Academic journal article Information Technology and Libraries

Access to Information in Both CitaDel and FirstSearch: A Comparative Study of Dissertation Coverage

Academic journal article Information Technology and Libraries

Access to Information in Both CitaDel and FirstSearch: A Comparative Study of Dissertation Coverage

Article excerpt

Theses and dissertations submitted to universities and colleges in the United States are accessible in many different formats and through many different vendors. Electronic access is provided by such vendors as DIALOG, BRS, FirstSearch (OCLC), and CitaDel (RLIN), and CD-ROM access is also available.

This article presents a comparative analysis of CitaDel and FirstSearch. The effectiveness and ease of use of these two systems in providing end-user access to thesis/dissertation information, and the strengths and weaknesses of the searching capabilities of these two systems are discussed. Examples of direct retrieval comparison of thesis/dissertation information from the FirstSearch WorldCat database and Dissertation Abstracts on CitaDel are provided.

It is concluded that both FirstSearch and CitaDel offer great potential to libraries seeking convenient access to dissertations and theses. FirstSearch WorldCat offers the added advantage of providing the option for users to pay for information as they use it, whereas CitaDel's Dissertation Abstracts database can be subscribed to only through an annual fee. One drawback to searching for thesis/dissertation information through the WorldCat database, however, is that, unlike CitaDel, this source provides no abstract.

Given the fact that both systems offer benefits and that both retrieved unique citations not duplicated by the other, it is concluded that both systems should be used for truly comprehensive thesis/dissertation retrieval.

Access to dissertations and theses poses a real challenge for the academic librarian. It is well known that, for many disciplines, the "cutting edge" of current practice, application, and research design is first evidenced in dissertations, which is one reason scholars demand access to them.[1] Yet efficient methods of accessing dissertations and theses have vexed many librarians as they attempt to balance judicious access to this source of information with the least amount of frustration to the user. In fact, problems posed by locating, cataloging, and storing dissertations, not to mention thorny collection management issues, have been the focus of much solid research in the field. Joan Repp and Cliff Galviano, in an article published in College & Research Libraries, suggested as a topic worthy of further research the "full study of the content and coverage of various general dissertation indexes with the intent of determining their reliability in providing full availability of dissertation information to prospective disciplines."[2] It is partially with this aim in mind, that we offer our own comparisons of dissertation coverage as provided by both CitaDel and FirstSearch.

Theses and dissertations submitted to universities and colleges in the United States are accessible in many different formats and through many different vendors. Major hard copy sources include Comprehensive Dissertation Index, 1861-1972; Dissertation Abstracts International (DAI), Sections A and B; American Doctoral Dissertations, and Doctoral Dissertations Accepted by American Universities. Access to masters' theses is provided by Masters Abstracts and Masters Abstracts International.

Electronic access to theses and dissertations is provided by such vendors as DIALOG, BRS, FirstSearch (OCLC), and CitaDel (RLIN), and in addition, CD-ROM access to dissertations is now also available.

The CD-ROM product available for dissertations, Dissertation Abstracts OnDisc, is made available by UMI utilizing their Proquest software. Currently, the usefulness of this format is limited to either single-user access or networked access, if the library has signed the appropriate licensing agreements for this product. The usefulness of the CD-ROM format is also limited by the nature of the Proquest software. Kathleen Kluegel, in her review of this database, noted that one major flaw is its inability to "streamline the search process of changing a disc," a problem encountered when searchers need to search the same keywords on more than one disc. …

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