Science Citation Index Compact
Institute for Scientific Information Philadelphia,
Electronic Resources reviewd by Kate Kaufman
Although electronic databases appear to have arrived on the scene
with lightning speed, "common-sense" retrieval of "what
you want when you want it" isn't quite as state-of-the-art
as we might like. How do you use these tools to make life easier
in the chase for a story?
We've chosen the Institute for Scientific Information (LSI) databases
for exploration and review in this introductory edition of SOURCES
SELECT RESOURCES because ISI is the "granddaddy" of the
information management and retrieval world.
Providing "current awareness services" has been the mainstay
of ISI for 32 years. Integrating advanced electronic technologies
with past standards and traditions enables delivery of data in print,
microcomputer diskette, compact disc, magnetic tape and online formats.
A worldwide arrangement with journal publishers means ISI has the
"most current information available". The deal is: ISI
gets rights from publishers for access to the tables of contents
of their journals at the time of publication (three months prior
to any other information service). The result: weekly published
Current Contents in seven editions covering a wide range
of disciplines. This has evolved into a massive multidisciplinary
database with almost 40 million source records.
The comprehensiveness of the database is astonishing. ISI indexes
the literature from all the disciplines of the sciences, the social
sciences, the arts and humanities, and computer science and mathematics.
Information on a topic of choice brings up relevant material from
journals in disciplines from within and outside the selected field.
You'll receive full bibliographic data on every article, meeting
abstract, editorial, review, letter, short story, work of art, etc.
that you access ... including article citations that cannot be retrieved
from more specialized databases.
Special retrieval features of all ISI citation indexes are: cited
reference searching (ISI captures the bibliography of each article
indexed in its database), related records (articles that have one
or more bibliographic references in common), abstracts, and 'keywords
plus" whereby additional search terms are taken directly from
an article's bibliography. For anyone working in the media or doing
investigative work, another bonus is that the first author's address
is available on command-by a simple keystroke.
Now, about the value of a massive reservoir of citations. Ever been
overwhelmed by the complexity of a particular story lead? Cited
reference searches allow you to uncover essential information that
cannot be retrieved through traditional search techniques. You can
search forward in time-take a known, relevant paper and uncover
later papers that cite it.
Another strategy is to do a keyword search. Input a keyword such
as "embryology". Doing so, for instance, on the Science
Citation Index CD Edition (SCI CDE) provides access to authors and
information on everything from vaccines for birth control to British
government regulations on reproductive technology-in minutes. The
hardest part about using this technology is staying in focus. If
you're naturally curious there are a myriad directions a search
SCI CDE is a veritable treasure, providing instant electronic access
to full bibliographic data and cited references on items contained
in more than 3,200 of the world's leading scientific and technical
journals across 100 disciplines.
Anyone covering science, technology, medicine, health care (a handful
of the 100 disciplines in this database) can have a field day discovering
the latest developments in a given area. It's a way of opening doors
to historical information and a rich source of contacts to interview.
All major university libraries possess ISI's products and my experience
is that within minutes a helpful librarian will show you how to
get your search going. Another option if you're equipped with a
modem is online service, available through three major vendors:
DIALOG, DATA-STAR and DIMDI.
Published in Sources, Summer 1993
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