The emergence of the Internet and the World Wide Web have potentially profound implications for scholarly communication patterns, particularly in journal publication.
This report explores the way in which electronic journals are being used by academics. The central issue is new product innovation and the way that potential users learn of it, use and adopt it.
A literature review of the nature, characteristics and roles of electronic journals, existing studies of journal use and journal users and theoretical literature in marketing, product innovation and innovation champions suggests that much of the research has been driven by journal products and technological models, rather than by user demand issues. An exploratory, qualitative study was conducted using a small number of semi-structured interviews of academic psychologists.
It has shown that adoption is still at an early stage. Those who are yet to do not have sufficient incentive to make a commitment towards knowledge or involved use. Relative advantage, observability and trialability are key issues to be addressed by publishers and intermediaries. Prestige and speed of publication were the two most important factors likely to promote adoption of electronic journals. Prestige depended on historical patterns of journal age and citation history. author and reader conservatism, procedural issues and factors relating to knowledge and information. Perceptions of status suggest that electronic journals will have the capacity to become academically important only if high standards are established and communicated to authors and readers.
Recommendations are made for further research and implications suggested for marketing of electronic journals by publishers, intermediaries and users.