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Issues in Science and Technology Librarianship
Summer 2000

Database Reviews and Reports

Fluidex: The Fluid Engineering Abstracts Database

Sandy Lewis
Science & Engineering Librarian
Sciences-Engineering Library
University of California, Santa Barbara
slewis@library.ucsb.edu

Bob Heyer-Gray
Engineering Librarian
Physical Sciences and Engineering Library
University of California, Davis
rheyer@ucdavis.edu

Sharon Shafer
Science & Engineering Librarian
Science & Engineering Library
University of California, Los Angeles
sshafer@library.ucla.edu

Fluidex is an online bibliographic database published by Elsevier Science. It provides a source of information for all aspects of fluid engineering, fluids' behavior and applications.

The database provides abstracts of articles from approximately 500 scientific and technical journals. It contains 274,000 records from 1974 to the present with 15,000 records added annually. There are links to full-text articles if your library has access to electronic journals via Science Direct.

Subject coverage includes instrumentation, experimental techniques, pneumatics, fluid mechanics, seals, mixers, sealing, mixing processes, separators, coastal engineering, separation processes, offshore engineering, process equipment, operations & utilities, heat exchange, ports & harbors, lubrication, pipes & pipelines, applications, hydraulics, industrial corrosion, and pumps.

Basic Search Mode

On the front screen for Fluidex, it is not obvious which database is currently selected. We would like more flexibility with the date selection. On the plus side, it does allow an All Year option for searching (as opposed to say the Ei Village decade approach for Compendex). See Figure 1

Basic Search Screen
Figure 1

Author searching

It is not easy to ascertain that the wildcard character for truncating an author's first name is the ! symbol. If one uses the * symbol as wildcard after first initial, it will produce zero results. It would be nice to have a sample search statement on the screen.

AUTHORS(Stolzenbach, k!) 16 hits
AUTHORS(Stolzenbach) 16 hits
AUTHORS(Stolzenbach k) 0 hits
AUTHORS(Stolzenbach k*) 0 hits
AUTHORS(Stolzenbach kd) 0 hits
AUTHORS(Stolzenbach k.d.) 16 hits
AUTHORS(Stolzenbach*) 16 hits

Enhanced Search

Instructions given on the search screen for using the Enhanced Search feature are simplified. (See Figure 2) Searching the fields is possible in this database but directions are hidden in Help. Quick access to a chart or drop-down menu would be clearer. This mode uses the Lexis/Nexis search logic, which could be useful, if we were searching full text of the articles.

Enhanced Search Screen
Figure 2

Display Options and Results List

The interface lacked the ability to change display options (i.e., display all abstracts all at once vs. citation only listing). In light of the inability to print/download/e-mail, this would necessitate printing screen by screen for the abstracts to appear.

Links to PDF versions of some journal articles only became visible at the abstract level. It would be better if full text items were clearly marked at the first display level. The only PDF links we saw were to Science Direct titles.

It is impossible to navigate by number from the results list so it is necessary to use the previous page and next page buttons multiple times.

Marking records and redisplaying as a smaller list worked fine. As stated earlier, we like that they show the search statement in the proper format which is useful as a guide to the Enhanced Search.

It would be extremely useful if the Index terms were hyperlinks to other records.

The message, "View articles by clicking on the links below," may lead users to believe that they will get the complete article.

Printing/Download/E-mail Options

We would like to mark and format this list for e-mailing, downloading and printing, but there are no e-mail or download options. Printing is done via the browser, but because you cannot adjust the display options, it forces one to go to each record to screen print one by one.

Help Screens

Visually, the HELP screens are hard to read. The font used for the HELP screens is weak. The search examples should be in bold face, not the word "example."

The help screens were written at a generic level to be used with all of the databases. Although there was an elaborate table of contents and separation of help by database, it was actually much of the same generic information repeated. Some of the help screens were full of examples while others simply stated the obvious.

We found the Enhanced Search HELP to be especially lacking. The Enhanced Search HELP screens did not offer field names and format HELP for enhanced search statements. Using the Basic Search mode and then looking at what the system translated the query to be was much more informative than the HELP screens.

We used the HELP screens to find the wildcard character. The following graphic is the HELP screen on that topic.

ScienceDirect Help Screen

Sample searches for Content, April 2000

Sample search 1

Search for works authored by Ivan Catton

Search Fluidex hits Compendex hits
AUTHORS (catton I) 32 110

Of the 32 hits in Fluidex:
10 were not duplicated in Compendex.
Out of the 10 not in Compendex, 4 were found in INSPEC and 1 more was found in CURRENT CONTENTS. So, 5 records out of 32 were unique to Fluidex.

Search for works by Ann Karagozian

Search Fluidex hits Compendex hits
AUTHORS (karagozian a.r.) 2 13

Of the 2 hits in Fluidex:
1 was duplicated in Compendex.
The other one was duplicated in Aerospace Database.
No unique Fluidex hits.

Search for works by Mohamed Abdou

Search Fluidex hits Compendex hits
AUTHORS (abdou, m.a.) 2 38

Of the 2 hits in Fluidex, both were also in Compendex
No unique Fluidex hits

Sample search 2

I decided to run a search on a UC Davis faculty member whose main area of research is fluid dynamics, or more precisely computational fluid dynamics. Fluidex seems like a logical database to search for articles by him.

I searched All Years for Hafez, M! and got 24 hits. He shows up in the literature (not just in Fluidex) as:

I scanned the citations and found I had a sampling of citations from 1976-1999, which given his age/career made sense.

I then re-ran the search in Compendex and got 57 hits after eliminating the false hits and anything before 1974.

I then re-ran the search in INSPEC and got 48 hits after eliminating the false hits and anything before 1974.

10 of the Fluidex citations were in Compendex. 13 of the Fluidex citations were in INSPEC. With the overlap between Compendex and INSPEC, 10 citations were unique to Fluidex. Initially, I thought that seemed like a fair number of unique citations. A closer inspection of those 10 citations revealed:

  1. One of the hits also appears in NTIS.
  2. Three of the citations are all for the same edited volume and not actually citations to papers/articles.

This left me with 6 papers, one journal article and 5 conference papers. One of the conference papers is included in Aerospace Abstracts and one is from a publisher of dubious merit.

In looking over these citations, I realized that there were large gaps in the coverage in Fluidex for an author who has published consistently for the last thirty years. Papers from journals like International Journal for Numerical Methods in Fluids, Journal of Fluid Mechanics, Computers & Fluids and AIAA Journal (on fluid topics) were not appearing in Fluidex (although some were). The coverage just seemed a bit spotty to me.

Sample Search 3

I tried the following search in Ei's Compendex and it gave me 5 citations:

The same search in Fluidex gave me 1 citation.

Conclusion

The version of Fluidex we evaluated is available via the Science Direct platform. Although the interface was fairly clean and easy to use, we found the display options and print/e-mail/download options to be severely lacking. Overall, we feel that Fluidex would duplicate many of the entries in Compendex, INSPEC and Current Contents. We do not feel that there is enough unique information in Fluidex to justify cost.

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