Electronic books

Issue: BCMJ, vol. 61, No. 9, November 2019, Page 359 College Library

Libraries’ physical footprints are getting smaller, but their collections are growing virtually. Books have made the transition to electronic formats much more slowly than journals, but e-books now account for a substantial portion of most libraries’ collections. Regardless of the format, the value that books hold for clinical purposes must be judged by their currency, the authors’ qualifications, attribution to valid evidence, peer review, and transparency of conflicts of interest. Each digital platform may be judged by a variety of criteria, including the utility of its search tools and hyperlinks within the resource, its downloading and printing options, and its updating capabilities.  

One barrier to the use of e-books is lack of awareness of their availability. Every BC health authority library has an e-book collection accessible through the library’s online catalogue, as does the UBC library for health care providers with faculty appointments, and the College of Physicians and Surgeons of BC Library. College registrants have access to over 600 e-books through the Library’s catalogue (http://szasz.cpsbc.ca). Topics cover the full range of medical specialties including anesthesia and analgesia, cardiology and cardiac surgery, dermatology, emergency medicine, surgery, immunology and allergy, internal medicine, pediatrics, psychiatry, obstetrics, and gynecology. Notable for presentation of evidence, authority, and currency are e-books such as Clinical Handbook of Psychotropic Drugs Online, Clinical Handbook of Psychotropic Drugs for Children and Adolescents Online, Color Atlas and Synopsis of Family Medicine (2019), and Roberts and Hedges’ Clinical Procedures in Emergency Medicine and Acute Care (2019).

When investigating complex and wide-reaching clinical concerns or highly focused topics, e-books can contextualize and distill information in a conveniently accessible format. Have a look at your local health authority’s collections to support your clinical decision making and continuing education.
—Karen MacDonell
Director, Library Services


This article is the opinion of the Library of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of BC and has not been peer reviewed by the BCMJ Editorial Board.

Karen MacDonell, PhD, MLIS. Electronic books. BCMJ, Vol. 61, No. 9, November, 2019, Page(s) 359 - 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 www.icmje.org

BCMJ Guidelines for Authors

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