Susan Swogger, MLIS
Collections Development Librarian
Health Sciences Library
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Oxford University Press offers a large number of eponymous single and multi-title platforms, each specializing in different subject areas of their wide range of content. Two of the most relevant for a health sciences audience are Oxford Medicine Online and Oxford Scholarship Online.
Oxford Medicine Online (OMO) is a newer platform that offers the majority of Oxford University Press’s clinical health reference and textbook titles, with a large number of associated videos, self-quizzes, and images. It is available to institutional subscribers such as hospitals or libraries, and is of interest to health professionals ranging from students to advanced practitioners in dentistry, clinical medicine, and surgery, nurses, allied health professionals, and midwives. Though all of these subjects are included, most books are best suited for a clinical medical or allied health audience. The full collection includes more than 900 titles as well as all of their associated videos, images, and any available self-quizzes.
Most of the titles belong to well-known series that many librarians will be familiar with, such as International Perspectives in Philosophy and Psychiatry, Oxford Specialist Handbooks, Mayo Clinic Scientific Press, Weil Integrative Library, Oxford Monographs on Medical Genetics, Cases in Radiology, etc. Readers who are familiar with Oxford Scholarship Online will recognize that these titles are specifically excluded from it — for academic libraries to have a complete range of Oxford University Press’s health sciences and medical titles, both platforms are necessary. That said, Oxford Medicine Online is much more likely to be relevant for both hospital libraries and academic libraries.
Oxford Scholarship Online (OSO) preceded Oxford Medicine Online by a few years, and is slated to have a major update and platform shift in the next year. It includes a very wide range of academic subject areas, of which public health, epidemiology, history of medicine, palliative care, and related social sciences are of most interest to the health sciences. While it does include many series, it is more focused on non-series monographs than is OMO, as that is a more typical format for its subject areas. It does not include Oxford’s many clinical titles, as they are housed on OMO. It does provide access to a great many very useful academic and general interest titles at every level that can benefit any academic audience. Unlike OMO, it does not provide supplemental video content, but it does provide access to ebooks from a number of other university “partner” presses.
Fortunately, each platform offers a range of customizable acquisition models that will allow libraries to acquire the specific content that best suits their needs. Libraries can purchase ebooks from Oxford Medicine Online for a one-time payment with perpetual access, either the entire title list or just new ebooks published that year. Alternatively, they can subscribe to all or part of OMO for a much lower price for access only during the subscription period. With the latter option, new editions are uploaded to replace older ones automatically.
The most common subscription or purchase is for the entire collection, but it is also possible to purchase or subscribe to a large number of smaller subject modules or many individual titles. One subscription option allows unlimited users, which is generally preferable if it is being used for coursework, but another option offers limited simultaneous users, at a lower cost, which might better suit a hospital library with a smaller budget and more distributed usage patterns. Oxford Scholarship Online is only available for purchase rather than as an access-only subscription. Like OMO, it is possible to purchase the full collection or smaller subject modules or individual titles. Individuals cannot subscribe to or buy either platform, but, of course, they are able to purchase any of the included titles just as they would any other ebook or print book.
The publisher provides an unusually large range of library-specific marketing resources and user tutorials, as well as easily available MARC records for every title and other useful materials. Both platforms allow open searching of tables of contents and included materials, though access to the actual text requires a subscription or purchase. One possible limitation is that there is no video MARC and therefore no specific access points for the huge body of video content included in OMO other than directly through the platform. However, as most users will find the videos because of their interest in an associated title, this is not a significant problem for most libraries.
While the platforms are not identical, they appear similar and are fairly intuitive to even somewhat experienced users of online library resources. Both have large frames that provide citation information, access to relevant platform indexes, suggested similar titles, access to associated video and image content, etc. Each can be searched or browsed for individual titles or by subject. Each permits searchers to limit by availability, which is critical if a library has a subset rather than the entirety of the collection. There is a link on each title chapter that leads to citation help that will export citations in several styles to a variety of reference managers. Each platform allows users to share citations and abstracts via social media, including some unusual options such as Pinterest rather than just the typical Facebook and Twitter (which are included). Both allow the creation of a personal profile to save bookmarks and citations for later retrieval. The large frames are somewhat distracting and require a bit more scrolling than many users will prefer, but parts of them can be clicked out of the way.
Oxford University Press makes accessibility a priority, and each platform provides a reading screen that works comfortably with screen readers and it is possible to adjust font size. It is simple to switch to a PDF view, which also permits users to download or print a chapter. Each platform is mobile optimized and readily adjusts for tablet or smartphone reading. To address a different type of accessibility, each is also Open-URL compliant and provides DOIs for included titles.
The advanced search and browsing options differ between the two platforms. Oxford Scholarship Online has a more traditional advanced search that allows users to select different fields to search, and will permit users to search the entire full text of available titles. Oxford Medicine Online searches for chapters and books by default, presenting results in two different tabs. Results can be further narrowed using facets that appear to the left of the result list, but there is no link marked “advanced.” OMO also indexes its ebooks by series title, health sciences career stage, and health sciences specialty, which may prove most useful to faculty looking for appropriate textbooks.
Libraries should subscribe to these if they have an interest in Oxford University Press books, which most health sciences libraries do. They are both well designed and stable ebook platforms that work easily within library systems, making them preferable to any aggregator platform. Oxford Medicine Online is the only library-accessible source for the supplemental video content that makes ebooks so much more useful as clinical references or textbooks. Most hospitals will be better served by Oxford Medicine Online than by Oxford Scholarship Online, while most academic health sciences libraries supporting any kind of clinical education would benefit from having both, whether in full or in some combination of available modules.