Magazine article Online

AnaVist, Book Review Digest Retrospective, and Past Pans

Magazine article Online

AnaVist, Book Review Digest Retrospective, and Past Pans

Article excerpt

My picks for this issue include STN's AnaVist and H.W. Wilson's Book Review Digest Retrospective. AnaVist is STN's information analysis and visualization tool that smoothly integrates with concept search capabilities when searching the CAPlus, WIPO/PCT patent, and USPTO full-text databases. Book Review Digest Retrospective is H.W. Wilson's collection of book review excerpts ranging from 1905-1982, its prequel to Book Review Digest. Instead of having a single pan as I normally do, in this issue I review what happened with some of the databases that I panned in the past 2 years. Did they get better, remain the same, or decline even further? The answer is highly discouraging.

the picks


I must admit that I am no expert in searching STN. I used it a long time ago, and even then only when I needed some special features of the STN implementation of Science Citation Index, such as the occurrence count of search words in the retrieved records. However, a recent demonstration of STN caught my interest. STN generously supplied me with a password and I went off to explore the landscape represented by its search results. The most appealing feature of AnaVist is that it integrates the search and analysis/visualization process. There are several analyzer/visualizer programs, such as Tableau, Omniscope, and HistCite, and even free software, such as CiteSpace, which processes bibliographic data very well once the result set is saved in tab-delimited, CSV, or RIS formats and imported into the analyzer/visualizer program.

AnaVist can import search results for analysis and visualization from several STN databases, but its specialty is the mapping of customizable data elements from CAPlus, the USPTO full-text patent database, and the WIPO/PTC international patent database. AnaVist doesn't require the user to go through the export/import process. This becomes attractive when you realize, in the analysis/ visualization process, that the set you created in the independent search process needs refining, filtering, and exporting/importing time and again. It is like stopping at busy intersections, getting off your bike, walking it across the intersection, and getting on it again versus smoothly gliding through the intersections.

In AnaVist you can search, then swiftly analyze and visualize the results in an iterative fashion, without losing momentum. The integrated concept search engine, which dynamically enhances the search terms with synonyms, lacks some of the features of STN Express. However, it is useful for creating a relevant set appropriate for analysis and visualization. Examples are producing assignees/affiliations grids, researchers/publication years matrices, and contour and cluster maps to show the lay of the land in the research area defined by the query. There are many alternatives for user-chosen preferences, and navigating through the options is intuitive. The bird's-eye view plane of quadrant is a good starting point for zooming in for details.

I would like to see some additional features, such as the highlighting of matching query terms. I'd also like more databases to be made searchable individually with the results deduplicated, then analyzed and visualized in AnaVist (such as the Science Citation Index, INSPEC, and MEDLINE).


I have always thought that H.W. Wilson takes an excessively shy approach to public relations and advertising its products. It resembles the blushingly modest attitude of a choir girl from Saint Andrew Elementary after a perfect rendition of "The Star Spangled Banner." This is not only retro but also inappropriate, considering that other old industry hands embellish with increasing vigor their database descriptions with non-existent features. Novice PR staff members pen announcements about some irrelevant "enhancements" that start with the phrase, "We are extremely excited."

Finally, H.W. Wilson got its PR approach right. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.