Prince Leopold Institute of Tropical Medicine

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>Last updated on October 12, 2008


Electronic journals on the WWW


This page aims to explain some of the major trends in current day offerings of electronic full-text journal editions. To actually access individual journals, click on the Electronic journals link at the top and bottom of each ITG library webpage. This produces a listing of several hundreds of (fully or partially) electronic journals, including active links and indicating the degree of their availability.

Journal Portals

The ITG library has currently registered with several collective electronic journal portals: all American Society of Microbiology (ASM) journals, the full biomedical collection of Blackwell Science journals, the Biomedical Reference Collection of EbscoHost, and a selection from Elsevier ScienceDirect Web Editions are now available from within ITG premises.

Click here for detailed up-to-date information.

Individual Journals

Many biomedical journals are now offering full-text editions from their (publisher's) website, often with attractive results (e.g. journals associated with Stanford Univeristy's HighWire Press initiative). This, however, does not imply that all journals are already present on the World Wide Web, nor that for all the printed journals the ITG library subscribes to, the electronic versions can be accessed for free. Also, full-text editions are often limited to the last 5 publication years or so, or conversely, have an embargo on the most recent issues (e.g. 6 months). Broadly speaking, three distinctive "electronic full-text" categories can be distinguished:


1. Free full-text for all

The most liberal (and smallest) group offers full-text contents for free to everybody, so no intervention of intermediaries like libraries is required. Yet individual registration may be necessary. When prompted for a username and a password, the combination "itguser", "itguser" may work, depending on the specific journal or intermediary. If this combination does not work, you can best register for yourself.

Some examples:

Various newsletters and vital statistics publications are offered freely on the Internet, and thus belong to this group:

Some examples:

Free access limited to older issues: an increasing number of publishers, like the American Society for Microbiology (ASM) or those partaking in the PubMed Central initiative, give free access to the full-text editions of their journals, except for the last six months or so. In January 2005, "Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA", for instance, would be available up to the June 2004 issue:

Remember that for the ASM journals ITG now also subscribes to the most recent issues


There's also a new group of over 100 free electronic-only peer-reviewed BioMed Central journals:

Some examples:

2. Free full-text for print-subscribers

Full-text contents are available to (institutional) subscribers to the printed journal. The ITG library has registered site licences for such electronic journals where applicable (unfortunately ever more publishers abandon this fair principle and demand additional payment (see section 3)).

Most journals in this category will verify access authorisation by checking the requesting computer's IP-address - which works fine as long as your IP-number does belong to the IP-range known to the librarians and registered with the electronic journal hosts. Some of these journals may ask for a username and a password (sometimes only the first time you access them). These are not the same for all the journals in this category. So if the most popular username and password combination "itguser", "itguser" is not accepted by particular journals, contact the library for more appropriate combinations (but please don't try to (re)register or change any parameters by yourself - this will only mess things up for everybody).

Some examples:


3. Full-text for additional subscription fees only

Full-text contents are available only to (institutional) subscribers paying extra for the electronic version (e.g. ASM (for the most recent journal issues), Blackwell Science (ITG subscribes to the complete biomedical collection), Cambridge University Press, and Elsevier journals).

ITG library policy: while we aim to register for electronic versions where applicable, we can afford to pay additional subscription fees for online access only for a selection of journals.

Some examples:


4. Extended survey of electronic journals

The ITG library website features a survey of over 1000 of (fully or partially) electronic journals, indicating their degree of availability (e.g. electronic tables of contents only vs. electronic full-text articles, etc.) and offering 'clickable' links. To access this list, just click on the Electronic journals link at the top and bottom of each ITG library page, or go directly to Please note that although this list is regularly updated, URLs and levels of service offered by these electronic journal web sites may change faster than we can keep track of.

Technically, these full-text versions are generally offered in plain HTML or in PDF format, the latter featuring the original lay-out of the printed document. To view these PDF documents, you need to install Acrobat Reader software, which is available for free on the Internet (from Adobe). Some publishers, however, use other formats (e.g. RealPage) which may require installation of additional software.

But please don't get excited too soon: while the World Wide Web works wonders when working well, it is not realistic to expect everything to always go smoothly: addresses may change, servers may be down (temporarily or definitively), full-text files may be quite large, connections may be unacceptably slow and the promised "full contents" may be disappointingly selective or limited.



ITG library Dirk Schoonbaert at "" or tel. "240".
  Veerle Demedts at "" or tel. "241".
  Noor Goemaere at "" or tel. "244".
  Kris Didden; at "" or tel. "244".

ITG library home page eBooks Journals Electronic journals Databases WebSPIRS Internet links ITG home page