Access CJK Journals or Article Databases on the Web: Does It Work?

Cathy Chiu
Head, East Asian Library
University of California at Santa Barbara
Santa Barbara, California

I. Introduction

In recent years, the diminishing library material budget has forced us to cancel journal subscriptions. It has become frustrating trying to help our patrons with what we have. Once in a meeting, we were complaining how insufficient our collection budget was. A library administrator from a large research library looked troubled while listening to us. She said,

"this budget problem is very much universal. There is not much we can do about it. Let's look at it from a different angle. Think about this: we as library administrators and many others have been putting money into electronic resources. I consider that as a contribution to your collection budget. By now, I would think all these electronic resources should have eased some of your burden in terms of collection development."
Indeed, this is the reason why we were asked to first cancel journals that have full-text coverage in electronic article databases. She certainly made a valid point there. If you can find information somewhere on the computer paid for by someone else, why do you need to buy the printed format? That led me to investigate whether electronic journals in our field can meet the needs of our patrons. Can we actually find what's useful for their research on the computer?

I picked the World Wide Web for my research, because the Web has the most complete function in displaying and retrieving CJK (Chinese-Japanese-Korean) journals. Besides, it usually does not cost anything searching the web. I focused my investigation mostly on Chinese electronic journals because they are most available. I made some notes as I came across Japanese journals. Because of my very limited language skill in Korean language, I had to give up compiling any information after a few tries.

There are several types of electronic journals or article databases on the web. I have divided them into three categories:

II. Types of E-journal

1. Full-Text Journals & Newspapers (Non-Searchable)

Examples include Jiushi Niandai, Huaxia Wenzai, Dangdai Zhongguo Yanjiu, Renmin Ribao, Zhongguo Shibao, Mingbao, Xingdao Ribao, Asahi Shinbun, Yomiuri Shinbun, etc.

Although journals in this category have full text, some of them are somewhat different from their printed counterpart, usually not as complete. They meet users' general information needs. For scholarly research unless one knows exactly when the information being sought after was released, the only way to find it is to go through each issue one by one. For instance, the death of Deng Xiaoping -- if you want to know how newspapers or magazines with different political stances cover this event, this would be a great resource. However, if you like to do a research on the topic: "Women's status in the history of China or Japan", you would be much better off to go for a database which you can systematically search by subject or key words or title words.

My favorite site for Chinese journals in this category is "Worldwide List of Chinese Publications (", which lists about 190 Chinese journals and newspapers published around the world, including from China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Japan, Philippines, Malaysia, Singapore, Australia, U.S., Sweden, Germany, U.K. Netherlands, and Canada. For Japanese journals, Duke University has a very good collection on their East Asian Collection Web site (

2. Table of Contents

University of Minnesota has been very famous for establishing a "Table of Content" database for Chinese and Japanese scholarly journals. Yuan Zhou, creator of the database, points out that he is providing a current awareness service and the intent is to reach out to students and scholars who may otherwise have no access to these journals. And it has served well that purpose. For instance, if you have faculty doing research on Japanese language while your library cannot afford or does not want to buy Bungaku Gogaku, you may refer them to this site to check the "Table of Content" regularly. If they find anything useful for their research, you can get the article through ILL (Inter-Library Loan).

University of Minnesota ( has 65 Chinese and 23 Japanese scholarly journals and kept the "Table of Content" database up to date. University of Michigan and the Australia National University ( have also scanned or input some journals' table of content into their individual web sites.

3. Article Databases (Searchable + Document Delivery)

I have found at least four sites under this category:

III. Conclusion

If we expect that the electronic resources can fulfill what our collection budget fails to -- in the area of CJK journals access, my findings suggest we need to wait a little longer and work harder. For leisure reading or acquiring daily news items, electronic journals on the Web have generally met our needs. For research and scholarly purpose, we have achieved a certain degree of resource sharing. However, we are still unable to do research with the CJK article databases on the Web as we can with the English article databases, that is, to be able to search by subject, key words, author, or title in a wide range of subjects.

Note: The paper was presented at the annual CEAL meeting in Chicago on March 12, 1997.

Copyright © 1997 Cathy Chiu.
Submitted to CLIEJ on 28 March 1997.