InTOCicated by eTOCs

As you might gather from the post title, I love journal alerts (aka eTOCs) and here’s why:

  • They increase use of our expensive ejournals
  • They help keep clinicians up to date in their specialty
  • They repeatedly remind clinicians that the medical library exists; no small thing in these Googlesque days
  • They can be used to cross promote other library resources, services and news

We are a relatively small hospital library (two staff) which services around 5000 clients. Over the years, our ejournal alert service has grown to around 700 journal alerts, and is probably our most popular service.

The way it works is that all journal eTOCs come through one email and are forwarded to alert groups automatically via rules.

Our organisation used to have Groupwise for its email system and rules worked well with it. However on switching to Outlook, we quickly found that we could only create half a dozen or so rules before memory limitations were reached. After some searching, we found an Outlook add-in called Auto-Mate from Pergenex which came to the rescue. It’s an easy to use but powerful add-in, and it’s strangely gratifying to watch it automatically forward dozens of eTOCs each morning.

While signing up for eTOCs is a one off task, and forwarding of emails is automatic once rules have been set up, creating and modifying ejournal email groups is the most labor intensive part of the service. If I was to start the service again, I’d probably do it at the subject level (eg cardiology) rather than the title level (eg BMJ) as this would reduce the workload involved in adding and removing users from groups.

With a previous post – exporting Google Scholar citations to reference managers – I Kraftily used it as a Trojan horse to seek an answer to issue. Thanks to responders Farhad, Christine and especially Karen who provided the solution.

In a similar vein, I’m hoping a clever commenter out there can shed light on the following question:

Is there a way to have an online web form such that a user can make multiple selections (for the various eTOCs they are interested in) and which on submission updates multiple email groups (corresponding to the eTOCs they have selected/deselected). The email system doesn’t necessarily need to be Outlook. I thought this would be relatively straightforward process but as yet haven’t been able to find any offerings like this, despite playing around with the likes of MailChimp.

The JournalTOCs service has something like this available but our resolver wouldn’t work with their system alas alack alay

In any case, I remain a big fan of eTOCs and would be interested to hear if any other libraries have any comments, are using them in interesting ways or have any technology (not RSS ) that streamlines the process and so on

Thanks Rob

5 thoughts on “InTOCicated by eTOCs”

  1. Hi Rob! Having just switched the remainder of my print journals over to online subscriptions, I am in the middle of also switching our current awareness service to an e-TOC version. I was heartened by your mention of using Groupwise rules to automate the process (I have GW at my hospital), and I’ve been attempting to do that, but I’ve found that it only seems to work well if the e-TOC alert is forwarded to my patrons as an attachment. Did you find the same, by any chance? It’s a minor thing in the end if the rules actually work, but if I can avoid the extra clicks on the patron end to open the embedded email, that would be fantastic. Thanks! Maureen

  2. Hi Maureen,

    Sorry I’ve just seen your post. It is quite a while since Groupwise was our corporate system so it is a little hard to remember but I’m pretty sure the emails weren’t sent as attachments – so I think there should be a way to make it work like a regular forwarded email

    Regards, Rob

  3. Dear Rob,
    we used to forward eTocs in Outlook but have now switched to a new service My-Toc. It is a dutch service, developed for alerting services in hospitals. A number of hospitals use it to alert their patrons, we share the titels so it costs less effort to manage the alerts. You can manage it for your patrons or they can do it theirself. It’s very basic. You have to give the email adress to the publisher and add the patron’s email adress in My-toc. The alert is then send to all subcribers. https://www.my-toc.com

  4. When I wrote this post a few years ago, I mentioned JournalTOCs and the link resolver does work in the current library I work in. Some further details on JournalTOCs below but we are no longer considering it as likely adopting Ovid Discovery which has eTOCs available for approx. 16,000 journals. As all on the same platform, it will be easy for staff to sign up themselves for eTOCs of interest. And I’ve been told that, for a fee, Ovid can likely allow the addition of customised headings at the top of eTOC emails so hopefully will still be possible to use the eTOCs more broadly to cross promote other services.

    http://jmla.mlanet.org/ojs/jmla/article/view/452/688

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