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#210: Saving Back Issues

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Friday, January 1, 2010
Updated: Friday, January 1, 2010
I hate to throw out magazines but they take up space on my shelves. What can I do? I hate to lose my references when I need them.

There is an assumption embedded in your question that needs to be checked. This is that archived journals are worth saving. I would suggest that only a small fraction of journal articles are worth saving, and you will know them when you read them. A lot of what is published in journals is rehashing of old theories and cases. Especially when restricted to your particular industry and consulting discipline, there's just not that much in the way of new ideas

However, to keep a good hardcopy archive of your seminal articles, here are several approaches:
  1. Save the final issue of the year (usually the one with the "Reader Index") and box the rest for one year only.
  2. Clip the articles you want to save as you receive the issues and toss the rest immediately. As emotionally hard as this is, recognize that, unlike a decade ago, it is pretty easy to get most journal articles online almost immediately.
  3. Check and see whether those magazines archive online. If so, no need to save and maybe no need to purchase the hard copy subscription in the first place.
  4. Be sure you have a way to access these articles, once you have removed them from their "natural habitat” in journals with volume and page numbers. If you don’t have too many, a loose leaf notebook of electronic folder of scanned images may work well. Without this kind of access, these won’t be useful because you will never be able to locate them.
Tip: Online or electronic summaries are often available (e.g., at the end of each year, Harvard Business Review offers a CD with all its prior year's articles). There are often "special issues" which may be especially relevant, such as a "best articles of the year" or "top 10 articles on subject X". Finally, many hardcopy journals provide online access to past articles, including those before your subscription started and, since these articles are tagged by keywords, this makes it easier to find the kind of information online anyway. Aas uncomfortable as it may be, try hard to let go of paper.

© 2010 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  knowledge assets  recordkeeping 

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Derrick Van Mell says...
Posted Saturday, January 2, 2010
Few magazines pass my "rip test," meaning, I frequently rip something out of them. But it's interesting and valuable to see what I was interested in years ago, particularly now that I'm often a mentor. So I keep my favorite articles in a fat folder. It's not the end of the world to keep something that's not electronic. It's a great gift to send someone a article perfectly suited to their interests and reading style. Sad to say, I rarely find something that fits that bill.
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