Portico was recently alerted to a groundbreaking journal that was no longer available to the academic community. The Online Journal of Current Clinical Trials (OJCCT) launched in 1992 as part of a collaboration between OCLC and the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), and was one of the earliest electronic scientific journals. The title was sold to Chapman and Hall in 1994 (later becoming part of CRC Press and then Taylor & Francis). Through these transitions, the title ceased publication and went offline. While some of the articles OJCCT published are indexed in Medline and Worldcat, many of them are no longer available, including some early and important papers on randomized clinical trials.

Portico was contacted by a librarian at Johns Hopkins University, Ms. Mariyam Thohira, who worked with Dr. Kay Dickersin, professor and a former associate editor at the OJCCT, to see if we could locate and preserve the journal. We worked with Taylor & Francis, who granted us the rights to preserve the journal and trigger it as open access. While they were unable to provide content for the journal, Johns Hopkins University was able to supply a number of missing articles.

Portico has now triggered this content, and it is openly available. Dr. Edward Huth, former editor-in-chief of the OJCCT, said, “Over 25 years ago, the AAAS started publication of the Online Journal of Controlled Clinical Trials. I wrote an editorial for the inaugural issue titled ‘Is the Medical World Ready for Electronic Journals’? In my editorial, I worried about the comfort and portability of reading text on a computer. I did extol the virtues of hypertext, the space electronic publishing offers for providing actual study data, and the ability to update meta-analyses. The world must not have been ready for electronic journals, though, because the journal folded about five years after it started. The articles published in OJCCT were almost lost to history. The scientific community should be grateful to Portico for rescuing these historic articles.” Dr. Kay Dickersin added, “The OJCCT was way ahead of its time. How wonderful that Portico has made papers in one of the original online journals accessible again!” Dr. Doug Altman, a professor at Oxford University whose work had been published in the journal, said, “I have been hoping for many years that the OJCCT archive could be rescued. The OJCCT is historically important as the first electronic scientific journal, but also more than 50 important research papers, inaccessible for so long, would have been lost to knowledge. So I’m delighted that Portico have stepped in and ensured that these articles are accessible and open access.”

While we have preserved and triggered the majority of the articles OJCCT published, Portico has been unable to locate a number of articles. We would like to ask the community to help us locate and preserve this missing content, so that we may make it openly accessible. Additional information and a list of content is available here.

“We would like to thank the community of librarians, publishers and researchers for their ongoing assistance in helping us locate and preserve this title. This is a perfect example of the importance of digital preservation, and we are pleased that Portico was able to restore access to this valuable research,” said Kate Wittenberg, managing director of Portico.