The book lives on

Scholarly publishing is in a state of flux as electronic resources have arisen as an alternative to print. A distinct shift has occurred in the case of journals: print journal collections are dramatically declining with electronic journals becoming the standard format. The College Library is a case in point. 

The Library currently has switched from 400 to 20 print subscriptions and offers users access to 2500 e-journals via the College’s website. But what of books? Depending on the nature of the book’s content, users express preferences between print and electronic formats. A survey of UK universities showed that users prefer to read short sections of books online but prefer print for reading an entire book.[1]

The online reading experience was one of very short viewing and visiting times akin to e-journal use. In a study by Folb and colleagues,[2] reference or pharmaceutical books seemed better suited for the electronic format. At the same time, their study’s respondents, including clinical physicians, who were among the heaviest e-book users, demonstrated a great deal of flexibility: either format was acceptable so long as it was conven­iently available at the time of need. 

Clearly e-books are now well entrench­ed in the scholarly publishing marketplace, but the utility of print persists. Accordingly, the College Library offers access to approximately 100 e-books on its website ( and continues to maintain an excellent collection of print books with a focus on clinical medicine. Borrowed books are free for College registrants to receive and return via post.
—Karen MacDonell, Robert Melrose, Judy Neill
Library Co-managers


1.    Nicholas D, Rowlands I, Clark D, et al. UK scholarly e-book usage: A landmark survey. Aslib Proc 2008;60:311-334. 
2.    Folb BL, Wessel CB, Czechowski LJ. Clinical and academic use of electronic and print books: The Health Sciences Library System e-book study at the University of Pittsburgh. J Med Libr Assoc 2011;99:218-228.

Karen MacDonell, PhD, MLIS, Robert Melrose, Judy Neill. The book lives on. BCMJ, Vol. 54, No. 4, May, 2012, Page(s) 206 - College Library.

Above is the information needed to cite this article in your paper or presentation. The International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE) recommends the following citation style, which is the now nearly universally accepted citation style for scientific papers:
Halpern SD, Ubel PA, Caplan AL, Marion DW, Palmer AM, Schiding JK, et al. Solid-organ transplantation in HIV-infected patients. N Engl J Med. 2002;347:284-7.

About the ICMJE and citation styles

The ICMJE is small group of editors of general medical journals who first met informally in Vancouver, British Columbia, in 1978 to establish guidelines for the format of manuscripts submitted to their journals. The group became known as the Vancouver Group. Its requirements for manuscripts, including formats for bibliographic references developed by the U.S. National Library of Medicine (NLM), were first published in 1979. The Vancouver Group expanded and evolved into the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE), which meets annually. The ICMJE created the Recommendations for the Conduct, Reporting, Editing, and Publication of Scholarly Work in Medical Journals to help authors and editors create and distribute accurate, clear, easily accessible reports of biomedical studies.

An alternate version of ICMJE style is to additionally list the month an issue number, but since most journals use continuous pagination, the shorter form provides sufficient information to locate the reference. The NLM now lists all authors.

BCMJ standard citation style is a slight modification of the ICMJE/NLM style, as follows:

  • Only the first three authors are listed, followed by "et al."
  • There is no period after the journal name.
  • Page numbers are not abbreviated.

For more information on the ICMJE Recommendations for the Conduct, Reporting, Editing, and Publication of Scholarly Work in Medical Journals, visit

BCMJ Guidelines for Authors

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