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Issues In Educational Research, Vol 15, 2005
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Roger Atkinson and Clare McBeath

IIER's normal file format for the online versions of all articles is HTML. However, with one article in IIER 15(1), Dr Leng Hui's article on Chinese cultural schema of Education [1], it was impractical to use HTML, owing to the large number of Chinese characters in the document. To avoid having to create and web mount an image file for each character, the online version of this article is in PDF (Portable Document Format), as this format automatically embeds the Chinese characters as appearing in the original MS Word file.

This use of a PDF file prompted a brief survey of the file formats adopted by other educational research journals that offer online, open access versions [2]. The results, summarised in Figure 1, show that 'HTML only' and 'PDF only' are equally popular, with both 'HTML and PDF' close behind.

Figure 1

Figure 1: File formats offered by open access educational research journals

Notes to Figure 1

  1. Data source: Directory of open access journals. Subject: Social Sciences: Education. Viewed 26 October 2005. http://www.doaj.org/ljbs?cpid=127. At the date of investigation, this page listed 132 journals. After omitting journals with primary language other than English (26), journals that were listed twice (under current name and a previous name; 1), journals that required registration to give access to full text (2), journals having an invalid URL or known to be defunct (7), the list was reduced to 96 journals.
  2. The classifications were based on inspection of sample articles from the most recent issue of each journal. The sole example of format 'other' used MS Word.

The extent of HTML use amongst IIER's 'peer journals' encourages us to continue the present policy, namely HTML only, with use of PDF only in exceptional cases. Two factors currently inhibit a move towards offering both HTML and PDF on IIER's website [3]. Firstly, the website sponsorship by Curtin University of Technology's Faculty of Education, Language Studies and Social Work is very generous, and gratefully acknowledged [4]. We wish to avoid increasing the sponsorship costs by imposing larger than necessary growth in disk space consumption and traffic volume. Secondly, given that PDF files are usually optimised for producing paper printed copies of articles, the usefulness of PDF files being placed online is a little diminished because we provide a printed version of IIER to Institute members and subscribers.

In general, PDF versions may require 2 to 4 times more disk space than HTML versions. Although there is considerable variability, Table 2 gives some illustrative examples of disk space consumed for different formats of the same publication.

Table 2: Some examples of disk space requirements (a)

PublicationPDF (b)HTMLMS Word (e)
MB (c)No. filesMBNo. filesMBNo. files
IIER 15(1)0.81(d)80.66(d) 163.28
AJET V21[5]9.7262.4 989.026
ASCILITE 04 [6]25.4133 11.039034.0139
  1. Data from the IIER Business Manager's records.
  2. PDF files created with Adobe Acrobat Distiller 4 from MS Word files.
  3. Total of file sizes, in megabytes, as calculated by Mac OS 9.1.
  4. Including hui.pdf [1] (0.26 MB) in both counts.
  5. MS Word files were used for production purposes only.

On the basis of the general experience illustrated in Table 2, IIER will not proceed with web mounting of a PDF version in addition to the HTML version. It's a matter of being conservative with disk space and traffic volumes. We do produce PDF versions for all IIER articles, as this format is the most efficient way to transport files to IIER's printer, Pilpel Print [7]. PDF versions are emailed to authors free of charge, if requested, to enable them to prepare their own hardcopy reprints if desired.

There is another significant trend that emerges clearly from this brief survey of OA journals in education. Printed versions are in decline. Only 14 of the 96 journals (15%) inspected for this survey produce a printed version. Online format was not related to presence or absence of a printed version. All of the printed versions are subject to charges, usually an annual subscription, although in some cases the subscription charges are subsumed into professional society annual membership fees.

If at some time in the future, the Institutes that publish IIER decide to reduce costs by changing to online only, there are a large number of precedents amongst IIER's OA peer journals. However, having noted that trend, we hasten to add that we expect to continue the printed version of IIER in the foreseeable future. One important factor is that the printed version helps IIER at least a little in the competition with journals produced by the major multinational publishers such as Reed Elsevier, Taylor & Francis Group, Blackwell Publishers and others. In their world, traditional print plus PDF online is the new norm.

Roger Atkinson
IIER Business Manager and Website Editor
Clare McBeath
IIER Editor


  1. Leng Hui (2005). Chinese cultural schema of Education: Implications for communication between Chinese students and Australian educators. Issues in Educational Research, 15(1), 17-36. http://www.iier.org.au/iier15/hui.pdf
  2. DOAJ (Directory of open access journals) (2005). Subject: Social Sciences: Education. http://www.doaj.org/ljbs?cpid=127
  3. IIER website: http://www.iier.org.au/
  4. A special acknowledgment is due to Professor Graham Dellar, Dean of the Faculty of Education, Language Studies and Social Work for his initiation of the website for IIER. This action was just one of the many contributions that Graham has made to educational research in Western Australia, and nationally and internationally, recognised recently by IIER's publisher, the Western Australian Institute for Educational Research, making Graham a Fellow of the Institute ( http://www.waier.org.au/forums/2005/photos/photos1.html#dellar)
  5. AJET ( Australasian Journal of Educational Technology). V21 issues 1, 2 and 3. http://www.ascilite.org.au/ajet/ajet21/ajet21.html
  6. Atkinson, R., McBeath, C., Jonas-Dwyer, D. & Phillips, R. (Eds) (2004). Beyond the Comfort Zone: Proceedings of the 21st ASCILITE Conference. Perth, Western Australia, 5-8 December: ASCILITE. http://www.ascilite.org.au/conferences/perth04/procs/contents.html
  7. Pilpel Print, 148 Beaufort Street, Perth, Western Australia 6000. http://www.pilpel.com.au/

Please cite as: Atkinson, R. and McBeath, C. (2005). Editorial 15(2). Issues In Educational Research, 15(2), v-vii. http://www.iier.org.au/iier15/editorial15-2.html

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Created 24 Nov 2005. Last correction: 20 May 2006. HTML: Roger Atkinson [rjatkinson@bigpond.com]