Considerations When Purchasing E-Journals
Features of an Online Journal Site
Full Text Features of an Online Electronic Journal purchased by subscription, either institutional or personal. (Optimal services)
- Its own URL, directly addressable to the front page of the journal, a durable URL
- Password access for members and subscribers
- IP addressed access for institutions
- Credit card sales by the article for non-subscribers
- HTML and PDF format
- Links from PubMed to each article
- Links from Ovid to Article Linker to each article
- Archiving of older issues on PubMed Central
An E-journal Website can have other services than full text. These services can be free to all, limited to personal subscribers, or limited to institutional subscribers.
- A search engine for the content of full text articles of the journal issues on the website
- email alert services that send you the new table of contents each month
- Notification of when an article is cited by another article (usually requires a personal subscription)
- The price of the journal and how to order it
- Online ordering and subscription activation
- Online support with email and telephone numbers
- The editorial board
- The table of contents
- Instructions for authors
- Electronic submission information
- Request for permission to use copyrighted material in another publication
- Selected full text articles (a sample article) or a sample full text issue
How many ways are there to purchase institutional access to an e-journal?
Institution-wide access to full text scientific journals that are copyrighted usually involves having the library purchase the print copy which then gives the whole institution access to the online version. Publishing scientific journals is usually a commercial venture and the publishers do not give away their product for free.
Online versions of journals are offered in a variety of ways. Some of the data in this section came from Margaret Bandy, Exempla Saint Joseph Hospital, and Lynn Fortney, EBSCO Subscription Services.
Access to Full text Direct World Wide Web access at desktop computers on the National Jewish Health Campus, authorized by an institutional subscription paid for by the library but at no extra fee. (These titles are available only at desktop computers on the National Jewish Health Campus. This access is called "IP filtered.) Direct World Wide Web access at desktop computers on the National Jewish Health Campus, authorized by an institutional subscription paid for by the library with an extra fee, ranging from $25 to $2,500 each. Access authorized by an institutional subscription paid for by the library with or without an extra fee but requiring a password that can be shared with users. Usually one or two people can use the password at a time. Through online journal aggregators. These commercial ventures sell the library a group of journals from different publishers for a large fee called a platform fee. Ovid Core Biomedical Collection is an example. Through online journal aggregation of publishers. These commercial ventures sell the library a group of journals from a publisher for a large fee. Examples are the IDEAL system from Academic Press and Harcourt and ScienceDirect from Elsevier. Access via passwords for personal subscription only. Access requires you to register and may or may not cost. Free trial for a specific period of time. Just plain free.
To acquire access you need to pay for the access. The library staff must consider these variables:
- Online "free" with print.
- Price for print plus add-on surcharge for the e-version.
- Price for e-version and add-on surcharge for the p-version.
- Price of the e-version only is available at 80-90% of the print price.
- Price is for this year's issues and you must pay extra fro previous years.
- Price is for this year's issues and the back issues are free to all.
- Price based on the number of geographical sites or buildings.
- Price related to number of simultaneous users.
- Price related to total FTE or number of users.
- Price based on number and type of organizations subnets.
- Price based on number of subscriptions at multiple institutions (consortia).
- Price related to size of library acquisitions budget.
- Price related to number of print subscriptions taken over a certain period of years.
- Price related to number of inpatient admissions and outpatient visits.
- Sliding scales of various sorts.
- Document delivery fee (per article or section price).
- No price relationship to any print product.
- Subscriber required to get all titles in a package whether you want all of them or not.
- Pay a platform fee for subscribed print titles and get access to non-subscribed for a per-download fee with a set free allotment of these downloads.
Examples From License Agreements
- A one year subscription will mean access to the journal's entire electronic archive for one year. When the subscription period ends, so does all the access.
- Price per library workstation, minimum order is 10 workstations if the library does not have a print subscription. All workstations must be located in the library.
- Institutions with a print subscription are entitled to online access at a single workstation for each print subscription. Institutions that wish to have online access for more than one workstation must purchase a site license prior to activating online access.
- Some online journals require that you configure your offline browser to request no more than one page per minute. Non-compliance with this rule will result in your access being blocked until you contact them and resolve the problem.
- "Authorized Users of Institutional Subscriptions to ____ Online shall be those individuals affiliated with institutions who are accessing ____Online via workstations located within the institutions' library or research facilities (i.e., the buildings to which issues of the Journal are sent or where issues of the Journal are housed). No access to ____Online will be permitted to individuals affiliated with the institution who are located at workstations situated elsewhere on the institutions' campuses (e.g., lodgings, classrooms, offices) or at off-campus sites."
- _____ Online allows libraries to have free online access "via the IP address of one computer located in a restricted area (e.g. office or an area not used by persons other than a librarian)."
- "To restrict internet access it is our recommendation that institutions provide online access in designated areas as well as designated computers. When activating an online account, please select the option to "Remember the User Name and Password. This option will keep the information confidential."
Of the 260,000 titles listed in the EBSCO database, 6,300 have full text online.
83% of online journals require the purchase of the print subscription. 17% can be ordered as "Online only."
62% of the 6,300 titles use IP filtering as the means of authentication. 32% require a password. 4% have a combination of IP filtering and passwords. 2% have no authentication.
For how publishers allow access, the current trends are: Single physical site using IP ranges - 80%; Class of IP - 5%; number of users - 11%; number of FTE - 2%; other - 2%
As of March 2000, there were 5398 online journals, according to EBSCO Publishing: 49% are free with print; 34% charge extra for electronic, but must be purchased with print; 17% can be purchased online only. In general, about 25% of MEDLINE titles are available electronically for a fee.
Online full text is a fast growing industry:
Date: Feb 97 Jun 97 Feb 98 Jun 98 Sep 99 Mar 00 Oct 00
Full Text Titles: 850 1,300 2,3002,700 3,666 5,198 6,300
Everything's free on the Web these days. Why do I need to use these complicated library and Web systems?
Very few scholarly journals with scientific data are free on the Web. Publishers own this information and are in the business of selling it to libraries and individuals. It is a billion dollar industry.
We are in a period of transition and change for large established systems, both the publishing system and the library system.
Library users are caught in the middle. Libraries attempt to take the side of the user but often fight an uphill battle with the publishers, who are protecting their income, to provide "easy" access.
The publishers do not want to loose money. They do not want to loose personal subscriptions because libraries give campus-wide access. If they require passwords, larger libraries sometimes cannot deal with this requirement.
The libraries do not want to pay too much. How much is too much? Will they have financial support from the administration to institute this change?
There are many technologies competing on the web. Which is better, HTML format or PDF format? Both have value-added features to the print or photocopy. What about other formats where you have to download software that is only available for one platform?
What about the copyright law and fair use? When a library signs a license agreement, it takes the use of the product, a journal article, out of the provisions of the copyright law and under contract law. What about the interlibrary loan provisions of the copyright law?
Libraries have established systems for cataloging and displaying the physical and now virtual products that they own. These systems can take a long time to change. The companies that sell integrated library systems that display the Online Public Access Catalog, or OPAC, have to change how their software works. The cataloging of materials has to take different formats into account.
How will libraries keep track of this new format? what data about this new service will they need to collect?
To answer these last two questions, Rosalind Dudden, past Health Sciences Librarian at National Jewish Health, gave a presentation to the Colorado Council of Medical Librarians on February 28, 2001, on the subject: E-Journal Access Control - an Oxymoron. This is now available on the web. You can view it on the web or download it as a PowerPoint presentation.
Who owns the electronic medium? Can libraries trust this medium enough to cancel the print product. Who is going to archive the electronic medium? If a library buys the year 2001 content, will they have access to that "forever?"
If a library purchases online access to 200 titles, how will they know which are used? Will they have to access 200 websites monthly to collect this data?
If a university library purchases online access to 2001 titles, how will they know that access has been established for all the 2001 titles? Will they have to link to each title, locate an article, and click on PDF to confirm access? Will they have to rely on user complaints? What if no one complains because users assume there is no access?
If a library purchases online access only with no print product, and a user is used to looking on the shelf for an item and not a list, how will the library inform that user that this journal is available online only?