StaffGuide: Serials Receiving & Processing

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Frequency Changes

A frequency change is:

  • A change in the number of issues you receive of a title in a year or volume. Examples: monthly to quarterly, or quarterly to semiannually. It can be something major like that, or something minor, i.e. from 11 issues per year to 10 issues per year.
  • Not always the same as a publication schedule change. Example: a journal might go from weekly except for combined issues in July and December to weekly except for combined issues in June and November. See the section on publication schedules for more info about this. 

When to look for a frequency change:

  • It is best to check for frequency changes in the first issue of a volume or year.
  • Frequency changes in the middle of a volume or year are rare, but occasionally happen. It is good to review for frequency changes if you notice a new pattern in the journal’s cover date and/or enumeration format that is noticeably different from what the check-in record notes and/or bib record indicate, or if the cover date is different than what was expected per the next check-in box. For example, Popular Science switched from bi-monthly to quarterly with the 2nd issue of 2018. This became noticeable when the journal published a seasonal Spring 2018 issue, in contrast to their previous issues being designated by months:

Frequency change from bimonthly to seasonal


Where to look for a frequency change:

  • Some journals list their frequency in the masthead area, often in fine print. This will be usually be towards the front of the issue on the 2nd or 3rd page, but can sometimes be in very fine print along the margin towards the back of an issue.
  • Sometimes, the publisher will mention an upcoming frequency change in an editor’s note. We are not expected to actively read all of these, but they are another good source to check and have been known to provide useful info after noticing something different about the journal.
  • Occasionally, we will get an e-mail from a publisher or one of the major vendors alerting us of a pending frequency change. Harrassowitz will often send us notification e-mails similar to claim e-mails alerting us of a pending frequency change, and EBSCO will send us title change alerts with links to login to our EBSCONET account for details on the change. These also may arrive via snail mail.
  • Sometimes, the publisher's website will mention a pending frequency change. 

What to do:

Give journals and forward any e-mails, publisher correspondence, etc., that indicate new frequencies or pending frequency changes to the Serials Processing Specialist for review. For more information on what the Serials Processing Specialist does, check out the section on how to process frequency changes