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Reviews.com

Magazine article Online

Reviews.com

Article excerpt

Comprehensively Covering Computer Science

NEVER HEARD OF REVIEWS.COM It's the reincarnation of the venerably Computing Reviews, published by the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) for the past 40 years. ACM has partnered with reviews.com, an affiliated company of Information Express, to re-invent the product as a robust online database. (Should you enter www. computingreviews.com as the URL, you're swiftly redirected to www. reviews.com.) This site is not for the faint of heart; it's almost overwhelming in the richness of content and customization possibilities. But then, the main audience will most likely be veteran users of computer science information. If you are intimidated by the database, rejoice that the title will continue to be available in print.

Kept in free beta for over a year, reviews.com went on sale by subscription on May 1, 2002. The extended test period allowed the producers to listen carefully to the testers, resulting in reviews.com having just about everything a site can offer, for techies and non-techies alike.

Carol Hutchins, head librarian at the Courant Institute of Mathematical Science at New York University, took on the additional position of editor-in-- chief in February 2002. The outgoing editor-in-chief, Neal Coulter, wrote, "Carol's library background makes her a perfect choice...because she understands [the] database organization and orientation; knows the available scientific literature; and is highly interested in the cultivation of ACM's Computing Classification System."

COMPUTING REVIEWS CONTENT

Sources are those represented in the ACM Guide to Computing Literature and include both ACM and non-ACM materials. Computing Reviews comprehensively covers books, articles, conference proceedings, theses, technical reports, and even Web-only publications in the computer science field. Reviews are both informative and opinionated. Its mission is "to furnish computer-oriented persons in mathematics, engineering, the natural and social sciences, the humanities, and other fields with critical information about current publications in any area of the computing sciences, and to further, thereby, the development of the computing sciences as a discipline, as an art, and as a tool for revolutionizing our technology and our patterns of thinking."

The content, as in the print version, is organized by the ACM Computing Classification System (CCS). Although the 19 categories are quite comprehensive, the system, last updated in 1998, needs another revision, a project currently under consideration at reviews.com, according its president, Bruce Antelman. The publication actively recruits qualified volunteer reviewers, who currently number over 1,000. The 19 content editors who oversee each CCS category are listed on the site (click on the blue "Computing Reviews" title at the upper-lefthand side of the home page) with their background and contact information.

Click on a review title, and it returns a bibliographic citation, with the item type, additional hyperlinked CCS terms, the complete review (sometimes with references), and hyperlinks to the author of the material as well as the author of the review. The link to the author of the material actually sends you to the Alert set-up screen, while the link to the review author results in a listing of other reviews by that author. It would be helpful to also include the "issue" of Computing Reviews in which the review was originally published, since there is no indication as to when the review was created. Beware: You can start down a very long and circuitous route when you click on one of the CCS terms, but it's a great way to get an overview of a topic and the people and organizations that are involved with developments in that area of computer science.

Now comes the instant gratification part. Click on the "full-text" button and you are given two or three choices. If the item is an article and is available online, you are linked to the journal site, given an abstract, and can enter your subscriber information to receive the full text. …

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