Issues in Science and Technology Librarianship
CSA, formerly Cambridge Scientific Abstracts, is a worldwide database aggregator with traditional strength areas in the natural sciences and technology. CSA customers include more than 4,000 libraries and institutions worldwide. The company, officially ProQuest/CSA, is now owned by privately-held Cambridge Information Group (Ojala 2007).
CSA Materials Research Database with METADEX covers publications related to materials science, metals, alloys, ceramics, polymers, and engineering composites. Topics covered include raw materials, processing, refining, end uses, performance, and recycling, as well as business aspects of materials science. 2,915,309 records were included as of March 2007. Databases begin in the 1960s, 1970s or 1980s; select older references are included. Updates are monthly, with about 100,000-125,000 records added annually. Records are bibliographic, including indexing and abstracts (if available), but not full text online.
Within the group, METADEX has the largest number of records, about 50% of the overall total. Copper Data Center has the smallest number of records, 71,164 in March 2007. Many of the databases in the group continue long-standing print equivalents (e.g., Metals Abstracts is now part of METADEX). Databases are either produced by CSA or hosted by CSA on behalf of industry partners such as CERAM Research and WELDASEARCH in the UK, and the Copper Development Association in New York.
Sources covered include 3,469 periodicals, conference proceedings, technical reports, trade publications, patents, books, and press releases. Within METADEX, about 15% of the covered sources are designated "core" and are indexed cover to cover; the remaining 85% are designated "priority" (over 50% indexed) or "selective" (less than 50% indexed). A journal may be "core" within one database in the group, but "selective" in other databases. The Serial Source List is available to browse or download.
Quick Search is clean, simple, and functional. Brief examples indicate the wildcard, "*", and that exact phrase searching is the default. Many searchers expect this type of interface to produce ranked keyword AND-type results, and will miss useful search results by not realizing or understanding the phrase search constraint. CSA could make this clearer, perhaps adding "keyword AND keyword" to the brief examples.
Advanced Search allows more complex and focused searching by using dropdown fields and the obvious use of AND and OR; additional query lines can be added if needed. Both Quick Search and Advanced Search support proximity searches and relative word order searches (NEAR, WITHIN X, BEFORE, AFTER).
Command Search (Figure 1), under the Search Tools tab, allows command-line searching with Boolean operators, field codes, wildcards, and proximity searches. This interface is useful to those with experience in creating structured search strings; the average user will not take advantage of it, and its location as a Search Tool is appropriate.
Thesauri allow users to browse for terms via a hierarchical, alphabetical, or rotated index display. Appropriate terms can be selected and searched. CSA Materials Research Database with METADEX thesauri include a Master authority file of 40,000 controlled vocabulary terms, a Copper Thesaurus, and Special Thesaurus for METADEX in English; Spanish and French versions are in Beta testing. Available thesauri for a given database are displayed in a drop down box.
A maximum of 500 records at a time can be marked for output. Output options are many: save as PC, Mac, or UNIX, print, e-mail, or create a bibliography using QuickBib citation manager, which formats references according to eight popular bibliographic styles. Users also have the choice of predetermined short or full formats, or can customize the fields they prefer.
Search History retains the most recent 50 searches from a session. Searches can be combined, re-executed, and saved as Alerts. Alerts, which require Personal Profile registration, run automatically every week and deliver up to 250 new matches to the e-mail address specified in the Personal Profile.
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Ojala, Marydee. 2007. Cambridge Information Group buys ProQuest information and learning: an interview with CEO Martin Kahn and President Matt Dunie. Online 31 (2): p. 21-24.
Sapp, Megan. 2005. Technology Research Database of Cambridge Scientific Abstracts (CSA). Issues in Science and Technology Librarianship Spring 2005 (42). [Online]. Available: http://www.istl.org/05-spring/databases1.html [Accessed: April 23, 2007].