The Bellevue University Library has kept current in the library world by offering more electronic journals than print so that they are available to everyone. So, what are the differences between electronic journals and print? Is one better than the other? That depends on you and your needs. One of the areas that the Technical Services department of the Freeman/Lozier Library works with is journals and they can answer these questions.
The first difference is their format. A print journal is defined as any journal that is available in physical form. Electronic journals or an e-journal, is a journal with articles available full text accessible on the internet. Electronic journals may have features such as links to other articles, keywords, interactive citations, and the option to download as a PDF (Portable Document Format) which requires Adobe Acrobat Reader to read. Articles in PDF appear the same as the printed version. Some articles are also published in HTML (Hypertext Markup Language) format, in addition to PDF.
Many journals are available both in print and electronically. In this case, the articles will normally have the same content and appear at about the same time. However, not all print journals have an e-version, and not all e-journals are available in print. So, you may not have a choice in how you read a journal. It will depend on how the publisher chooses to publish the journal. The publisher may also choose to publish the print version first, then add more to the electronic version when it gets published. Another very important difference is that a publisher can omit articles online that are found in the print edition. These are just a couple points that a Technical Services Librarian weighs when deciding to buy a print vs. an electronic journal.
There are some other important factors on why you may prefer print journals over electronic journals. You have difficulty or are tired from reading from a screen. A Nielson study done in 2018 found that American adults spend more than 11 hours per day watching, reading, listening to or simply interacting with media. Another reason, the quality of images may be better in print than online. You may prefer to search for articles by flicking through a physical item.
Lastly, if you have to purchase a journal, many print journals are cheaper. On the other hand, e-journals have some benefits too. You can remotely access articles instead of coming on campus. You can use accessibility technology such as a screen reader or text-to-speech software to help you read. You can easily search for articles by keyword. Several e-journals have extra content online, which is not included in the print version. There may be a large number of graphics in an e-journal, but the downside can be that it can slow down the time it takes to load that page. Audio and video can be found in e-journals. Some e-journals appear online first before they appear in print. Lastly, an overall benefit is that electronic journals provide publishers and readers an opportunity for wider distribution of knowledge than possible with a print publication.
So, whether you prefer print or e-journals, both can be found at the Freeman/Lozier Library. Search for them in our A-Z Journal List, or on the current periodical shelves in the library.
Originally posted in the Freeman/Lozier Library’s quarterly newsletter, More Than Books, V. 22 No. 3, Summer 2019.