Many journals offer their own apps as well, providing a streamlined way to browse and read the articles from just that journal. If you are an individual subscriber or a member of an institutional community with library subscriptions, you may think you can access these journals through their apps. However, we have found that there is a great variety in access and pricing for these apps. To add to the complexity, the various models are not mutually exclusive.
We have covered various apps for browsing across multiple academic health journals in the past. Here’s a walk through on options for accessing your favorite journals directly – with a trick that folks with institutional access can use to access their favorite journals directly, even when they are off network.
Most individual journal apps, including the New England Journal of Medicine, Circulation, and the Journal of Urology are available to individual subscribers. If you pay for your own subscription, you can download and access the content through the app. You will just need details about your subscription or your online journal username and password.
Similar to individual subscriptions, some individual journal apps are free to society members. Many journals published by societies use this model in addition to offering free access to individual subscribers, including The Journal of Urology and Circulation. In some cases, society members are the only ones who can gain access to the app for free, such as the BMJ app, which is free only to BMA members.
It appears to be fairly rare for individual journal apps to be free for those with access to journals through their institutions. One publisher that uses this model is Wiley, which makes its Cancer journal app freely available to those at institutions who subscribe to the journal. To access these apps, institutional subscribers first need to create usernames and passwords at the publisher’s site, in this case Wiley.
Pay as you go:
Like buying music from iTunes, you can also generally buy individual articles or journal issues if you do not have a society membership or an individual or institutional subscription. Pricing is currently all over the map, from $4 to $90 an issue. Some journals offer the option to buy individual articles, whereas others only offer subscriptions, either in month- or year-long terms.
While it is unfortunately not very common, some journal apps, such as the Journal of the American Heart Association, are available for free to everyone using the open access model. While there are a lot of flavors of open access, generally this means the author pays at publication and the journal content is free upon publication.
So, if you like reading your journals on your iPad, you have a few choices.
- Explore whether your favorite journal has an app and whether you can access it through your existing memberships and affiliations, or pay for it.
- Use a journal app like Read or Docphin, which provide the abstracts only, and which can link you to the full text if you have an institutional affiliation.
- Use the web versions of the journals. If you have access to journals through an institution, you can access the journals on your device just as you would on a computer.
Another way to access your favorite journal
If you have institutional subscriptions and want to use the web version of journals, there is a way you can use your institutional access off your hospital’s network to access your favorite journals directly.
- Add the journal site to your home screen to make your web access look like an app. This is similar to how most of the journal apps behave, though some do appear in your Newsstand, and you can’t recreate that from a website.
- If you plan to access the journal from outside the network, add your institutional proxy server address to the beginning of the URL. Do this before you add it to your home screen. Ask your librarian or IT office for your proxy URL.
- If you don’t have a proxy URL, activate your VPN prior to viewing the journal content.
- Use a PDF app to store and annotate PDFs.
The pricing and access models for individual journal apps are frustratingly variable and complex. For those with institutional subscriptions, it’s probably cheapest and easiest to use the web versions of journals.