Cooperation and Coordination in Abstracting and Documentation
ABSTRACT. The following report is divided into three main parts: (1) a description of examples of coordinated documentation in Europe and the experiences derived therefrom; (2) guide lines for coordinating methods derived from these experiences; and (3) cost savings by coordinated documentation.
1. Description of examples of coordinated documentation in Europe and the experiences derived therefrom
1.1. ELECTRICAL ENGINEERING
In Germany documentation bureaus of large companies and administrations in the field of electrotechnics, e.g., the AEG [Allgemeine Elektrizitaets-Gesellschaft—General Electric Company] in Berlin and Frankfort on the Main, the Siemens-Schuckert plants in Erlangen, Siemens and Halske AG in Munich, Standard Elektrik in Stuttgart, Alldephi in Hamburg, and the Central Telecommunications Bureau in Darmstadt, have gone through the technical literature and have reproduced the titles of publications in the form of bibliographic cards or lists and distributed them to the associates of their companies or administrations.
The large amount of time and money that has gone into this project has prompted deliberations on how, through a joint venture, documentation could be made better though less expensive.
The simplest way, i.e., the direct exchange of bibliographic cards and lists among companies, did not prove practical because many companies were afraid that this might enable other companies to gain insight into their research and planning. All participating companies, however, showed a readiness to
OTTO FRANK Allgemeine Elektrizitäts-Gesellschaft Patent Buro, Frankfort on the Main, Germany.
entrust the distribution of their bibliographic evaluation to a neutral organization.
The Association of German Electrical Engineers (VDE) in Frankfort on the Main declared itself willing to take on this task.
In the negotiations, however, it became evident that a lowering of the cost could not be achieved by an exchange alone, because it would not decrease the work of the individual companies. The solution was found in a division of work agreed upon by the participating concerns. The roughly 300 periodicals were divided among the cooperating companies in such a manner that no one company has to evaluate all periodicals any longer, but only a part of them. The titles of all publications considered important in this connection are sent to the Association of German Electrical Engineers, which organization sorts them and publishes them once a week in the form of “VDE Flash Reports.” All participating companies expressed themselves in favor of fast reporting because abstracts frequently do not appear in the regular periodicals until several months after the publication of the original work. They agreed that the VDE Flash Reports would report only the titles of publications without any indication of contents and without abstracts.
The price for the VDE Flash was kept low (yearly subscription—80.00 DM1 for about 10,000 titles, i.e., less than 0.01 DM per title, in order to make it possible for participating companies to order large quantities of copies for distribution to their associates).
The savings stem mainly from the following points:
Every participating company needs to go through and evaluate only a small part of the technical journals.
In this manner, individual companies are saved the expense of writing up and reproducing their own bibliographic lists. All participating organizations ceased publication of their own bibliographic reports, evaluations being continued only in especially important branches. In the latter case, detailed descriptions of contents and abstracts are supplied.
Though only a few large companies cooperate in compiling the data, those companies agreed that VDE Flash Reports should be sent not only to the participating companies but that they should also be made available to anybody in Germany or abroad.
1.2. CONTROL TECHNOLOGY
The division Control Technology of the Association of German Engineers (VDI) and the Association of German Electrical Engineers (VDE) felt the
necessity to keep their members and all experts interested in control technology informed about new publications in the field of control technology. This is a difficult task for any professional man, because publications concerning control technology appear in almost all technical publications. This would require him to scan a large number of publications.
A solution was found, similar to that of the VDE Flash Reports. The division acquired a number of collaborators who declared themselves willing to scan certain professional publications and to report to the division any articles of importance to control technology. The division then compiles the titles and publishes them in a monthly periodical entitled Regelungstechnik [Control Technology] in the form of a periodical review. It also covers publications on automation, especially in production engineering.
In this way, subscribers to the periodical Regelungstechnik are kept informed about new publications and can save themselves the scanning of numerous professional publications. The periodical review can also be subscribed to printed on one side only, which facilitates inclusion in a bibliographic file.
The documentation organizations in the aviation field in Germany, especially those of the German Experimental Institute for Aviation and the Scientific Society for Aviation, collaborate in the Central Organization for Aviation Documentation. Every one of these documentation organizations works on one or several branches, in such a way that the technical publications are scanned and evaluated by scientists working in scientific institutes. Titles and abstracts are sent to the central organization, which compiles, reproduces, and distributes them. In this way, every individual documentation organization needs to take care of only a small part of the evaluation, but it receives from the central organization all bibliographic cards from all documentation organizations.
There is cooperation and exchange with documentation organizations of the aviation industries in France and Great Britain, e.g., with the Ministry of Supply and the Institute of Aeronautical Science in London. In addition to technical publications, the research, testing, and industrial reports published in the various countries are of special importance to aviation documentation. These can be made available to interested persons by the central organization of aviation documentation (frequently in the form of microfilms).
1.4. STRUCTURAL ENGINEERING
The Conseil International du Bâtiment has representatives from numerous European countries that have decided on a joint documentation program.
This is now being carried out. Every national member compiles the titles of works that appeared in his country in the field of structural engineering and exchanges them with all other countries. Standard form A7 (74×105 mm) has been selected for the international exchange. The titles are supplemented by a table of contents in the language of publication and (on the reverse side of the card) a table of contents in English or French. The countries have granted each other the right to use the titles and the tables of contents for reproduction in original form or for complete or partial translations thereof.
In Germany the abstracts received in exchange by the Documentation Organization for Structural Engineering of the German Construction Center in Stuttgart as well as the abstracts based on work done in Germany proper, especially those selected from German publications, are processed and published in the Schrifttumskartei Bauwesen [Bibliographic Index—Structural Engineering].
The scanning of the professional journals is assigned to a number of associates who send the titles selected by them to the Documentation Organization for Structural Engineering.
Many of the documentation organizations now operating in Germany work in areas related to the problems of structural engineering, e.g., the Documentation Organization of the Deutsche Bundesbahn [Railroads of the Federal Republic of Germany] in Offenbach on the Main, the Research Society for the Highway System, the German Commission for Steel Construction, and the German Association for Housing and Urban-Construction and Clearance Planning in Cologne. The Documentation Organization for Structural Engineering has concluded agreements with these organizations concerning the exchange and free use of titles and tables of contents. This permits effective evaluation of works published.
1.5. ECONOMIC SCIENCES
The library of the Economische Voorlichtingsdienst van het Ministerie van Economische Zaken (Economic Information Service of the Ministry of Economic Affairs) in The Hague processes and coordinates the documentation of publications (books, brochures, essays in periodicals and newspapers) in the area of political economy and industrial engineering. The titles and abstracts are selected jointly by:
de Bibliotheek van de Economische Voorlichtingsdienst.
de Bibliotheek van het Ministerie van Sociale Zaken (Library of the Ministry of Social Affairs) in the Hague.
de Bibliotheek der Nederlandsche Economische Hoogeschool (Library of the Dutch Institute of Economics, in Rotterdam.
In every organization experts check and process the publications assigned to them (altogether 2,500 periodicals). The abstracts contain not only bibliographic data but also tables of contents (100–200 words) in the original language (English, French, German, Dutch); abstracts from other languages (Slavic, Scandinavian, Romance languages) are given in Dutch. In the library of the Economic Information Service in The Hague the abstracts are written on transparent paper and reproduced by the diazo process. About 20,000 abstracts are being produced yearly, which are distributed to subscribers. A selection of these abstracts is published in Economic Abstracts, a bimonthly collection of abstracts.
In this manner, the users of this documentation service are saved the time normally spent in checking numerous periodicals and making out bibliographic cards.
1.6. INSTITUTE FOR DOCUMENTATION IN THE GERMAN ACADEMY OF SCIENCES IN BERLIN
The German Academy of Sciences has a very complete documentation program in the numerous fields of the natural sciences, technology, and the social sciences, which has developed into a coordinated and cooperative documentation network.
The documentation organizations of the individual branches, e.g., production engineering, measuring technique, control and regulation technology, foundry practice, construction materials, synthetics, optics, geophysics, fibrous materials and textile technology, and labor economy, have formed an association whose most important characteristic is a unified methodology (form, content, reproduction and distribution of the bibliographic cards) and a close delimitation of the various fields of work to prevent duplication of effort and overlapping).
The standard professional publications of all countries, especially also of the eastern European countries, are scanned in the individual documentation organizations, [whereupon] the selected titles and abstracts are processed according to standard directives.
One part of the documentation organizations takes care of the reproduction and distribution to subscribers, another part supplies the manuscript sheets to the Academy Publishing House in Berlin, which takes charge of reproduction and distribution.
The Institute for Documentation of the German Academy of Sciences in Berlin is responsible for overall organization.
Altogether some 100 different information services publish cards or lists for the various fields, totaling over 100,000 title cards per year. The total number
of cards sold is about 15,000,000. These cards are received by about 5,600 institutions and individuals, representing about 6,000 individual subscriptions.
(It may be noted that among these bibliographic services there is one which deals specifically with questions of documentation and regularly announces the publications in this field.)
Besides that, the institute publishes several collections of abstracts: the Central Chemical Journal, the Central Technological Journal, and the Central Agricultural Paper.
2. Directives concerning methods of coordination
Collaboration and coordination in the field of documentation is complicated by two facts:
In many instances there is opposition to cooperation, e.g., opposition based on fear that privately worked out documentation practices and forms will have to be abandoned in favor of a new, coordinated documentation. This is a psychological problem.
Those organizations that are willing to combine their documentation work with that of other organizations working in the same professional field, are not sufficiently familiar with the methods which would enable them to do this more simply and economically. This is an organizational problem.
To solve both of these problems the German Society for Documentation set up a Commission on Methods of Coordination, which is under the direction of the author of this report. The commission’s task is to work out directives according to which the various professional circles, e.g., technological-scientific associations, research institutes, companies, and technical administrations, can arrange their documentation in a standard and economic fashion (see examples in Sec. 1). These directives will deal with the following individual questions, which are of importance to coordinated documentation.
2.1. ANALYSIS OF THE STATE OF DOCUMENTATION IN THE PROFESSIONAL FIELD
First of all, it is important that an exact picture be obtained of the existing documentation. This involves the following specific problems:
2.11. Determination of the total number of publications appearing each year
This determination should permit an assessment of the work load to be expected, e.g., with respect to the number of books, periodicals, articles, reports, patent publications, etc.
2.12. Determination of the bibliographic publications
This determination should provide insight into already existing bibliographic works that can be used for coordinated documentation, e.g., title indexes, bibliographies, collections of abstracts, indexes of abstracts, and documentation sections of journals.
2.13. Determination of the existing documentation organizations
A compilation should list not only public documentation organizations but also documentation organizations operated by commerce and management, e.g., industrial concerns at home and abroad.
2.14. Determination of the organizations considered for cooperation
In this category belong scientific organizations, scientific and research institutes, professional libraries, companies, and individual experts.
2.2. ORGANIZATIONAL QUESTIONS
The following questions are of importance in connection with the organization of a cooperative program:
2.21. Arousing interest in coordinated documentation
This preparatory work by personal contact or by written questionnaires should indicate whether there exists sufficient interest to warrant preparations for discussions.
2.22. Calling a conference
In order to avoid identification with commercial interests, the invitation should be extended by a neutral party, if possible. It should be accompanied by highly detailed information on points to be discussed; e.g., an analysis of the type described under 2.1, and a plan for coordination.
2.23. Discussion, resolution, agreements
The discussion should clarify the possibilities outlined under points 2.3 to 2.5 and lead to resolutions regarding the design of a coordinated documentation. This includes the appointment of persons and institutions to take charge of various tasks, either in directive or executive capacities. Finally, it also includes agreements on the form of the coordinated documentation: cards or lists, format of cards, order of title information, tables of contents, abstracts, classification characteristics, and settlement of language and translation problems.
2.3. DIRECT EXCHANGE OF INFORMATION DATA
Direct exchange between the participating organizations is the simplest mode of cooperation. One can differentiate between:
2.31. Uncontrolled exchange
In this case all participating organizations exchange with one another, every organization providing as many copies, e.g., of bibliographic cards or lists, as are needed by the exchange partner.
The advantage of this method is that in this way the individual organizations receive information which they did not find themselves. The disadvantage is that this simple exchange leads to numerous duplications, as a result of which the individual exchange partners are not saved much work.
2.32. Controlled exchange
In this case the bibliographic evaluation work is distributed among the participating organizations according to a certain plan. This can be done, for example, according to professional fields, every partner taking on the evaluation of a certain division. The division according to periodicals is simpler, every partner scanning and evaluating a certain number of publications. Furthermore, in the international field a division according to geographic criteria is possible. In this case each country takes charge of the evaluation of publications appearing within its borders.
The advantage of this method lies in the fact that the amount of work for the individual members decreases in a manner inversely proportional to the number of exchange partners. Assuming six exchange partners, for example, every individual needs to do only one-sixth of the evaluation work, but in exchange he receives the results of all six partners, i.e., the entire documentation.
2.4. COMPILATION IN A CENTRAL ORGANIZATION
In this case the partners do not exchange evaluation results directly with each other but transmit them to a central organization. The following questions need to be cleared up in this connection:
2.41. Division of the professional fields
Professional fields must be delimited as closely as possible. Furthermore, one must determine which allied fields are to be included and to what extent the publications in the allied fields should be evaluated. In addition, cooperation with documentation organizations in these allied fields may be worth con sidering (compare Sec. 2.6).
2.42. Format questions
Format, card content, entries of characteristics of order, etc., must be uniformly established.
2.43. Division of work
The partners must agree on the division of work; for example, on the publications which every partner accepts for evaluation.
2.44. Kinds of publications
Agreements must be reached on what types of publications should be utilized; for example, only periodical articles or also books, patent publications, directives, reports, etc. It must be agreed upon whether all publications should be evaluated or whether a selection should be made, for example according to size, scientific value, language, common or solely specific importance.
2.45. Setting up a central bibliographic index
On the basis of these findings one may decide to set up a bibliographic index at the central organization, which will be available to all cooperating organizations.
2.5. DISTRIBUTION OF THE INFORMATION
In many cases coordinated documentation will lead to the distribution of information to partners in the form of bibliographic cards, and indexes, etc. The following points need to be clarified in this connection.
2.51. Form of information
The most effective form is that of bibliographic cards, which recipients can incorporate in their own bibliographic indexes. If the number of participants is large, lists or booklets may be more practical because they are cheaper. The most suitable reproduction process must be selected.
2.52. Type of Release
In this connection, one must decide upon the speed of reporting and also on the periodicity of the publication.
It is conceivable that although all information collected by the central organization is incorporated in a central index, only a part of it is ever dis-
tributed. In such instances the recipients receive a selection of all information material but may request additional information from the central organization in specific instances.
2.54. Division by groups
If not all partners are interested in all individual fields of the coordinated documentation, then it is practical to set up a division by subject groups so that every partner can receive the group of interest to him—if need be, in a greater number of copies—for distribution in his enterprise.
2.55. Circle of recipients
It must be agreed upon whether the information should be distributed only to the partners participating in the compilation or whether it should be available to all experts. In this case one may do well to consider publication by reproduction or printing, and an agreement should be reached as to whether the publication is to be handled solely by the central organization or whether cooperation with a publishing house should be sought. One should determine whether the publisher of a technical journal might be willing to publish the information as part of his journal, e.g., as a review of periodical literature.
2.6. COOPERATION WITH DOCUMENTATION ORGANIZATIONS IN RELATED FIELDS
Even the most careful division of professional fields will not completely prevent overlap with the documentation work being done in other fields. This is especially true of fields that cut across other fields. A good example of this would be control technology. Control technology can be considered a field in itself and documented as such. However, publications on control technology are always important to many fields and are evaluated by the documentation organizations of these fields, e.g., power supply, machine building, electrical engineering, and production engineering (in automation). Similar things are true of the basic sciences, e.g., physics and chemistry, which can be documentated as separate subjects, but they have numerous ties with the applied sciences, e.g., with aircraft construction and synthetics industry.
It is advantageous to agree on an exchange of information data with documentation organizations in related fields. This may be limited to information of interest from a technical viewpoint. For example, a documentation organization in electrical engineering may transmit all available information on structural engineering (e.g., on house installations) to a documentation organization in that field. The latter in turn makes available whatever information it
has on electrical engineering. Agreements must also take in consideration copyright questions; for example, the free distribution of the information received in the exchange and the right to incorporate it in the reproduced or printed information services.
3. Savings through cooperative work
It is difficult to calculate exactly the savings of documentation methods because the controlling factors are very different in nature. In any comparison of the costs of ordinary documentation with those of coordinated documentation, the absolute values are therefore less important than the relative values.
The cost comparison made below is not based on the point of view of large documentation organizations that have at their disposal sufficient scientific personnel, highly perfected technical equipment and accessories, as well as ample financial means. Medium-sized and small documentation organizations and those in industrial concerns often lack these means. To them economical operation is essential, while cooperative work is of special importance. The same holds true especially for medium-sized and small companies, which frequently cannot even afford assigning bibliographic evaluators on a full-time basis.
3.1. COST OF BIBLIOGRAPHIC CARDS IN LOCAL EVALUATION
The following costs, which were obtained through thorough and reliable studies and comparisons, may be considered average for Germany:
Preparation of a bibliographic card with title and bibliographic sources of a publication
Preparation of the same bibliographic card with added subject index
Preparation of a bibliographic card containing an abstract or whatever facts are needed for mechanical selection
10.00 DM or more
Cost of classifying a title in decimal classification or in another system
In the above the main part of the cost lies in the high caliber of mental work required in the selection of the titles, the preparation of the table of contents or abstract, and the classification. The costs for writing and material total about 10% of the total and therefore are not considered in the following analysis.
3.2. SAVINGS DUE TO DIVISION OF WORK
Let us assume that 1,000 publications which appeared in a given period in 100 technical journals in a certain field must be included in the bibliographic index. If a subject index is added to the title information, then the cost for the writing of the 1,000 title cards will amount to 3,000.00 DM.
If two partners agree to cooperate in the documentation so that either partner scans 50 publications and produces 500 bibliographic cards, then the cost of either partner is reduced 50%, i.e., to 1,500.00 DM. Nonetheless, the addition to his files is the same as in the first case, namely, 1,000 bibliographic cards. That is, not only the 500 he produced but also the 500 cards prepared by his partner.
If five partners agree on joint documentation so that each of the five partners scans 20 publications and supplies 200 title cards, then the costs for every partner are reduced to one-fifth, i.e., to 600.00 DM. Again every partner receives all the cards in the exchange, as in the first case.
(This does not take into consideration the costs of reproducing the cards; for example, by the blueprinting process.)
The larger the number of exchange partners, the lower the costs for the individual partners. From this we can derive the following rule: The documentation is the more economical the larger the lots in which the individual bibliographic cards are being produced. This is a known fact. But it is also a fact that little use is being made of it and that many documentation organizations that evaluate publications produce cards only in single copies (or, at any rate, only in small lots), which are written out and included in the bibliographic file.
3.3. COST OF BIBLIOGRAPHIC CARDS FROM REVIEWS AND REFERENCE INDEXES
The above-mentioned rule of the economy of documentation is confirmed most clearly when the bibliographic cards are reproduced, i.e., printed, in very large numbers. One can compute very easily that the title information in the Engineering Index, the Chemical Abstracts, the Central Chemical Journal, the Science Abstracts, etc., cost an average of 0.05 DM. If these bibliographic items are cut out and pasted on to cards, then the price for the finished bibliographic card amounts to 0.10 DM, most of these cards containing an abstract or a table of contents. This means that a bibliographic card made up in this fashion requires only 1/30 to 1/100 of the cost of self-compiled bibliographic cards.
An examination of reviews appearing in card form, e.g., the card form of the Engineering Index and of the Bibliographic Services appearing in card form in Germany, shows that these cards cost an average of 0.10 DM, which corre-
spends to the cost of a bibliography card prepared by the cutting out and pasting up of abstracts.
3.4. IMPORTANCE OF STANDARD CLASSIFICATION SYSTEMS
Every cooperative venture in the field of documentation must have its origin in uniform foundations, e.g., with respect to the size of the bibliographic cards and the type of title arrangement.
Especially important in this connection is the classification system. If several exchange partners employ different systems, then every exchange partner on receiving the cards must classify them according to his own system. If these exchange partners use the same classification system, then this work is not necessary, and the cards can be inserted in the bibliographic index with little trouble.
This explains why all examples of coordinated documentations listed in Sec. 1 are based on the international decimal classification. Since a very well-prepared edition of this classification (complete with comprehensive alphabetical index) is available in Germany we need make no further mention of the classification system in the examples listed. In no instance was there any need to set up a special classification system. The simple agreement that the publications to be evaluated were to be classified according to the decimal classification was sufficient. This had the added advantage that in Germany (and in other European countries) most of the important technical journals classify the original publications by using the numbers of the international decimal classification. These numbers can be copied on to the cards. Thus, when the cards are to be written up, one no longer has to classify them.
It is therefore obvious that the recipients of the bibliographic services described in Sec. 1 also use the decimal classification to systematize their bibliographic indexes. The cards therefore need not be classified, but can be filed in the bibliographic index by clerical personnel.
3.5. POSSIBILITIES OF COORDINATED DOCUMENTATION USING HAND- AND MACINE-PUNCHED CARDS
Hand-punched cards (punched or notched) are being used in increasing measure for documentation purposes, while the possibilities of using machine-punched cards remain restricted to few large documentation organizations because of the cost of the machine equipment. It probably will remain so restricted in the future.
Experience gained in the use of hand-punched cards shows that the majority of classification systems now in use were devised by the individual documentation organization themselves. Even though the international decimal classifi-
cation has also been used for that purpose, experience seems to indicate that it is not always the most suitable classification system for mechanical selection because of the very long figure symbols.
Up to now hand-punched cards and machine-punched cards have not been used in coordinated documentation. As a rule, the cards used in this type of work are made out only once and used only in one single documentation office. Besides, the advantages of coordinated documentation with mechanical selection are even greater than those of standard documentation with the usual bibliographic indexes, because the preparation of a bibliographic card for a file of hand-punched or machine-punched cards is considerably more expensive (because the frequently large number of factual data must be decoded) than that of ordinary bibliographic cards. Coordination will permit the same measure of cost reduction for mechanical sorting as can be attained for ordinary bibliographic cards. As a matter of fact, it appears as though mechanical sorting can be used to full advantage only if the principles of division of labor and of coordination be applied in setting up the files concerned.
OTTO FRANK. Problems of coordinating documentation—Documentation of electrical engineering, Nachrichten für Dokumentation [Documentation News], 5 , 187–190 (1954).
OTTO FRANK. The new periodical review in control technology, Regelungstechnik [Control Technology], 3 , 1 (1955).
HANS-JOACHIM RAUTENBERG. Problems and status of the work of aviation documentation in the Federal Republic of Germany, Nachrichten für Dokumentation, 7 , 192–196 (1956).
CLARA E.MUELLER. The work of the Structural Engineering Information Office of the Research Society for Construction and Housing, Nachrichten für Dokumentation, 2 , 69–72 (1951).
L.M.GIERTZ. Construction documentation in Sweden, Nachrichten für Dokumentation, 3 , 76–80 (1952).
OTTO FRANK. Roles and activities of the Conseil International du Bâtiment, Revue de la Documentation [Documentation Review], 21 , 19–20 (1954).
GERDA M.VAN ANDEL. Economic documentation in the Netherlands, Rapp. 18e FID, 1  (1951), Rome.
GERDA M.VAN ANDEL. Economic documentation in the Netherlands, Nachrichten für Dokumentation, 3 , 71–74 (1952).
J.KOBLITZ. The organization of pointing and distributing the documentation services of the German Democratic Republic, Revue de la Documentation, 24 , 31–35 (1957).
HELEN L.BROWNSON. Coordination of information services, Library Trends, 2 , 127–145 (1952).