Magazine article Information Today

UMI's Applied Science & Technology Plus

Magazine article Information Today

UMI's Applied Science & Technology Plus

Article excerpt

Robert E. (Bob) Buntrock still considers himself a chemist and has been an information specialist since before CD-ROMs, PCs, and online searching. He can be reached at buntrock@compuserve.com.

New ProQuest service merges AST from Wilson and full text from UMI

For decades, various organizations have been providing valuable services to users of information by abstracting and indexing primary information. Intelligent use of the index provides access to bibliographic citations and abstracts, and hopefully those results allow the user to make the decision: "I am interested" or "I am not interested" (while minimizing the "maybe"). However, if there is any further interest, the user most likely wants to see the original reference. Abstracts and indexes have been migrating from print to digital for more than two decades, but original full-text references have been slower to come on the scene. However, full-text records, both text and image, are now definitely on the information menu in a variety of media.

Once the full text is available in digital form, some may ask if abstracts and indexes are still necessary. For users with more experience, the answer is usually yes. As use of resources on the Internet mushrooms, more and more users are discovering the pitfalls that accompany the pleasures of searching a plethora of full-text information on the Web. In fact, wise producers of fully electronic journals are planning to index their information and not rely on the user's ability to find the information by full-text browsing, even with ever more powerful search engines.

Although not first on the scene, UMI is marketing ProQuest on CD-ROM. A variety of databases are available. The product evaluated here is a combination of The H.W. Wilson Company's Applied Science & Technology Abstracts (AST) and full-text images of the original articles covered in AST. This combination not only facilitates identification of relevant articles but allows for easy acquisition of the original.

As a matter of interest, H.W. Wilson is beginning to offer a similar line of products (see R. E. Buntrock, The Better Mousetrap column, in the June 1997 issue of Searcher). However, any comparison is only partial, because the databases available to me were H.W. Wilson's General Science Abstracts and World Business Abstracts.

Like WILSONDISC products, Applied Science & Technology Plus on ProQuest (henceforth termed ASTP) is a DOS product--a Windows version is planned for later this year. Installation was fairly straightforward, although instructions on how to access it were lacking. However, I deduced that typing "proquest" at the c: prompt in the ProQuest directory should work. It did, and more elaborate instructions are forthcoming from UMI. Help messages appropriate to the context of the screen are always available by pressing the [less than]F1[greater than] key, and available commands or functions are indicated by pressing [less than]F2[greater than] for the menu.

In addition to the program disc, the ASTP index disc is supplied. The images are on several dozen discs. Although both images and indexes cover the time period January 1994 to January 1997, images began to be added in September 1996. As a result, five to 10 image discs were supplied for each "month." Once the backlog is caught up, each monthly update will typically include two discs.

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