Criminology and Penology Abstracts – Reviewed Fall 1990

Analysis prepared by Joyce L. Ogburn June 1990


Vol.1-8, 1961-1968 titled Excerpta Criminologica, published by Excerpta Criminologica

Vol. 9-19, 1969-1979 titled Abstracts on Criminology and Penology, published by

Vol. 20-, 1980- published as Criminology and Penology Abstracts by Kugler Publications.




GENERAL DESCRIPTION: Criminology and Penology Abstracts is “An international
abstracting service covering the etiology of crime and juvenile delinquency, the control and
treatment of offenders, criminal procedure, and the administration of justice.”

USABILITY: This abstract service is not difficult to use, although it would be improved by
the addition of a five year cumulative index or an index for each of the first two titles. The
existing annual indexes are extensive and detailed, requiring the scanning of each index
entry for effective use. The subdivisions of the main sections of the abstracts are quite
specific and helpful in getting to the right section. There are no instructions to the user.


Criminology and Penology Abstracts contains no scope statement; however, its scope is
implicit in the statement on its cover, quoted under the general description. The service
fulfills this intention. It is meant also to be international in scope, but the titles abstracted
are all American, Canadian, or European.


SUBJECTS COVERED: The subjects covered are evident from the table of contents: 1.
General; 2. Biology; psychology; 3. Psychopathology; psychiatry; 4. Anthropology;
sociology; social work; 5. Special groups; 6. Special offenses and non-criminal anti-social
behavior; 7. Prediction; longitudinal studies; 8. The victim; 9. Prevention; 10. Penology;
11. Resocialization; 12. Penal law; 13. Criminal procedures and administration of justice.
This list comes from the most current volumes; it has changed a bit over time.

GEOGRAPHICAL AREAS COVERED: It abstracts publications from the Western
World, but other parts of the world may be covered by a particular article or monograph.
On the whole, there is a distinctly Western emphasis to its coverage. If Criminology and
Penology Abstracts indexed more anthropological publications, it might have more
citations on Third World countries, tribal law, and so forth.

TYPES OF PUBLICATIONS ABSTRACTED: Criminology and Penology Abstracts
indexes primarily English language journals, books, and reports. It includes more journals
of sociology than of anthropology, which is understandable, given its slant toward western
criminology and penology. Occasionally it publishes special articles on specific aspects of
criminology and penology. In 1988 the title contained 2943 abstracts from 240 journals.


INDEXES AND CUMULATIONS: Criminology and Penology Abstracts is issued in
paper with cumulation of the subject and author indexes in the last issue of the year, in
addition to a list of the journals received for abstracting. Each issue contains a separate
index for subjects and authors.

ARRANGEMENT OF ENTRIES: The contents of the abstracts are organized under
thirteen broad headings. The arrangement would be familiar to users of legal sources: a
topic is subdivided by multiple, numbered subheadings. For example, 5. SPECIAL
GROUPS is subdivided by 5.2 Sex, which in turn is divided by 5.2.1. females and 5.2.2.

CITATION STYLE: The citation order includes title first, followed by author, and author
affiliation. It then varies depending on whether the work is an article or monograph, but
includes publisher, date, number of pages, ISBN, journal title, year, volume and issue,
pages, and sometimes the ISSN of the journal. Abstracts are not signed.

PRINT AND BINDING: Both are good.


SUBJECT INDEX: The subject index contains broad terms followed by very specific
terms which describe a particular citation. For example, one index contained the term
burglary, and underneath cited “ecology, urban area, India, spatial structure” followed by a
citation number. Each volume appears to use the same basic vocabulary for the broadest
index terms and then varies the specific terms to provide a detailed description of the
citation. The specific terms appear to be keywords, but then are not necessarily in the
abstracts. The first terms assigned to any citation are in alphabetical order, but I can
ascertain no particular order to the terms within a citation description, i.e., broad to narrow,
alphabetical, etc. The terms are fairly straightforward, not loaded with jargon, and are
topical. Terminology tends more to the sociological than to the legal. For example, the
index uses terms such as euthanasia and terrorism, and Nazi; standard legal terminology,
such as torts, liability, and negligence is employed when appropriate. Indexing includes
geographic areas and minority groups.

Cross references are used sparingly, but seem appropriate.

TABLE OF CONTENTS: If a user wishes to browse broad subject areas, the contents
page provides enough detail to assist.


Coverage ranges from recent publications to those several years old, although the lag seems
to have improved recently. The abstracts arrive about six months after the stated date of
the bimonthly issue.


Editing appears to be good.


Criminology and Penology Abstracts would be useful in the academic and law libraries,
and any other library where research is conducted in the areas of social work, penology,
administration of justice, and the like. It makes no mention of the availability of titles
abstracted or document delivery services. If a citation also can be found in Criminal
Justice Periodical Index, then its document delivery service can be employed.


Its cost is $280.00 a year.


Criminology and Penology Abstracts (CPA) is more detailed, yet broader in coverage than
Criminal Justice Abstracts (CJA) or Criminal Justice Periodical Index (CJPI). A
comparison of the volumes for 1987 and 1988 of all three titles illustrates the difference.

  1987 1988
  Citations Journals Citations Journals
CPA 2943    240 2943    240
CJA 1681    253 1600    225
CJPI ?(*)    98 ?(*)    98

The 240 journals covered by Criminology and Penology Abstracts in 1988 were not the
same 240 covered in 1987. Comparing the three services, CPA covers more foreign
publications than the other two and makes more use of legal terminology. CPA offers the
advantage of the most detailed contents page of the three. To the users disadvantage,
however, Criminology and Penology Abstracts is not available online through standard
services like BRS or DIALOG, although Kugler maintains its own machine-readable data
files. Of the three CPA is the more expensive title.


Criminology and Penology Abstracts is very broad in its coverage and fairly easy to use.
The abstracts are lengthy and give a good overview of the work cited. Its timeliness of
coverage has improved. The indexing is extensive, although a little difficult to use because
of the number of specific terms that can be used to describe a citation. On the other hand,
the use of very specific terms allows one to form some sort of judgment of the contents of
a work without having to turn to the abstract. The publishers of Criminology and
Penology Abstracts are to be commended for their breadth and depth of coverage.


Some sort of cumulative indexes (every five years and/or per title change) would make this
abstracting service more useful. Instruction for users, would be helpful. Instructions could
include a sample citation with the data elements described and a description of the focus on
sociological terminology. The addition of this title to traditional online search services
would expand access to the literature of criminology and penology.

* The arrangement of Criminal Justice Periodical Index makes it difficult to determine the
exact number of citations.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s