IBSS Extra Compact Disc – Reviewed Fall 1998

Reviewed by Martin Shapiro, American University Library, June, 1998.


This review of the CD-ROM product IBSS Extrasupplements the
review of the hard copy International Bibliography of Social and
Cultural Anthropology published in the May 1997 issue of ANSS Currents,
and accessible on ANSSWeb at http://www.lib.odu.edu/anss/reviews.htm.

IBSS Extra (International Bibliography of the Social
Sciences) CD-ROM, 1981-March 1997. Quarterly updates. Published by the
British Library of Political and Economic Science of the London School
of Economics and Political Science. A CD-ROM using WinSPIRS search and
retrieval software produced by SilverPlatter Information, Inc., 100
River Ridge Drive, Norwood, MA 02062-5043 (800-343-0064 or
617-769-2599; fax: 617-769-8763). &nbs-343-0064 or 617-769-2599;
fax: 617-769-8763). Hardware requirements include an IBM PC-compatible
with 4 MB of RAM or more, 8 MB of free hard disk space, a
Windows-compatible mouse or other pointing device, and an ISSO 9660
compatible CD-ROM drive and controller card capable of reading 680 MB
compact discs. Requires Microsoft Windows version 3.1 or higher.

The annual subscription price for the stand-alone CD-ROM is $1995.
Network fees, which are based on the number of simultaneous users,
incorporate the annual subscription price. For a single user the
network fee is $2494; for 2-4 simultaneous users the network fee
amounts to $2993; for 5-8 simultaneous users $3990; and for 9 to 12
simultaneous users $5486. A site license, for more than 12 simultaneous
users, costs $7980. IBSS Extrais also available via
subscription as a Web site, with the remote access fee following the
identical pricing structure as the network fees. The hard copy
International Bibliography of the Social Sciences is not included in
any of these prices, nor is any discount available with a concurrent
subscription to the print format.

Scope and Coverage:

The IBSS ExtraCD-ROM integrates the series of the hard copy
International Bibliography of the Social Sciences (which separately
covers social and cultural anthropology, economics, political science,
and sociology). On this compact disc, these series are refeis compact
disc, these series are referred to as “subsets.” The March 1997 disc
provided 110,571 records in the Anthropology subset, 216,182 in
Economics, 201,709 in Political Science, and 192,451 for Sociology. To
restrict a search to the anthropology subset (equivalent to searching
the hard copy International Bibliography of Social and Cultural
Anthropology), the user may select the “limit” button, highlight
“subset,” then choose “anthropology.”

Over 2600 periodicals from more than 100 countries in 70 different
languages are indexed in IBSS. Records for materials not in English
(about 30 percent of the total) are supplied with an English title
translation. Unfortunately, unlike the hard copy edition, it is not
possible to find a listing of journals arranged alphabetically with
publisher information. However, the user may search a particular
journal by keying [name of journal] in so where so means “source.” IBSS Extraalso
indexes books, book reviews, and chapters when individual authors have
contributed to a book. Approximately 100,000 citations are added to
this database each year.

Record Structure and Retrieval:

Individual records are available in two formats. Full records
consist of a title (ti), author (au), source (so, title of journal),
publication type (pt, an article, book, book review, book chapter, or
collection), publication yk chapter, or collection), publication year
(py), a notes field (nt, where available, usually indicates whether or
not an index and bibliography are included), language (la), descriptors
(deg, geographic and des, subject), ISBN (ib) or ISSN (is) numbers, the
publisher and date of a book reviewed (rb, if applicable), subset (sb,
see “Scope and Coverage” above), series information (se, if
applicable), and universal resource locator (url, if applicable). A
brief citation record contains a title, author, source, publication
type, publication date, and accession number.

The “limit” function allows the user to choose a subset, language,
publication type, and a specific year or a range of years. A search on
the topic of migration to or from Puerto Rico could employ the
following search strategy: Puerto Ric* and migration. The asterisk is a
truncation symbol. A user may fashion a very specific inquiry indeed,
such as limiting the search to articles from anthropological journals
published in Spanish after 1992.

Operators for constructing search strategies include and, or, not,
plus two proximity operators: with, which searches for two terms that
appear in the same field; and near, which will search for two terms in
the same sentence. A number may be added to the latter operator to
signify how close the two terms should be. Yoruba near2 language will
find records where Yoruba appguage will find records where Yoruba
appears within two words of language in any order.

The system includes separate indexes for authors, geographic and
subject descriptors, publication date, subset, publication type,
language, accession number. A “change” button allows the user to move
between different indexes. There is also a free-text index in which all
fields may be searched by typing the field label as a suffix (bergmann
in au, where au indicates author).

Lateral searching is another useful feature. One can highlight
individual terms from among the descriptors in any record, choose the
“Add to search” option at the bottom of the screen, and conduct a
search on the highlighted term.

A set of records may be created by selecting the book symbol at the
upper-left side of each record. A red line appears in the left-hand
margin to indicate that a record has been chosen. Created sets may be
printed or downloaded to a disk by clicking on the “download” button on
the bar near the top of the screen. A dialog box appears in either
case, allowing the user to customize the output by designating which
fields should be reproduced.

It is worth noting that IBSS Extrarecords, with separate
lines for each field, read much more clearly than the hard copy
bibliographies. Many users will appreciate having subject and
geographical descriptors incorporated as a significant part of ers
incorporated as a significant part of each record. Users confused by
ISBN and ISSN numbers will find the publication type designation
helpful. Records belonging to the electronic journals Sociological
Research Online and Internet Archaeology offer an abstract (ab) field
containing a surprisingly detailed summary.

User Instruction:

A “Getting Started Guide” and user’s manual accompany the software.
In addition, a “WinSPIRS Quick Reference Card” offers descriptions of
the search screen, screen buttons, and function keys. However, not
every WinSPIRS feature described in the literature is available on IBSS
Extra. The only hard copy help specific to this product is a “Quick
Reference Guide” with brief descriptions of basic functions. Help
screens are plentiful and offer search examples, as well as
explanations for each separate field comprising a full record. A
thesaurus is not available on IBSS Extra, alvailable on IBSS Extra,
although it would be very helpful for locating descriptors which are
closely related.


At $230 per year for each series in the hard copy, the total cost of
the four series represents less than half the price of the CD-ROM
before any networking fees are added. Researchers familiar with the
hard copy bibliographies will miss the intricate subject classification
scheme and the listing of periodical information. For these users, the
lack of a thesaurus on the CD-ROM may be a problem. However, the
combined IBSS, which allows the user to move effortlessly across
disciplines, will prove extremely beneficial to the increasingly
interdisciplinary nature of research in the social sciences. The time
lag that plagued the hard copy format for years is no longer an issue
since updated discs are produced quarterly. One disc containing over
720,900 records spanning more than 15 years of research in four
disciplines will be worth the extra cost to many libraries.

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