Periodicals and Serials:
Periodical publications form an important part of today's information world. It is one of the oft chosen forms of research communication. There are over 100,000 periodical publications, which publish informative research articles. Most of these periodicals or journals publish papers sent by different authors after due refereeing and editing. An analysis of the titles listed in the Directory of Indian Scientific Periodicals shows that India is publishing 1323 primary periodicals containing research articles, review articles, news and notes, short communications, etc. It has also been estimated that there is an average increase rate of 50 new titles every year. However, considering the death rate of periodicals„ it has been estimated that there are about only 2000 live periodicals in science and technology, equal number is estimated to be published in the fields of social sciences and humanities. Of those, 500 are in regional languages, or are magazines for general circulation and targeted at readers who are not required to possess professional knowledge of the information presented. While magazine articles place great emphasis on what is happening and how it affects people, periodicals, on the other hand, place stress on how and why things happen and their influence on a particular profession or scientific community.
A periodical publication is that which appears in parts or volumes at regular intervals with the intention to continue its publication for ever. Besides the element of periodicity and continuity, a periodical publication has a distinguishing number for each successive volume, known as its volume number. Annals of Library Science and Documentation, ILA Bulletin, IASLIC Bulletin, and Journal of Library and Information Science are some important periodicals in library science. The periodicity of the first three is quarterly, and that of the last one is half-yearly. Annals of Library Science brought out its 32nd volume in 1985, ILA Bulletin its 31st volume during 1986, and the Journal its 10th volume during 1985.
A serial is also a periodical publication but each volume embodies more or less similar information but updated, mainly relating to its year or period of coverage, India - A Reference Annual is an example of a serial.
The hand-written book was the major vehicle of information communication throughout the middle ages. This method was slow and tedious. Between 1430 and 1440, Gutenberg developed printing from movable metal type and this improved the dissemination process. Books then became one of the major ways of transferring information. But, they too lacked speed and were not helpful in the dissemination of information as fast as was needed. As a way out, scientists and researchers started using personal letters to communicate scientific information with each other and with the leaders of groups in a particular area. From these letters grew the first scientific periodical. Since the 17th century, the periodical has been the disseminating medium. In library collections, the position of periodicals and serials comes next to that of books.