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Eliminating references in medical books

A colleague recently pointed out on the medlib-l listserv that a
recent professional medical book does not print the references for any
chapter. The book is "Surgical pathology of the GI tract, liver,
biliary tract, and pancreas," by Robert D. Odze. Saunders, 2009.

While the text of each chapter refers to dozens, if not hundreds of
numbered references, at the end of each chapter is a small box that
says: "References, with PubMed access, are available in the online
edition through Expert Consult."

One accesses Expert Consult by using a one-time activation code on the
inside front cover. However, only one person can use this code. A
library is not permitted to register and give out the login
information to Expert Consult. This is not only frustrating, but I
feel it violates a basic principle of scientific communication. Why
should one of the most fundamental aspects of scientific publishing --
citing previous authority -- be hidden behind a locked gate?

I can understand why a publisher would want to restrict access to the
full text of a book to only the licensed purchaser. But why not make
the references publicly available? If including them in the printed
book would escalate costs and size (the book lists at $339, and has
almost 1400 pages), put them on a public web page. Allow readers other
than the first purchaser to see the evidence.

I find this a disturbing situation, since it means that the library
has purchased a crippled copy of the book, and we are unable to assist
our users.

While the slogan that Elsevier uses for Expert Consult is "Bring your
book to life," the copy a library purchases is permanently DOA.

Mark Funk
Acting Director and
Associate Director, Resources & Education
Weill Cornell Medical Library
1300 York Avenue
New York, NY 10065-4805
PH: 212-746-6073
FX: 212-746-8271