Academic journal article Journal of the Medical Library Association

Health Sciences Libraries' Subscriptions to Journals: Expectations of General Practice Departments and Collection-Based Analysis

Academic journal article Journal of the Medical Library Association

Health Sciences Libraries' Subscriptions to Journals: Expectations of General Practice Departments and Collection-Based Analysis

Article excerpt

INTRODUCTION

Health sciences libraries' missions include subscribing to journals (print or electronic) and databases, purchasing books, and providing access to these resources through their websites [1]. One current issue for librarians is the continuous increase in costs of subscriptions to journals and databases. The average price of a scientific periodical title was $1,818 in 2016 versus $1,289 in 2011, with an annual inflation rate of 6% [2]. The selection of journal subscriptions highly depends on the budgets of libraries, which are currently declining in some countries [1, 3]. Each health sciences library is responsible for its own subscription strategy. Hence, journal subscriptions are heterogeneous among universities, and their adequacy in meeting the needs of users of health sciences libraries is unclear [4].

General practice (also known as family medicine) is defined as "an academic and scientific discipline, with its own educational content, research, evidence base and clinical activity, and a clinical specialty orientated to primary care" [5]. In France, as in many other countries, academic general practitioners are engaged in scholarly activity and, thus, may have specific requirements for access to discipline-specific journals. Previous studies have assessed the needs of general practitioners but have focused on online access, the role of practice libraries, or nonacademic general practitioners' preferences regarding type of information sources [6-8].

The needs of academic general practitioners for journal access and the degree to which their affiliated health sciences libraries meet these needs are unknown. Also, it is uncertain whether previous literature can fit to the context of French university general practice. The authors, therefore, conducted a cross-sectional descriptive study aiming to: (i) assess the expectations of faculty in general practice departments in France regarding health sciences libraries' subscriptions to journals and (ii) describe the current journal collections of French health sciences libraries.

METHODS

The first phase of the study was conducted between September 17, 2015, and January 15, 2016. We contacted all of chairs and heads of scientific programs of the thirty-five university general practice departments in France via email (supplemental Appendix A). Three reminders were sent. The aims of the study were detailed in the email, and a link to an electronic questionnaire was provided (supplemental Appendix B). Participants were first asked the name of the health sciences library with which they were affiliated. The second question asked: "In order of importance, which are the ten principal journals that general practice departments should have access to via the subscriptions of health sciences libraries?" It was clearly stipulated that a response including colleagues should be given by consulting the whole team of the general practice department.

An illustrative list of fifty-seven journals was attached to the email to assist the respondents (supplemental Appendix C). This list consisted of international journals that appeared in the "Medicine, General and Internal" and "Primary Health Care" categories [9] of Journal Citation Reports (JCR) or that were familiar to us, based on our own experience. Both the questionnaire and illustrative list were pre-piloted with two French-speaking general practitioners, who were working abroad, and no major modifications were made. The questionnaire was put online using Google Forms. Responses were mandatory and collected in free-text format. For each respondent, we ranked the expectations of subscriptions to journals by attributing scores: ten for the first journal, nine for the next journal, down to one point for the last journal mentioned. The journals were then ranked by calculating the sum of all scores obtained.

An illustrative list of fifty-seven journals was attached to the email to assist the respondents (supplemental Appendix C). …

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