What is a Journal Embargo?

One of the most frustrating things in doing research is that you find the perfect journal article and come to find out that you cannot get access to it because there is a full-text delay or embargo.  An embargo is a restriction the publisher puts on a journal.  The publisher will usually withhold access to the full-text of articles in the most recent issues.  It could be for as little as 6 months or up to 12 months typically.  The longest embargo we have encountered was for 6 years!

Publishers use embargos to get institutions or users to pay for access or to buy their print journals.  They will put embargos on their most recent or current issues.  If you have a subscription to the print version or in some cases the electronic version also, they will not impose an embargo on you.  The publishers have found a way to provide an incentive for those to purchase their journals to grant instant access to their materials.

Most publishers and vendors are up front about a journal’s holdings when there is an embargo.  In Bellevue University’s A-Z Journal List, when you search for a journal, if there is an embargo, it will be listed in parentheses after the holdings.  For example, Applied Psychology is available from 01/01/1996-present (Full Text Delay: 1 year). This means that there is no access to the full text articles for the most current year.  It may still be possible to get it through Interlibrary Loan.  To do this, click on the “Request via Interlibrary Loan” underneath the article information and that will take you to a form to fill out to make your request.  If you need assistance, there is also a link for 24/7 Librarian Chat Assistance right there on the same page.

On a rare occasion, you may find random articles missing from an electronic journal.  The best thing to do is to let the Bellevue University Library staff know that you encountered this. This may also be an embargo that the publisher imposed and because it was only for one or a few articles, they did not put a notice out for the public.  On the other hand, it may be a technical issue that may need to be resolved at the library or with the publisher.  Therefore, the best thing to do is to let us know so that we can fix the issue as soon as possible.

We know that embargos are inconvenient.  So, we try to provide the journals that are necessary for every area of study that is offered at Bellevue University.  We welcome suggestions from faculty, staff, and students for journals that they think would benefit our population.  We are here to serve you and your needs.

Originally posted in the Freeman/Lozier Library’s quarterly newsletter, More Than BooksV. 24 No.4, Fall 2021.

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