Friday, May 05, 2006

Tactics Session: Crawling Out of the Web

Presented by Deborah Lee, Associate Professor of Library Instructional Services at Mississippi State, this session aimed to show the alternatives (or supplementary services) to ISI Web of Science, which she described in the abstract as the Gold standard.

The alternatives discussed were (in the main) Ebsco Publishing and Google Scholar, and people elsewhere have argued their various merits (or otherwise) - see Péter Jacsó's excellent - and entertaining - presentations at the recent UKSG seminar (www.uksg.org/events/previous.asp#2006conf ).

What concerned me was the fact that the Web of Science is being seen as the "Be All and End All" for funding and promotion decisions (despite library health warnings), when it clearly doesn't cover all journals (only 5,900 in STM and 1,700 in Social Science) where those scientists may publish, especially if they are in the arts and humanities areas. So, many articles simply may not appear on lists provided for tenure/funding decisions if the lists aren't produced by the author. It also doesn't cover any citations that may appear in monographs for example, and Deborah cited some interesting research undertaken by Thomas E Nisonger (Citation Autobiography: An Investigation of ISI database research coverage" full reference below) where Dr Nisonger found that ISI only captured 30% of the citations to one of his articles, the balance appearing in monographs and bibliographies.

Bear in mind too that ISI doesn't comprehensively cover international journals, and it is difficult to get new journals included, as one of the delegates from Berkeley University Press pointed out.

We didn't cover Scopus at all, as Mississippi State isn't a subscriber, which is a pity, as it would be interesting to hear people's view as to whether it's increased coverage really will pit it against WoS in the future.

Some other snippets from the session:

  • Ebsco Publishing have produced a free abstracting and indexing service aimed at the library and information science community http://www.epnet.com/thisTopic.php?topicID=205&marketID=20) which may be of interest to some readers (you will need a subscription to access the full text).
  • Google Books (http://books.google.com) overcomes the citation searching problem for social science/arts & humanities authors as you can search in the footnotes for citations, which was seen as a positive step.

References:

"Puppy Love versus Reality: The illiteracy, innumeracy, phantom hit counts and citation counts of Google Scholar" Péter Jacsó , UKSG Annual Conference 2006 http://www.uksg.org/events/previous.asp#2006conf

"The Endangered Database Species: Are the traditional commercial indexing/abstracting and full text databases dead?" Péter Jacsó , UKSG Annual Conference 2006 http://www.uksg.org/events/previous.asp#2006conf

Nisonger, Thomas E. "Citation Autobiography: An Investigation of ISI Database Coverage in Determining Author Citedness" College & Research Libraries 65 (March 2004): 152-163
http://www.ala.org/ala/acrl/acrlpubs/crljournal/crl2004/crlmarch04/nisonger.pdf

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