Open J-Gate – not bad yet not great
I think it was last week when I was doing the part of the assignment sheet on journals that I somehow stumbled upon J-Gate.com (http://www.openj-gate.com). No, not the Jewish dating site – this is J-Gate with a G. I didn’t know about this when I was scouring journal articles for Law Review and I didn’t see it linked through the Cornell Law Library, but it’s not a terrible free alternative to HeinOnline or the other subscription sites if you don’t have access.
The parent site, J-Gate.com (the e-Journal Gateway at http://j-gate.informindia.co.in), isn’t free. That’s a subscription site (from India) that purports to be “an electronic gateway to global e-journal literature.” It was launched in 2001 by Informatics India Ltd. and currently has a database of over 24,000 e-journals with links to full text at publisher sites (taking Informatics at their word here since I don’t have subscription access to check!). The parent site seems proud of the fact that it excludes those journals that are not available online, including over 1200 that are only available online and are not in print. Supposedly, the site also has easy search features (table of contents and various search options), is updated daily, offers customization for subscribers, and provides links to local library journal availability. “J-Gate also plans to support online subscription to journals, electronic document delivery, archiving and other related services.”
Open J-Gate is powered by J-Gate, but is free and open to the general public. The home page declares it to be a “service provided by Informatics dedicated to the promotion of the Open Access movement for scholarly journals.” With such an altruistic goal, it kind of makes you wonder why they have their own subscription-based (probably better) site, doesn’t it? I guess that’s the way a lot of these groups are operating – I think this one is really aimed at getting library cataloging and journal archiving business. Open J-Gate started in 2006 as an “Open Access Initiative – a new paradigm in scholarly publishing. It aims to promote models that ensure free and unrestricted access to scholarly & research journals.”
Although Open J-Gate doesn’t have close to the same number of journals represented as the paid J-Gate does, it still indexes over 1 million articles from over 8,000 academic, research, and industry journals. Like its parent, Open J is updated every day and gives the user the same nice search features of TOC browsing and various search options (title, author, abstract, author’s address/institution, and keywords with boolean search across fields), including the default Quick Search and an Advanced Search feature. You can also filter by peer-reviewed journals or professional/industry journals (you can’t show just the non-peer-reviewed journals so that’s not an option for quickly narrowing the pool to just law journals).
Doing a search for “Cornell” gave me only Cornell Law Review, which means either that ILJ and JLPP are not available online at all or that Open J doesn’t have links to them yet. Given that the current issues of both Cornell journals are online with full-text articles through their respective Law School websites, I would put the blame on Open J-Gate. So that’s not too impressive. That said, they didn’t do too badly with a lot of the law journals.
Remember, if you’re doing a search for a particular law journal (I start with advanced search), you want to uncheck the “Peer-Reviewed Journals” box so you don’t accidentally cut out most of legal scholarship (although, curiously they list Cornell Law Review as peer-reviewed so maybe they have a very loose definition of what that means). When you search for Cornell Law Review, you’re started on what Open J seems to think is the current issue – 95:5. That means that, despite being updated daily, this database is three issues behind what’s available from Cornell directly – we’ve got 96:2 online right now. However, when you click into the “Archives” there are more issues available – including two more recent ones (95:6 and 96:1) – so I’m not sure why the opening issue is 95:5 and they are still missing our most recent. The archives go back as far as 2005 (Volume 90) – not great when our own website has archived issues as far back as Volume 79 online. But maybe they’re better with other journals. Harvard’s got 16 different journals online at Open J, including 11 law-related journals. Harvard Law Review’s January 2011 issue is the default start page for them, but again the archives only date back to 2005.
There is one nice feature available for advanced searches or searches by subject – narrowing down by field. So you can limit your search to just legal scholarship by checking the “Law” box (under the heading “Social & Management Sciences”) and then using keywords from there for your particular topic. The keyword search is actually pretty good and something not available through the regular archives of law journals (at least not Cornell’s) so even though Open J might not have as many articles available, what it does have is easily searchable. Unfortunately, it’s not always right or at least thorough. I tried repeatedly to find one of our student articles there – it didn’t come up by the author’s name or by keywords from the title (although what you do get for “sex” is interesting on its own!) – but I couldn’t find it through any means other than browsing the Cornell Law Review archives and downloading the pdf from there. And that was for a piece I knew existed! If I were just searching for what was out there, I’d never have found it.
All in all, this site is far from perfect but it is nice to have another (free) source to look to for journal articles. Informatics has some work to do but there’s definitely potential there. I wish I had known about this site when I was spending all of last winter break sourcing and hunting down online legal and financial journals I’d never heard of! I maybe would have found a lot of them (and maybe research for my own Note) here.