Skip to Content
Skip to Search
Skip to Navigation
Skip to Content

University of Connecticut University Libraries

Collection Development and Access Plan:
Physics

Prepared by Frances Libbey, DATE: Spring, 2003
DRAFT for review by the Physics Department

Purpose:

The purpose of this Information and Data Management and Access Plan is threefold. First, it is a tool for the Library to become better informed of the information and data needs of the faculty and students in the Department of Physics. Second, it will outline how existing local collections, networked electronic services, and document deliveries are being utilized to meet the bibliographic needs of this clientele. Third, it may provide the Physics faculty and the library staff a base for dialog concerning future information needs and areas for cooperation. This plan follows the broad guidelines established in Ownership and Access in a Global Information Market: A Framework for the University of Connecticut Libraries, issued by the Chancellor's Library Advisory Committee in March 19991999 and the FY 2003 update, Library Collecting for a Digital Age: An FY 2003 Update to Ownership and Access in a Global Information Market.

Contents:

  1. Characteristics of the Community
  2. Collections Budget Expenditure Patterns
  3. Current Patterns of Information Service
  4. Emerging Choices

I. Characteristics of the Community

The Department of Physics offers courses at both undergraduate and graduate level. Undergraduate programs may lead to either the Bachelor of Arts or the Bachelor of Science degree. The B.A. degree is appropriate for students wishing to combine courses from other sciences such as mathematics, engineering or chemistry with at least 24 credit hours of level 200 physics courses.

The Bachelor of Science in Engineering Physics was recently added to the undergraduate degree programs. The School of Engineering and the Department of Physics offer this degree jointly. Majors can concentrate in Electrical, Mechanical or Metallurgy and Materials Engineering.

Graduate and undergraduate study within the discipline focus on mechanics, electricity and magnetism, statistical and thermal physics and quantum physics. An education in physics may provide an entry into many other fields such as biophysics, geophysics, medical physics and engineering as well as into less technical fields such as secondary education, technical sales and science writing.

Faculty and students have come to expect desktop delivery for most databases and relevant journals. Rarely do either Physics faculty or graduate students visit the Library. One reason is that the department maintains a small department Library with holdings of shared current personal subscriptions to the most heavily used journal titles such as Physical Review (also available online via PROLA).

The physics faculty are frequently engaged in pursuing grant funding for their research that ranges from optics, spectroscopy to nanotechnology. Physics faculty also partner with researchers working in polymer chemistry and materials science.

Faculty Members: (Spring 2003): FTE, 42; adjunct Faculty, 11; research associates, 3

Undergraduate majors (combining all sub-areas within department): 81
Graduate Students: 69 MS/PHD

II. Collections Budget Expenditure Patterns

Allocated funds for monographs and journals: $248,000.
Typical breakdown: journals expenditures: $234,800; monographs: $13,200.

Networked Services:
Electronic indexing, abstracting, and full-text services purchased by the Library’s Networked Services budget which primarily or significantly support research in Physics include: INSPEC, EiCompendex, Web of Science (Web of Knowledge), PROLA (Physical Review Archive Online), Materials Science & NTIS (Cambridge Scientific Abstracts), Applied Science & Technology and General Science (Wilson Web Databases). As well as journal packages such as: Science Direct (Elsevier), IOP(Institute of Physics),Wiley Interscience, Springer Link, Blackwell Science, and JSTOR.

III. Current Patterns of Information Service

  1. Characteristics of the Literature

    Physics is a journals dependent discipline. The premier Physics journals continue to be published by commercial publishers such as Springer Verlag and Elsevier as well as a few scholarly organizations such as the American Institute of Physics, the Institute of Physics and the Acoustical Society of America. Faculty continue to publish primarily in commercially produced journals that are notably prestigious and widely circulated and extremely expensive.

    The inflation rate for science journals and monographs generally exceeds that of most other disciplines because most are published by European publishers and are cost-dependent on the strength of the US dollar. The move of European currency to the Eurodollar has not realized a savings for purchases made with the US dollar. Neither has the anticipated savings for the purchase of the online journal format been realized. Publishers cite the added cost of digitizing their product, the loss of revenue from fewer print subscriptions – even when a publisher may mandate that the online version be tied to the print subscription for an additional charge.

  2. Collection Development
    1. Areas of Focus

      Collecting focuses on areas of teaching and research in the Physics Department including mechanics, electricity and magnetism, statistical and thermal physics and quantum physics as well as on materials to support the joint degree with the School of Engineering with concentration in electrical, mechanical or metallurgy and materials engineering.

      In an effort to respond to the alternative scholarly publications initiatives, we have focused on maintaining subscriptions to those journals published by such scholarly organizations as the Institute of Physics (IOP), American Institute of Physics (AIP), the Acoustical Society of America, the American Physical Society, the Optical Society of America and European Optical Society.

    2. Acquisition Strategies
      1. Monographs

        An approval profile established with our book vendor, Yankee Peddler, captures most relevant publications issued by the major university and scholarly presses. By monitoring the receipt of books and announcements of recent publications, the Library is able to adjust the existing profile periodically to better represent the changing focus of teaching and research of the physics department. The Library frequently places orders for individual monographs directly with publishers not available through our current book vendor. Preference is given to placing book requests with our book vendor to take advantage of existing discounts.

        The Library does not generally collect textbooks, exams, study guides, laboratory manuals, or proceedings of meetings, but does receive notice of these publications which the Library may add to the collection when the information contained therein is unique and required to support teaching endeavors and/or faculty or graduate research.

        We do not regularly establish a continuation for a new series title until the series has shown its importance to supporting teaching or research within the department.

        The Physics librarian remains current with new publications by monitoring publisher’s catalogs and Listservs such as Physics Portal (Nature), Optics- newsalert, SpectroscopyNow.com, Springer-Link-Alert Service and STS-L to identify publications not covered by the Library’s Approval Plan.

      2. Journals

        In general, new journal purchases must be funded by the cancellation of other currently received titles. Expensive new title requests generally respond to a broad base of need, a major lack of coverage or an opportunity (as in the SPARC initiatives) to support a not-for profit competitor to an over-priced, commercial title. A track record of repeated DD/ILL use may also indicate possible need for a title. Whenever possible, the Library is moving to the online format for all journals to accommodate patron preference for desktop access and the Library’s desire to provide distributed access. The criteria used for selecting journals titles to be moved from print to the online format, include meeting established criteria for licensing agreements and accessibility and permanency of critical backfiles even in event of title cancellations.

        We continue to review journal subscriptions annually for changes to reflect departmental needs and for reductions when the cost exceeds budget limitations. When deciding which titles to retain and which to cut, a number of factors are considered, including: the inflation history of the particular title and that of its and publisher; the importance and reproducibility of graphics; the availability of the title among external suppliers; the general importance of the title for teaching and research; and the anticipated cost of supplying requests through DD/ILL. See sections, Access Development, Electronic Journals and Emerging Choices, Alternative Publishing for a discussion of the more fluid situation of electronic journals.

        The Library also encourages faculty to take advantage of the Library's Document Delivery/Interlibrary Loan (DD/ILL) Service, as we continue to eliminate paper subscriptions to reduce costs and improve desktop access. The Library continues to make improvements to the DD/ILL for efficiency and quality in our efforts to make this service a viable alternative for teaching and research needs.

  3. Access Development

    Access to published literature no longer depends on having the material on site with ever increasing development of online resources providing distributed access. Networked services provide faculty and students alike with access to a significant percentage of the published literature at their desktop. Databases now frequently provide access to full-text articles obviating the need for the Library to maintain an ongoing subscription to many popular journal titles. For physicists in the process of working in the laboratory running an experiment, remote access to many Library resources is essential.

    1. Relevant Indexes, Abstracts, Library Catalogs and Bibliographic Utilities

      In order to assist Physics faculty and students to locate the research materials they need, the Library will use a combination of local collections, licensed electronic products, subject and program-based web links, current awareness services and document-delivery and interlibrary loan. INSPEC, Engineering Index (EiCompendex), and Web of Science are the Library’s main online sources for faculty and students in Physics. In addition, the full-text of all sections of the Physical Review journals is accessible from the APS (American Physical Society) database known as PROLA. INSPEC from IOP provides physicist easy access to literature references in electrical, electronics and computer science and EI Compendex (Engineering Index) provides access to the literature covering mechanical and civil engineering. While the current complement of electronic indexing, abstracting and full-text services does not completely meet this objective due to the absence of some of the very-high priced online database, the Library continues to make attempts to fill in these gaps through a variety of current awareness alerting services and improved DD/ILL services.

      In conjunction with DD/ILL, the Library has introduced and continues to promote Current Awareness Services as an alternative means for browsing the table of contents of journals no longer on subscription as well as 1000s of other titles. Products such as Ingenta and Contents Direct (Elsevier) deliver relevant citations to the desktop from patron-designed profiles. In addition, a patron may order a document directly through one or the other Service, for a fee, or obtain the document using the Library's free DD/ILL Service. The turn around time for the DD/ILL has improved so that a patron may realistically expect delivery of the document within a week's time. In addition, many publishers now make the Table of Contents of all their journals available online and at no charge.

      In addition, Web editions of Nature Physics and its accompanying Nature Portal make current developments in the field easily accessible. IOP has upgraded and expanded its Alerting Service to include TOC Alerts and Keyword Alerts delivered via e-mail at desktop to the initiating patron.

    2. Electronic Journals, Books and Data

      User enthusiasm and economic incentives have caused the library to embrace electronic only access to commercial as well as non-profit journal packages. With the subscription year that begins in January 2004, if a cost savings is available, the libraries are generally converting journal subscriptions that currently bring us both print and electronic copies to electronic-only provision.

      We are making this change on a publisher-by-publisher basis. Many of our electronic journals do not come directly by license from the publisher, but instead through aggregator products such as Lexis-Nexis Academic, Dow-Jones, InfoTrac and Wilson Web. The arrangements between aggregators and publishers are constantly in flux. Only when titles are available through multiple aggregators, in a complete and reasonably current version will the cancellation of print be considered.

      We have resisted going electronic-only up to now because of concerns about long-term, archival access. Commercial publishers cannot be relied upon to archive their content once the prospect of additional sales approaches nil. Although a solution is far from in place, we believe that technologies now under examination, with funding from the National Science Foundation among others, will yield solutions whereby the largest research libraries will undertake the distributed archiving of digital content in all our interest. We expect that even the largest commercial publishers will, ultimately, cooperate with such an arrangement.

      Currently we have full text electronic access to most of the IOP journals, APS and AIP journals published; all the Springer Verlag journals including their Books in Series via Springer Link, the Wiley Interscience journals and Academic Press journals through their Ideal Service now available via Science Direct (Elsevier). See final section, Emerging Choices, for further discussion of future of academic journal publishing.

      One of the primary goals in the immediate future will be to identify the journals for which we have a subscription but not electronic access, and attempt to add said access. Often the stumbling block for doing so is the license agreement. Additionally, many of the society journals are only now being made available electronically. Often, online access to these titles is free with a print subscription. Retaining access to the already respectable menu of online journals provided by the Library is an ongoing library goal although this effort is becoming increasingly difficult. Because of unsustainable inflation of scholarly journals, electronic only access may be increasingly viewed as a viable option. The question of permanent access to reliable archives of this material is not yet resolved, making such a switch a risky venture.

      Furthermore, electronic journals can be hot linked to web based indexes like Web of Science, and the electronic resources listed above. Additionally, the Library’s electronic journal locator, eCompass, facilitates the identification of specific e-journal titles "owned" by the Library (i.e., accessible via the University internet domain, ".uconn.edu".)

      The Library encourages faculty and graduate students to publish in journals supported by SPARC and journals currently available as Open Access titles. The Library fully understands the need for new faculty to have their work published in ‘high impact’ journals, but as the SPARC and Open Access Journals achieve greater popularity and recognition by the scientific community, it is anticipated that these journals will eventually be competitive with the traditional journal titles and will in the near future become equally as valuable resources for important scientific publications. In addition, the University Community is being encouraged to publish in these alternative journals to create real competition with their commercial publishers’ counterparts.

    3. Other Internet-based resources

      A number of other online resources are linked on a web page maintained by the physics Liaison Librarian at: /research/bysubject/physics.htm. This page provides a starting place for students and faculty seeking local Physics resources and promotes locally licensed electronic resources. In addition to those listed previously in this document, links are provided for other resources such as PROLA- the Chemical/Physics Preprint Database and Databases for Atomic and Plasma Physics and the SPIN database produced by AIP. Also, the full-text Patent Indexes available via USPTO and the Delphion Patent Index providing access to all Patents from 1971 with first page printing free (http://www.delphion.com/simple.) In addition, the Nature Physics Portal provides access to current publications and resources in physics and astronomy: http://www.nature.com/physics/

    4. Document Delivery/Interlibrary Loan

      DD/ILL is an integral part of all our collection development and access plans. DD/ILL data is actively considered in relation to both journal purchase decisions and collection budget planning. Data from the automated DD/ILL operations is important in determining which journals we need to own locally or access electronically and which can be delivered from other libraries and document delivery services, in a timely and cost-effective manner.

    5. Significant Campus or external resources

      The Library continues to purchase journal subscriptions through Consortia such as NERL. Since Consortia agreements allow for added discounts for journal packages as well as cross-access to online journals to which we do not have the requisite print subscription. We have taken advantage of Consortial agreements to acquire databases such as the Web of Science and INSPEC as well as online publications from Springer, Karger (with the UConn Health Center), the Institute of Physics (IOP), and Elsevier’s Science Direct. Consortial arrangements have allowed the Library to provide desktop access to databases and online journals that would otherwise be cost prohibitive. It has become increasingly necessary for the Library to participate in consortial purchase agreements of this type. Hence, the ability to partner with other libraries in these purchases may strongly influence what resources we provide access to and when.


IV. Emerging Choices

Databases
The Library is not in a financial position to add a number of very expensive databases valuable to Physics research such as Landolt Boernstein also known as Zahlenwerte und Funktionen aus Physik, Chemie, Astronomie,Geophysik und Technik, which provides access to numerical data and functional relationships in science and technology or SpecInfo, which provides access to IR, NMR, and Mass spectra for a host of organic and organometallic compounds. If monies were to become available in the future these databases would be critical choices to support teaching and research in Physics.

Journal Retention issues
The Library has made a commitment to provide desktop access to the online full-text version of journals as licensing agreements and cost permit. Once the archiving of electronic journals can be assured either through the publisher or with reliable access through aggregators --and as licensing agreements permit--it is planned that most journal subscriptions in the future will be retained in the electronic version only. Choosing to rely on professional associations and /or commercial publishers to archive and provide continued access to back issues of journal titles, however, takes the Library into the realm of the unknown. For the first time Libraries will no longer be the guardians of scholarly communications and will in effect become facilitators for accessing these publications. The choices that the Library will be forced to make regarding the retention or discontinuation of print versions of the journal literature will largely be dependent on the trust that can be placed with the vendors who promise to archive scholarly communications and provide access in perpetuity.

Alternative Publishing
Journal subscription costs have driven professional organizations and societies to seek an alternative to the expensive publications marketed by commercial publishers. The Coalition for Networked Information and the Scholarly Publications and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC) are two organizations making an effort to improve scholarly communications. SPARC, a world-wide alliance of research institutions, libraries and organizations, has created several competing scientific journal publications that serve as a more reasonably priced venue for scholarly communications than their commercial counterparts. One such publication of considerable interest to physicists is the journal, New Journal of Physics (NJP) created to accommodate original research in physics. These alternative publications can only survive and impact on commercial publishers’ subscription prices if faculty elect to publish their research in the alternative journals, thus enabling academic libraries to subscribe to the alternative titles and cancel their more expensive counterparts. Untenured and junior faculty will have to make the difficult choice of whether to publish in the alternative journals or, to insure adequate exposure of their research, publish in the recognized and well-established but expensive journals. Only when departments responsible for promotion and tenure recognize the value of supporting these new and alternative journal publications and encourage untenured faculty or those faculty seeking promotion to publish in them, can these alternative journal publications become competitive with their more elite commercial counterparts. A working paper, which discusses the possibilities for future journal publishing may be found at: http://www.slis.indiana.edu/CSI/WP/WP02-01B.html

The physics literature was among the first to be available online through “open access” as a result of the work of Paul Ginsparg who was a strong proponent of “Open Access” and who was instrumental in making e-prints available as a means of circumventing recognized inadequacies of research journals and providing a primary means of communicating ongoing research information in Physics (http://arxiv.org/). He developed his website while at Los Alamos in 1991 and has subsequently moved his work to his current institution, Cornell University. Other encouraging spaces for alternative publishing are emerging at some institutions to provide digital distribution and long-term preservation for their faculty’s research through open access. Some of these alternatives include MIT’s DSpace (www.dspace.org) and UCal Tech’s digital repository (http://library.caltech.edu/digital/default.htm.) Other institutions have the choice to elect to develop similar projects to provide similar free, open access alternatives. For further discussions on the future of Open Access, see: http://www.ecs.soton.ac.uk/~harnad/Temp/unto-others.html

Direct Full-Text Reference Linking
The Library has chosen and will continue to choose to incorporate links from its OPAC to full-text articles. As new formats, such as Preprint Servers surface, the Library must create new and effective means to alert patrons to the existence of these important resources. Choosing to add these resources requires careful evaluation of both cost and value to the University faculty and students it serves.

The introduction of Cross-Reference Linking enables the patron to access the full-text of an article directly from a citation referenced from either an online journal or a database service. Most databases now offer this capability. However, given the many technological advances requiring new software, the Library often will be forced to choose which expensive software to add and what the cost benefits of doing so might be.

The future of collecting to support Physics in a changing information economy
The library anticipates both continuing inflation in the unit cost of print and electronic publications, and expanding demand for new products and services. We do not expect the University to solve this problem by increasing our share of its limited resources. We hope for a continuation of our current level of support, but cannot regard it as guaranteed. Increasingly though, measures of user behavior: circulation by classification and patron affiliation; database use, and ILL/document delivery activity will play a role in budget decision-making.

The significant evolution in collection development and access patterns requires enhanced communication between library staff and the faculty and students they serve. Ongoing dialogue will help ensure that the best choices are being made and that users are knowledgeable about emerging kinds of library resources in terms of access and intelligent use and the risks involved in some of these choices. The Library Liaison Program will continue to be the primary vehicle for this kind of contact.

Ret

>