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Code of Practice for Electronic Journal renewals

As many members of this List will know, electronic journal subscriptions
are prone to having access terminated on December 31 each year, even
though the subscribers renewal instrauctions have been sent in good time.
In an effort to minimise such terminations of access the ASA has issued a
Code of Practice relating to the gracing of electronic journals which is
reproduced below. A draft of this code has been circulated to ALPSP and
STM and some suggestions incorporated in this document.

Librarians are requested to refer publishers to this code should they find
their access to electronic journal subscriptions suddenly terminated in
the New Year. ASA members have themselves been drawing publishers
attention to this problem for some considerable time. The ASA will be
pleased to continue to list publishers who agree to grace their electronic
journal subscriptions on our Website (www.subscription-agents.org).

Apologies for any cross posting.


The Renewal and Gracing of Electronic Journal Subscriptions

Code of Good Practice

Electronic journals provide many advantages for libraries and users
amongst which are speed, accessibility and convenience.  To this we should
as an industry be able to add a further advantage over print which is the
assurance of continuity at renewal time since access is directly within
the control of publishers and their intermediary service providers rather
than reliant on postal services. Unfortunately this continuity of service
has been lacking for electronic journals.  Too often it is the case that
an electronic journal subscription (with or without a print counterpart)
has been renewed and pre-paid frequently by automated means and in good
time, only for the subscriber to discover on January 1st that their access
has been terminated. In an effort to reduce the number of instances where
this happens the ASA calls on agents, intermediaries and publishers to
implement a simple code of good practice to ensure such breakdowns in
accessing electronic subscriptions are greatly reduced, thus increasing
subscriber satisfaction. The ASA suggests that many of these instances
would be eliminated if agents, publishers and intermediaries followed the
following code of good practice.

1. Renewals

Subscribers and subscription agents should renew subscriptions for
electronic journals and electronic/print combination subscriptions in a
timely manner before the end of the subscription period and by automated
means wherever possible. Renewals should, unless other arrangements have
been made, be prepaid with the orders being placed together or on
specified dates that are mutually satisfactory to both publisher and
agent. To assist in this, publishers should aim to produce price
information by Aug 31 each year and to avoid subsequent changes.

2. Order processing

Publishers should process the orders promptly so that the subscriptions
can be entered before the end of the subscription period and in time to
ensure continuity. However it is recognised that there are a large number
of orders going through the system at this time, and it may not always be
possible to complete all the order processing before the cut off deadline.
Publishers are therefore urged to implement step 3 below.

3. Access

In order to ensure that all subscribers continue to enjoy uninterrupted
access to the electronic journals, publishers should not automatically
terminate access on the last day of the subscription period. Rather they
should wherever possible permit access to the electronic journals for a
further 'grace' period of at least two months.

The ASA believes that a policy of gracing the first two months of
electronic journal subscriptions will be very effective at reducing the
number of subscription breakdowns, claims and queries relating to the
renewal of electronic journals, with consequent savings in costly
administration and improvements in customer service levels.

Rollo Turner
Secretary General
Association of Subscription Agents and Intermediaries
10 Lime Avenue
High Wycombe
Bucks HP11 1DP
Tel +44 (0)1494 534778
Email rollo.turner@onet.co.uk