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Proceedings of the International Conference on Scientific Information: Two Volumes (1959)

Chapter: Recent Trends in Scientific Documentation in South Asia: Problems of Speed and Coverage

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Suggested Citation:"Recent Trends in Scientific Documentation in South Asia: Problems of Speed and Coverage." National Research Council. 1959. Proceedings of the International Conference on Scientific Information: Two Volumes. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10866.
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Recent Trends in Scientific Documentation in South Asia: Problems of Speed and Coverage

P.SHEEL

ABSTRACT. Outlines the causes underlying delays in dissemination of current scientific literature; reviews recent regional developments in dissemination of scientific information; describes an experiment on speedy dissemination of information based on collection by air mail of the tables of contents of scientific periodicals; discusses the present trend in indexing national or regional scientific papers; and suggests systematic listing of contents of scientific publications at the national level and dissemination of these lists at an international level.

The increased effort in scientific research has resulted in a large increase in the volume of scientific publications: periodicals, special project reports, dissertations, etc. Prompt dissemination of information about the availability of this literature has a very special significance for scientists working in laboratories far removed from the industrially advanced countries. For the active prosecution of research at an increased tempo in India, or other countries of South East Asia, and even perhaps Australia and New Zealand, special problems arise in providing the scientists an effective speedy information service on current literature as also for exhaustive retrospective searches.

The problems

The problems which the scientists and documentalists face in literature searches arise from:

  1. Inadequacy of the coverage and the delays in reporting literature in the internationally known abstracting journals.

  2. The language problem and the consequent delay in noticing such papers.

P.SHEEL Insdoc, National Physical Laboratory, New Delhi, India.

Suggested Citation:"Recent Trends in Scientific Documentation in South Asia: Problems of Speed and Coverage." National Research Council. 1959. Proceedings of the International Conference on Scientific Information: Two Volumes. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10866.
×
  1. Delays which accrue from the normal postal surface transit of the periodicals from the country of origin to the user institution.

Abstracting journals

Only a few decades ago the scientists felt that their needs for information on current research were adequately met by organisations publishing the abstracting or indexing periodicals. These are, however, no longer considered adequate.

The large increase in the number of scientific publications and the problem of indexing, etc., arising therefrom have been discussed previously by two Conferences, one convened by the Royal Society of London in 1948 and the second convened by Unesco in 1949. The recommendations made have led to many improvements.

It was estimated in 1934 that the increased number of scientific papers which would have to be indexed would amount to 750,000 (1) while the Unesco Conference estimated this number at 1,850,000 (2) scientific articles. The number of scientific periodicals published in 1952 has been estimated to be of the order of 50,000 (3). Assuming an average of 50 articles per year per journal, an approximate estimate of the number of papers currently published would be about 2.5 million. This is nearly 1 1/2 times that estimated at the time of the International Conference on Science Abstracting (1949).

The number of scientific papers reported in some of the English language abstracting journals in 1945 and 1956 is shown in Table 1.

TABLE 1

 

1945

1956

Abstracting journal

Vol. no.

No. of pages

No. of abstracts

Vol. No.

No. of pages

No. of abstracts

1. Science Abstracts, Section A Physics Abstracts (monthly)

48

339

3148

59

1,014

9,165

2. Science Abstracts, Section B Electrical Engineering (monthly)

48

292

2744

59

566

4,661

3. Biological Abstracts (Monthly)

19

2546

23,498

30

3,613

36,080

4. Excerpta Medica (15 sections) (monthly)

 

 

 

9–10

11,304

54,537

5. Chemical Abstracts (semimonthly)

39

2782

28,655a

50

8,768

90,310a

a Estimated number at 10.3 abstracts per page (4).

It will be seen from Table 1 that significant progress has been made by the international abstracting journals to cope with the increased number of scientific publications—the coverage has increased nearly threefold over the last decade.

Suggested Citation:"Recent Trends in Scientific Documentation in South Asia: Problems of Speed and Coverage." National Research Council. 1959. Proceedings of the International Conference on Scientific Information: Two Volumes. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10866.
×

Language problem

Scientific papers are published in various languages, the major languages being English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish, Russian, Japanese, and Chinese. A smaller proportion of papers is published in other languages of the European countries and also of the South East Asian countries. The proportion of papers appearing in different languages varies from subject to subject. Similarly, the proportion of foreign language papers covered in different abstracting journals varies. The use of different languages adds to the difficulties in prompt reporting of scientific literature. Other problems in this respect have received great thought and a recent publication (5) highlights the pertinent facts.

Time lag

TRANSLATION

The time lag between the publication of a paper in a given language and the inclusion of its abstract in the appropriate abstracting journal depends on a number of factors. The average time lag is, however, of some consequence from the point of view of rapid dissemination of information.

In Table 2, data relating to a few papers on mathematics, observed in the Science Abstracts (A), 1956, indicate the average time now taken for noticing papers in one branch of science.

It will be observed that it takes about three months for Science Abstracts (A) to notice papers in English published in British journals, almost four months for papers in English from American journals, while it takes about six months to notice papers published in a European continental language. The average time taken for arranging the translation of the author abstract or preparing an abstract of a paper by a subject specialist is of the order of 2 to 3 months.

The average delay in noticing papers published in other fields of science, accruing from the language problem, is likely to be of the same order, namely six months. This is borne out by the experience of the editors of the Bulletin Analytique (now named Bulletin Signal etique), who estimated in 1948 that the average interval between the arrival of the periodical and the publication of its abstract in French was about five months (2).

POSTAL DELAYS

Scientists working in Western laboratories receive the scientific periodicals a week or 10 days after publication, even from across the Atlantic. Closer dis-

Suggested Citation:"Recent Trends in Scientific Documentation in South Asia: Problems of Speed and Coverage." National Research Council. 1959. Proceedings of the International Conference on Scientific Information: Two Volumes. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10866.
×

TABLE 2

Abstract No.

Original communication, language

Date of publication of journal containing the article

Date of issue of Science Abstracts (A) in which noticed

Delay, months

 

 

Group 1a

 

 

1

German

June 1955

January 1956

7

867

German

Sept–Oct. 1955

February 1956

4

4773

German

January 1956

July 1956

6

5594

German

January 1956

August 1956

7

6290

German

June 1956

September 1956

3

4147

Spanish

Sept–Oct. 1955

June 1956

8

7103

Spanish

May-June 1956

October 1956

4

8546

Hungarian

May 1956

December 1956

7

7098

French

May 1956

October 1956

5

5601

Russian

1955 (translated in Nov. 1955)

August 1956

9

 

 

Group 2b

 

 

4146

English (U.S.A.)

February 1956

June 1956

4

4149

English

March 1956

June 1956

3

2620

English

December 1956

April 1957

4

 

 

Group 3c

 

 

3436

English (British)

March 1956

May 1956

2

2605

English

January 1956

April 1956

3

2607

English

November 1955

April 1956

5

a Average delay, 6 months.

b Average delay, 3.7 months.

c Average delay 3.3 months.

TABLE 3

Title

Country and date of publication

Postmark issue

Postmark receipt

Transit time, days

European journals

Frequenz

Germany (E)

Nov. ’57

Berlin

22 Nov. ’57

New Delhi

28 Dec. ’57

36

Nuovo Cimento

Italy

Oct. ’57

Bologna

5 Nov. ’57

New Delhi

30 Dec. ’57

55

Cern

Switzerland

Sept. ’57

Geneva

25 Oct. ’57

New Delhi

3 Jan. ’58

70

Acustica

Germany (W)

Vol. I, No. 5

Stuttgart

25 Nov. ’57

New Delhi

30 Dec. ’57

35

Knizhnaya Letopis

U.S.S.R.

Nov. ’57

Moscow

11 Nov. ’57

New Delhi

30 Dec. ’57

49

United Kingdom journals

British Printer

U.K.

Dec. ’57

London

4 Dec. ’57

New Delhi

4 Jan. ’58

31

Foundry Trade Journal

U.K.

Dec. ’57

London

5 Dec. ’57

New Delhi

4 Jan. ’58

30

Trans. Faraday Society

U.K.

Nov. ’57

Aberdeen

28 Nov. ’57

New Delhi

9 Jan. ’58

42

United States journals

Electrical Engineering

U.S.A.

Dec. ’57

New York

25 Nov. ’57

New Delhi

9 Jan. ’58

45

Translation Monthly

U.S.A.

Nov. ’57

Chicago

19 Nov. ’57

New Delhi

9 Jan. ’58

51

Suggested Citation:"Recent Trends in Scientific Documentation in South Asia: Problems of Speed and Coverage." National Research Council. 1959. Proceedings of the International Conference on Scientific Information: Two Volumes. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10866.
×

tances and quicker transport by sea over the Atlantic are primarily responsible for the quick transit and, therefore, scientists in the West would not normally consider the postal delays as a factor to be reckoned with in the dissemination of scientific information. But for scientists working in laboratories distant from the technologically advanced countries, the time taken in the postal transit of publications becomes an important factor and causes delay in obtaining up-to-date information. Table 3 above gives the actual posting and arrival date in New Delhi of a small random selection of the journals received in December 1957 and January 1958 from various countries.

Table 3 shows that if a scientist receives the periodical, he is in a position to study the new developments reported after a period of about 6–8 weeks. But if he has to depend for information on an abstracting journal, he will have to wait for 20–25 weeks; and for papers published in languages other than English, it may be of the order of 30–40 weeks. Thus practically a year has elapsed since the publication of a paper before the scientist obtains the information!

Recent developments in dissemination of information

The average delay in noticing and disseminating information received through the postal channels may not by itself be capable of further improvement. Similarly, keeping in view the requisite coordination between large numbers of operations and agencies, the publication programme of the abstracting journals can be considered as quite reasonable. Yet the delays have led to distinct developments for the improvement of several of the information services.

International Agencies

The first important development in this direction has been the organisation of good documentation by the international agencies themselves, primarily for their own specific needs, and later on extended to others who apply for information. For example, some specialised agencies of the United Nations such as WHO, FAO, ICAO, and ILO have organised documentation work in their respective specialised field.

National Documentation Centres

The second important development during the post-war period has been the organisation of national documentation centres in various countries. It will not be out of place here to make a brief reference to the abstracting or indexing publications of two national documentation centres: Centre de Documentation

Suggested Citation:"Recent Trends in Scientific Documentation in South Asia: Problems of Speed and Coverage." National Research Council. 1959. Proceedings of the International Conference on Scientific Information: Two Volumes. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10866.
×

du CNRS, Paris, and the Centre di Documentazione Scientifico-Tecnica of the Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche, Rome.

FRENCH CENTRE

The French documentation centre publishes monthly, in three parts, an abstracting journal entitled Bulletin Signaletique. Each paper indexed is noticed in the original language of publication together with a translation of the title and a short indicative abstract in French. A subject index for the annual volume is not published, thus making retrospective search laborious.

The library of the Centre de Documentation du CNRS receives over 6,000 periodicals. The number of abstracts covering various fields of science in 1956 was 226,190 (Parts I and II).

The broad objective of the publications is to give as wide a coverage as possible for scientists using the French language.

ITALIAN CENTRE

The Italian centre publishes every month a bibliographical bulletin in 15 parts, each part covering literature on a particular field of science. In compiling this bibliographical list the title of the journal is given first and pertinent papers in that journal are then noticed with the usual bibliographical data. Italian and foreign periodicals are covered. The language of the original text is retained. Articles are indexed from 2,500 Italian and foreign journals.

Unesco associated documentation centres

A number of other countries also have set up national documentation centres to meet their own requirements for documentation services. Unesco has provided technical assistance to a number of countries to establish national or regional scientific documentation centres such as: the Centro del Documentacion Cientifica y Tecnica, Mexico; the Jugoslovenski Centar za Tehnicku i Naucnu Dokumentaciju, Belgrade; the Indian National Scientific Documentation Centre, New Delhi; the Scientific and Technical Documentation Division of the National Research Centre of Egypt, Cairo; and the Pakistan National Scientific Documentation Centre of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, Karachi. These have already been established and are functioning.

Lately, Unesco has extended technical assistance to the Union of Burma for the organisation of technical information services in Rangoon. Similarly, technical assistance from Unesco has been requested by the Government of Indonesia and the Government of the Philippines for organising scientific information services. These new centres will start operation in a year or so.

Suggested Citation:"Recent Trends in Scientific Documentation in South Asia: Problems of Speed and Coverage." National Research Council. 1959. Proceedings of the International Conference on Scientific Information: Two Volumes. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10866.
×

Responsive documentation

The work and functions of these national documentation centres cover two broad aspects, namely responsive documentation services and active documentation work. Under the former category are included services such as conducting literature searches and compilation of bibliographies; locating and providing a copy of a particular paper; translating or helping in translation of scientific papers from foreign languages into a language with which the scientists of the country are conversant. These are undertaken only on request. The organisation of these services may or may not be backed by a science library, though in some of the countries where either communications are not fast or the holdings of the science libraries are not adequate, it is advantageous to build up a centralised science library. This is of special interest in countries which are technically classified as underdeveloped.

Active documentation work

The second aspect of the work of these national documentation centres, namely active documentation, is the more important one for the present study.

Keeping scientists informed of the latest developments in their special fields of study may be achieved by various means, ranging from the simple circulation of periodicals to the compilation and publication of exhaustive or selective classified lists, with or without abstracts. The method to be adopted by a particular organisation depends on the needs of the scientists served, and the available facilities in staff and finance. A number of centres publish bibliographical lists and a brief description of these publications is given in Appendix I.

Special features of the bibliographical lists

These bibliographical lists are compiled primarily for dissemination of information at the national or, in some cases, at regional level. The contents are selective, for the special needs of the country. In deciding on the layout, featuring, and arrangement of the contents of these lists, consideration is given to the reading habits of the scientists. Since the time that the scientists can devote for the perusal of such lists is limited, appropriate classification schemes are used and the text is arranged in such a manner that the scientist can obtain information on the latest developments in his special field in the shortest possible time. These lists are not intended to replace the existing abstracting journals but rather to supplement them in so far as speedy dissemination of information is

Suggested Citation:"Recent Trends in Scientific Documentation in South Asia: Problems of Speed and Coverage." National Research Council. 1959. Proceedings of the International Conference on Scientific Information: Two Volumes. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10866.
×

concerned. In some cases a translation of the title is provided: thus solving the language problem for the broad objective of speedy dissemination of information about foreign language publications. Such lists are primarily not very suitable for exhaustive retrospective searching, and therefore these lists are not usually provided with annual indexes.

Experiments at Insdoc

The information needs of a fast developing scientific and industrial organisation in India led us at Insdoc to give considerable thought to the problem of speed in dissemination of information on scientific publications. The experiment carried out in Insdoc in this connection will be of interest.

The criteria aimed at by Insdoc for its bibliographical list were: (i) comprehensiveness for the immediate needs of the country as far as facilities permitted; and (ii) speedier supply of information than that available from the existing abstracting or indexing periodicals.

A happy solution of these two fold requirements was proposed by Prof. K.S.Krishnan, F.R.S., Director of the National Physical Laboratory (India). In his view a scientist would normally study regularly about half a dozen scientific periodicals covering his special subject. If he could obtain information about the contents of these periodicals by airmail, through the publishers directly, or even from a central organisation, immediately the format of that particular issue of the journal was finalised, then he would be informed in the shortest possible time of the forthcoming papers and could order a copy of a particular article on microfilm by airmail. In this manner a scientist could actually get the text of the paper much ahead of the receipt of the periodical by surface post.

In view of the difficulties of making arrangements directly with a large number of publishers of the important journals, the possibility was explored for obtaining by airmail copies of the table of contents of a selected number of periodicals from national science libraries. The receipt of this information at short intervals would cut down to the barest minimum the time lag accruing from the surface transit of the periodicals by post. This suggestion was appreciated by the foreign documentation organisations contacted and regular arrangements were entered into with some of them for obtaining by airmail a microfilm copy of the table of contents of about 350 scientific journals, the information about the contents of which was considered important for the immediate needs of the scientists in India. The tables of contents are despatched by the cooperating centres 3 to 4 times a month and reach New Delhi approximately a fortnight after the publication of the journals in Europe, Amer-

Suggested Citation:"Recent Trends in Scientific Documentation in South Asia: Problems of Speed and Coverage." National Research Council. 1959. Proceedings of the International Conference on Scientific Information: Two Volumes. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10866.
×

ica, or the countries of the Pacific Ocean. The expenditure to Insdoc on this account is of the order of $1,800 per year, i.e., $5.00 per periodical.

The information thus received is disseminated in India through the medium of the “Insdoc List of Current Scientific Literature” twice a month, and this bibliographical list is generally in the hands of the scientists in India ahead of the receipt of the periodicals sent through the surface post.

It was decided to present the titles of papers in a classified order, the classification being carried out from the information available in the contents page only. Four years’ experience of working by this method has indicated that nearly 85% of the titles are telltale and do not present any difficulty in classification. In another 10% cases, difficulties arise, and the entries are likely to be placed in a wrong category, especially in borderline subjects. A small proportion of papers, about 5%, present difficulties for according an appropriate classification number, and for the present are left unlisted.

The time factor involved in the departmental work of translation, classification and the subsequent operations of composition, featuring, layout, and printing also received consideration, especially from the viewpoint of speedy dissemination. At present Insdoc is able to process—classify, compile, and print—about 2,000 titles in 10–14 days’ time after receipt of the microfilms. The information about the contents is therefore in the hands of the scientists in India within a maximum period of about four weeks from the date of publication of the periodical in the Western or Far Eastern countries. In exceptional cases, when the information is delayed even in air-mail transit, a further delay of a week or 10 days becomes inevitable, as the material is then included in the next issue. The procedure adopted in the compilation of Insdoc List has been described elsewhere by Reid (7).

A critical evaluation of the Insdoc List as an indexing journal has been made by Neelameghan (8), specially in relation to articles on medicine. He was collecting recent references on a medical subject and checked the entries in Insdoc List along with those in specialist journals such as the Current List of Medical Literature, Excerpta Medica, British Abstracts of Medical Sciences, and Abstracts of World Medicine. He found some additional references in the Insdoc List. He says:

On analysing these additional references from Insdoc List [they] were noted to be of the following types: (1) articles from journals not indexed in other specialist indexing/abstracting services mentioned above and (2) articles from very recent issues of journals yet to be indexed by those services though earlier issues of the same journals have been covered by them. It was also noted that issues of certain journals indexed in the Insdoc List had just been received or were expected to be received shortly in the Library.

Suggested Citation:"Recent Trends in Scientific Documentation in South Asia: Problems of Speed and Coverage." National Research Council. 1959. Proceedings of the International Conference on Scientific Information: Two Volumes. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10866.
×

In a personal communication regarding Insdoc List, Dr. A.J.Barnard of the J.T.Baker Chemical Company of U.S.A. has stated:

We have indeed found a number of articles listed [in Insdoc List] that we proceeded to examine in connection with certain current projects. Curiously, most of the papers located had appeared in European journals and had been overlooked in other bibliographic sources.

This observation is encouraging since it was made even after the postal transit of the Insdoc List from India to the U.S.A.

Coblans (6) has described the Insdoc List “as a creditable achievement from the point of view of classification and the effective use of offset printing.”

The experiment on classification and compilation of the Insdoc List, it seems to us, has fulfilled reasonably well our expectations in so far as speedy dissemination of information is concerned, but it is still far from the aim of comprehensiveness. There has been an improvement in coverage—from a 16-page issue in 1954 to a 40-page issue in 1957. But this is still a small fraction of all the important scientific literature published throughout the world.

National listing of scientific publications

As mentioned earlier, the national documentation centres have oriented their publication programme to suit the immediate interests of the country or the region they serve. In view of the many difficulties attendant on comprehensive coverage of literature in the abstracting journals, a happy development has been the attempt to index the scientific literature published by the country or the region. Reference has been made in Appendix 1 to the Boletin issued by the Mexican Documentation Centre indexing the publications in Latin American countries.

The Unesco Science Cooperation Office at Cairo had been compiling for some years a list of the scientific publications of Egypt and other Middle Eastern countries. These lists are now being published as Part II of the Documentation Bulletin of the National Research Centre of Egypt, Cairo.

The Unesco Science Cooperation Office at New Delhi had been listing, in a U.D.C. classified order, the scientific publications of India, Burma, and Ceylon from 1949 onwards and was publishing it under the title Bibliography of Scientific Publications of South Asia as a half yearly publication. From 1955 onwards, Insdoc has been associated with this work. Unesco’s Science Cooperation Offices at New Delhi and Djakarta now collect and compile the data on the scientific publications of South and South East Asia (India, Burma, Ceylon, Malaya, Indonesia, Thailand, and the Philippines). Publication work is handled

Suggested Citation:"Recent Trends in Scientific Documentation in South Asia: Problems of Speed and Coverage." National Research Council. 1959. Proceedings of the International Conference on Scientific Information: Two Volumes. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10866.
×

by Insdoc. Attempts are being made to provide as comprehensive a coverage as possible. The publication is now issued under the title Bibliography of Scientific Publications of South and South East Asia. It was published as a quarterly journal in 1956 and 1957, but from 1958 onwards it is being published as a monthly. The entries are classified by Colon and U.D.C., as is being done for the Insdoc List.

Japan Science Review

The Scientific Information Division, Ministry of Education, Tokyo, in cooperation with other agencies, has commenced publication of the Japan Science Review. It is published in four series as a half yearly publication: engineering sciences, biological sciences, medical sciences, and economic sciences. These reviews bring to the notice of the scientists the results of researches reported in Japanese periodicals. The average delay at present in circulating information is over a year.

These national or regional bibliographical lists help considerably in the comprehensive indexing of scientific literature. With improved frequency of publication and lesser time lag in noticing the papers one may hope that the problem of comprehensiveness of scientific reporting will be ameliorated to a substantial extent. The usefulness of the comprehensive listing vis-a-vis extensive abstracting of scientific papers for physicists has been evaluated by Gray (9) in the results of his survey on Physics abstracting.

Suggestions

The systematic collection of world-wide scientific literature by the organisations which are publishing abstracts, and the subsequent operations of indexing, translation, classification, etc., on a comprehensive basis would in itself be a commendable proposal, but will be beyond the resources of these organisations in the near foreseeable future. Such a plan would, in any case, not eliminate the problem of delays caused by the surface transport of printed matter through the normal postal channels.

The question of organising world-wide listing or abstracting by the formation of regional committees was recommended by Unesco in 1949 (2). A brief account of the progress made in listing national or regional publications in South and South East Asia has already been given in the preceding sections. The satisfactory results of the experiment made by Insdoc in the quick dissemination of scientific information in South Asia, though on a limited scale,

Suggested Citation:"Recent Trends in Scientific Documentation in South Asia: Problems of Speed and Coverage." National Research Council. 1959. Proceedings of the International Conference on Scientific Information: Two Volumes. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10866.
×

offers in our opinion a solution of the difficult problems: comprehensiveness of coverage, language barrier, and speedy dissemination.

In the field of science and technology there are a number of institutions in various countries which are capable of acting as national centres for supply of information about the scientific work of their countries. Such institutions, it is proposed, might be designated as national centres for listing the contents of the scientific publications of the country on a comprehensive basis.

In case the publications are in a language not commonly understood, the national centre could compile them in an another commonly understood language. For example, if the scientific papers published in a Thai journal could be prepared for indexing by a suitable organisation in Thailand and a translation of the titles supplied either in English or French, then it would be possible for the scientists elsewhere to obtain information about the contents of the Thai periodicals which might otherwise possibly be ignored because of the difficulties of language or incomplete dissemination of information.

The national centres are also likely to be equipped with modern photo-duplicating appliances. They may organise the indexing of the national scientific literature by using mechanical aids and copy periodically, say twice a month, on microfilm, the tables of contents of the periodicals published in their countries. Having access to a science library or libraries which receive all the national periodicals and possess microfilming equipment, it should not be beyond the resources of such national centres to arrange this work at a very nominal additional expenditure.

Further, one copy of this microfilmed national list of contents of scientific publications might be despatched by air mail to a central agency under the aegis of an international organisation such as the International Council of Scientific Unions (ICSU) or the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco). This microfilm copy of the national list, received twice a month, could be duplicated in the central agency and a microfilm copy made available, by air mail, to each of the other national centres cooperating in the scheme for compilation of information at the national level. The national centres would then be in a position to disseminate the incoming information much earlier than at present.

A beginning on the lines suggested might be made by microfilming the tables of contents of scientific periodicals only, and this might be expanded at a later date to include the authors’ abstracts, wherever available.

A copy of the national lists could also be made available by the central international agency to the editors of abstracting journals, by air mail, so that these journals are also informed of the published scientific work in the shortest possible time.

Suggested Citation:"Recent Trends in Scientific Documentation in South Asia: Problems of Speed and Coverage." National Research Council. 1959. Proceedings of the International Conference on Scientific Information: Two Volumes. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10866.
×

The improvements in the design and fabrication of mechanical devices for copying, and making multi-copies in limited number on microfilm, and the availability of such machines in the national centres will bring the suggestion within the realm of practical realisation. The cost involved, at the national and the international level, worked out at the prices prevalent in India (vide Appendix II), would appear to be moderate.

Advantages

The suggestion, if accepted and implemented, would cut down the chances of the results of a scientific work completed, published, but not indexed, being ignored. It would contribute considerably to the broad aim of comprehensiveness of literature reporting in the field of science and technology. It would eliminate the delays inherent in collection of scientific literature before it is noticed by the abstracting or indexing journals. It would substantially solve the language problem by providing authors’ abstracts or their translation from the lesser known languages into a more widely understood language. And lastly, the use of the microfilm and its transport by air mail would overcome the very long and trying delay arising from the surface transport of scientific literature through the normal postal channels.

REFERENCES

1. Royal Society Scientific Information Conference, 1948. Report and papers submitted. Royal Society, London, 1948.

2. International Conference on Science Abstracting, 1949. Final report. Unesco, Paris, 1949.

3. W.A.SMITH and F.L.KENT, Editors. World List of Scientific Periodicals Published in the Years 1900 to 1950, 3rd edition, Butterworths’ Scientific Publications, London, 1952.

4. E.J.CRANE. Chemical Abstracts. Chemical and Engineering News, 34, 1238–40 (1956).

5. Scientific and Technical Translating and Other Aspects of the Language Problem. Unesco, Paris, 1957.

6. H.COBLANS. United Nations technical assistance and documentation. American Documentation, 7, 289–93 (1956).

7. J.B.REID. Insdoc. Review of Documentation, 22, 10–12 (1955).

8. A.NEELAMEGHAN. Insdoc List: current scientific literature. IASLIC Bulletin, 1 (2), 37–43 (1956).

9. DWIGHT E.GRAY. Physics abstracting. American Journal of Physics, 18, 417–24 (1950).

Suggested Citation:"Recent Trends in Scientific Documentation in South Asia: Problems of Speed and Coverage." National Research Council. 1959. Proceedings of the International Conference on Scientific Information: Two Volumes. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10866.
×

APPENDIX 1 Brief particulars of the bibliographical bulletins published by some national documentation centres

  1. Boletin del Centre de Documentacion Cientifica y Tecnica, Mexico is published monthly and lists titles of papers published in 2,500 journals received in the Centre’s library. The titles are translated into Spanish. It consists of 5 parts, each can be obtained as a separate.

    Articles published in Latin American countries are indexed with an asterisk mark so as to draw immediate attention to these publications. The number of titles reported in 1956 was 63,807.

  2. Bilten Dokumentacija Strucne Literature is published monthly by the Yugoslovenski Centar za Tehnicku i Naucnu Dokumentaciju, Belgrade. It is issued in six parts. Each part contains short abstracts in Serbo-Croatian arranged in a U.D.C. classified order. The library receives nearly 2,000 periodicals. Approximately 40,000 abstracts are published.

  3. Insdoc List of Current Scientific Literature is published from New Delhi twice a month. It indexes titles of papers currently published and classified according to the Colon and U.D.C. schemes. Information about the contents of current periodicals is obtained on microfilm by air mail from a number of centres abroad. Titles in European languages are translated into English. The total number of scientific papers indexed in 1956 was 32,800. No annual index is published.

  4. Documentation Bulletin of the National Research Centre of Egypt, Cairo, is published monthly, in two parts. In Part I are listed titles of papers from periodicals received in the Library; titles published in European languages are translated into English. Part II lists the contents of the periodicals published in Egypt and other Middle East countries. The titles, if published in the national language, are translated into English. A short indicative abstract is published. The total number of titles indexed in 1956 was 54,478 (Parts I and II).

Suggested Citation:"Recent Trends in Scientific Documentation in South Asia: Problems of Speed and Coverage." National Research Council. 1959. Proceedings of the International Conference on Scientific Information: Two Volumes. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10866.
×

APPENDIX 2 Cost of microfilming, twice a month, tables of contents of 100 periodicals at a national centre, and duplication into 100 copies on positive microfilm by an international organisation

 

National (one copy)

International (100 copies)

 

Titles

Abstracts

Titles

Abstracts

Cost of microfilm

Rs 10

Rs 35

Rs 250

Rs 1,000

Chemicals for developing and printing

Rs 2

Rs 8

Rs 50

Rs 200

Staff time (costs)

Rs 10

Rs 20

Rs 50

Rs 200

Packing and forwarding

Rs 6

Rs 20

Rs 600

Rs 2,500

Total, list/fortnight

Rs 28

Rs 83

Rs 950

Rs 3,900

Total/year

Rs 672

Rs 1,992

Rs 22,800

Rs 93,600

Cost per journal/year, or approx.

Rs 6.7

$ 1.50

Rs 19.92

$ 4.25

Rs 228

$ 46.00

$ 0.5

Rs 936

$ 190.00

$ 1.90

Per journal/year/per copy

ACKNOWLEGEMENT

Acknowledgement is made to the Photographic Section of Insdoc for a trial microfilm of table of contents, with and without authors’ abstracts, for estimating the cost involved.

Suggested Citation:"Recent Trends in Scientific Documentation in South Asia: Problems of Speed and Coverage." National Research Council. 1959. Proceedings of the International Conference on Scientific Information: Two Volumes. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10866.
×

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Suggested Citation:"Recent Trends in Scientific Documentation in South Asia: Problems of Speed and Coverage." National Research Council. 1959. Proceedings of the International Conference on Scientific Information: Two Volumes. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10866.
×
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Suggested Citation:"Recent Trends in Scientific Documentation in South Asia: Problems of Speed and Coverage." National Research Council. 1959. Proceedings of the International Conference on Scientific Information: Two Volumes. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10866.
×
Page 590
Suggested Citation:"Recent Trends in Scientific Documentation in South Asia: Problems of Speed and Coverage." National Research Council. 1959. Proceedings of the International Conference on Scientific Information: Two Volumes. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10866.
×
Page 591
Suggested Citation:"Recent Trends in Scientific Documentation in South Asia: Problems of Speed and Coverage." National Research Council. 1959. Proceedings of the International Conference on Scientific Information: Two Volumes. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10866.
×
Page 592
Suggested Citation:"Recent Trends in Scientific Documentation in South Asia: Problems of Speed and Coverage." National Research Council. 1959. Proceedings of the International Conference on Scientific Information: Two Volumes. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10866.
×
Page 593
Suggested Citation:"Recent Trends in Scientific Documentation in South Asia: Problems of Speed and Coverage." National Research Council. 1959. Proceedings of the International Conference on Scientific Information: Two Volumes. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10866.
×
Page 594
Suggested Citation:"Recent Trends in Scientific Documentation in South Asia: Problems of Speed and Coverage." National Research Council. 1959. Proceedings of the International Conference on Scientific Information: Two Volumes. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10866.
×
Page 595
Suggested Citation:"Recent Trends in Scientific Documentation in South Asia: Problems of Speed and Coverage." National Research Council. 1959. Proceedings of the International Conference on Scientific Information: Two Volumes. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10866.
×
Page 596
Suggested Citation:"Recent Trends in Scientific Documentation in South Asia: Problems of Speed and Coverage." National Research Council. 1959. Proceedings of the International Conference on Scientific Information: Two Volumes. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10866.
×
Page 597
Suggested Citation:"Recent Trends in Scientific Documentation in South Asia: Problems of Speed and Coverage." National Research Council. 1959. Proceedings of the International Conference on Scientific Information: Two Volumes. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10866.
×
Page 598
Suggested Citation:"Recent Trends in Scientific Documentation in South Asia: Problems of Speed and Coverage." National Research Council. 1959. Proceedings of the International Conference on Scientific Information: Two Volumes. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10866.
×
Page 599
Suggested Citation:"Recent Trends in Scientific Documentation in South Asia: Problems of Speed and Coverage." National Research Council. 1959. Proceedings of the International Conference on Scientific Information: Two Volumes. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10866.
×
Page 600
Suggested Citation:"Recent Trends in Scientific Documentation in South Asia: Problems of Speed and Coverage." National Research Council. 1959. Proceedings of the International Conference on Scientific Information: Two Volumes. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10866.
×
Page 601
Suggested Citation:"Recent Trends in Scientific Documentation in South Asia: Problems of Speed and Coverage." National Research Council. 1959. Proceedings of the International Conference on Scientific Information: Two Volumes. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10866.
×
Page 602
Suggested Citation:"Recent Trends in Scientific Documentation in South Asia: Problems of Speed and Coverage." National Research Council. 1959. Proceedings of the International Conference on Scientific Information: Two Volumes. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10866.
×
Page 603
Suggested Citation:"Recent Trends in Scientific Documentation in South Asia: Problems of Speed and Coverage." National Research Council. 1959. Proceedings of the International Conference on Scientific Information: Two Volumes. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10866.
×
Page 604
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Proceedings of the International Conference on Scientific Information: Two Volumes Get This Book
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The launch of Sputnik caused a flurry of governmental activity in science information. The 1958 International Conference on Scientific Information (ICSI) was held in Washington from Nov.16-21 1958 and sponsored by NSF, NAS, and American Documentation Institute, the predecessor to the American Society for Information Science. In 1959, 20,000 copies of the two volume proceedings were published by NAS and included 75 papers (1600 pages) by dozens of pioneers from seven areas such as:

  • Literature and reference needs of scientists
  • Function and effectiveness of A & I services
  • Effectiveness of Monographs, Compendia, and Specialized Centers
  • Organization of information for storage and search: comparative characteristics of existing systems
  • Organization of information for storage and retrospective search: intellectual problems and equipment considerations
  • Organization of information for storage and retrospective search: possibility for a general theory
  • Responsibilities of Government, Societies, Universities, and industry for improved information services and research.

It is now an out of print classic in the field of science information studies.

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