By :pawan Gupta
Information Sources Programs Reference & Information Services
Welcome To ATutor
- Reference information – Encyclopaedias, geographical sources, directories, yearbooks, almanacs, handbooks, manuals etc.
- Bibliographic information – Catalogues / OPACs, union catalogues, subject bibliographies / webliographies
- Analyzed and surrogated / consolidated - indexes, abstracts
2. Indexing sources
2.1 Origin and development:
- Searching part – keyword, subject, title, author that represents the original document and used a tool for search
- Citation – brief information of the document that facilitates identification of the original document.
2.2 Uses and functions
- Overviews of the subject – The periodicals are published in thousands. With such wider coverage of journals the indexing periodicals provide the users with an overview of the current developments and research trends in the respective subject.
- Access to information – A researcher / scientist or academician can access only those journals that are subscribed by the library in print or electronic. However access to major output of literature in his / her subject is possible through an indexing periodical. They can access more information than subscribed ones as indexing periodical has wider coverage. After going through the index for a particular topic, the reader can select items of interest and search for the primary source.
- Resolves language problem – The journals are being published from different countries in different languages. The general belief is that at least 40-50 percent of journals are published in other than English language. Because of this the scholarly community is deprived of accessing literature available in foreign languages. An indexing periodical provides entries in English language translating the original thus resolving the language problem.
- Resolves problem of information explosion – Exponential growth of literature is a common phenomena in every scientific subject. For example Chemical Abstracts indexes around 10,000 major scientific journals and patent documents from 63 patent authorities (Source: https://www.cas.org/about-cas/cas-fact-sheets). PubMed includes 5051 journal titles (Source:http://www.nlm.nih.gov/bsd/num_titles.html). A comparatively new subject like Library and Information Science has more than 440 journals (source: LISA). Thus the indexing periodicals are the bibliographical control apparatus that gathers information of all journal publications, analyzes and consolidates information and publishes at regular periods. Thus they help in resolving the issues associated with proliferation of scientific literature.
- It facilitates subject, author and title approach to seek information
- It provides information on contemporary or current issues
- It facilitates search through specific subject headings
- It also reveals trends in the growth of a subject.
- compilation of title of articles under standard index terms;
- providing bibliographical details for identification of the item and
- arranging them in alphabetical order for easy retrieval.
2.3 Types of indexes
- Citation indexes
- General indexes that lists periodical publications. E.g.
- Subject indexes – Coverage includes all subjects and all types of documents. E.g.
- Indexes to single magazines, either at the end of a volume or as separately published works. E.g. Scientific American Cumulative Index.
- Press indexes: There is a growing number of newspaper indexes in the world. The best known newspaper indexes are
- Translations: E.g. Index Translationum. Annual. Paris, UNESCO, 1948-
- Allows researchers to conduct broad-based, comprehensive searches that uncover all the relevant information they need
- Provides cited reference searching, the unique ISI search and retrieval feature that lets users track the literature forward, backward, and through the database, breaking through disciplinary and geographic boundaries
- Enables users to conduct multidisciplinary searches to discover hidden subject relationships
3. Abstracting sources
- Searching mechanism – keyword, subject, title, author that represents the original
- Citation – brief information of the document that facilitates identification of the original
- Abstract – a brief summary of the original article
3.1. Difference between Indexing and abstracting sources
- By definition, they include a summary of the material indexed; they tend to be confined to relatively narrow subject areas;
- The abstract covers the main points of a piece of writing that follows the same language and terminology as used in the original. Indeed it is a brief representation of the original. The added value helps the user to determine the usefulness of the full article.
3.2 Uses of abstracting sources
- They serve those users who either may not read or may not have an easy access to original document with an outline for reading.
- It helps the reader to decide whether to read the entire article or not i.e. the contents of the article are suitable or not.
- It overcomes the language barrier and to prevent duplication.
- It gives up-to-date information and is useful for current and retrospective literature search. One can select papers for study and it is a time saving device.
3.3 Types of Abstracts
- Title only Abstract: The title of a document is used without amplification to describe the contents of a document. Thus, it usually states subject and not findings.
- Annotated Abstract: A clause or a sentence is added to amplify the title of an article. Annotated and indicative abstracts differ only in length.
- Indicative or Descriptive Abstract: It displays a general statement of the nature and scope of a document. It does not serve as a substitute for reading the original document. The primary purpose is to give the user several clues to the information contained in the source document and help him to judge whether it is same that he is sought after. Generally these abstracts include procedures, findings and information about the illustrations, tables etc.
- Informative or Comprehensive Abstract: It provides details of the significant contributions to knowledge contained in a document like problem, methodology, major findings and conclusions. However on many occasions it serves as an adequate substitute for the original information and sometimes users rely on informative abstract alone for the purpose of obtaining a specific item of information. For example Dissertation Abstracts International provides informative abstracts.
- Slanted Abstract: Information or description reported in a document is oriented to a specific discipline to which the abstracting service e is devoted
- Auto-Abstract: It is produced by a computer analysis of the frequency of use of significant use words in a document and of the frequency with which these high-use words appear in the same sentence. The high frequency words are then traced back to the sentence in which they occurred and their position noted. A score is then assigned to each sentence based on the number and position of the high frequency words it contains. The resultant auto-abstract is a collection of typical sentences forms the original document.
- Telegraphic Abstract: It is a detailed index to a graphic record, which is composed of
- Significant words selected from the document.
- Coded symbols called role indicators which supply a context for the selected words, and
- Punctuation symbols which separate and group the words and role indicators into various units in somewhat the same fashion as conventional punctuation does. e.g. a portion of telegraphic abstract might have this appearance: “Propenoyl Chloride; preparation; reaction; use.”
4. Evaluation of indexing and abstracting sources
- The Publisher
- Duplication and gaps
- Depth of indexing
- Subject heading
- The Publisher: The Librarian should check out the authenticity and trustworthiness of publishers, preferably by talking to subject experts and to other librarian who may have knowledge of the field and by reading reviews.
- Scope: The indexing and abstracting periodicals should adequately cover the periodicals and other materials in the field of interest and the related areas.
- Arrangement: There should be uniformity in presentation of entries following standard pattern. GENERALLY they are arranged in classified (subject) order. There should be different indexes to the content like subject, author, and title. The use of maximum number of subject headings should also be seen.
- Retrieval efficiency: The indexes and abstract are basically information retrieval tools hence they are expected to retrieve information with highest recall and precision ratio.
- Currency: The frequency of publication is a fair indication of the currency of service. However the time lag between the publication and its inclusion in the index / abstract indicates the currency, hence the librarian has to check for the date of original publication and date of its inclusion in the secondary source.
- Format: The abstract must be checked for its ease of use of entries and readability. Readability of format, accuracy and completeness of biographical information, printing and font size are other considerations to be kept in view.
- Subject Headings: The type, number and form of subject headings used in an index / abstract are important. The subject headings generally derived from a standard list like Sears, Library of Congress; in case of electronic databases they follow keyword indexing technique. Some may have developed their own lists like MeSH of Index Medicus/ Medline. In any case subject headings should be standardized and the plan of organization has to be suitable to the material indexed / abstracted. . There should be adequate ‘see’ and ‘see also’ references.
- Description: It is also required to check whether the index / abstract adequately describe the document and whether it has been judiciously edited.
- Ease of use;
- Layout and presentation;
- Choice of subject index-headings;
- Optimum use of cross references;
- Overall effectiveness in practical use;
- Minimum amount of “noise”.
- i. Period covered: 1. Date 2. Frequency 3. Cumulations
- ii. Material indexed: 4. Number-in terms of volumes, periodicals, or articles, 5. Kinds-books, periodicals, newspapers, documents. 6. Subject-general or special. 7. Style- popular or scholarly. 8. Country.
- iii. Form: 9. Complete or selective indexing (if latter, note basis of selection). 10. Arrangement-dictionary, classified, author, title, subject. 11. Entry fullness-author, title, source, collation, date, etc. 12. Annotation- Information given.
- iv. Special features: 13. Distinctiveness-- anything characteristic of the index.
- i. Accuracy and authoritativeness of information content
- ii. Regular updating of information and its reliability
- iii. Check for the ownership of domain
- iv. Error-free information
- v. Useful links to other Web Pages.