Institute for Scientific Information, Philadelphia, Pa., U.S.A.
Presented at the International Conference on Information Science (ISLIC)
Tel Aviv, Israel
August 29 September 3, 1971
During the past six years The Institute for Scientific Information has, through private investment, constructed a multidisciplinary machine—language data base covering nearly two million source articles. This file is increasing at present by approximately 400,000 items per year or 8,000 per week. Use of ISI's information services offers a method of establishing an effective national information system at a cost acceptable to smaller and developing nations.
Customarily, discussions of information networks are concerned with the concept of interrelating the activities of information centers on a national or international scale. Only slight, if any, attention is given to the already existing international network for scientific information exchange which is the scientific community itself. Scientists have disseminated information and communicated with one another using a variety of methods, but primarily through the published literature (journals), correspondence, scientific meetings and more recently telephone and other modern media of communication, for several hundred years.
It is understandable that discussions of information networks do not become involved with these first order networks but concern themselves with, what I shall call, second and third order networks. The second order networks are those intended to establish a system of information interchange on an international level, and the third order networks are those which involve systems for linking national information centers. The concern with second and third order networks is understandable because the processors and disseminators of information are faced with the problem of managing the information flow that results from the research and scholarly activities of the scientific community. The concept of network systems, international or national,. reflects the desire to make the output of the scientific community more readily available to a greater number of potential users of information, and to do this more efficiently by establishing methods which will reduce duplication of effort. These objectives are important because all of us are aware of the duplication of effort that exists and of the high price that is paid as a result.
Too often, however, the demand for efficiency
translates itself not into making better use of that which already exists
or improving the operation of existing systems, but into developing new
and different methods and systems. ISI’s approach to establishment of a
network of internationally—linked information centers has been to develop
better methods for dealing with the communication
system that already exists among scientists and to expand and nourish it. This is done not only by computerized services, which is the main focus of my talk, but by a variety of services, both manual and machine oriented, that play a significant part in ISI’s role as a processor and disseminator of information at all levels -- individual, institutional, national, and international.
Before considering the relationship of ISI to the information centers located in more than a half dozen countries in which ISI tapes are used, it is important to describe ISI’s approach to providing the totality of its services to individual countries in their efforts to establish national information centers which can link up to the ISI network.
ISI’s services can be characterized both functionally and by subject area. The first category includes:
1. Current Awareness Services
2. Retrospective Searching Service
3. Selective Dissemination of Information Service
4. Library Service.
Although the subject areas covered in ISI services include every field of scholarship, I shall delineate these areas broadly as follows:
1. Life Sciences
2. Physical Sciences
3. Chemical Sciences
4. Agricultural Sciences
5. Engineering and Technology
6. Behavioral and Social Sciences
I mention these subject areas only to indicate the broad coverage available through ISI's services. More important, I believe, is the description of the types of services offered as categorized by function, although I shall at a later point talk in some detail about ISI’s chemical information service. .
Using as input approximately 5000 journals from almost every country in the world, current awareness service is provided through the medium of five Current Contents® editions. These are: .
1. Current Contents/Life Sciences
2.Current Contents/Physical & Chemical Sciences
3. Current Contents/Agricultural, Food, & Veterinary Sciences
4.Current Contents/Engineering & Technology
5. Current Contents/Behavioral, Social, & Educational Sciences
The purpose of Current Contents is to provide prompt current awareness of research results published in the leading journals of the world in the broad areas shown above. Each week the contents pages from the journal issues received at ISI are reproduced in one of the five Current Contents editions. Each Current Contents also includes an author address directory which readers can use to send to authors for reprints of articles they have found through Current Contents. It has been estimated that five million reprint requests per year result from use of Current Contents. An important feature of the current awareness service is the fact that ISI has established relationships with publishers throughout the world which enable us to obtain journals quickly; the contents pages of many journals are obtained in advance of publication.
Retrospective searching capabilities are provided by ISI through the Science Citation Index® (SCI) and Permuterm® Subject index (PSI) and ISI’s Search Service. The SC and PSI are comprehensive multidisciplinary indexes which provide a variety of unique methods for retrospective searching of the scientific, agricultural, technological, and biomedical literature. The SCI provides access to the literature by author, citation, or organization, and the PSI is a natural—language subject index which complements the SCI, providing access to the literature by words taken from the titles of current articles processed into the SCI data base.
The SCI data base is derived from a core of approximately 2500 of the 5000 journals received at ISI. Each journal issue is indexed into the system from cover to cover and all substantive items are processed. The SCI and PSI are published quarterly with annual cumulations. In 1971, the data base will consist of approximately 400,000 current articles and 4,000,000 citations. This year will also see the publication of a cumulative SCI covering the years 1965-1969. The total SC file now includes over 1,500,000 source items and 20,000,000 cited references.
Retrospective searching is also provided through the ISI Search Service which is used by many subscribers—when they require special literature searches to be performed. . .
SDI is available from ISI either through ASCA®IV, the Automatic Subject Citation Alert service operating at ISI's headquarters in Philadelphia, or through lease of the Science Citation Index tapes which can be used by organizations to provide SDI to their staff. The data base used for ASCA, or available from ISI tapes, is the same one which is used for the SCI. SDI services, however, are provided weekly through subscription to ASCA or, if tapes are used, these are also supplied weekly to the lessee The ASCA service is unique in the fact that citation questions, as well as words, can be used to develop the user profiles. Tape users also have this feature available to them if they wish to obtain the citation tapes as well as thesource tapes, and very important is the fact that the ASCA software can be bought or leased from ISI.
Among the functional service areas mentioned previously was ISI’s library service. This service called OATS®, Original Article Tear Sheet service, was designed to provide users of ISI’ s system with the means of obtaining hard copy of any article which their use of any of the current awareness, retrospective searching or SDI services uncovered, when such articles are not readily available through regular library channels. In fact, in many cases the OATS service is used by libraries and individuals even if the journals are available in their libraries because of the convenience and the speed with which they receive tear sheets and because, on a cost benefit basis, the service is relatively inexpensive. Some ASCA customers have requested that articles reported on their printouts be sent to them automatically; we call this service ASCAMATIC.
I have only, in the preceding, described very briefly the four major service functions performed by ISI which ISI feels are solutions to the four basic aspects of the problem of disseminating scientific and technical information. These solutions are keeping users of information current on scientific and technological developments: Current Contents, keeping them informed on a selective basis of developments having direct bearing on their work; ASCA and Tapes, enabling them to learn quickly what has been published in the past; SCI, retrospective searching capability; OATS, enabling them to retrieve documents quickly and efficiently.
I stated previously that ISI has a specialized chemical information service which I shall describe briefly before commenting upon the ISI-linked international information network.
ISI’s chemical information services group consists of the publication Current Abstracts of Chemistry and Index ChemicusTM CAC&IC the Index Medicus Registry System®, and the Chemical Substructure IndexTM. Current Abstracts of Chemistry and Index Chemicus is a weekly abstract journal of the chemical literature which places special emphasis on reporting new compounds and reactions. In addition to the traditional abstract, structural diagrams and reaction flow diagrams are also provided. Indexes to the weekly issues are published monthly and cumulated annually. Current Abstracts of Chemistry and Index Chemicus is the source for preparing the Index Chemicus Registry System. The compounds reported in CAC&IC are encoded into Wiswesser Line Notations, which permits preparation of magnetic tapes that are computer searchable. Searching can be by compound family, substructure, biological activity, authors, journals or index terms since the tapes contain not only the encoded compounds, but also bibliographic information for the article in which the compounds were reported and information regarding the other searchable items mentioned. Tapes are provided monthly and programs are available for use both for retrospective and current awareness searches of the file.
The Chemical Substructure Index is derived from the ICRS® and is a published permuted listing of the compounds encoded into WLN. This Index provides the capability of doing substructure searches for the most recently reported chemical compounds by manual means. It is published on a monthly basis and will be cumulated annually.
My purpose in providing this brief overview of ISI services is to lay the basis for describing how ISI serves as a mechanism for linking information centers and explaining how ISI’s services can be obtained on a national level to help in development of national information systems.
ISI is a supplier of its SCI data base to national centers in five countries for SDI use and also supplies these tapes to approximately half a dozen private organizations which use them for internal SDI services. The ICRS tapes are presently supplied to a number of private chemical firms but are also available to national centers.
In making these tapes available on a lease basis, ISI has, in fact, already aided in the establishment of an international network of information centers in which ISI, as the processor of information produced on an international scale, services as a distributor of reprocessed information to an international clientele. The present system is not a formalized one with rules, by—laws, standards, etc. But, there is no reason why the process cannot become more formal. In fact, since ISI is prepared not only to lease its tapes but also to lease or sell its whole ASCA software system and to help in its installation and guarantee its operation to any country, many of the obstacles which inhibit establishment of networks are eliminated. There exists at this very moment the capability for every country represented at this meeting to have, without the need for excessive development costs, a national SDI system, simply by obtaining from ISI the rights to the ASCA system.
Even more important, the whole ISI system consisting of the four components, current awareness, SDI, retrospective searching capability and library service, is also available because ISI is prepared and willing to cooperate with national information systems to supply all its services and publications to a central authority for redistribution to the scientific, engineering, technological, educational, and managerial communities in each individual country.
Such an arrangement has already been
negotiated with the Ministry of Education in Spain, negotiations are now
inprogress in several Latin American countries for obtaining all ISI’s
services on the national level. Negotiations have been completed with a
representative of the Japanese Government for use of the ASCA and
ICRS system on a national level in that country. I am also sure
you know that ISI tapes
are used by the National Research Council in Canada, the Royal Technical Institute in Sweden, and by COSTI here in Israel.
In its arrangements for service on a national scale as, for example Spain, ISI provides to the central authority or national system bulk shipments of the five editions of Current Contents and Current Abstracts of Chemistry and Index Chemicus, sets of the SC for placement in universities, research institutes and other libraries, provides OATS service through the national center, and Search Service on demand.
We aid in the establishment of a national SDI system through a phasing—in process by supplying ASCA from Philadelphia until the computerized system is installed locally and by providing technical and educational service. These services are designed to guarantee the operation of the system and to train both the administrators and users of the system in the techniques of profile preparation and refinement, and in man— aging the system. I wish to stress very strongly that ISI takesits responsibilities in such cooperation very seriously because we insist on providing training to local personnel on the operations, administration and use of our system. The management problcms of building a system are well known to all of you and the literature is full of articles reporting on these problems; ISI’s objective is to eliminate them.
ISI stresses that it will provide complete administrative and management support in connection with the supply of its services. This support includes advising on the type of organizational structure that should be established for the system and in providing training for clerical and technical personnel who will be responsible for operation of the system. This -training will include instruction in record keeping, acquisitions procedures, and methods for establishing distribution procedures for the published and computer-generated services, and for establishing financial and administrative procedures to insure efficient operation of the system.
In regard to the ASCA system, ISI provides as part of the software lease full documentation of the programs. Its computer systems personnel will help install the programs at the local computer center, and train operators and systems and programming people in its use. ISI will also provide training on profile preparation and profile input processing at the local center and to personnel sent to Philadelphia. Finally, I should stress that ISI is prepared, as part of its training responsibility, to develop instructional materials on all its services in the local language.
I shall conclude my talk by saying that it is universally recognized that the future growth of any country in the world today depends on developing a strong educational and research and development capability. Development of this capability is a major requisite for establishing the base for future economic growth and solving the pressing social problems faced by all nations. A major contributor to the solution of these problems will be properly controlled and disseminated information to the individuals who are engaged in working toward the solutions. The cost, to any nation, of solving the information problem by itself is very high and in many cases actually prohibitive. The answer, consequently, is to take advantage of resources already available as well as to develop systems to meet specific individual needs. Recognizably, no country wishes tç remain completely dependent on outside resources indefinitely, but also recognizable is the fact that economic necessity and good management require that the development of national information systems be done in the most efficient manner possible. Exploiting available resources which are cheaper, costwise, than development of new similar resources is an important way to keep development costs low.
I suggest that effective national and international systems
and networks can be developed by linking into available systems such as
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