire Press (see 8.3: Highwire Press on page 149). It is available on the Web at <http://www.jbc.org/> . For a representative opening screen see figure 6-1. It was the first e-journal published by Highwire and is in some ways still their flagship product. JBC is a parallel delivery journal and in its print incarnation is one of the larger journals. It is produced weekly and each issue can contain between 700 and 1,000 pages. In a sense it can be regarded as seven journals dealing with different aspects of biological chemistry bound into one.

Figure 6-1: Opening Screen for JBC Online . Source: JBC Online Website


Access to JBC Online is through an individual subscription or institutional (which can cover consortia of institutions) license. ASBMB publishes the JBC on a non-profit basis and recognises the pressures on library budgets. For 1999, the institutional subscription price for the print only version of the journal (over 33,000 pages) is $1600. The price for online only (single site licence) is $1100. This presumably reflects the reduction in printing and distribution costs. There is no discount for taking both print and online - the combined price is $2700. On their Web site, they actively encourage institutions to convert multiple print subscriptions to a single online subscription. Individuals who are not members of The American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (ASBMB) must subscribe at the institutional rate. In common with many e-journals, consortium licensing attracts a discount and access is controlled through the IP number of the computer used. Without a subscription, users only have access to tables of contents, abstracts, and full text searching - enough to see what they are missing!


Navigation through the JBC Online site is either hierarchical or via searching. The archive of full text goes back to the start of 1995. The archive of abstracts back to the start of 1980. Either can be viewed hierarchically starting by year and then issue. Because the cover of each issue looks essentially the same, there is no point in showing an image of the cover. Highwire also produce Science Online, the online version of the prestigious journal of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Each cover of this journal is very different and the Web site for this e-journal at <http://www.sciencemag.org/> does provide thumbnails of the covers as a navigation technique, keying into the user's visual memories of a particular issue.

Searching is supported for volume number, author/title/abstract keywords or by words anywhere in the article, as well as limited by date range. Because each issue is so large, it is also possible to search for keywords once a user has selected an issue. It is also possible to search across multiple online journals in a single step.


The contents of an issue are presented as author and title, with links to either abstract or full-text. The onscreen presentation of individual articles is done using HTML. Articles are organised into sections (typically Abstract, Introduction, Materials and Methods, Results and Discussion, and References) with a mini table of contents available at the start of each section to aid navigation within an article. Footnotes are implemented as internal hyperlinks. Images are shown as thumbnails which link to larger versions for detailed viewing.

For users who wish to print the article out, a PDF version is available. This is identical in appearance to the corresponding pages in the print version as it has been produced from the same original electronic version. The quality of the printed PDF will probably be better than an inter-library loan photocopy of an original.

Additional features

JBC Online provides a range of features that are only possible in the online version. These include:

  • automatic creation of hyperlinks to MEDLINE citations provided by the National Library of Medicines PubMed service, for the article itself and for cited articles, and for related articles.
  • links from Genbank accession numbers to full Genbank records
  • bidirectional links between citing articles and cited references (where available)
  • forward citations
  • 'toll-free' links between the references from one journal article to the full text of the cited article, where this is also published by Highwire and subject to the subscription policies of the cited journal
  • predefined Medline searches by article author
  • automatic alerting service via email when new articles cite an article of interest.

Last modified: Monday, 11-Dec-2017 14:38:19 AEDT

© Andrew Treloar, 2001. * http://andrew.treloar.net/ * andrew.treloar@gmail.com