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Finding Health Sciences Books and Book Reviews Online

Magazine article Online

Finding Health Sciences Books and Book Reviews Online

Article excerpt

Books are an expensive part of Health science library's collection. Access to authoritative book reviews in online databases is a cost-effective way to aid in collection development decisions [1]. Fortunately, several full-text and bibliographic databases provide full book reviews or point the searcher to the location of the review in a printed source. Some online book catalog databases and special subject databases also have abstracts of books. Use of publication/document type indicators make it easy to retrieve book reviews and books from these databases. Two databases use review evaluation/grade indicators that rate books as excellent to poor. Of course, subject descriptors make it easier to retrieve groups of books or reviews, but many databases do not have subject descriptors for book review records.


The major health science databases that contain book reviews are Comprehensive Core Medical Library (CCML), MEDTEXT, and Health Periodicals Database (HPD). Other databases that contain health science-related information and other subjects are Sociology Abstracts (SOCA), SciSearch (SCI), Social SciSearch (SSCI), and Current Contents. The multidisciplinary book review databases, which were described by Marydee Ojala in a column [2], are Book Review Index and Wilson's Book Review Digest. Other Wilson databases contain book reviews that are not included in Book Review Digest.


CCML (BRS) has the complete text of 82 medical and scientific journals, 40 yearbooks, and the text of medical textbooks and reference books. The database is accessible as one file (CCML) or as subfiles:

* Journals Subset (JOUR)

* AIDS Articles Subset (AACC)

* New England Journal of Medicine Subset (NEJM)

* Medical Book Subset (MEDB)

A complete list of journals with dates of coverage and journal codes is available online in BRS News Document #34. Closed entries are indicated on this list. New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) and Lancet start in 1983, while Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) starts in January 1992. Most other journals date from the mid-1980s. CCML is updated weekly. NEJM is available online on day of publication each week. use the publication type indicator BKR.PT. or BOOK adj REVIEW.PT. to retrieve the full text of over 17,500 book reviews from American, Canadian or British journals.

While the phrase "Book Reviews" frequently appears in the title field, many book review columns do not use this phrase. The following list will show why it is better to use BKR.PT. for comprehensive retrieval in CCML:

American Journal of Psychiatry uses "Book Forum" Annals of Internal Medicine uses "The Literature of Medicine: Reviews, Notes, and Listings" Lancet uses "Bookshelf" JAMA uses "Books, Journals, Software" Annals of Thoracic Surgery uses "Review of Recent Books" Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery uses "Reviews"

There are no subject descriptors in CCML, so free-text searching of the title and text fields is recommended. For subject access use synonyms, of course, and using the Plurals and Medspell features will increase retrieval of plural and British word variations by 30% to 40%. The author of the reviewed book may appear in the title or text fields depending upon journal title. Prices, when available are included.


MEDTEXT (DIALOG) is a OneSearch combination of File 444, NEW ENGLAND JOURNAL OF MEDICINE ONLINE (1985 to present) and File 442, AMERICAN MEDICAL ASSOCIATION JOURNALS ONLINE (1982 to 1989, 1991 to present). In addition to JAMA, there are nine specialty American Medical Association journals (listed on the Bluesheet) that are updated monthly. JAMA and NEJM are updated weekly. The specialty AMA journals are not included in CCML or Health Periodicals Database, ensuring that unique book review information will be found in MEDTEXT. …

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