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Open Access Methodology

Purchasing online journal access for a hospital medical library: how to identify value in commercially available products

Thomas P Carter1*, Anne O Carter1 and Gwendolyn Broomes2

Author Affiliations

1 School of Clinical Medicine and Research, University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus, Barbados

2 Librarian, Queen Elizabeth Hospital, St. Michael, Barbados

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Biomedical Digital Libraries 2006, 3:8  doi:10.1186/1742-5581-3-8

Published: 12 July 2006

Abstract

Background

Medical practice today requires evaluating large amounts of information which should be available at all times. This information is found most easily in a digital form. Some information has already been evaluated for validity (evidence based medicine sources) and some is in unevaluated form (paper and online journals). In order to improve access to digital information, the School of Clinical Medicine and Research at the University of the West Indies and Queen Elizabeth Hospital decided to enhance the library by offering online full text medical articles and evidence based medicine sources. The aim of this paper is to evaluate the relative value of online journal commercial products available for a small hospital and medical school library.

Methods

Three reference standards were chosen to represent the ideal list of core periodicals for a broad range of medical care: 2 Brandon/Hill selected lists of journals for the small medical library (BH and BH core) and the academic medical library core journal collection chosen for the Florida State University College of Medicine Medical Library. Six commercially available collections were compared to the reference standards and to the current paper journal subscription list as regards to number of journals matched and cost per journal matched. Ease of use and presence of secondary sources were also considered.

Results

The cost per journal matched ranged from US $ 3194 to $ 81. Because of their low subscription prices, the Biomedical Reference Collection and Proquest products were the most cost beneficial. However, they provided low coverage of the ideal lists (12 – 17% and 21–32% respectively) and contained significant embargoes on current editions, were not user friendly and contained no secondary sources. The Ovid Brandon/Hill Plus Collection overcame these difficulties but had a much higher cost-benefit range while providing higher coverage of the ideal lists (14–47%).

Conclusion

After considering costs, benefits, ease of use, embargoes, presence of secondary sources (ACP Journal Club, DARE), the Ovid Brandon/Hill Plus Collection was the best choice for our hospital considering our budget. However, the option to individually select our own journal list from Ovid and pay per journal has a certain appeal as well.