HighWire Press may be a solution to the time-honored problem faced by libraries and other information centers of high subscription rates of science, technical, and medical (STM) journals. HighWire's mission is to "provid(e) a more direct linkage between the writers and readers of scholarly materials...to affect the economics of provision of scholarly information...[and] to build new technological, economic and programmatic partnerships" with other interested parties. Add to this the hope to "ensure that the nascent marketplace...does not develop along the semi-monopolistic lines of current STM publishing" and you've got good use of server space.
The meat of the project is full text and/or abstract access to 15 STM journals through HighWire's page. The titles of currently available journals appear with buttons for browsing the current issue, future content, and the archive, as well as a button for searching articles published in that journal in the last year or as far back as 1987 depending on the journal. At this point there is no searching across multiple journals simultaneously, but a search on one journal can be carried over to another by using the "Try this search in..." pull-down menu on the search results page.
The journal titles listed on Highwire's page are links to the journals' home pages which are designed similarly and offer browsing and searching, subscription information and online forms, author instructions, and other miscellaneous information. An important note is that some journals are currently offering free trials that will end between this fall and January of 1998. From then on, it's subscribers only. The rates for print subscriptions are given (with one exception) and most include online access in the print rate while others have separate subscriptions for online access only. The _Journal of Neuroscience Online_, Science Online_and the _Journal of Biological Chemistry_ offer table of contents, abstracts and searching without paying for a subscription.
Librarians and other information professionals with medical or science programs to support will also be impressed with HighWire's Medline access (available with any of HighWire's journal subscriptions) that includes PubMed citations. Other STM journals including _Blood_ and the _Journal of Neurophysiology_ are on the "Future Sites" list, so access to more journals (hopefully with free trial periods) is in the future. The site has a notification sign-up for those desiring to be informed of additions to the active list.
Another interesting offering of the site is the "Tips for Better Browsing." Here you can find the answers to burning questions such as "How do I eliminate screen clutter?" and "How can I make my browser go faster?". Seriously though, these are all helpful tips that may make using the 'net more enjoyable.
As for the operation of the HighWire site, it performs beautifully. This reviewer experienced no incidences of down-time or slow response to search queries. The design of the entire site is clean and presents itself clearly, allowing easy navigation. The search buttons next to each title link to identical search forms and the beginning date of each journal's archive is given prominently, reducing uncertainty which can arise when dealing with multiple journals. Hopefully sites such as this will show traditional publishers that online is where they should be and possibly with lower rates for even wider access.
Central Washington University Library