Monday, April 4, 2011

FARQ: Understanding a Journal Record

Over the past several weeks, we've had lots of marvelous guest contributors on this blog.  A huge thanks to both the VT Dietetic Interns and the Communicating with Foods (HNFE 3224) class--your book reviews and Eat Right With Color posts have been wonderful!  Today, we return to library/research material issues with a long over due Frequently Asked Reference Questions post....  Looking over the emails I've received in the past few weeks, one particular reference question stands out to me:

I'm looking at a journal record in Addison, but can't understand it.  What do we actually have access to?

Journal subscriptions through the library can be a confusing and complex issue, especially when you're trying to figure out whether we do or do not have access to a specific article that you need right away.  We've tried to consolidate information in Addison, our library catalog, but you have to know where to look for the information, and then understand what it means when you find it!

Searching for journal information.  If you have basic information about an article (say, the citation), and decide that you'd like to see the full text of the article, the first thing that you'll want to do is figure out when/if University Libraries subscribed to the journal that the article is from.  Within the citation, the journal will generally be the italicized title, followed by volume or page information.  The citation may only include the abbreviation of the journal title; if this is the case, you'll want to figure out the full title of the journal.  Contact a librarian (or me!) if you have trouble doing this.

Next, use Addison to find the journal's record in our catalog.  This will tell you if we have access to it, and the extent of that access:

Understanding the journal's record.  Once you search for the journal title, and find the record for it, you'll want to look for a few specific things in the record to determine how, or if, we have access to the article you're looking for.  If you do not even find a record for the journal, then you should immediately turn to Interlibrary Loan and request the article that way!  But, if you do find the record, you'll want to examine the record to see if:  we receive the journal in print, online, or BOTH; which years we subscribe(d) to the journal; whether or not your article is available through University Libraries.  

For this journal, Evolutionary Biology, we have information about a print subscription AND an electronic subscription.  The print subscription, which you can see under the "Holdings" category, was discontinued with Volume 33, which is why it says "1-33" in the area next to "Holdings."  Above that, we see a link to "Springer" under "Connect to" that indicates we have 2007-present online.  

So, if you were looking for an article from Volume 15, you would want to visit the shelves in Newman Library, go to the call number area (QH, which would be on the 4th floor) and then pull Volume 15 off the shelf.  If you were looking for an article from 2009, then you would be able to simply click the "Springer" link, and navigate to the article online.

Years and Volumes.  You'll notice here that our "holdings" are listed by volumes, but our electronic access is listed by "years."  In order to see where a gap in access may occur, we'll need to figure out what YEAR Volume 33 was published, or what VOLUME was published in 2007.  This information may be not be found in the Addison record, so we'll need to find the publisher's information about this journal.  To do this, I Googled the ISSN (0071-3260, found in the Addison record), and came up with the publisher's page:  

Here, I learned that Vol. 1-33 ran from 1967-2003, and that Vol. 34 was not published until 2007, meaning that University Libraries has no gap in access.  Although it took a little digging, the record for this journal now makes complete sense!  If you need an article from 2003 or older, then you'll need to get it in print, from the library building itself.  If you need something 2007 or newer, then you can access it online.

Other details.  If you are off campus, you will, of course, need to log in through Off Campus Sign In in order to access electronic journals.  If you are an "extended campus user" then you can access PRINT articles through our Interlibrary Loan service, having them delivered to you wherever you are.  Again, if University Libraries does not have access to the article you want (i.e., our subscription doesn't cover the particular year(s) you need), then you can ALWAYS use Interlibrary Loan to request the item.

More questions?  Just let me know!  I'd be more than happy to talk with you about understanding our journals, and how to get the article(s) you need!  View my contact information here.  

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