A problem with Alerts

In the last 5 days I’ve received five messages from BIT:

  • three alert messages giving advance notice of various papers accepted for BIT;
  • a message announcing the 2nd issue of BIT for 2013;
  • and another message announcing the 3rd issue of BIT for 2013.

Since I didn’t deal with them all immediately, I now find myself having to do a relatively substantial amount of work all at once. It would have been much better if these emails had been spaced out a little more. It certainly seems undesirable and unplanned to notify users of two whole issues of BIT within 4 days of each other. I presume that it was caused by problems in the production process. However, my view is that, as a matter of policy, notification of new issues should be spaced as far apart as possible.

Neither of the two issues contained papers I had already previously seen through the alerting process, so I reviewed their contents on screen – first checking the abstracts and then the full text if they looked interesting. As noted before, this experience was fine.

However, checking the alert messages was a little less satisfactory. Because several alert messages are sent out for the same paper as it goes through its reviewing and acceptance cycle, I wanted to establish if I had already checked a paper before spending time on reading it again. I’ve worked out that you can identify papers new to the alerting cycle by looking at the publishing history at the beginning of the paper. Basically, if it has more than one Posting/Publishing entry then one can assume an alert has previously been sent out. If this was the case, I double checked all the previous alert messages (stored in my mail system) that I had received. Once reassured that I had already seen the paper I was able to discount the alert and store the email. For the papers I had not already seen, I reviewed them in the same way as described above i.e. read the Abstract and then, if interested, downloaded and scanned/read the full text.

My current feeling is that the alerting process doesn’t quite meet my needs. I haven’t properly thought it through yet, but I suspect I would prefer to be able to specify my alerting requirements at a much finer level of detail i.e. for each of the standard stages in the reviewing and publishing cycle. I know that my choice would be to only get alerted the very first time a paper is made available online. I don’t believe such granular selection options are currently available.

One other thing has happened in the last week: as a result of a conversation between Dave O’Neil (the Chief Exec of the Institute of Ergonomics and Human Factors) and Taylor & Francis (the publisher of BIT), I now have online access to all back issues of BIT. So I am proceeding to download those issues referenced in my filing system, prior to then trying to find a home for all my hardcopy  issues of BIT.

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