Criteria for Migration to Electronic-only Journals


The SFU Library recognizes the importance of digital information resources both within and beyond the university. To prepare SFU students at all levels to negotiate and effectively utilize digital information resources, we offer them extensive access to digital resources.  The SFU Library also recognizes that the scholarly community uses, and in some cases relies solely on, scholarly literature (especially journals) in a digital format.  The SFU Library is committed to delivering digital content to the above groups' desktop computers both on- and off-campus. The Library recognizes the benefits of electronic journals with respect to allowing access outside the library and beyond the campus, and permitting simultaneous use by multiple readers.

We now receive a significant portion of this scholarly literature in both print and digital formats and pay for both. Therefore, the SFU Library has been undertaking a process in consultation with faculty, to review dual subscriptions and migrate to electronic-only journals when possible. The funds freed by this process go toward covering the ongoing costs of the online packages, or toward acquiring further digital packages where possible.  Access to expanded content is the overall goal of this process.

For the 2009 subscription year, more than 320 titles will be migrated to online-only to realize savings of $80,000. A reduced budget in 2008/09 requires that we adhere closely to our criteria. Lists of titles involved for each department will be distributed to the respective departmental library representatives in July 2008.

For the 2008 subscription year, the Taylor & Francis journal package will be considered for migration to online-only using the criteria listed below.

For the 2007 subscription year, the following journal packages were considered for migration to online-only using the criteria listed below:

  • Blackwell's
  • Sage
  • Lippincott Williams Wilkins

For lists of the specific titles under consideration, please contact your liaison librarian, or the Library Collections Management office.

Key Criteria

Considering the above points, print journal titles should be discontinued when the digital equivalent meets the following criteria.

1.  Content - All of the journal's articles must be provided and issued no later than the paper version. Other important content, such as letters, supplements, calls for papers, association announcements, etc., should be included in the digital version or accessible via the Internet.

2.  Stability - There must be a reasonable guarantee of the stability of the electronic journal.  For this reason, journals available electronically only in aggregated databases will not normally be considered as part of this process.  Aggregated databases are those in which content is licensed from the publisher or producer by a third party and resold as part of a package.  Some current examples at SFU are Academic Search Elite, Business Source Complete, and Lexis-Nexis.

3.  Archival availability - Journal content, beyond the most recent issue/year, must be easily accessible at the desktop. Content for the subscribed years must be owned by the library.

4.  Server reliability - The speed of loading/accessing the content must meet Simon Fraser University users' expectations.

5.  Licensing restrictions - The license must allow the cancellation of the print journal title. The licensing agreement must not be overly restrictive regarding local use, i.e. simultaneous users allowed, printing of content allowed, Interlibrary Loan privileges, proprietary software/hardware restrictions, etc.

6.  Image Quality - Illustrative materials (tables, photographs, artistic renderings, etc.) must be included in a legible and desktop accessible format.  The quality of these images or other graphics must be of a reasonable standard to meet needs of SFU users.

7.  Printing capability - The content must print from personal computers or networked printers utilized at SFU.

8.  User Data - Vendors should provide regular usage data for the titles that SFU subscribes to. The usage data should conform to industry standards, such as COUNTER, in order to be useful in preparing calculations of the value of SFU subscriptions.

Additional Criteria

The following criteria may also be considered.  These alone would not be adequate reason for either cancelling or retaining the print copy. 

  • Access to the electronic version should include effective search capability. 
  • Access to the electronic version should facilitate browsing, if this is deemed to be an important use of the journal.
  • Ease of use—the digital version should not be unwieldy, such as requiring too many clicks to access content.
  • Advertising on the site should not be intrusive.
  • Illustrative, audio and video content should be useable and accessible from the desktop.
  • The journal is used for specific scholarly purposes that require print copies, such as study of the physical artefact.
  • Data from the SFU Library journal usage studies indicate continued heavy use of the print.

Timeline 2006/07

Access to Blackwell's and Sage journal packages activated.
January 2006

Access to Lippincott Williams Wilkins journals activated.
April 2006

Title lists for consideration distributed to liaison librarians
May 11, 2006

Requests for exceptions to migration expected in Collections Management office.
May 31, 2006

Notification to serials vendors of print cancellations for 2007
Summer 2006

Invoices for 2007 subscriptions
Fall 2006

Timeline 2002/03

Collections and Liaison librarians finalize Criteria for Migration to Electronic-only Journals.
October 2002.

Criteria and overview of process presented to Senate Library Committee.
October 28 2002.

Title lists of electronic collections sorted by fund code distributed to liaison librarians.
October 2002. First round: CNSLP; Kluwer; PsycARTICLES; Project Muse.

Liaison librarians in departments involved present information to library representatives and faculty. Departments begin consideration of titles.
October 2002.

Faculty of Science and Faculty of Arts Library User Groups meetings.
November 2002.

Liaison librarians continue working with departments to agree on list of print titles to eliminate, with support from Collections as needed.
November-December 2002.

List of CNSLP, Kluwer, PsycARTICLES and Project Muse titles to cancel for 2004 is finalized.
January 2003.

Preliminary list of print cancellations sent to serials vendors.
February 2003.

Move on to second round of titles if necessary, depending on budget information for 2003/04, using same criteria. Round 2: titles on departmental serials lists.
Spring 2003.

Final list of print cancellations for 2004 sent to serial vendors.
August 2003.