Electronic Journals vs Hard Copy: Is the Electronic Law Library Under Threat?

Comparing electronic journals with hard copy | Sabinet

Journals are a vital resource for law students but with their limited time and enormous workloads, the act of trawling through stacks of journals is simply undesirable.  This is why ejournals, or electronic journals, have become law students’ best friends.

Ejournals allow students to search through countless electronic law books in a superbly-stocked electronic journals library all without leaving their homes or res.  This saves them countless hours of travelling and research time, and allows them to pinpoint the exact electronic law journals they need in seconds, or fractions of a second.

However, there have been recent concerns that reading material on screens might limit the ability to sleep, read quickly, and retain information.  If so, would this place digital resources like electronic law journals, and indeed the electronic law library that houses them, at risk?

Why the Electronic Journals Library Is Under No Risk at All

A 2012 study by Ackerman and Lauterman sought to discover whether the rumoured disadvantages of screen reading were in fact legitimate.  In doing so, the authors conducted several tests which saw students reading from paper and from computer screens.

One test gave the students as much time as they needed to retain the information, while another had them reading under this premise before interrupting them seven minutes into the test.

When reading uninterrupted, the students tended to retain more information.  However, during the interrupted test, the scores were identical between paper and screen.  This shows that the difference between screen reading and paper reading is more psychological than technological.

This is supported by the data that a subsequent test produced which indicated that students reading on their preferred medium tended to fare better.  Students who had garnered inferior results at first showed signs of being able to improve through exposure.

This is not to say that students should be forced to learn through ejournals.  It is merely to say that there are no disadvantages to learning through them, and students who prefer electronic journals are in no way inhibited by electing them as their main source of information.

In fact, with the ability to pinpoint information through quick searches, discover relevant information through related articles, limit travelling time, and avoid having to carry books, students who choose electronic law journals over printed works enjoy a profound benefit.  And this is precisely why electronic law libraries are the way of the future.


Image credit: http://www.digitalbookworld.com/2012/e-book-library-lending-rises-publishing-industry-grapples-with-change/