Stanford E-Journal User Survey

This survey asks scientists and practitioners who are relatively familiar with electronic journals about their use of features and related scholarly practices such as searching for articles, staying current in your field and subscribing to journals. The questionnaire requests minimal personal information. Your participation will remain entirely anonymous; responses will be analyzed in the aggregate only, and individual responses will not be associated with individual participants.


• "E-mail alert" is defined as a service you sign up for, through which journals email you either (a) tables of contents or (b) citations of articles on topics of interest to you. We refer to these two types of alert services as "emailed table of contents alerts" and "emailed article citation alerts," respectively.

• "E-journals" are peer-reviewed journals available online, whether or not also available in conventional, printed form.

• "Printed edition" refers to conventional journal editions published and distributed as paper copies, and "online edition" refers to journal editions available online (same as “e-journal”).

• "PDF" refers to the formatting of articles in the "portable data format" read by Adobe® Acrobat®.


1. What's your experience with the following e-journal features? Check only one box per feature. (If you have never used the feature, please check ONE of the three options under the heading "I have not used it and I...". If you had never heard of the feature before this survey, check "Never heard of it". If you had heard of it, but had not tried it yet, please check either "Don't plan to use it" or "Would like to try it".)

I have used it
and found it...
I have not used it,
and I...
Useful Not
of it
plan to
use it
like to
try it
E-mailed table of contents alerts
E-mailed article citation alerts on topics of interest to you 
Videos or animated graphics
      >>see chart Q.1_3
Hyperlinks from one article to a cited article in the same journal
      >>see chart Q.1_4
Hyperlinks from one article to a cited article in a different journal at no charge (toll-free linking)
      >>see chart Q.1_5
Hyperlinks from an article to a scientific database
      >>see chart Q.1_6
Hyperlinks from an article to an author's e-mail address
      >>see chart Q.1_7
Hyperlinks from an article to an author's website
      >>see chart Q.1_8
Pay-per-view (paying online for immediate access to a single article)
      >>see chart Q.1_9
Electronic manuscript submission (through online forms or email) 
      >>see chart Q.1_10
Online peer reviews (downloading articles to review, submitting reviews online) 
      >>see chart Q.1_11
Access to articles "in press" (peer-reviewed and accepted but not yet revised/edited) 
      >>see chart Q.1_12
2. How problematic, if at all, are the following issues with e-journal features? Check only one box; if you have never used the feature, check "not applicable".

Videos or animated graphics that play slowly or poorly
      >>see chart Q.2_1
Articles in PDF (portable document format) that load slowly
      >>see chart Q.2_2
Pictures in PDF that are too small to read clearly      >>see chart Q.2_3
Pictures in HTML that load slowly      >>see chart Q.2_4
Pictures in PDF that are in black-and-white instead of full color      >>see chart Q.2_5
E-journals that don't provide hyperlinks to cited articles      >>see chart Q.2_6
E-journals that don't provide access to older issues      >>see chart Q.2_7


3. The following reasons have motivated me to sign up for "email alerts" (either table of contents alerts or citation alerts): Check all that apply. (If your reasons are not listed, or you have additional reasons, please write your reasons briefly in the comment box below.)
      >>see chart Q.3

To become aware of articles published in my field
To become aware of articles published in other fields
To keep up-to-date with trends in science and/or medical practice
To save or print out contents to keep for future reference
To save or print out contents to use in a bibliography
To reduce library visits
To obtain knowledge of new research/practice as early as the information is available
To browse journals not available to me locally
To become aware of special one-time publications
To scan more journals than you would otherwise have time for
To find articles to review with a group (e.g., journal club)
Additional Reasons / Comments:
4. For MOST journals I receive email alerts for, I have access to full-text articles online through: (Check only one)
      >>see chart Q.4
My individual journal subscription
My institution's subscription
I don't have any access to the full-text articles mentioned in my email alerts.
I don't know how I gain access to full-text articles.
5. My FIRST STEP in following up on the articles I see in "email alerts" is USUALLY: (Check only one)
      >>see chart Q.5
Reading abstracts available through e-journals (on the screeen or printed out)
Reading full-text articles available through e-journals (on the screeen or printed out)
Copying/borrowing the printed edition of the journal available locally
Ordering the printed version of the articles through interlibrary loan services
I usually do not read either the abstracts or the full text of journal articles I see in email alerts.

6. What kind of information do you want to see displayed immediately about articles your search found? Please check all items you would like to see displayed on initial search result screens
      >>see chart Q.6

Journal Name
Date of Publication
Page Numbers
ISSN number
Number of Times Cited
First Page of the Full Text of the Article
Sentence in Article that Matched Your Search Terms
Whether There Will Be a Charge to View Full Text
Form(s) of Linked Full Text Available (e.g., HTML, PDF, etc.)
Whether Supplemental Materials (e.g., lab notes) Are Available Online or Not
7a. Where do you USUALLY begin searching for journal articles? (Check only one)
      >>see chart Q.7a
A general-purpose search engine (e.g., Google, Yahoo)
A specific journal's website
HighWire Press's multi-journal search website
PubMed's multi-journal search website
Another multi-journal search website (e.g., OVID, SCIENCE DIRECT, MEDLINE)
An online citation index (e.g., Web of Science, SciSearch, SciFinder Scholar)
My local library's reference room or stacks
Other Starting Points / Comments:
7b. I begin searching at the site I checked above because it: Check all that apply.
      >>see chart Q.7b
Is fast
Is comprehensive
Is non-commercial
Is familiar to me
Is easy to use
Is reliable
Has more search options
Other Reasons (type in the box below)

Other Reasons:

8a. What is your MOST preferred format for reading full-text e-journal articles ON THE SCREEN? Check only one
      >>see chart Q.8a
Rather than reading from the screen, I prefer to print them out and read the printed copy
I don't have access to full-text articles online
8b. What is your MOST preferred format for reading figures and images ON THE SCREEN? Check only one
      >>see chart Q.8b
Rather than reading from the screen, I prefer to print them out and read the printed copy
I don't have access to figures and images online
9a. When searching for scientific journal articles online, how often do you experience each of the concerns listed below? (If your concerns are not listed, or you have additional concerns, please write them briefly in the comment box below.)

 Frequently  Occasionally     Never 
Too many results returned from a search
      >>see chart Q.9a_1
Results that are not very well sorted by relevance to my search criteria
      >>see chart Q.9a_2
Key words that do not accurately represent the content of articles
      >>see chart Q.9a_3
Titles that do not provide enough information about the contents of the article
      >>see chart Q.9a_4
Articles that don't provide abstracts
      >>see chart Q.9a_5
Articles on topics I wasn't interested in
      >>see chart Q.9a_6
Search engines that don't provide cross-reference searches across journals
      >>see chart Q.9a_7
Articles that are not available in full text online without paying a fee per view
      >>see chart Q.9a_8
Becoming lost when following up on search results
      >>see chart Q.9a_9
9b. In general, how many screens of search results do you look at? Check only one
      >>see chart Q.9b
First screen only
10 or more
9c. When I have a citation and I'm trying to locate the article, I usually search on:
      >>see chart Q.9c
Journal Name
9d. When I'm searching for articles on a particular subject, I usually search on:
      >>see chart Q.9d
Subject heading (e.g., MeSH term)
Key word
Full Text

10. How many different scientific journals do you regularly read (at least one full-text article) or browse (titles/abstracts), whether in print or electronically, to "stay current" in your own field(s)?

Number of journals read 
      >>see chart Q.10_1
Number of journals browsed 
      >>see chart Q.10_2
11. I USUALLY access these scientific journals (to stay current in my own field) through:
(Check only one)
      >>see chart Q.11
Personal subscriptions to the printed editions
Visiting a library to browse and/or photocopy their printed editions
Institutional online subscriptions
Personal online subscriptions
Journal homepages online without any subscription
Printed editions borrowed from my co-workers
I don't regularly read or browse articles to stay current in my field.
Do you access journals differently when you are browsing outside of your field?

12. Currently, of how many professional/scholarly societies are you a member?
      >>see chart Q.12

Number of societies 
13. Please check all the reasons that motivated you to join the professional/scholarly societies of which you are currently a member. (If you have no current society memberships, please check the "Not Applicable" box. If you have additional reasons, write them briefly in the comments box.)
      >>see chart Q.13
To support the society's mission
To attend conferences at a reduced rate
To present papers at conferences
Journals come free or discounted with memberships
Membership is required in order to submit an article to that society's journals
To reduce cost of publishing my papers in the society journal(s)
Customized services available online such as filtering tools that are available only with membership
To receive society newsletters
To place or receive job advertisements
Professional affiliations needed for my current or future jobs
Not Applicable
14. Do you personally subscribe to any scientific journals other than those that come free or discounted with your society memberships?
      >>see chart Q.14
Don't know
15. Have you canceled any personal scientific journal subscriptions in the past year?
      >>see chart Q.15
Yes [Continue to the next question]
No [Skip to question 17]
Don't know [Skip to question 17]
16. Why did you cancel these personal scientific journal subscriptions in the past year? Please check all that apply
      >>see chart Q.16
The price increased beyond my budget.
The importance of the journal has decreased in my field of research/practice.
I found that my library or organization subscribes to the online edition of this journal.
I found that my library or organization subscribes to the printed edition of this journal.
I disapproved of a specific journal policy on the peer-review process, copyright, access restrictions, or other issues.
I experienced poor service from the journal.
The number of papers relevant to my interests published by the journal decreased.
Additional Reasons / Comments:
17. Have you subscribed to any new scientific journals in the past year?
      >>see chart Q.17
Yes [Continue to the next question]
No [Skip to question 19]
18. Why did you start subscribing to those new scientific journals? Check all that apply
      >>see chart Q.18
I wanted to take advantage of some features the journal had available online.
I signed up for one of the journal's alerting services and wanted full-text access to the articles.
My organization had canceled its subscription to the journal.
I was able to pay for the journal subscription with research/private funds.
The journal has been gaining importance in my field of research/practice.
I wanted more convenient access to the journal.
I wanted to access older back issues online.
Additional Reasons / Comments:

The following section asks about “pay-per-view," an online feature defined here as the ability to pay to view a single article online (in the absence of a full online subscription).

19a. Which of the following statements represent your experience and views regarding pay-per-view? Please check all that apply
      >>see chart Q.19a

If online payment were safer, I would use it more.
I have canceled at least one journal subscription because "pay-per-view" is available for that journal.
For some journals where I read only a few articles per issue, I would rather pay a small amount per article than pay for an entire issue or subscription.
I use pay-per-view only when I need an article urgently.
I don't need pay-per-view because I already have access to whatever journal content I need through institutional or personal subscriptions.
I would not use pay-per-view under any circumstances.
19b. If you WOULD use "pay-per-view" under some circumstances, what do you feel is a reasonable price to pay per article online, in US dollars? Type in the number of US dollars, rounded to the nearest whole dollar (NO CENTS OR DECIMAL POINTS, PLEASE)
      >>see chart Q.19b
How much? (US dollars)

20. Considering all the features we've asked about so far, AND any that we haven't asked about, what ONE e-journal feature would you MOST like to see added by the journals that you read online, and WHY?

Finally, here are a few demographic questions that will enable us to determine how representative our sample is of all e-journal users of life science and medical journals

21. What kinds of organization(s) are you currently working or studying at, or affiliated with? Check all that apply
      >>see chart Q.21

Academic institution with Ph.D. and Masters' programs.
Academic institution with undergraduate and Masters' programs only
Academic institution with undergraduate program only (e.g., liberal arts college)
For-profit company
Government organization
Non-governmental non-profit organization (NGO)
Hospital or Clinic not affiliated with a University
Hospital or Clinic affiliated with a University
I am self-employed
I am not currently employed or studying formally
Other organization (fill in below)
Other Organizations / Comments:
22. What is your position? Please check all that apply
      >>see chart Q.22
Physician / Clinician
Other Allied Health Professional
Student (graduate or undergraduate)
Post-doctoral Researcher
Research Scientist
If you checked "Other", please describe your position:
23. What is your country of residence?
      >>see chart Q.23
24. What is your age?
      >>see chart Q.24
Years (e.g. enter "33" if you're 33 years old.)
25. Are you male or female?
      >>see chart Q.25
26. What are your primary field(s) of study/training?
      >>see chart Q.26
Fields (enter your field(s) here, separated by commas)
That was our last question. Please feel free to write additional comments and feedback in the following box. We greatly appreciate your feedback.

This questionnaire was created using Perseus SurveySolutions.