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Issues in Science and Technology Librarianship
Spring 2002

[Refereed]

Database Reviews and Reports

A Bibliographic Resource for Statistical Theory: Current Index to Statistics

Laurel L. Kristick
Physical Sciences Coordinator
Oregon State University
Laurel.Kristick@orst.edu

Abstract

This article evaluates Current Index to Statistics (CIS), a bibliographic index to articles on statistical methodology and applied statistics. It compares the journal coverage of Current Index to Statistics to Mathematical Reviews and the ISI Web of Science and analyzes the subjects of the journals from which applied statistics articles are indexed.

Introduction

In 2001, Oregon State University Libraries undertook an evaluation of the Current Index to Statistics, an index to articles on statistical methodology and applied statistics. A search of relevant indexes (Library Literature and MathSciNet) failed to find any evaluations of Current Index to Statistics or any articles discussing this resource. The library science literature has numerous examples of index evaluations; two that use similar methods to this paper are the evaluation of Zoological Record by Hughes (2001) and Poyer's source title comparison of three scientific indexes (1984).

In order to meet the teaching and research needs of the Department of Statistics in the College of Science and of others on campus that work with statistics, OSU Libraries has subscribed to the annual print volumes of the Current Index to Statistics (CIS) since 1975, when coverage began. When a CD-ROM version was developed, it was determined that the potential usage of the CD-ROM was relatively small. Since the space on the CD-ROM server was limited, the library decided to keep the index in the print format. With a web version of the database now available, it was time to reevaluate this decision. Mathematical Reviews and Web of Science index a certain number of statistics journals, but it was unclear how thoroughly they cover statistics or what the overlap was. It was not known whether Mathematical Reviews and Web of Science provide sufficient access to the literature for OSU statistical research and for students in statistics.

Background

Oregon State University (OSU) is a land, sea and space grant university located in Corvallis, Oregon. The Department of Statistics at OSU has 20 faculty and staff members. Current research areas in the department include asymptotics, biostatistics, environmental statistics, experimental design, generalized regression models, linear models, optimization, sampling methods, statistical ecology, survival analysis, and wildlife survey methods. The Department of Statistics typically has about 50 graduate students. The department has awarded on the average thirteen Master of Science (M.S.) and three doctoral (Ph.D.) degrees each year for the past three years.

The Department of Statistics also houses the Survey Research Center (SRC). The SRC was established in 1973 to provide comprehensive professional services of the highest standards for designing, administering, and analyzing all aspects of research surveys. Surveys have been conducted for federal, state, and local agencies in the Pacific Northwest, for public interest groups, and many University departments. The Center also undertakes research to improve survey techniques.

Database Descriptions

The Current Index to Statistics (CIS) is a bibliographic index to publications in statistics and related fields. Coverage begins in 1975. References are drawn from 114 core journals that are fully indexed (cover-to-cover), 980 non-core journals from which articles are selected that have statistical content, proceedings and edited books, and other sources. This index includes a significant number of journals published in languages other than English, including Dutch, Finnish, French, German, Japanese, Polish, Russian and Spanish. The Current Index to Statistics is a joint venture of the American Statistical Association and the Institute of Mathematical Statistics.

The two main drawbacks to the Current Index to Statistics are the lack of abstracts and the timeliness of the indexing, as it is two to three years behind the publication date of the articles indexed. As of February 19, 2002, the print and CD-ROM versions index articles through 1999. The web version has records for some articles published in 2000, but the indexing is not yet completed.

Mathematical Reviews is produced by the American Mathematical Society (AMS). It indexes and abstracts research literature from all areas of mathematics, both theoretical and applied, and related areas such as computer science, engineering, physics and statistics. Mathematical Reviews adds approximately 4,000 reviews per month. The web version of Mathematical Reviews (MathSciNet) includes another AMS index, Current Mathematical Publications, which covers books. Coverage of both the print and electronic versions of Mathematical Reviews is from 1940 to the present. For more information on this index, see Dominy and Bhatt's review (2001).

Web of Science is the web interface to the Institute for Scientific Information (ISI) citation indexes, which cover over 8,000 journals in the sciences, social sciences, and the arts and humanities. Web of Science provides cover-to-cover indexing of the titles included. It provides author abstracts from 1991 on. It consists of Science Citation Index, Social Science Citation Index and the Arts and Humanities Citation Index. The vast majority of the titles that fall within the purview of statistics are indexed in Science Citation Index and Social Science Citation Index.

This article focuses on the journals indexed and does not consider the books covered by either Current Index to Statistics or MathSciNet.

Methods

The source title lists for the Current Index to Statistics were downloaded into an Excel spreadsheet. Title lists are available for the core journals and for selectively indexed titles that have articles related to statistics but are not focused on statistics. These are primarily applied statistics articles in subject-based journals.

The combined title list was compared to the Mathematical Reviews title list, which indicates whether coverage is full or partial for each title. This information was added to the spreadsheet.

The combined title list was then compared to the title list for Web of Science. The master title list was used to determine total overlap of coverage. The list of statistics and probability titles in the 2000 Journal Citation Reports on Microfiche (Science ed.) (2001) was used in the determination of core title overlap.

The final step was to review the 980 non-core titles from the Current Index to Statistics for subject content. In those cases where subject of a journal was not discernable from the title, subject headings from Worldcat were assigned to the title. Subject areas with only one or two titles were subsumed into the closest subject area (e.g., a title on botany is included in the biological sciences count). Appendix 1 gives the subject areas of the non-core titles.

Definition of Core Titles

Current Index to Statistics identifies 114 titles as core journals in statistics. To evaluate the completeness of this list, it was compared to the list of 69 journals that are classified under Statistics and Probability in the ISI 2000 Journal Citation Reports on Microfiche (Science Ed.). Of the 69 ISI titles, 56 (81%) are core journals in Current Index to Statistics, seven are not core titles but are only selectively indexed, and five are not indexed in Current Index to Statistics. The majority of these five appear to have an emphasis on probability rather than statistics (see Table 1 for a list of the non-indexed titles).

Table 1. Journal Citation Reports Statistics and Probability titles not indexed in CIS
Combinatorics Probability & Computing Compete coverage in MathSciNet
Infinite Dimensional Analysis, Quantum Probability and Related Compete coverage in MathSciNet
Oxford Bulletin of Economics & Statistics Not indexed in MathSciNet
Probabilistic Engineering Mechanics Not indexed in MathSciNet
Stochastic Environmental Research and Risk Assessment (previously titled Stochastic Hydrology and Hydraulics) Not indexed in MathSciNet

The Journal Citation Reports ranks journals in each subject area on the impact factor. Impact factor is determined by the average number of times recent articles in a specific journal were cited in the Journal Citation Reports cover year. The high and low values for the impact factor vary by subject area. In Statistics and Probability, this ranges from 2.081 (Journal of Chemometrics) to 0.071 (South African Statistical Journal). Of the 20 journals with the highest impact factor in statistics and probability, Current Index to Statistics fully indexes 18 titles and partially indexes the other 2 titles. Of the 32 journals with an impact factor of at least 0.500, Current Index to Statistics treats 27 (84%) as core titles, 3 are partially indexed, and 2 (which are the same journal that underwent a title change in 1998) are not indexed.

The high degree of overlap between the core statistics and probability titles in Journal Citation Reports and the core titles in Current Index to Statistics seems to show that the core journals in Current Index to Statistics include the core journals of the field, although the possibility exists that the two indexes share the same biases in selecting core titles. The statistics and probability titles covered by ISI are a subset of the CIS core titles.

Results

Current Index to Statistics covers 1,094 journals. Cover-to-cover indexing is provided for 114 core titles, and partial indexing for the other 980 titles. Mathematical Reviews indexes 350 of the 1094 titles, or 32% of the Current Index to Statistics titles. Of the 114 core titles, Mathematical Reviews completely indexes 27 titles (24%) and partially indexes 55 titles, for a total of 82 titles (72%). In addition, of the 980 non-core titles in Current Index to Statistics, 27% are indexed in Mathematical Reviews (154 completely indexed and 112 partially indexed). Web of Science indexes 47% (514 out of 1094) of the Current Index to Statistics titles, including 68 of the Current Index to Statistics core journals (61%).

Of the titles listed in the Journal Citation Reports statistics and probability list, 91% of the 69 titles are indexed in Current Index to Statistics (56 cover-to-cover and 7 selectively) and 74% are indexed in Mathematical Reviews (22 cover-to-cover and 31 selectively). See Table 2 for a summary of the title overlap between the three indexes.

Table 2. Journal Title Overlap
  Current Index to Statistics Mathematical Reviews Web of Science
CIS Core Titles 114 82 68
CIS Non-Core Titles 980 276 446
All CIS Titles 1,094 350 514
ISI Statistics & Probability Titles 63 53 69

The 980 non-core titles in Current Index to Statistics cover a wide range of subject areas. While a significant proportion of the titles are in mathematics or statistics (324 of 980 titles; most of these are indexed in Mathematical Reviews), there are an additional 207 titles from the social sciences and 449 from the sciences. These subject areas include agriculture, biological sciences, economics, engineering, medicine and psychology. See Appendix 1 for the subjects covered by the non-core titles in the Current Index to Statistics.

Conclusion

While there is some overlap between Current Index to Statistics and Mathematical Reviews and even more overlap between Current Index to Statistics and Web of Science, there are many titles in Current Index to Statistics that are not covered by either of the other indexes. In addition, significant numbers of the core titles are only partially indexed in Mathematical Reviews, which may or may not index all of the articles relevant to statistics. For the non-core titles that are only selectively indexed in Current Index to Statistics, 112 also only have selective indexing in Mathematical Reviews. It is therefore possible that there are potentially relevant articles that are not included in either index. Forty-seven of these titles (42%) are indexed in Science Citation Index, which indexes cover-to-cover, so potentially relevant articles would be covered there for less than half of the titles partially indexed in Current Index to Statistics and Mathematical Reviews.

This evaluation confirmed that Current Index to Statistics is unique in that it indexes both the core statistics journals as well as applied statistics articles in a broad range of journals. It revealed that Current Index to Statistics covers a significant number of journals not indexed in Mathematical Reviews or Web of Science. Even with the delayed indexing and lack of abstracts, it should be considered an essential index for libraries that support statistics programs, especially those with an emphasis on applied statistics. Due to this evaluation, OSU Libraries has added the web version of Current Index to Statistics to its electronic resource wish list and will subscribe to the web version when funds allow.

The applied statistics coverage in Current Index to Statistics makes it useful for researchers outside of Statistics departments. Subject librarians in agriculture, biology, economics and other fields that use statistics in their research should actively promote this index to their constituents.

Current Index to Statistics is available as a print index, a CD-ROM and a web version. For 2002, the institutional prices are $100 for the annual print volume and $225 for the CD-ROM or web version. Determining which version of Current Index to Statistics to subscribe to depends on the library collection, the library budget and the size of the statistics program supported by the library. Oregon State University has a strong focus on applied research in statistics, which makes this index essential for the OSU Libraries. The web version is so reasonably priced that libraries that have the Current Index to Statistics in print should seriously consider acquiring the web version.

I would like to thank the American Statistical Association, the Institute of Mathematical Statistics, the American Mathematical Association and ISI for providing the information needed for this evaluation. Mathematical Reviews and Web of Science are valuable and important resources designed to cover a broader range of material than Current Index to Statistics, which provides a specialized index to the statistical literature, and supports the field of statistics, particularly for applied research.

References

2000 Journal Citation Reports on Microfiche (Science Ed.). 2001. Philadelphia, PA: Institute for Scientific Information.

Dominy, Margaret and Bhatt, Jay. 2001. "MathSciNet: Mathematical Reviews on the Web, a Review." Issues in Science and Technology Librarianship 31 (Summer 2001). [Online]. Available: http://www.istl.org/01-summer/databases2.html. [February 19, 2002].

Hughes, Janet. 2001. "Characterization of Unique Serials Indexed in the Zoological Record". Issues in Science and Technology Librarianship 30 (Spring 2001). [Online]. Available: http://www.istl.org/01-spring/refereed.html [February 19, 2002].

Poyer, Robert K. 1984. "Journal Article Overlap among Index Medicus, Science Citation Index, Biological Abstracts, and Chemical Abstracts". Bulletin of the Medical Library Association 72 (October 1984) p. 353-7.

Appendix 1. Subject of non-core titles in Current Index to Statistics
Subject Number of Titles
Agriculture 15
Anthropology 3
Archeology 3
Astronomy 4
Biological Sciences 56
Business 19
Chemistry 13
Computer Science 55
Criminology 3
Economics 38
Education 15
Engineering 82
General Science 107
Geology 24
Information Science 10
Insurance 6
Mathematics 262
Medicine 52
Meteorology 10
Oceanography 3
Operations Research 14
Pharmacology 5
Physics 9
Political Science 7
Psychology 59
Social Sciences 32
Sociology 12
Statistics 62
Grand Total 980

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