CSA Worldwide Political Science Abstracts. (Databases)

Article excerpt

Bethesda, Md.: Cambridge Scientific Abstracts, 2000-. www.csa.com

Pricing: The list price for WPSA is $8,480 for site-wide, unlimited access. For institutions with less than 3,500 FTE, the cost is $2,175. Group pricing is also available.

Technical Requirements: Full access to the Internet (TCPIP) and a Web browser, either Netscape (version 4.0 or higher) or Microsoft Explorer (version 4.0 or higher).

Making a relatively quiet appearance on the scene in late 2000, CSA Worldwide Political Science Abstracts (WPSA) has become a product worth talking about. Part of CSA's Internet Database Service, WPSA is the product of the combined backfiles of two other indexes--Political Science Abstracts (IFI/Plenum, 1975-2000) and ABC POL SCI (1984-2000). Like its precursors, the database provides citations, abstracts, and indexing of international journals in political science and related fields. Web sites are also included. WPSA's extensive journal coverage list coupled with CSA's mature search interface makes it worthy of serious consideration, even by institutions that did not subscribe to the other indexes. As of January 2002, approximately 1,100 serials were included for coverage, but the vendor notes that this number will continue to grow significantly throughout 2002-2003 as CSA focuses on acquiring more international titles.

CSA has been in business for more than thirty years, and this experience is reflected in the effective and user-centered design of their search screens. Clearly, CSA has attempted to build an interface that users can understand; it provides clear search instructions and uses accessible language, particularly in the contextual help screens. The Quick Search enables searches in the floe, author, journal name, abstract, descriptor, or identifier fields. Boolean and phrase searching is supported, and pull-down menus are used for date-range searching. The Advanced Search has flexible search options, and pull-down menus that list searchable fields eliminate the need for users to know field codes.

Results can be sorted by date or relevancy, with several display options. The "Locate Document" link can be customized to provide users with several options for document retrieval, including a seamless search in the local OPAC, full-text links to subscribed electronic journals, or direct links to the institution's interlibray loan or document delivery service. At the time of this review, the OPAC (ISSN) search was not functioning reliably, as many of the pre-CSA records lack ISSNs. However, the vendor has plans to retrospectively add ISSNs to the earlier data.

Searches in WPSA can be saved for up to six months with an e-mail address and password, a useful feature when constructing complicated searches with students at a reference desk. The "Save Alert" function automatically searches the database for new content every week and sends results to users via e-mail. Standard output options are available, along with filters for exporting results to such bibliographic software as Endnote and RefWorks. …