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This issue of British Journal of Sports Medicine sees the launch of BJSM Online—a full text, sophisticated web site. The internet has long been an invaluable resource for science and medicine, and many publishers have recognised its potential to disseminate important research and to increase awareness of their journals internationally. A few years ago there were fewer than 100 journals online, now there are thousands with an exponential rise in the number expected to occur over the next few years. In fact, an article in Nature predicted that a journal without a full text web site is heading for extinction.1BJSM has had an internet presence for some time but its web site was rather basic (just tables of contents and general information). The new site has the same address—www.bjsportmed.com—butit has moved to California.
BJSM has joined its illustrious cousin the BMJ, and many other important medical journals, at HighWire Press, a division of Stanford University's Green Library. HighWire's mission is to “foster research and instruction by providing a more direct link between the writers and readers of scholarly materials”.2 As visitors to the BMJ's web site (www.bmj.com) will know, online journals can have many features that add value to the important research contained within the print version. One of the many benefits of being part of the HighWire stable is that all publishers agree to share “toll free links”—this means that references to any of the more than 200 journals hosted by HighWire link directly to the full text of that article without any subscription charges. In addition, the BMJ Publishing Group aims to join the CrossRef initiative whereby references will link directly to articles in participating journals regardless of where they are hosted (access to full text will be determined by the individual publisher). References to non-HighWire journals already link directly to the Medline listing where available and we are working towards similar links to ISI's Current Contents. These hyperlinks are just one of the ways in which we hope to exploit the mass of information available online.
Each new issue of BJSM will be available in full (including figures and tables) with additional “web extra” material. Full text articles have downloadable “printer friendly” pdf files so you don't have to read them on screen. There is a fully searchable archive going back to March 1998, as well as abstracts and tables of contents from much earlier issues. It is possible to search across all or a selected set of the more than 200 HighWire journals which cover many aspects of clinical medicine and basic science. Email @lerts will automatically alert you when a new issue is available; these will soon be customisable to your particular area of interest. The “Collections” feature allows you to search quickly for material in subspecialty areas and this feature links directly with the BMJ and other specialist journals in the BMJ Publishing Group stable.
BJSM Online will be more than just an electronic mirror of the print journal. The benefits of cross journals searching and linking are immense. In addition you can have your say on anything published in the journal by using the “eLetters” feature. Your comments about an article can be submitted online and posted within a few days (subject to editorial screening). Additional material including tables, illustrations, and references that cannot find space in the print journal are easily accommodated online. Multimedia features can be added, including video and audio clips. The future may well see: immediate online publication of important research; important results from major conferences highlighted within days; interactive educational material; and virtual journals customised by the reader. In addition, we plan to introduce online submission and peer review of papers within the next year or so.
Each issue of BJSM will be put online at the same time as the print version is distributed; therefore, readers outside the UK will not have to wait for days or weeks to enjoy the journal. Access to BJSM Online will be free until March 2001; it will then be available at no charge to personal print subscribers (including members of the British Association of Sport and Exercise Medicine). Online only subscriptions will be available to personal subscribers, and institutions can purchase a site licence allowing access to all qualifying members from both within the institution and off site (details available on the web site). Non-subscribers will be able to purchase individual articles or short term access to the whole site.
The rapid advances in information technology and the immense penetration of the internet around the world means that important medical research can reach more people more quickly. BJSM is pleased to embrace these advances so that rather than “face extinction” the journal evolves to provide relevant material to the international sports medicine community where it needs it and when it needs it. We aim to fulfil the needs of authors and readers so we welcome your comments on these developments both through the web site and more traditional methods.
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