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Guidelines for Selection of Electronic Publications: Content

In addition to the criteria traditionally applied to evaluate any print equivalent of an electronic publication, the following criteria should apply:

General

All electronic publications must support the research and teaching activities of the University of Maryland. They should be of a scholarly nature or likely to advance scholarly research or university education programs. Electronic versions of paper publications currently owned or subscribed to by the University of Maryland are obvious candidates.

Additional Policies

In addition to the guidelines found in this document, Subject Collection Development Policies and other appropriate guidelines should also guide the selection process.

Quality

The selector should ensure the quality of an electronic publication by examining indicators such as peer review of the site or publication, review of the publication by other librarians, an authoritative sponsor or producer, and evidence of ongoing support (creation of archives, mirror sites, etc.).

Consistency with Print Version

The electronic version of a publication can differ substantially from its print counterpart. For example, an electronic publication may omit articles, illustrations, or reviews found in print. Conversely, the electronic version may have more current content, add content more frequently, or have different content than its print counterpart. If an electronic publication, especially an electronic journal, has a print counterpart, the selector should compare the versions to determine whether they are consistent. Electronic access should include the complete articles, chapters or essays, with accompanying graphics, tables, references, and text plus an official citation.

Number of Issues

Subscriptions to electronic publications may not follow the traditional print format. The selector should clarify with the publisher the number of issues covered by a particular subscription and ensure that no gaps in coverage occur. Only journals that have a significant run of issues or that commit to making a significant run of issues available full-text in their entirety should be added to the collection. Sample issues alone are not appropriate.

Bundling of Titles

A publisher may make a journal or book purchased individually in print available electronically only as part of a package or bundle of publications. If a selector decides to purchase a package of titles, the selector should determine the exact content of the package and make sure that no desired titles will be omitted.

Updates and Currency

The selector should determine whether the publisher makes the most current issues available and how frequently the publisher updates the site. In particular, the selector should find out how quickly the most recent issues are made available in comparison to print. Some electronic publications may lag as much as two months or more behind their print counterparts.

Time Limits on Access to Back Issues

A selector should determine how long a publisher will maintain access to subscribed issues. Unlike print subscriptions, a publisher may not always allow an institution to maintain access indefinitely to back issues of an electronic publication. Publishers who put time limits on access usually allow access only to those issues of a subscribed publication released within a moving window of time (one year, for example). If an issue is dated prior to that moving window, it will no longer be available online. For example, if the Libraries in 1995 start an online subscription to a journal with a moving window of one year, in January, 1997, the June, 1995 issue will no longer be available online, but the March, 1996 issue will be available online. Similarly, in June, 1998, the March, 1996 issue will not be online, but the December, 1997 issue will be available.

Access to Online Issues Published Prior to Subscription

Many publishers provide all available past years of online content with an online subscription. For example, if the Libraries subscribe to a journal in 1997, the publisher would include in the subscription all online issues published prior to 1997. Selectors should determine whether this will be made available.