The basis of description for an online serial is determined according to AACR2 12.0B1.  The chief source is selected according to AACR2 9.0B1.  Deciding which version to use for the description in an aggregator-neutral record is done according to a preferred list given in 31.3.4 below.

Commercial Web sites for scholarly serials often have a recognizable structure for presenting serial content.  It is common to find a subset of pages in these sites devoted to individual serials where the title, publisher, and available issues are listed clearly and in a straight forward manner.  In other types of online serials the sources of bibliographic information may not be as standardized and the cataloger needs to examine the site carefully to find appropriate sources for transcription.

31.3.1.  Basis of description

According to AACR2 12.0B1, the description of a serial is based on the first issue or part or, lacking this, on the earliest available issue or part.  The cataloger should prefer to use a source associated with the first or earliest issue over a source associated with the whole serial (e.g., home page or other associated pages) or with a range of issues.

Generally prefer to record the title, edition, numbering, and publication information from the first issue or part.  Other parts of the resource may be consulted for other areas of the description if needed.  Online serials sometimes do not give all of the necessary information in the first issue.  For example, sometimes full publication information is given on pages other than the actual issues, therefore a page such as a home page or "about" file may be the source for this area of the description.

A problem, also encountered with CD-ROM serials, is the possibility for a serial to "go online" and subsequently provide electronic access to back issues that were originally issued in print.  Digitized versions of long published print titles are typically made available beginning with a recent span of issues rather than the first issue; so in these cases the basis of description is of necessity the earliest issue available online (see also 31.9).  The description on an existing separate record can be backed up to the first issue when it is available or can be backed up to a newly available earlier issue when there are variations to record, but isn't required.  (See CEG B4.3.4 ).

31.3.2.  Determining the chief source of information

AACR2 9.0B1 states that the chief source of information for an electronic resource is the resource itself.  The chief source is listed as the prescribed source of information for title, edition, publication, and series area.  Prescribed sources for other areas such as notes and ISSN are "any source."

Information should be taken from formally presented sources, preferably associated with the first or earliest issue.  For online serials sources include:

table of contents of the first or earliest issue or contents listing available volumes

journal home pages

navigational menu bars or screens

HTML header title (as presented in the title bar of the Web browser)

titles presented in conjunction with the issue as with graphic "cover" images, or caption titles as with a PDF newsletter

When the information in sources varies in degree of fullness, prefer the source that provides the most complete information.  Further examples of formally presented sources in AACR2 9.0B1 include:  title screens, main menus, initial displays of information, home pages, file headers and information from meta tags embedded in the document.

When different information is presented in different sources, the question arises as to which page is the chief source.  Review the earliest issue and other files that contain formal presentations of bibliographic information.  The source of the title proper should be the most complete source of information associated with the first or earliest issue.  Note any variant bibliographic information and the source(s) from which it is taken.

Title changes in the print version of a serial are not always clearly identified when issues are mounted on the Web.  Although the content of earlier (or later) titles is available on the Web site, it may be prominently identified by a different title, often the most recent.  Where changes in the print title are not displayed prominently, a less prominent source may be selected as the source of title.  A running title appearing on a PDF or scanned image of an article can be used as a source of title in these cases and is useful in providing records for the online version that correspond to records for the print version, citations in databases, and URLs used in link resolvers.  Providing online records that correspond to the print version is desirable when it is practical and can be done under current rules.

E-serial records that correspond to print title changes cannot always be created, however.  There will be records for print version title changes made under earlier rules that would not be created under current rules; title changes for the online version should only be considered under the current rules.  Local cataloging resources may not always be available to accurately identify and create records for multiple, "hidden" title changes in a very large back file of digitized titles.  Also, there are cases where the content of the earlier serial appears on the Web site, but the title does not appear at all (see the provisions of LCRIs 12.0B1 and 12.7B4.2 , and CCM 31.18 for using an integrating entry approach for these situations).

Only bracket information that is taken from a source external to the resource, such as a directory on a server.  Record designations, publishers, etc. without brackets, regardless of the file structure or the location of the information within the resource.

The description of remote access electronic serials begs for both flexibility and the exercise of cataloger judgment in determining the appropriate sources of information.  When in doubt, record what seems reasonable, remembering that the most important thing is to accurately identify and provide access to the resource.  The more non-traditional the description, the more necessary it becomes to make explicit notes that explain the sources of information used.

31.3.3.  Multiple providers of an online serial:  which version should be used for the description?

A digitized serial offered in multiple provider packages requires another cataloging decision:  which version will be used as the basis of description to represent all versions of the serial in an aggregator-neutral record?  The following list in preferred order is offered as general guidance to making decisions.  Individual catalogers may need to use a particular version because they do not have access to other sources in the list.  Other factors such as institutional policies and variations in how the title is presented by various distributors, may also influence the source selected.

Publisher's site when it contains the full text.

Host or archiving site.  Prefer this site over the publisher's site when it contains the first issue and the publisher's site does not.  A host site usually preserves the original publisher's content (e.g., publisher logos and statements are preserved); examples include Ingenta and Highwire Press.  An archive site also preserves the original publisher's content; an example is JSTOR.

In choosing between sites that present titles involved in a title change and those that don't, prefer the site that presents both titles (see CCM 31.18).

Record for the print.

Aggregations and databases which are article based and do not maintain issue integrity.

Cite the provider version used as the basis of description as a part of the source of title note.  Also cite the provider in the latest issue consulted note if it is different from the provider cited in the source of title note (see below).

31.3.4.  Citing the source of title proper

Always give in a note the source of title for an online serial, according to AACR2 9.7B3.  Use the first designated part or issue of the serial if it has a source with a formal title presentation that can be considered the chief source of information.  To cite the source of title, use a term that is as specific as possible to describe the source, e.g., "title from table of contents screen," "title from HTML header," etc. in preference to a more general term such as the phrase "title from title screen."  In the absence of a formal title presentation on the earliest available issue, be as detailed as necessary in order to make clear how the title was constructed, using language from the publication or other standard or common terms.  If cataloging from a printout of the online file, state so in the source of title note.

500 ## $a Title from printout of table of contents screen.

Give also, in new records, the date viewed in parentheses following the source of title per AACR2 9.7B22, because the title may not appear on individual issues and the information may be susceptible to change ( FN 1).  Generally, the date viewed given in the 500 note is not changed unless the serial is redescribed for purposes of backing up the description to the first issue or for some other reason.  (See also, CCM 31.6, Title statement.)

Add the provider version selected for description to the title source statement and give the particular file format used for the description if the serial was available in several formats at the site.  Apply this to titles available from multiple distributors as well as born-digital serials.

500 ## $a Title from volume contents page (Ingenta Select, viewed July 15, 2003).

500 ## $a Title from PDF caption (publisher's Web site, viewed Aug. 20, 2003).

500 ## $a Title from PDF running title (publisher's Web site, viewed Dec. 24, 2002).

500 ## $a Title from table of contents page (Emerald, viewed Mar. 22, 2003).

500 ## $a Title from HTML header (Society for Information Technology Web site, viewed July 16, 1998).

500 ## $a Title from publisher’s statement page on the World Wide Web (publisher’s Web site, viewed Sept. 15, 2003).

500 ## $a Title from subject line of email header (viewed Jan. 8, 1998).

If the description is based on an issue other than the first, combine the "Description based on" and source of title notes in the last 500 field (see CCM 8.1.1).

500 ## $a Description based on: July 1994; title from caption (publisher's Web site viewed July 14, 2003).

500 ## $a Description based on: Vol. 2, no. 2 (Apr. 1995); title from table of contents (Ingenta, viewed Nov. 29, 2003).

See also:

Module 31.  Remote Access Electronic Serials (Online Serials)