Electronic Journal of Academic and Special Librarianship

v.3 no.3 (Spring 2002)

The Coverage and Duplication of Journals in Cambridge Scientific Abstracts (CSA): Bioengineering Database and other Science and Engineering Databases

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Lutishoor Salisbury, Librarian/Professor
Mullins Library, University of Arkansas

Emilio Noguera, Graduate Assistant
Mullins Library, University of Arkansas


As collection development librarians we aim to provide comprehensive information access to our users in order to support their research and curricular needs. For academic libraries, like the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville, that support the information needs within a range of subject areas in science and technology, it makes economic sense to attempt to provide this access in discipline-oriented databases. Discipline-oriented databases cover a range of subjects but also provide depth in coverage.

Bearing this in mind, the journals that are indexed in Cambridge Scientific Abstracts (CSA) Bioengineering database were analyzed to ascertain the degree of overlap with other discipline-oriented science and technology databases to which our institution already provide online access.

This paper presents the findings of this analysis. In particular, it identifies the journals that overlap in coverage between CSA Bioengineering database and the following science and technology databases: Medline, CAB Abstracts, BIOSIS, Compendex, INSPEC, CA (Chemical Abstracts) and GeoRef.

We began by downloading a list of the journals indexed in Bioengineering database in Excel format from the CSA website in November 2000. We checked the journals against the most current database list available for the different databases. In the case of Compendex, we checked the list from the CompendexWeb using the Expert search mode and searching by ISSN (SN) and/or Serial Title (ST). In some cases, we checked the journal directly in the database. If it was not indexed for the last least two years, we assumed that it was currently not indexed in the database.

We did not use UlrichWeb in checking the coverage of journals because we found it not to be accurate in identifying journals currently indexed in a database. Analysis of the retrieval from UlrichWeb indicates that once a journal was indexed in a database it is perpetually listed. There was no way to eliminate those journal titles not currently indexed. While this comprehensiveness in UlrichWeb is valuable for users who are trying to identify a database where a particular journal was or is indexed, it was not useful for this study.


Table 1 shows the duplication of journals in the seven databases with 93.7 percent of the journals covered in Compendex (only six titles not covered), 74.8 percent covered in INSPEC, and 37.8 percent in Chemical Abstracts (CA). The majority of journal coverage and overlap is concentrated in three of the major databases: Compendex, INSPEC and CA.

Table 2(a) shows the six titles not currently indexed in Compendex and Table 2(b) the titles not indexed in INSPEC (64 titles). Overall, only three titles are not indexed in the seven databases. (Table 2c).

Table 3 shows the overlap in journal coverage between Compendex, INSPEC and CA. 75 titles (29.5 percent) are indexed in all three databases, while 188 titles (74 percent) are indexed in both Compendex and <>INSPEC.

Discussion and Conclusion

It is obvious that a large percentage of the journals (93.7 percent) are indexed in Compendex and 74.8 percent covered in INSPEC. The comparable number of articles covered in Compendex may be higher since not all the journals indexed in the Bioengineering database are comprehensively covered. Coverage in this database is classed as Core sources journals indexed cover-to-cover, all papers in each issue are included; Priority sources more than 50 percent of the material is covered; Selective sources less than 50 percent of the material is covered. A listing of the journals under these categories was not available from the CSA website.

It can safely be assumed that the Bioengineering database is a subset of the Compendex database. In our institution, where we support a broad range of subjects in engineering, agriculture and life sciences, our patron will not be missing out on the information indexed in this database if we do not subscribe to it. By using CompendexWeb to access this information, our users will benefit from a common interface, to the journals indexed in the Bioengineering database, and to a wide range of other titles and type of materials not covered in the CSA Bioengineering database. Our institution also provides access to the other six databases listed in Table 1 to provide comprehensive retrieval in this subject. This database would however be extremely useful for small libraries that support research and teaching in bioengineering.


Table 1 Coverage of CSA Bioengineering Journals in Various Databases

30 17 34 248 190 96 44 254






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