Transition FAQs

What is e-only access?

“e-only access” provides users with immediate online links to the full-text of selected scholarly journals. The library maintains an online subscription to these e-only journals, affording access to both current and some older journal issues in electronic form. The library does not purchase additional print copy subscriptions for these titles, however. The electronic format is the only edition of the journal that the library holds.

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Why are the libraries considering e-only?

Libraries move towards electronic-only journal subscriptions for many reasons: the demand by users for fast access to information 24x7; the wider availability of electronic journal publications; tighter library subscription budgets; growing costs to maintain both print and electronic access to journals; and space limitations in the libraries.

A survey of North American faculty conducted in 2004 by the Center for Libraries & Information Resources and Ithaka (a think tank for JSTOR), reported that electronic resources increasingly were the starting point for locating information by most researchers. These survey results were re-examined and reaffirmed in 2008 in an Association of Research Libraries' report, "Current Models of Digital Scholarly Communication."

While eBooks have been slower to be adopted by faculty and students than eJournals, recent technical improvements both in digitizing content and designing online reader interfaces now are leading to increasing use of these electronic resources. An excellent overview of eBook production and access issues is the 2008 EDUCAUSE Center for Applied Research report "EBooks and Higher Education: Nearing the End of an Era of Hype" (ECAR Research Bulletin v. 2008).

This growing preference by the academic community for electronic access to scholarly information also is reflected in the marketplace. Some publishers have begun issuing their journals and books exclusively in electronic form, having determined that e-publishing is a faster, more cost-effective publication and distribution medium. This trend towards e-only access is growing among both US and international journal publishers.

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What are the criteria for moving to e-only access? / Are there other considerations for moving to e-only access?

What are the criteria for moving to e-only access?

Several conditions must be met before the Emory libraries will consider subscribing to an e-only journal. The first four conditions below are requirements; the last three conditions are strongly desired:

  1. Content: the content available online meets or exceeds that available in print
  2. Archival Rights: the license terms grant perpetual access to the volumes/years or titles subscribed
  3. Use of Online Content: the license terms grant the right for Authorized Users to print and download articles in reasonable quantity from the online version. In addition, the design of the publisher’s website allows for printing from a PDF file.
  4. Electronic Reserves: the license terms grant the right to link to content or to post content from the online version of the journal on Emory’s eReserves service
  5. Walk-in/visitor use: the license terms grant the right to allow visitors access to the online version of the journal when in the library building(s)
  6. ILL Provisions: the license terms grant the right to supply interlibrary loan (ILL) requests from the online version of the journal
  7. Online Reader/Viewer: Archival access to eJournals and eBooks is independent of the publisher's interface or search engine.

Are there other considerations for moving to e-only access?

Many other factors need to be considered in making a decision to move to e-only or maintain a print subscription to a journal. Among other points to be considered:

  1. Content usability: does not keeping the print version of the journal or book result in a loss of intellectual value? Is this a loss that directly impacts teaching and/or research?
  2. Usage: does circulation data indicate substantial use of the print version of the journal or book? Is the use of the print proportionate to the electronic version?
  3. Emory affiliation: does the journal or book have a strong identity with Emory? Is the author or editor a member of the Emory faculty?
  4. Currency: is there a time-lag for the availability of the online version of the journal or book after the publication of the print?

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How are decisions being made about e-only journals?

Subject librarians from the Emory libraries are reviewing titles in their subject area(s) to determine the most appropriate format for a given journal or book. Librarians will use the following data in making their decisions: eJournal usage data from publishers; in-house usage of print journals (where available); and circulation data for bound periodicals and books. They will use this data, together with their own knowledge of the collection and its usage, to choose the best format.

A Serials Review Working Group, comprised of library representatives from the Health Sciences, Theology, and Woodruff libraries, is coordinating the entire review process.

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How can faculty, students, and staff comment on e-only access?

An online survey of Emory faculty and graduate students conducted in the spring of 2006 helped gauge their use of print and electronic journals and the extent to which they have made any shifts from print to electronic journals for research and study. Since that initial survey, the libraries continue to collect information on usage patterns and preferences through various means. We welcome your comments and suggestions!

Titles currently recommended for e-only purchase are posted for review by Emory faculty, students, and staff. All comments and suggestions will be forwarded to the appropriate subject librarian and to the Serials Review Working Group which is coordinating this project.

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What is the timeline for e-only review?

This is the fourth year of an ongoing process of migrating to e-only access for selected journal titles. Currently under review are journals published by the American Geophysical Union, Cambridge University Press, Oxford University Press, and the University of Chicago Press. Please provide feedback by Thursday, April 30th, 2009. Once decisions are made the publishers will be alerted and any changes to subscriptions or formatting will take place by January 2010.

The current list of titles being reviewed and recommended for e-only format will be communicated to these publishers in the spring of 2009. Print copies of approved e-only titles no longer will be received beginning January 2010.

In coming years, additional electronic journal and book collections available from other publishers also will be reviewed for possible conversion to e-only access.

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How can I tell which journal and book titles are being considered?

Approximately 600 journal titles are being reviewed in this fourth phase of this project, covering journal titles published by the American Geophysical Union, Cambridge University Press, Oxford University Press, and the University of Chicago Press.

Between 2006 and 2008 the Emory Libraries reviewed approximately 1600 journal titles published by

* BioOne

* Blackwells Publishing

* Elsevier


* Nature Publishing

* Project Muse

* Sage

* Springer-Kluwer


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How do the online editions compare to the print editions of these titles?

The libraries have reviewed each publisher’s approach to electronic publishing as compared to their paper publications. In all cases PDF access to full text articles or book chapters is provided. Many publishers of eJournals or eBooks also utilize the capabilities of the electronic environment to go beyond images of print pages and provide added features such as sounds, video clips, or links to other electronic information sources.

With the occasional exception of advertising, editorial information, and/or cover art, all of the content of the paper edition also is available online. In many cases online editions of eJournals and eBooks are available before the receipt of print publications, and many publishers offer free table of contents notification services which alert you via e-mail when a new journal issue or book title becomes available. Some publishers also offer RSS feeds (RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication – designed for sharing headlines and other Web content. Think of it as a distributable "What's New" for journal content.)

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Is there a difference in cost between electronic and paper journals?

Yes. In the 1990s, as publishers began exploring the potential market eJournal access represented, numerous distribution and pricing models were tested. Some publishers “bundled” eJournal access with a paid print subscription, providing online access at no charge. Other publishers added an additional surcharge for online access, actually increasing the libraries’ annual per-journal subscription costs.

Over time more standardized pricing models for eJournal publication have emerged and today most publishers now charge two separate fees for online access and print access. Increasingly publishers are charging less for e-only subscriptions, making it economically advantageous to subscribe to journals in e-only formats. Recently a similar pattern of electronic publishing and distribution also has begun to emerge among many major book publishers.

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What happens to the print copies of journals that go e-only?

If a switch is made to e-only, the Emory libraries will retain print copies of the journals they have in hand in the collection. Older print copies of some journals may be moved to our Storage Library, but no print issues will be discarded. Print copies of approved e-only titles currently under review no longer will be received beginning January 2010.

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What happens if e-only access is discontinued?

The publishers whose journal or book titles are being considered for e-only access have guaranteed ongoing online access to their journals as part of our contractual subscription agreements. Should Emory discontinue its e-only subscription with any publisher, we will continue to have access to all the journals or books issued during the period covered by our subscription.

In addition to such contractual agreements with publishers, the Emory libraries are active participants in the independent non-profit electronic archiving initiative LOCKSS. The LOCKSS Alliance was inaugurated in 2001 by the Stanford University Libraries; currently some 200 libraries and nearly 400 publishers are participating LOCKSS members.

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What are other libraries doing?

Many academic and research libraries are in the midst of what may ultimately be a major transition for various parts of their collections—a shift from print to electronic format. Libraries that had long subscribed only to print versions of journals or books are, in increasing numbers, licensing electronic versions to replace the print. Library collections and operations stand to change significantly as a result of this transition. In many academic libraries collection sizes in electronic format are significantly larger than they ever were for print. Notably different activities are required to manage and maintain an electronic collection, and many academic libraries are undertaking reviews of their current print, eJournal, and eBook subscription policies. For more information see:

Boyce, Peter, Donald W. King, Carol H. Montgomery, and Carol Tenopir. “How Electronic Journals Are Changing Patterns of Use.” The Serials Librarian 46 (1/2). 2004.

Connaway, Lynn Silipigni, and Stephen R. Lawrence. “Comparing Library Resource Allocations for the Paper and the Digital Library: An Exploratory Study.” D-Lib Magazine 9(12). 2003.

Connaway, Lynn Silipigni, and Heather L. Wicht "What Happened to the E-Book revolution: The gradual integration of e-Books into academic libraries" Journal of Electronic Publishing 10(3). 2007.

Jansen, Hans. “Permanent Access to Electronic Journals.” Information Services and Use 26(2). 2006

King, Donald W., Peter B. Boyce, Carol Hansen Montgomery, Carol Tenopir. “Library Economic Metrics: Examples of the Comparison of Electronic and Print Journal Collections and Collection Services.” Library Trends 51(3): 276–300. 2003a.

McGuigan, Glenn S. and Robert D. Russell. "The Business of Academic Publishing: a Strategic Analysis of the Academic Journal Publishing Industry and its Impact on the Future of Scholarly Publishing" E-JASL: Electronic Journal of Academic and Special Librarianship 9:3. Winter 2008.

Quandt, Richard E. “Scholarly Materials: Paper or Digital?” Library Trends 51(3): 349–375. 2003.

Serotkin, Patricia B., Patricia I. Fitzgerald, Sandra A. Balough. “If We Build It, Will They Come? Electronic Journals Acceptance and Usage Patterns.” Portal 5(4). 2005.

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What do "aggregators" of eJournals do?

The word aggregator refers to companies that compile full-text journal indexes, sometimes based on publishers’ journal holdings, sometimes focusing on a specific discipline or broad subject area and covering journals from many different publishers. Aggregators provide an electronic gateway to eJournals all managed at one web site. In the case of eJournal aggregators the journal indexes are somewhat unique in that these indexes contain a selection of full-text articles from hundreds or thousands of different journals, many utilizing special programming which supports in-depth searching capabilities and seamless linking from table of contents citations or journal abstracts to full text articles.

An aggregator does not necessarily select all articles from a journal to include in their full-text journal indices. Sometimes the aggregator's license with a specific journal publisher limits which full-text articles are available for inclusion, such as current content from the past six months or a year - often referred to as an embargo. Examples of aggregators that produce full-text eJournal databases include EBSCOHost, Lexis-Nexis, and ProQuest. Since the aggregators do not include complete content, these titles are not being considered for e-only.

While some eBook aggregators have developed (ex: eBrary and EBook Library), to date most book publishers have opted to sell their eBook titles directly to libraries in the same way that they sell print copies of the same titles.

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Are all the libraries' journals available in electronic form?

No. While worldwide the number of periodical titles published electronically continues to increase rapidly (see Bergstrom “The economics of scholarly publishing” 2001, updated 2005; see also the Directory of Open Access Journals), some journals - especially those issued by smaller professional societies – likely will continue to publish in print for some time to come. Because of the costs involved it’s unlikely that all of the older issues of all journals ever will be digitized. Scholars in some disciplines for whom the older literature is important likely will need to consult print materials for some time, and libraries will continue to offer a mix of print and electronic resources for the foreseeable future.

eBook publication has been slower to catch on with readers and libraries, in large part because of the different ways in which books are used as compared to journal articles. However eBook publication has begun to increase significantly since 2006 and is expected to continue to increase - though at a slower pace than eJournal publishing. Currently there are more than 17,000 eBook titles available through the Emory libraries.

Currently there are more than 52,000 journal titles available in electronic format to Emory users. Electronic journal publication appears to be following the same pattern as traditional print publication: many journal publishers in the fields of science, technology, and medicine took the lead in exploring electronic publishing and distribution in the 1990s, later followed by many social science publications, and then the humanities.

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