Department of Information and Library Studies
Leics LE11 3TU, UK
Throughout the last 15 years, the level of technology has changed dramatically. For example, the BLEND system was limited to ASCII characters; movement through the articles was not easy and relied on a system of paragraph numbering. In contrast, a modern electronic journal may contain interactive multimedia elements (cf. the Journal of Interactive Media in Education ) with navigation being via a combination of context-sensitive menus in one frame and hypertext links within the article frame.
Not only has the level of technology changed dramatically in this period but the availability of this technology has also greatly increased. In the days of BLEND, few people had terminals on their desk and most people had to go to a terminal room which may have been down the hall or may have been in a different building. Not surprisingly, the BLEND project found that the frequency with which people accessed the system depended on the distance they were from the nearest terminal. These days most academics have a reasonably sophisticated computer on their desk.
The increased availability of computers has led to some changes in academic working patterns. For example, many academics now use word processors to produce their articles, presentation packages to produce their teaching materials and email usage has become almost ubiquitous. In Loughborough, staff were instructed to assume that everyone reads email regularly and its use has been positively encouraged.
Although changes such as these have taken place, more deep-seated working habits do not seem to have been influenced. Hence, although our various projects have looked at quite different implementations, the results have rarely surprised us. The present paper describes some of the user attitudes and behaviour observed in these and other studies.
Since then, screen design has improved immensely and now the typical screen has relatively high resolution, has a white background and black characters. In the days when such screens were beginning to be developed, I had assumed that screen reading would gain in popularity as image quality improved. After all, John Gould's work at IBM  had shown that reading from screens could be as fast as from paper if the image quality was sufficiently good. However, recent results from Cafe Jus suggest that people still prefer to read from paper.
There are several reasons why people have been slower to change than I anticipated. For example, there is still an issue of resolution. The average screen has a resolution of about 75 dots per inch (dpi). Most laser printers have a resolution of at least 300 dpi, with 600 dpi printers becoming more common. A typical journal is printed at about 1200 dpi. In a field like mathematics, it is not possible to display complex formulae adequately on screen, as we found during ELVYN. Users were happy to scan an article on screen, but if they wanted to read it in depth and study the maths, they wanted a printed copy. Even the ADONIS system which boasted a 300 dpi screen was often not sufficiently high resolution to display the complex medical half-tone images that the journals contained.
The recent trend in mounting electronic journals in Adobe's PDF format also discourages screen reading and encourages printing. Such journals are far from easy to manipulate and read on screen yet print out perfectly well - not surprisingly, since PDF is based on PostScript, the page description language of most laser printers.
Annotating electronic articles is certainly possible. Benest's  system allowed the user to select from three highlighting tools: a quill pen, a highlighter pen and a typewriter. Oostendorp  reported use of a system which used a graphic tablet and 'electronic pencil' to annotate scanned page images. Software packages now exist which allow different users to annotate texts. However, all these methods require far more resources than a simple pencil and all require the development of additional skills.
Watching a reader pick up an issue of a journal, skim through the contents, turn to an article and skim through it and then turn back to the contents, all in a matter of seconds, it is clear that such skills are largely automatic. Watching people trying to do the same thing in an electronic journal system, it is clear that people will have to learn a different set of skills.
Electronic journal systems such as Academic Press's IDEAL  can present readers with a list of journals in a particular area, but in order to browse at the title and author level it is necessary to go down several levels of the hierarchy before an issue's contents can be viewed. Even then, it is only possible to view journals published by Academic Press. If I want to read another publisher's journals, I have to go to their web site and go through another login procedure before I can dig down to a current issue. Apart from the poor ergonomics, a fundamental problem is that most readers do not know (or care) who publishes their favourite journals. I know who publishes the International Journal of Human-Computer Studies because I'm a member of the Editorial Board, but I haven't a clue who publishes the Journal of Library and Information Science.
The arrival of various subscription agents into the electronic journal field may go some way towards improving this situation. However, suppose my library has a subscription to Blackwell's Electronic Journal Navigator  and I log into that. The first thing I am presented with is a search engine, which is hardly conducive to browsing. If I select the 'Journals' button from the top of the screen, I am presented with a screen headed 'Journal Browse' but is again a search engine. Not only do I have to enter a search term before I can browse, I'm also offered the option to search by ISSN. I have never met a reader of a journal that knew the ISSN for that journal which leads me to suspect that this interface is not designed for 'end user' access. An alphabetical list of journals is available, but this is not particularly useful for subject browsing - an example of three consecutive journals are Aids Care, Aircraft Engineering and Aerospace Technology and Alimentary Pharmacology and Therapeutics.
Typically, an academic library will deal with more than one subscription agent and may also deal direct with certain publishers. However, as a library user I need know none of this. As an electronic journal user, will I need to know which subscription agent supplies which journals - should I log on to Blackwell's or do I need to go to SwetsNet?
Similar problems were also encountered in Cafe Jus when Chapman & Hall  completely redesigned their Web site. Users accustomed to their site suddenly found themselves confronted with a completely different interface design. Indeed, those users running Netscape version 1 suddenly found themselves unable to read the site because the new version was based on frames and required Netscape 2. Those with a frames-capable browser still experienced difficulty finding the journals listing, hidden as it was in a tiny frame in one corner of the screen.
Perhaps the basic difficulty is that, in the journals field at least, publishers don't really care about readers. A journal is published because its authors wish to publish. Publishers and editors know that if they can attract the best authors in a field then academic libraries, which are the major market for such journals, will be under pressure to purchase them. Most libraries purchase their journals through subscription agents so the publisher is even further removed from readers. This raises the interesting question of where, and with whom, publishers are conducting their market research into electronic journals. When I was conducting the feasibility study for ELVYN, I asked the publisher what the journal's editorial board thought about the development of an electronic version. I was informed that they knew nothing about it and had not been consulted.
People think the same about electronic journals as they do about any new development - 'what advantage does it have for me?' Unless readers can see a real advantage to electronic journals, why should they use them? Unless readers can do at least the same things - and preferably more - with electronic journals as they do with paper, what incentive is there for them to change?
If publishers do not care about readers, what do authors think about electronic journals? Early indications were that authors were suspicious of publishing their work in an experimental journal which may disappear. Even the recent Online Journal of Current Clinical Trials eventually had to offer related paper publishing in order to attract authors, and this in a field where immediacy of publishing is very important. However, most research has focused on readers rather than authors and for this reason I recently bid successfully for funding to study author perceptions and expectations of electronic journals, including their attitude towards the inclusion of multimedia content . Hence, I should be able to provide some sort of answer to this question in a year's time.
If it transpires that authors are reluctant to move to electronic journals and publishers continue to ignore the human factors research, then electronic journals may well turn out to be no more than an expensive experiment, the cost of which will almost certainly be passed on to the consumer. By way of example, the American Chemical Society recently published its pricing policy , in which the electronic version of a typical journal costs more than the paper version. The Society bases this policy on the belief that the electronic version 'Iprovides scientists and librarians with important benefits to help them improve their use of the journalsI' I can only assume that publishers who adopt this stance have access to user research findings which have not yet appeared in the literature.
 Benest, I.D. (1990) A hypertext system with controlled hype. In R. McAleese and C. Green (eds) Hypertext: State of the Art. Oxford: Intellect. 52-63.
 Blackwell's Electronic Journal Navigator site is at: http://navigator.blackwell.co.uk/
 Chapman & Hall's journal site is reached via: http://www.chapmanhall.com/
 Dillon, A. (1991) Readers' models of text structures: the case of academic articles. International Journal of Man-Machine Studies, 35, 913-925.
 Durniak, A. (1997) Rationale for ACS Web Journal Prices. Posting to CHMINF-L@LISTSERV.INDIANA.EDU, reposted to email@example.com on 18/9/97.
 Gould, J.D., Alfaro, L., Finn, R., Haupt, B. and Minuto, A. (1987) Reading from CRT displays can be as fast as reading from paper. Human Factors, 29(5), 497-517.
 IDEAL, Academic Press's journal site is at: http://www.europe.idealibrary.com/
 Journal of Interactive Media in Education is available at: http://www-jime.open.ac.uk/jime/
 McKnight, C. and Dillon, A. (1993) User centred design of library information systems. In K.JClara and J. Van Borm (eds) Van Geautomatiseerd Beheer van Archieven en Bibliotheken naar Geautomatiseerde Informatie. Antwerpen: Vlaamse Vereniging voor Bibliotheek-, Archief- an Documentatiewezen, 163-170.
 Olsen, J. (1994) Electronic Journal Literature: Implications for Scholars. Westport, CT: Mecklermedia.
 Oostendorp, H. van (1990) Annotating electronic documents. Paper presented to the Interacting With Computers Congress, Noordwijkerhout, The Netherlands, December 10-11.
 Rowland, F., McKnight, C. and Meadows, J. (1995) (eds) Project ELVYN: An Experiment in Electronic Journal Delivery. Sevenoaks, Kent: Bowker Saur.
 Shackel, B. (1982) Plans and initial progress with BLEND - an electronic network communication experiment. International Journal of Man-Machine Studies, 17, 225-233.
 Shackel, B. (1986) (ed.) BLEND-5: The Computer Human Factors Journal. LIR Report N< 47. London: The British Library.
 Simpson, A. (1988) Academic journal usage. British Journal of Academic Librarianship, 3(1), 25-36.
 SuperJournal project details available at: http://www.superjournal.ac.uk/sj/
 Tuck, B., McKnight, C., Hayet, M. and Archer, D. (1990) Project Quartet. LIR Report N< 76. London: The British Library.
 Woodward, H., McKnight, C., Meadows, J., Pritchett, C. and Rowland, F. (1997) Use of electronic journals by academic staff and postgraduate students in an information-literate university. In New Book Economy: Proceedings of the 5th International BOBCATSSS Symposium, Budapest, January. 274-281.