Library Research Guide to Psychology: Illustrated Search Strategy and Sources

By Nancy E. Douglas; Nathan E. Baum | Go to book overview

alphabet to the publications of the Veterans Administration. After these items, there is a section which lists the publications of Congress and its committees and subcommittees. The final section of each issue contains six indexes to the documents listed: Author, Title, Subject, Series/Report Number, Stock Number, and Title Key Word (this last index was begun on a trial basis with the July 1980 issue of the Monthly Catalog). In this chapter, we will only be concerned with the Subject and Title Key Word indexes -- the others are not as useful for your research needs in most cases.

The Subject Index in the Monthly Catalog uses the same vocabulary as the Library of Congress Subject Headings (see Chapter 2), with some terms added. FIGURE III.1 shows a section from the January-June 1980 semiannual cumulation of the Monthly Catalog Subject Index. Under the heading "Television and children," two titles are listed. The first title ends with the number 80-7198. This number is the key to finding a more complete description of the document. Each document description in the Monthly Catalog is given a unique, sequential number, and 80-7198 is the 7198th document listed in the 1980 issues of the Monthly Catalog. The document number functions in much the same manner as the abstract number in indexes of Psychological Abstracts. The document description itself, shown in FIGURE III.2, is very similar in content and format to a library catalog card. One significant difference is the number in boldface type at the top center of the entry (CC 1.15:W 64). This is the Superintendent of Documents Number, which is used by most government documents collections as a call number for arranging documents on the shelves. Some libraries use different call number systems, however, so check with your reference or documents librarian before trying to find documents. Notice, too, that the subject headings assigned to this document are listed at the bottom of the entry. You should look for subject headings which you have not yet used. For example, if you have not looked up "Violence in television," its presence as the third subject heading listed for document 80-7198 should alert you to the need for doing so.

The Title Key Word Index also provides subject access to the documents listed in the Monthly Catalog. Like the "Permuterm Index" of the Social Sciences Citation Index (see Chapter 5), this index is based on the significant words in the titles of the documents listed. It is especially useful if you are interested in a very specific or new topic which would be hard to find using the subject approach only. However, it is wise to use the Key Word Index in conjunction with the Subject Index, not instead of it. For example, the document described in FIGURE III.2 could not have been found using the Key Word Index because the word "television" does not appear in its title. FIGURE III.3 shows a section of the Title Key Word Index from the January-June 1980 semiannual cumulation.


Conclusion

Most thorough search strategies should include an attempt to glean relevant information from the huge number of documents issued by the United States Government. The Monthly Catalog of United States Government Publications will lead you to timely and authoritative material relevant to your topic, and it will provide you with information not likely to be duplicated in the other sources you use.

In addition to the Monthly Catalog, there are several other indexes which can be used to locate government publications. Some of these are listed in Appendix IV.

FIGURE III.3 Monthly Catalog, 1980. Cumulative title key word index.

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