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Sociological Research Online

Project web site

Programme area
Electronic Journals

Contact details
Prof. Nigel Gilbert, Chair, Sociological Research Online,
University of Surrey, Guildford GU2 5XH
Phone: 01483 259173 Fax: 01483 306290

Ms Millsom S Henry, SocInfo training,
University of Stirling, Stirling, FK9 4LA
Phone: 01786 467703 Fax: 01786 466880

Project description

as of May 2nd 1997


The Electronic journal, Sociological Research Online, published its first issue in March 1996. It is produced by a consortium of the Universities of Surrey and Stirling (SocInfo - CTI Centre), the British Sociological Association (the learned society for UK sociology) and Sage Publications Ltd (a major commercial publisher of books and journals in the social sciences). The project is funded by the Electronic Libraries Programme (eLib).


Sociological Research Online publishes a wide range of high quality applied sociological articles, focusing on theoretical, empirical and methodological discussions which engage with current political, cultural and intellectual topics and debates. Journal articles apply sociological analysis to a wide range of topics in order to demonstrate the value and relevance of sociology today. As well as publishing articles, the journal stimulates debates and publishes book and software reviews and research resources.

Sociological Research Online publishes in an electronic medium only and is not 'parallel printed' in a paper format. The potential advantages of an electronic journal over its traditional counterpart are faster times to publication, increased speed of editorial processes, cheaper production costs and low distribution costs. No less important are the opportunities electronic publication offers for new formats, offering readers direct access to original quantitative, textual, audio and video data and support for interactive collaboration between authors and readers.

Sociological Research Online is published in HTML on the World Wide Web and it can be read by anyone with a personal computer linked to the Internet (e.g. through a campus network) using software that is widely and freely available.


Sociological Research Online is fully refereed, abstracted in the usual journals (including IBSS and ISI) and citable as a journal of record (including in Research Assessment Exercise returns). The wider eLib project is run by a Management Board and the editor is advised by a large and distinguished Editorial Board and a panel of International Correspondents.

Journal production is aided by a suite of programs that have been developed to share information over remote sites. Refereeing is completed online, the editor works from the University of Manchester, advertising is handled by Sage Publications in London, production is undertaken at the University of Surrey and the journal is served from a Web server housed at the University of Surrey.

Sociological Research Online has already achieved an article submission rate comparable to leading sociology print journals, is accessed by over 200 individual hosts daily and delivers over 30,000 Web pages each month. It expects to exceed leading journal submission rates in the next twelve months and to set new standards in its field.

All internal management aspects of the journal's operations, production and distribution are handled entirely electronically; the wider project includes an "educational" aspect in the sense of sharing its expertise in this area with other ejournal projects.

The journal has established a wide social science presence through the marketing expertise of Sage Publications and a programme of regional training workshops organised by the CTI Centre for Sociology, SocInfo, based at the University of Stirling. Its already high submission rate is an indication of the successes of its marketing and the very swift acceptance of high quality electronic publication by the sociological community.


The journal encourages use of the electronic media within the sociological community while ensuring that quality and standards remain as high as those for any print journal. The journal allows authors to explore how the new media can be exploited to allow new ways of communicating and debating.

Sociological Research Online has demonstrated how journal production overheads can be decreased and, at the same time, production efficiency can be increased. The greatest hurdle the project now faces is to establish a sustainable source of revenue to maintain the journal beyond its initial three year period of eLib funding. Solutions to this challenge are now being developed by the Management Board in consultation with the sociological community, librarians and leading academic publishers.

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The Electronic Libraries Programme (eLib) was funded by the Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC)
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