The Health Sciences Library maintains a broad collection of journals and databases in the Health Sciences. The collection is largely composed of English language, electronic resources. The library maintains a link resolver system for off site access.

Additions and reductions to the HSL serials collection are based on expressed need and funding. The Library cancels or swaps titles to remain within budget. HSL identifies and cancels lower use titles to free funds for new subscriptions. Since journals are a long term spending commitment, the library only adds new titles when it expects to continue to be able to afford them for several years into the future

75% of the journal collection is part of large publisher packages (ScienceDirect, Springer and Wiley) or small packages (American Medical Association, BMJ, etc.)  While these packages provide access to a wide array of journals, they lock the library contractually into a particular set of titles, at a set cost. The library keeps packages in stasis by swapping out lower use titles in order to add new titles.


When faculty, researchers and staff at CUMC recommend new journal titles, the library adds the titles to a list of requested journals. Additionally, the library monitors journal articles requested on interlibrary loan, adding titles with article requests above the amount allowed by fair use to the same list of requested journals. 

When funds are available to add new journals, the library uses a number of factors –  such as the journal’s Journal Impact Factor, the journal’s Journal Citation Report rank within Health Sciences specialties and the number of articles authored by members of the CUMC community – to evaluate the list of requested journals. Journals with patron requests, heavy interlibrary loan requests and CUMC published articles are given first priority. In the future the Health Sciences Library hopes to add data on journals cited by CUMC authors to the evaluation process.

Cancelations and Swaps

The Health Sciences Library has limited flexibility when it is necessary to cancel journals. Because journal package agreements allow very few cancelations, the library must cancel titles falling into the quarter of the collection not constrained by package licenses. The library makes cancelation decisions largely on the basis of the number of times a title is downloaded.   In years past the library considered titles receiving less than 100 downloads in a calendar year for cancelation. This approach has not caused any noticeable problem for CUMC researchers.  In 2012 the library is considering titles with less than 300 downloads for cancelation. HSL makes decisions not only on the basis of downloads but also on publishing patterns of CUMC patrons, Journal Impact Factor and the cost per download. The library uses the same criteria to swap titles out of a package.

Some journals offer free or very inexpensive access to journals after an embargo period (frequently 6 months to a year). An embargo means that the most recent articles, e-pubs ahead of print and supplemental data are not available. This reduction in access is not considered adequate for journals actively used by researchers. This alternative is not used in lieu of subscription for titles needed at the Health Sciences Library.

For more information contact Michael Koehn at

Last updated: 9/2016