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Issues in Science and Technology Librarianship
Fall 2002

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[Refereed article]

Database Reviews & Reports

Analysis of Serials Indexed in Meteorological and Geoastrophysical Abstracts (MGA)

Laurel L. Kristick
Physical Sciences Coordinator
Oregon State University


This article evaluates Meteorological and Geoastrophysical Abstracts (MGA), a bibliographic index to articles on meteorology, astrophysics, geophysics and related fields. It compares the source title coverage of MGA with eight databases that overlap with the subject areas covered in MGA. Titles unique to MGA are examined as to document type, language, subject area and whether they contain peer-reviewed articles. This article also examines the changes made to MGA in 2002, with the move to Cambridge Scientific Abstracts.


Meteorological and Geoastrophysical Abstracts (MGA) contains records drawn from the world's literature on meteorology, climatology, atmospheric chemistry and physics, astrophysics, hydrology, glaciology, physical oceanography and environmental sciences. MGA was created by the American Meteorological Society (AMS). In 2002, the database moved to Cambridge Scientific Abstracts. This paper presents the result of an evaluation of this database, especially in relation to the information needs of Oregon State University.

Oregon State University (OSU) is a land, sea and space grant university located in Corvallis, Oregon. Interest in Meteorological and Geoastrophysical Abstracts comes primarily from the College of Oceanography and Atmospheric Sciences (COAS), a graduate research college and one of the 11 colleges of Oregon State University. Graduate programs leading to the MA, MS, or Ph.D. degrees are offered in Atmospheric Sciences, Geophysics, and Oceanography by the college.

To evaluate Meteorological and Geoastrophysical Abstracts, the source title list was compared to title lists for relevant scientific bibliographic databases already available at Oregon State University. The unique titles in MGA were identified and determination was made as to the types of resources included, the languages the titles are published in, and whether or not titles were peer reviewed.

While making the source title list comparisons, Meteorological and Geoastrophysical Abstracts moved to the Cambridge Scientific Abstracts suite of database products. The new source title list was downloaded in May 2002 and compared to the old source title list for MGA. The new source title list was the one used for the database comparisons in this paper.

Literature Review

A search in Library Literature located two articles on resources in the subject areas covered in MGA. Laymon and Smith (1993), in an article focusing on information resources in the atmospheric science, listed 8 Dialog databases that cover this field: Scisearch, NTIS, Meteorological Abstracts (previous title of MGA), Environline, INSPEC, Pollution Abstracts, Chemical Abstracts and Oceanic Abstracts. Recupero (1997) in a conference paper on meteorological and climatalogical data, included a list of relevant indexes identified in a survey of libraries: Meteorological and Geoastrophysical Abstracts, GEOBASE, INSPEC, Chemical Abstracts, and NTIS.

Databases Selected for Comparison

Of the databases identified in the two articles cited above, OSU has current subscriptions to NTIS, INSPEC, Chemical Abstracts, Oceanic Abstracts and GEOBASE. The one database listed by both articles that OSU does not subscribe to is Meteorological and Geoastrophysical Abstracts. To supplement the databases listed above, three additional databases available at OSU were selected to be included in the comparisons -- Environmental Sciences and Pollution Management (ESPM), GeoRef, and Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI). See Table 1 for a summary of the databases in this evaluation.

Table 1. Evaluation Databases
Database Description Publisher Coverage
Meteorological and Geoastrophysical Abstracts (MGA) Meteorology, climatology, atmospheric chemistry and physics, astrophysics, hydrology, glaciology, physical oceanography and environmental sciences. Over 600 journal titles, conference proceedings, books, technical reports and other monographs. Cambridge Scientific Abstracts (Formerly American Meteorological Society) 1974-present
Chemical Abstracts All areas of chemistry and chemical engineering; monitors over 8,000 journals. Chemical Abstracts Service 1907-present
Environmental Sciences and Pollution Management (ESPM) Environmental Sciences database indexing over 4000 journals. Relevant subjects include air quality and air pollution. Cambridge Scientific Abstracts 1981-present
GEOBASE Geology, geography and ecology. Relevant subjects include climatology, meteorology, and geophysics. Over 2,060 titles indexed. Elsevier 1980-present
GeoRef Geoscience literature of the world; journal articles, books, maps, conference papers, reports, and theses. Relevant subjects covered include hydrogeology, marine geology, oceanography, and geophysics. Includes over 25,000 sources. American Geological Institute 1785-present
INSPEC Physics, electrical engineering and electronics, computers and control engineering and information technology. Institute of Electronic Engineers (IEE) 1969-present
NTIS U.S. Government-sponsored research, development, and engineering reports. U. S. Department of Commerce 1964-present
Oceanic Abstracts Marine biology and physical oceanography, fisheries, aquaculture, non-living resources, meteorology and geology, plus environmental, technological, and legislative topics; approximately 540 titles indexed. Cambridge Scientific Abstracts 1981-present
Science Citation Index Expanded 5,700 of the world's leading scholarly science and technical journals covering more than 150 disciplines. ISI 1961-present


The source title list for Meteorological and Geoastrophysical Abstracts was downloaded into an Excel spreadsheet. The information included title, ISSN (where provided) and whether coverage was full, partial or one-time. This list was compared to the source title lists for GeoRef, GEOBASE, Chemical Abstracts, Environmental Sciences and Pollution Management (ESPM), INSPEC, and Science Citation Index Expanded; titles not indexed in any of these databases were checked in NTIS. Unique titles in MGA were checked in Ulrich's Periodical Directory (2002) to determine whether or not they were peer reviewed. Citations for the source title lists are listed in Appendix 1.

Since NTIS does not have an explicit source title list to be compared to the MGA title list, and would require searching each relevant source title in the NTIS database for potential overlap, only unique technical reports (those not indexed in any of the other comparison databases) were searched in NTIS.


As of May 2002, Meteorological and Geoastrophysical Abstracts indexes 508 titles. Cover-to-cover indexing is provided for 81 of these titles, 32 titles have more than half of the articles indexed, and 309 have less than half of the articles being indexed in MGA. There are 86 titles in the source title list that do not specify the level of indexing. These are mostly technical reports and serials that have changed titles.

Changes to Meteorological and Geoastrophysical Abstracts Source Title List

With the move to Cambridge Scientific Abstracts, the number of titles in the source title list for Meteorological and Geoastrophysical Abstracts has increased from 445 to 508. While the increase is relatively small, it does not reflect the significant changes made in the individuals titles covered. Almost half of the titles originally indexed in MGA (221) are no longer covered. Eighty-three of the dropped titles are technical reports. Only four technical report series previously indexed in MGA are still in the title source list. The new MGA source title list has 284 new titles, 19 of which are technical reports. This drop in the number of technical reports covered means that MGA now provides less access to this type of gray literature, which is often difficult to locate. About half of the new titles (153) are also covered by Environmental Sciences and Pollution Abstracts. The total number of unique titles (titles not indexed in any of the comparison databases) has dropped from 112 to 73, a drop from 25% unique to 14% unique.

Database Coverage Overlap

Meteorological and Geoastrophysical Abstracts lists 508 titles in its source title list. 434 of these are also indexed in at least one other database in the comparison, for an overlap of 86%. The highest level of overlap is with Environmental Sciences and Pollution Management (59%), followed by GeoRef (53%). A library subscribing to Chemical Abstracts, ESPM and GeoRef would have 80% coverage overlap with MGA. See Table 2 for a breakdown of the overlap between each database and MGA.

Table 2. Database Overlap with MGA
Database MGA Titles
  Overlap Titles Percent Overlap
Chemical Abstracts 230 45.4%
ESPM 301 59.4%
GEOBASE 208 41.0%
GeoRef 266 52.5%
INSPEC 157 31.0%
Oceanic Abstracts 137 27.0%
Science Citation Index 234 46.2%
Chemical Abstracts, ESPM & GeoRef 407 80.3%
All Databases 434 85.6%

Unique titles in MGA

There are 73 unique titles in Meteorological and Geoastrophysical Abstracts. These are titles that are not indexed by any of the comparison databases listed above. This is a drop from the 112 unique titles previously indexed. A large part of this difference is from 63 technical reports that are no longer indexed. Subject breakdown of the 73 unique titles is 43 meteorology titles, 12 other atmospheric science titles, four geophysics titles, and 14 titles in other subjects (e.g., general science, oceanography).

Approximately 20% of the unique titles are technical reports. These 16 titles were searched in NTIS; two of the 16 were also indexed in NTIS.

The unique titles were looked up in Ulrich's Periodical Directory; eight of the 73 titles are identified as peer-reviewed journals. According to Ulrich's, one of these titles has recently ceased publication. A list of the unique peer-reviewed journals is provided in Appendix 2.

Almost 40% of these unique titles are published in a language other than English. See Appendix 3 for a list of these languages and the number of titles published in each language.


Meteorological and Geoastrophysical Abstracts is a useful specialized resource for literature in meteorology, geophysics and astrophysics. A special library serving researchers in these fields, which does not have the need for the other databases in this comparison, would find it an essential resource. Due to the high degree of overlap, a general science library, already subscribing to a number of the other databases, particularly Environmental Sciences and Pollution Management, GeoRef, and Chemical Abstracts, would find it a useful but not essential adjunct database. The reduction in the number of technical reports included indicates that the database is less useful in providing access to gray literature. At Oregon State University, we have decided against subscribing to Meteorological and Geoastrophysical Abstracts at this time.


Layman, Mary and Smith, Shirley. 1993. Atmospheric sciences information resources in the United States - an overview for librarians. Special Libraries 84(1):30-44.

Recupero, Lisa A. 1997. Where in the world? Finding meteorological and climatological data. In Expanding boundaries: geoscience information for earth system science: proceedings of the thirty-first meeting of the Geoscience Information Society, October 28-31, 1996, Denver, Colorado, pp 63-77. Boulder, CO: Geological Society of America.

Ulrich's periodicals directory. 2002. New Providence, NJ : R. R. Bowker.

Appendix 1
Source Title Lists
Database Source Title List
Chemical Abstracts Chemical Abstracts Service source index (CASSI). Columbus, OH, Chemical Abstracts Service, 2002.
Environmental Sciences and Pollution Management (ESPM) {}
GeoRef {}
INSPEC INSPEC list of journals and other serial sources 2000/01. London, England, Institute of Electrical Engineers, 2000.
Oceanic Abstracts {}
Science Citation Index Expanded

Appendix 2
Unique Peer Reviewed Titles in MGA
Advances in Polar Upper Atmosphere Research (formerly Proceedings of the NIPR Symposium on Upper Atmosphere Research)
Atmospheric Science Research
Chinese Journal of Atmospheric Science
Journal of Economic Geography
Journal of Scientific Exploration
Ocean and Atmospheric Data Management (recently ceased publication)
Water Policy

Appendix 3
Languages of unique titles in MGA
Language Number of Titles
Chinese 2
Dutch 2
English 44
French 1
German 5
Italian 2
Japanese 2
Portuguese 3
Romanian 1
Russian 2
Serbian 1
Slovak 1
Spanish 6
Swedish 1
Total 73

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