The Cornucopia 21, 10 (1965)


More on Abstracting Services

Letters from Herbert Schwartz and Eugene Garfield concerning Chemical Abstracts and abstracting services have appeared in recent issues of the Cornucopia. This exchange of ideas has been stimulating. We conclude this interchange with excerpts from a letter written by Dr. Garfield.

…The main use of Index Chemicus is for quick browsing through the structural flow diagrams. IC does not cover new uses of old compounds which can be found by a number of other methods. These include CURRENT CONTENTS CHEMICAL TITLES, and the SCIENCE CITATION INDEX. Since no single publication is a complete information system, the rationale of ISl's various publications may be better understood in this light....

...Dr. Schwartz criticizes Index Chemicus for not covering patents. If it did, its bulk and cost would be doubled and this might impair its usefulness to many. He fail, to mention, however, that patents are covered in a variety of other services besides Chemical Abstracts. For example, the UNITERM INDEX TO CHEMICAL PATENTS, Derwent, and the SCIENCE CITATION INDEX all cover chemical patents....

Dr. Schwartz claims that Chemical Abstracts "may" contain abstracts of from seven to ten thousand Journals. This large number of Journals is for the most part illusionary since "coverage" by CA can mean anything from nothing abstracted all the way to every item abstracted .... Any reader of the CORNUCOPIA is welcome to request a copy of a paper I recently presented at the ACS meeting in Chicago in September 1964 on "Statistical Analyses of International Chemical Research by I! Individual Chemists, Languages and Countries, in which I give exact statistics showing that 52 Journals account for over 90% of the literature abstracted in Index Chemicus, values similar to that which would be found for Chemical Abstracts. Readers may also wish to request copies of a study ... entitled "Article-by-Article Coverage of Selected Abstracting Services" in which the coverage of one year's literature by CA and IC ... is reviewed. Such studies give some meaning to otherwise empty statements about CA's coverage ....

While Dr. Schwartz cannot imagine the replacement of CA by any of the newer services, or a combination thereof, he is not necessarily typical. Many people have given up reading CA for current awareness. Nevertheless I agree that in many instances there is a value and/or necessity for redundancy in handling information. What may not attract one's attention in CC may do so in CA or IC or vice versa. CA's archival value is difficult to dispute, but again this depends on the type Of subject matter searched....

Eugene Garfield
Institute for Scientific Information
325 Chestnut Street
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. 19106

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