Education and Criminal Justice Faculty Value Electronic Serials over Print to Support Professional Activities


  • Sue F Phelps Washington State University Vancouver



evidence summary


A Review of:
Jones, G. F., Cassidy, E. D., McMain, L., Strickland, S. D., Thompson, M., & Valdes, Z. (2015). Are serials worth their weight in knowledge? A value study. The Journal of Academic Librarianship, 41(5), 578-582.

Objective – To determine the faculty assessed value of print and electronic serials.

Design – Qualitative survey.

Setting – Doctoral research institution in the southern United States of America.

Subjects – 122 tenured or tenure-track faculty from the School of Criminal Justice and the School of Education.

Methods – A survey was designed to measure the value of online and print serials for key faculty activities: research, publishing, course preparation and development, service, and personal interests. Measures included: recentness of use, the extent to which library journals supported work in the key activities (minor, moderate, or major), requirement of students to use online or print journals in their courses, cancellations of personal journal subscriptions in favor of library subscriptions, and travel to other libraries to use library journals.

Main Results – Twenty-seven faculty responded to the survey (22%). Two of the respondents (7%) had never used the library journals, though the majority (93%) had. Of those who used library journals, the most recent use was of online over print publications.

For each key activity, 40%-87% of the respondents reported they had never used print journals, and those who did use print reported that it supported their work only to a minor extent, primarily in the area of research. Respondents noted they used online journals most frequently for research (92%), publishing (83%), and course preparation and development (76%). Service is the least supported by journal use in either print or online, with 87% of the respondents never using print and 50% never using online journals for service.

The respondents who taught undergraduates required the use of online journals over print journals at a ratio of 3:1 for assigned readings, course activities, and writing assignments. The ratio increased to a range of 4.5:1 to 8.5:1 across activities for graduate students. Respondents indicated that print (22%) and online journals (72%) had the highest use in assigned readings. The majority of respondents required graduate students to use online journals in all activities and less than a quarter required the use of print.

Twenty respondents (80%) had not dropped personal subscriptions, but among those who did, print subscriptions were more likely to be dropped than online. If institutional access were available, 55% indicated that they would drop a personal subscription for online access, and only 27% indicated they would cancel personal subscriptions for print access. Those who did drop subscriptions cited cost, storage space, and ease of access to library journals as their motivation. Faculty comments praised the serials holdings, especially the holdings of back issues.

Finally, the majority of respondents (74%) reported not having traveled to another library for journal access, but those who did, accessed materials for research, class preparation, and publishing. Many of those who went to other libraries did so because they were closer to their residence or they needed to access original manuscripts.

Conclusion – Participants used journal subscriptions for all of the key activities surveyed, with research and publishing the top reasons for use and service the lowest. Both undergraduate and graduate students were required to use both print and online journals, with graduate student use being greater for online access. Faculty acknowledged their use of print and online journals for key activities to a major extent, with a strong preference for online journals.


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Author Biography

Sue F Phelps, Washington State University Vancouver

Health Sciences and Outreach Services Librarian




How to Cite

Phelps, S. F. (2016). Education and Criminal Justice Faculty Value Electronic Serials over Print to Support Professional Activities. Evidence Based Library and Information Practice, 11(4).



Evidence Summaries

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