ticTocs Journal Table of Contents Service
Finding a table of contents alert service as been a small ongoing personal project of mine. I still have yet to find a product on the market that does a good job. The most recent to hit the Internet is ticTocs. ticTocs is a free, easy to use site that researchers can use to keep up to date with their favorite journals' table of contents. There are 12,272 TOCs from 436 publishers linking to 333,977 articles. The TOC feeds can be read in your favorite feed reader.
Sounds great right? I decided to give it a try. ticTocs mentions that in order to get the full text of an article users must either have a personal or institutional subscription. I wanted to see how it handled accessing the full text of an article using an institutional subscription. Why did I do this? Most researchers subscribe to a few core journals, but they want the table of contents to more than just those few that they personally subscribe to. They want the table of contents and the full text to those articles. So any table of contents program really needs to figure out how to address people accessing the full text through an institutional subscription. ticTocs does not do this. They just link to the publishers' site. This works well for some journals, but for journals that have publishers like Lippincott Williams and Wilkins this is a problem. LWW titles are only available to institutions through Ovid, not through the the Lippincott site. Linking only to the publisher's site also does not address the myriad other ways institutions access full text articles, such as institutionally subscribed databases.
If a majority of a user's institutional online journal subscriptions come directly from the publishers' sites then they will be pleased with ticTocs. (Unless they are trying to access Lippincott titles. Come on Lippincott get with the program. Forcing institutions to access the full text through Ovid is inefficient and reflects poorly on your product.) However, if a user wants the TOC to one of the many other medical journals that are available through the institutions full text databases, then they are going to be dissatisfied.
I keep telling people that this is an area for some database company like EBSCO or Ovid to hit upon. All they have to do is create a method to see the current TOCs for journals indexed in MEDLINE, a library's link resolver would direct the users to the correct method of full text access. Just because I mentioned database companies doesn't mean the link resolver companies couldn't do this as well. Who knows perhaps a programming librarian could create a neat little customizable mashup that would work effectively.
Until then I will just keep looking for an easy method of accessing the TOCs and the full text articles.