Anthropology in Zoological Record
Reviewed by Janet L. Steins, Tozzer Library, Harvard University, Cambridge
MA, August, 2001.
Zoological Record, 1978- . Available on the Web, on CD’s, or online via
Zoological Record (ZR) is published jointly by the Zoological Society of
London and BIOSIS. ZR, which is not a subset of the BIOSIS database, began
as a print publication in 1865 out of the Zoological Society and the
British Museum. The Zoological Society had sole responsibility for its
production between 1886 and 1980, when it began its partnership with BIOSIS.
BIOSIS can be contacted at:
Two Commerce Square, 2001 Market St., Suite 700, Philadelphia, PA
Tel: 1-800-523-4806 (USA and Canada)
BIOSIS also maintains an office in York, UK.
Three vendors currently providing subscriptions to Zoological Record
Cambridge Scientific Abstracts (CSA), 7200 Wisconsin
Avenue – Suite 601, Bethesda, MD 20814
Tel: 1 301 961-6700
Fax: 1 301 961-6720
Dialog Corporation, 11000 Regency Parkway, Suite 10
Cary, North Carolina 27511
Tel: (1)-800-3-DIALOG (North America)
SilverPlatter Information, Inc., 100 River Ridge Drive,
Norwood, MA 02062-5043
Tel: 1 781 769-2599
Toll Free: 1 800 343-0064 (US and Canada)
Fax: 1 781 769-8763
Zoological Record is also available in print form directly from BIOSIS.
This review is based on an examination of the Zoological Record database
using Cambridge Scientific Abstracts’ Internet Database Service (IDS)
during the spring and summer of 2001. This is the same interface described
in the review of Ecology Abstracts that appeared in the previous issue of
ANSS Currents. CSA calls this database service ZR Plus.
If biological or physical anthropology is the branch of
modern anthropology that is the most scientific in its scope and
methodologies, we may assume that its literature will appropriately be
indexed in bibliographic sources catering to the information needs of
scientists, particularly biologists. Although indexes to the social
sciences literature (where anthropology is traditionally located), will
often index periodical and other resources in physical anthropology,
researchers may turn to Zoological Record for fuller coverage of the
biological anthropology literature. For example, Anthropological
Literature (AL), which indexes the holdings of Tozzer Library, Harvard’s
anthropology collection, indexes American Journal of Physical Anthropology,
Folia Primatologica, Human Evolution and other core journals in physical
anthropology. It does not index large numbers of biology publications of
interest to physical anthropologists.
Zoological Record(ZR) indexes the world’s literature on animal research.
It is a database primarily of bibliographic citations, other content being
optional. Potential subscribers can easily weigh exactly what content and
services each vendor of ZR offers by referring to a handy
chart on the
BIOSIS Web site that compares features available from each vendor. Currently,
Cambridge Scientific Abstracts provides English-language abstracts back to
1978 as well as full-text journal links via document locators.
SilverPlatter and Dialog just began providing abstracts in 2001, but these
vendors do not have links to full-text journal articles at this time. For
example, although SilverPlatter has introduced SilverLinker, which links
its databases to the full text of articles from a growing list of journal
publishers, Zoological Record is not currently included in this service.
Because features and services evolve quickly, potential subscribing
libraries should consult vendors’ Web sites as well as BIOSIS’s.
Size, Currency, Scope and Coverage:
The Zoological Record database begins in 1978, and all vendors provide monthly
updates of the file to subscribers. BIOSIS adds over 70,000 entries to ZR each year, and
from 1978 to May, 2001, the database encompasses over 1.5 million records. More
than 4,500 serial publications from over 100 countries are monitored for
inclusion. Document types include articles, books, meetings, meeting
papers, CD’s, software, online resources, diskettes and microforms, but not
dissertations unless they have been published in the conventional sense.
The geographic range of source publications in ZR is worldwide, as
indicated by the following figures:
Europe and the Middle East 54%
Asia and Australasia 19%
North America 18%
Central and South America 5%
English-language documents currently comprise just 65% of the database
(975,000 citations). Some recent searches limited solely by language
yielded 83,000 Russian, 79,000 German, 56,500 French, 33,000 Spanish, and
24,500 Japanese citations. The indexing of World Wide Web sites in many
languages is evidently becoming a priority for BIOSIS, with a recent search
yielding some 125,000 sites in English, 423 in German and 44 in Russian.
Ideally, the depth of the coverage of ZR would be matched by its
timeliness, and in this regard it seems to do a better job than
Anthropological Literature for journals indexed in both. The time lag for
key journals is several months. By early September, 2001, ZR Plus had
indexed monthly issues of American Journal of Physical Anthropology (AJPA)
through the May issue. AL had indexed the same journal only through the
March issue. The April, 2001, issue of the quarterly Primates; a Journal
of Primatology was indexed in ZR Plus but not yet in AL.
BIOSIS’s overview of the scope of Zoological Record notes that the database
emphasizes natural biology and systematics of [non-human] animals. It
covers anthropology “only when the study focuses on the natural biology of
the animal.” The editorial policy continues, “Coverage normally excludes
Homo sapiens, but papers which discuss humans and animals together are
covered for the animals provided they are within the general scope. Papers
discussing extinct relatives of humans (e.g., Homo erectus, Homo
neanderthalensis) are included.” Studies of modern human populations are not.
Zoological Record’s indexing is comprehensive when covering systematic
zoology. Otherwise it is selective, and it is worth noting some examples
of this selectivity. ZR did not index two articles on evidence of disease
in human skeletons published in the April issue of AJPA, one of which
focused on medieval skeletons in England and the other on prehistoric and
early historic Native American skeletons in the U.S. In the May issue, a
study about the DNA of a prehistoric Great Basin population was not
indexed. In the March issue, Anthropological Literature indexed articles
on prehistoric Peruvian skeletons and on the biology of a present-day Papua
New Guinea population, but ZR did not. This missing literature, by and for
researchers in a major subfield of biological anthropology, must therefore
be identified in another way, and AL is clearly one way to fill this gap.
To demonstrate further how the two indexes complement each other, AL
indexes journals such as Annals of Human Biology, Annals of Human Genetics,
and Social Biology, while ZR does not.
Cambridge Scientific Abstracts offers extensive general
online assistance for all products in its Internet Database Service. A
link from the CSA-IDS Zoological Recordfact sheet refers the user to a
Quick Reference Card published by BIOSIS. For additional help specific to
Zoological Record researchers must turn to BIOSIS which publishes in print
form two essential guides, some elements of which are also available on the
1. Search Guide
The Zoological Record Search Guide with Master Index, updated in print
form annually, is comprised of five sections: Editorial Policies, Search
System Information, Search Fundamentals, Thesaurus (Subject and
Systematic), and Master Index.
The Master Index is a list of over 16,000 controlled and non-controlled
terms with references to the Subject and Systematic Thesaurus sections. It
is identified as the place to begin when starting to develop a search
strategy, and, indeed, it is this highly controlled vocabulary, so
essential when doing research in the biological sciences, that sets
Zoological Record apart from other indexes covering some of the physical
The Thesaurus, which has been developed over 20 years and contains some
10,000 terms, is divided into two parts – Systematic and Subject, both of
The Subject Thesaurus is comprised of 3,000 terms arranged in hierarchies representing
major subject and geographic areas. Full scope and history notes are
included. The Systematic Thesaurus consists of 7,000 taxonomic names, at
family level and above, arranged phylogenetically in a hierarchical
classification scheme representing the various taxonomic groups of the
animal kingdom. Of key importance to paleoanthropologists, the Systematic
Thesaurus identifies fossil forms as such.
Zoological Record Serial Sources, available only in print format, contains
a complete list of all 10,000 currently and previously indexed titles.
Updated annually, it includes all relevant bibliographic information such
as ISSNs, title changes, abbreviations and publishers. Information about
the approximately 4,500 active sources currently monitored for inclusion in
ZR is available both in print form in the above volume and online at
Electronic Record Structure, Retrieval and Search Results:
Many elements are indexed and searchable in ZR Plus. Fields, listed alphabetically by
two-letter code, are:
|AB = Abstract||NT = Notes|
|AF = Author Affiliation||OT = Original Title|
|AN = Accession||NumberPT = Publication Type|
|AU = Author||PY = Publication Year|
|DE = Descriptors||SL = Summary Language|
|IB = ISBN||SO = Source|
|IS = ISSN||SY = Systematics|
|KW = Keyword||SX = Supertaxa|
|LA = Language||TI = Title|
|LG = Long Record||UD = Update Code|
Field codes are further explained in the Search Guide and on the online CSA
Searching ZR Plus begins with identifying terms of interest in the Master
Index, which then leads the researcher to either the Subject or Systematic
Thesaurus. The Systematic Thesaurus allows the searcher to distinguish
among Supertaxa (58 broad animal groups, including Mammals) in English
vernacular terms. These are broken down into scientific animal names (such
as Primates, Hominidae, Lemuridae, or Pongidae). If the scientific name is
not known, searchers can try a preliminary search using a vernacular name
to locate references where the vernacular is mentioned. Scanning the Title
and Systematics fields of a few retrieved records should yield the
scientific name. For example, a quick search under the keyword “baboon”
quickly yields the scientific name Cercopithecidae, which can then be used
for a more comprehensive search.
The Subject Thesaurus contains the controlled terms used to index subject
concepts (in British English, as we are usefully reminded in the Search
Guide). It consists of 46 hierarchies, with the position of a term in a
hierarchy indicating both the scope of the term and its relation to other
terms. Of these 46 major headings, several are immediately obvious as
useful for anthropologists:
— “Animals & man,” and its subheadings “domestication,” “animals
associated with communities,” (with its own subheadings “animals in
archaeological sites” and “animals in human primitive cultures”); and
“animals in mythology, folklore and religion.”
— “Behaviour,” with subheadings such as “grooming” and “tool using,”
important terms for primatologists.
— “Evolution” may be limited to material on speciation or race formation,
terms that pertain to human ancestors.
— Specific “Geologic time periods” are relevant for studies of
paleoanthropology and early man (the terms “quaternary,” “holocene,” and
“pleistocene” can all be used to limit searches).
The following sample searches were performed. Combining the controlled
subject terms “primate” or “primates” and “behaviour” yields 52 hits in the
2001 subfile. Of these just 24 appeared in journals also indexed by
Anthropological Literature. The sources exclusively indexed by ZR included
such journals as Behavioural Processes, Molecular Ecology, Animal Welfare,
Physiology & Behavior, and the African Journal of Ecology.
A search for works by some primatologists and paleoanthropologists was also
undertaken. Hits for works by authors Jane Goodall, Tim D. White, Mary
Leakey, and Donald C. Johanson were about evenly divided between those
which could also be found in Anthropological Literature (AL) and those
which could not. Some of the works not in AL were from general science
periodicals such as Science, Nature, Proceedings of the National Academy of
Sciences, and National Geographic, which are too multidisciplinary to be
held by Harvard’s Tozzer Library. Of course these sources will also be
indexed in other general indexes available in our libraries.
As suggested by some of the controlled terms identified from the Subject
Thesaurus, ZR is also valuable for researchers in both archaeology and
cultural anthropology. Searching the term “archaeological sites” in
Zoological Record produces 1,590 hits. A look at the first 50 journal
citations reveals a pattern somewhat different from that above: 30 are from
journals also indexed by Anthropological Literature and the remaining 20
are all from scholarly journals not likely to be indexed in other indexes,
either general or specialized. Search results may be limited
geographically. For instance, combining “archaeological sites” and
“Africa” yields 31 hits, and limiting by “North America” yields 15. By
limiting with the descriptor “prehistoric” we pared our list of 1,590 hits
all the way down to 155, however, a quick look at some of the results from
the non-limited search of “archaeological sites” indicates that many of
these do in fact concern prehistoric sites. But their authors have not
used the term “prehistoric” in their titles or abstracts, indicating that
this particular delimiter is not too useful.
One of the surprises to be found in ZR Plus for this reviewer was the
amount of interesting cultural anthropology indexed in it. And because of
the scientific focus of the source publications, it is fair to assume that
this material will be indexed in few general or anthropology indexes.
Searches were done on some of the controlled subject terms mentioned above
with the following results: “animals and man” (2,652 hits); “human
primitive cultures” (213 hits); and “mythology, folklore and religion”
(1,143 hits). Included was an article about the relationship between man
and cave bears in Romania that appeared in the proceedings of a speleology
conference. Another was entitled, “The role of birds in the culture of the
Ndebele people of Zimbabwe,” which appeared in the journal Ostrich
published by the South African Ornithological Society. What was my
favorite? That must be “Rock paintings related to honey hunting,”
published in Bee World, the organ of the International Bee Research
Zoological Record has begun indexing ejournals.
Although other indexes are no doubt doing likewise, this reviewer is
unaware of any right now. (Such a study might be an appropriate subject of
another review.) Searches yielded citations to articles in Mediterranean
Prehistory Online and Internet Archaeology, among others.
ZR also now indexes Web resources, though it is not immediately apparent if
it is BIOSIS or Cambridge Scientific Abstracts that is responsible for this
enhancement. The News & Events page on CSA’s Web site does not at present
discuss this service, and while BIOSIS’s News Releases and Announcements
page tantalizingly refers to a January, 2001 news item entitled “Zoological
Record Announces New Product Enhancements,” this was a dead link when I
clicked on it. When searches did result in references to Web resources,
these were always identified separately from printed references. It does
not appear to be possible to limit search results to Web resources only.
Unfortunately, indexing of Web resources does not seem to utilize the same
controlled subject vocabulary as does indexing the printed literature.
Three Web resources were identified when keyword searching on the term
“baboons,” but none when searching “Cercopithecidae” in the Systematic
Index. Two Web resources were identified when keyword searching on the
term “Neanderthals,” but none when searching “Homo neanderthalensis” in the
Systematic Index. Furthermore, these Web resources seem to be identified
for indexing simply by electronically scanning Web pages. The three sites
resulting from the “baboons” search each took us to the individual home
page of an academic biological or medical researcher who uses baboons in
his research. A quick look at these home pages suggests that the reader
would learn about what is being done in these three laboratories, but very
little about baboons. A search of “archaeological sites” yielded two Web
pages, and in one case it is clear that it came up only because the phrase
appears on the Web page. On its Environmental Fact Sheet for the
Contoocook River, the New Hampshire Rivers Management and Protection
Program mentions that there are seven recorded archaeological sites on it.
The sites are not named, nor are there links to them. All this suggests
to me that without an evaluation of the content of Web resources with more
focused subject analysis, their indexing in Zoological Record offers little
of value to the serious researcher.
Zoological Record is a highly valuable resource for research
in primatology and paleoanthropology, a significant caveat being that it
does not cover the physical anthropology of modern humans. Its thorough
monitoring of the world’s literature and timely indexing are noteworthy, as
is the choice available to subscribers among various options and providers.
Zoological Record‘s subject and systematic indexing with highly controlled
vocabulary all serve to provide access to the literature unparalleled by
Web sites in this review:
Cambridge Scientific Abstracts: