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Appendix: Special Considerations for Electronic Journals

The selection of electronic journals raises special issues not found in the selection of print journals or in the selection of other electronic publications. Although these concerns are addressed as part of the Collection Development Policy Statement: Electronic Resources, this Appendix for convenience gathers together e-book-specific issues. To ensure that an electronic journal is suitable for selection, a selector should always investigate the following areas:


The same selection criteria that apply to paper journals apply to electronic journals. They must be appropriate to our collections, support the research and teaching activity of the University of Maryland, and be of a scholarly nature or likely to advance scholarly research or university education programs. Electronic versions of paper journals to which we subscribe are obvious candidates.


Selectors should add to the collection only those electronic journals openly available to the campus community or accessible through IP address validation. Requirements for individual registration, passwords or other methods of unique individual authentication or authorization should be avoided. Services allowing users to voluntarily create profiles for notification of new content are not problematic.

Number of Issues

Publishers sometimes fail to make all issues of a journal available electronically; for example, publishers may publish issues online sporadically or temporarily. The selector should clarify with the publisher the number of issues a particular subscription covers 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. Likewise, titles available only temporarily (trial versions, for example) should not be selected.

Consistency with Print Version

The electronic version of a journal 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 or contain content not found in its print counterpart. If an electronic publication has a print counterpart, the selector should compare the versions to determine whether they are consistent. Online access should include the complete articles, chapters or essays, with accompanying graphics, tables, references, and text plus an official citation.


The selector should determine how quickly the most recent issue of an electronic journal becomes available in comparison with its print counterpart. Some electronic journals may lag as much as two months or more behind their print counterparts.


Electronic journals are funded through normal serials lines. This means that, unless new funds are made available for continuations, new e-journal subscriptions requiring additional funding must be balanced by the cancellation of other serials.


The pricing structures of electronic journals vary significantly from vendor to vendor and from publication to publication. Selectors should watch for variations among pricing structures and note that these pricing structures can change rapidly.

Duration of Agreement

Selectors should pinpoint when a subscription starts and comes up for renewal. Not all vendors sell subscriptions that start at the time of payment. A publisher may also offer multi-year commitments which a selector should carefully review.

Non-Cancellation Clauses

Some license agreements contain non-cancellation clauses that require the Libraries to promise to maintain a subscription for a specified period of time. In exchange, the publisher or vendor will promise to cap price increases for the period of non-cancellation. To date, the Libraries have not purchased or licensed any products that require the acceptance of a non-cancellation clause.

Time Limits on Access to Back Issues

Many vendors provide all available past years of online content with an online subscription. Some vendors, however, may remove back issues received under a subscription from a website after a certain period of time has passed. Selectors should determine whether back issues are available and how long a vendor will commit to maintaining access to subscribed issues.


A publisher who sells a title individually in print may only offer that title electronically as part of a package or bundle of titles. Examples of publishers who bundle journals include Elsevier, Academic Press and IEEE. When there is a choice between a package or individual purchase, the selector should evaluate the advantages of each and consult with other interested selectors where appropriate.

Access to Online Content Dated Prior to Subscription

While currently uncommon, some publishers divide content between "current content" and backfiles and charge an additional amount for access to backfiles. Selectors should determine whether a particular price includes backfiles and, if not, the cost of purchasing those backfiles. If a selector purchases publications as a package, he or she should determine the availability of backfiles for each publication.

Purchasing of Electronic Without Print

Publishers do not always allow access to electronic publications without a purchase of the print counterpart. In addition to a required print purchase, the publisher may also impose a surcharge for the electronic subscription. Others may treat the e-version as a separate entity. Particularly when initiating new subscriptions, selectors should consider the possible advantages of purchasing only e-versions of titles where possible.

Evaluation of Vendors

The Libraries currently have agreements with a number of aggregators to provide access to electronic journals. While selectors should always include in their evaluation an assessment of the product and services offered by these aggregators, many journals are available from multiple sources including direct purchase from the publisher.