Issues in Science and Technology Librarianship
After compiling a list of relevant journals (see Table 1), each was examined to verify its appropriateness for this study. In addition to those titles eliminated due to subject matter, i.e., too narrowly focused on a sub-discipline, several other titles were eliminated because they lacked any articles containing references. Because of the smaller than expected sample size, the 1995 proceeding volume from a long-standing annual conference was selected to be included in the sample. To compensate for the fact that the proceedings, as an annual, had more articles than the average journal issue, which were mostly quarterly, every fourth paper in proceedings was included in the sample. With the inclusion of the conference volume, the sample size became large enough to achieve a ten percent error rate as calculated using the number of general mining engineering articles in the COMPENDEX and IMM Abstracts databases from that time period. For all issues in the sample, references from each article were categorized as to format and age. Although some references fell into multiple format categories, only one format was assigned to each reference.
|Table 1: List of sources|
|Titles of serial sources||# of articles||# of references|
|Geotechnical and Geological Engineering||4||35|
|International Conference on Ground Control in Mining (annual)||10||103|
|International Journal of Rock Mechanics and Mining Science||7||176|
|International Journal of Surface Mining Reclamation and the Environment||10||90|
|Journal of Mines, Metals and Fuels||3||31|
|Journal of Mining Science||13||66|
|Journal of South African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy||5||82|
|Mineral Resources Engineering||5||38|
|Mining Industry (IMM)||8||53|
|Transactions of AIME (Mining volume)||7||109|
The age distribution of references in this study is very similar to that for all engineering disciplines as reported by Musser and Conkling (see Table 2). When age is analyzed by format (see Table 3), the most heavily used materials remained useful for several decades, although conference papers aged more rapidly than books, and journal articles.
|Table 2: Age of References|
|Percent of all references||Mining Engineering||All Engineering disciplines (from Musser & Conkling)||1996 Mining engineering data (unpublished; from Musser and Conkling)|
|50%||8 years or less||7 years or less||10 years or less|
|75%||16 years or less||15 years or less|
|90%||28 years or less||25 years or less||33 years or less|
|Table 3: Age of References by Format|
|Journal articles||Conference papers||Books||All|
|50%||9 years or less||7 years or less||11 years or less||8 years or less|
|75%||18 years or less||13 years or less||20 years or less||16 years or less|
|90%||30 years or less||21 years or less||30 years or less||28 years or less|
The format distribution for mining engineering appears to be similar to that of engineering as a whole, rather than differing significantly, as implied from Musser and Conkling's mining engineering data (see Table 4). Journal articles remain the most heavily used format, followed by conference papers, books, technical reports, dissertations/theses, and other materials -- the same order of importance as engineering as a whole.
|Table 4: Formats of References|
|Format||Mining Engineering||All Engineering||1996 Mining engineering data (unpublished; from Musser and Conkling)|
Implications of this study for managers with collections of mining engineering materials include the fact that many materials remain valuable for nearly 30 years, although this is less the case with conference papers. Needless to say, specific titles may remain valuable for much longer. Additionally, those collecting materials for mining engineering collections must take care to balance their journal collections with significant numbers of conference proceedings, books and technical reports.
Musser, Linda R. and Thomas W. Conkling. 1996. Characteristics of engineering citations. Science and Technology Libraries 15(4):41-49.
Zaremba, S.A. and I.M. Alabyan. ca. 1979. The structure of information flow in the concentration of useful minerals" RTS 9933. 11 p. (translation of "Struktura informatsionnogo potoka po obogashcheniyu poleznykh iskopaemykh" Nauchno-Tekhnicheskaya Informatysiya - seriya 1, 12 (1973):17-19).