February 2011

Digital journal access: as you like it

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It’s not easy keeping up with the latest advances in research, but it can be even trickier keeping up with the technology that helps you keep up on the science. Fortunately, the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology is doing its best to continue putting the content of our journals at your fingertips— wherever those fingertips may be.

The tremendous popularity of smart phones and tablet computers allows access to the internet, and thus journal content, at almost any time or place. Although some may argue about the merits of reading this week’s Papers in Press while on a family vacation at the beach, remotely accessible resources can be a great time-saver.

To this end, two of ASBMB’s journals, Molecular and Cellular Proteomics and the Journal of Biological Chemistry, recently announced the release of alternate platforms for viewing content on the go.

In December, Molecular and Cellular Proteomics launched a mobile website with a pared down homepage that loads quickly and cleanly on mobile devices. The new mobile website retains all the features of the full website with an easy-to-use interface that is optimized for small screens. The mobile site can be used on most devices including iPhones and Android and Blackberry phones.

ASBMB members and MCP subscribers who go to mcponline.org from a mobile device will be redirected automatically to the mobile site, where they can view full-text versions of any MCP article, including all archived material and MCP’s Papers in Press. Although the mobile site is designed specifically for optimized viewing on mobile devices, readers who would rather use the full site still can navigate there by simply clicking the link at the bottom of the mobile home page. The creation of MCP’s mobile website was part of a development test by the journal’s publishing platform, HighWire, and feedback from users of the new website has been quite positive thus far.

Building on the successful introduction of MCP’s mobile website, JBC announced the launch of an iPhone app in January, which can be downloaded for free from the iTunes app store. Although it is tailored to operate on iPhones, the app also can be installed and run on iPads. Different from a mobile website, the iPhone app is based on RSS feeds and does not retain all of the functionality of the full website, but users can move easily between the full website and the app interface. An added feature of the app is a “share this” button that allows users to quickly share a link to the article via e-mail, Facebook or Twitter with the click of a button.

The JBC app currently is limited to iPhone users, who comprise the bulk of ASBMB’s mobile users. However, Nancy Rodnan, ASBMB’s director of publications, has indicated that plans are under way to develop mobile websites for both JBC and the Journal of Lipid Research that will be usable on any mobile device. Additionally, the society is investigating the development of a full-fledged iPad app for JBC that would allow users to cache content so articles could be viewed offline. This truly would allow for access to content anytime and anywhere, provided  you are not caught without your trusty mobile device.

Angela Hvitved (ahvitved@asbmb.org) is managing editor of Molecular and Cellular Proteomics and a science writer for ASBMB Today.

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