Monday, 6 August 2007

epub ahead of print

If you are signed up to receive tables of contents from journals you may often find yourself being sent details of articles which are announced as being "epub ahead of print". What does this mean? Basically it means that particular paper isn't going to appear in the paper version of the journal for a while, but has been published in electronic form. The only way to access that electronic version is to have an online subscription to the journal.

This library doesn't buy electronic subscriptions because we end up having to pay two subscriptions - one paper and one electronic - for the same journal. Some journals have free online access, but they generally don't include access to epub ahead of print items. Some journals we have access to online through the "National Core Content" agreement - journals bought nationally for the NHS and reached with your Athens password - but these subscriptions don't normally include epubs ahead of print.

So what happens if you ask us for one of these articles? Sometimes we can find another library that has access and can send us a copy for you. Sometimes we can't, and then we just have to wait for the paper version to be printed.

As journals publish more and more items this way the collective blood pressure of NHS librarians all over the country is steadily rising. Librarians believe that information is important, access to it is empowering and the results of trials and studies should really be available to everyone. It's annoying to buy something but then be told you can't have access to all of it unless you basically pay over again. Librarians are angry that publishers should behave like this.

If you do receive an email about publications from a journal please check and see if they are epubs ahead of print. If so then by all means still ask the library to get a copy for you - but please bear in mind we cannot guarantee to get hold of it until it is published in paper form.

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