Issues in Science and Technology Librarianship
This study measures the differences among the major electronic journal article indexes' coverage of the core agricultural literature by using the core agriculture serials list and analyzing where the articles are scanned or indexed. The initial step in this research project was to compile a core agriculture serials list by using the Literature of the Agricultural Sciences series edited by Wallace Olsen, et al., and published by Cornell University Press between 1991-1996. The seven volumes in this series cover the following agriculture sub-disciplines:
- agricultural economics and rural sociology (Olsen 1991)
- agricultural engineering (Hall 1992)
- animal science and health (Olsen 1993)
- soil science (McDonald 1994)
- crop science (Olsen 1995)
- food science and human nutrition (Brogdon 1995)
- forestry and agroforestry (McDonald 1996)
Each volume includes a journal list developed through citation analysis and other bibliometric techniques to identify the most valuable literature. The 2002 core agriculture serials list was created by combining all seven lists from the Literature of the Agricultural Sciences series. Since the volumes were published between 1991 and 1996, the author updated the core agriculture serials list. The core list includes title changes, title splits, annuals, and any new titles from serial mergers. Some serial titles have ceased since the volumes were published; these are not included in the core agriculture serials list. A few titles appear to exist no longer. After a thorough search of the international serial reference tools, along with both the British Library catalog and OCLC's WorldCat database failed to locate these titles, they were eliminated from the core agriculture serials list. Compilation of the core agriculture serials list, including title changes, splits, cessations, and so forth, yielded 545 core agriculture serials in 2002. This complete and updated core agriculture serials list compiled by the author is the basis for comparing the following electronic agricultural databases: Agricola, from the U. S. National Agricultural Library (NAL); Biological and Agricultural Index Plus (B&AI), from H.W. Wilson Co.; Biological Abstracts (BIOSIS), from Biological Abstracts, Inc.; CAB Abstracts, from CAB International; Cambridge Scientific Abstracts from CSA; Food Science and Technology Abstracts (FSTA), from International Food Information Services; and Science Citation Index Expanded, also known as the Web of Science (WoS) from ISI. The results may be a consideration for producing comprehensive literature search results or for collection development interests. This study may answer the following questions:
- If an institution can afford only one index, which one has the most comprehensive coverage of the core agricultural literature?
- Which index will provide the most information to our end users?
- What do differences in coverage among the various indexes mean to the searcher, be they a student, farmer, researcher, politician or librarian?