Guidelines for Analyzing Bibliographic Resources for ANSS Currents

Submitted by James D. Haug, East Carolina University

February 12, 1999

Note: The following outline serves as a guide for reviews of both electronic and printed bibliographic indexes and abstracts intended for publication in ANSS Currents. It has two purposes: first, its major topical section headings provide a standard set of subheadings for published reviews; secondly, its subordinate elements present standard yet informative criteria that the reviewers should apply in their analyses. All but two of the twelve major headings pertain to both electronic and printed indexes and abstracts. However, many of the subordinate elements relate to electronic but not to printed products, or vice versa. Knowing this, reviewers should select those guidelines that fit the product being examined. Last of all, it must be emphasized that reviewers may find that some of the designated guidelines do not apply to the product being analyzed, and, conversely, may think of unlisted but pertinent criteria that may be incorporated into their critiques. Prospective reviewers are encouraged to examine reviews published in recent issues of ANSS Currents.

– Title of resource reviewed
– URL, if appropriate
– Reviewer’s name and affiliation
– Date of review
– [Heading]

  1. Title of resource reviewed
  2. Publication/production/release date
    1. Print edition or electronic version reviewed
    2. Date and time Web site was accessed for review
  3. Years covered by resource
  4. Publisher or vendor contact information
  5. Costs
    1. Site license, subscription, and – if available – backfiles or back issues
    2. Connect time, citation, annual, or other fees
    3. Effect, if any, of cancellation of printed version
  6. Hardware and software requirements

I. Introduction

  1. General statement of subject matter, scope, and format (e.g., bibliographic citation, full-text)
  2. Relevance to anthropology/sociology, if not obvious
  3. Intended users
  4. Usability
  5. Reliability, consistency, and dependability

II. Scope, size, coverage, and currency

  1. Scope: stated and actual
  2. Coverage
    1. Subjects
      1. Names of major subjects
      2. If known, proportional coverage of major subjects
    2. Geographical areas
      1. Names of areas, e.g., US, North America, Oceania, world
      2. If known, proportional coverage of geographical areas
    3. Languages
      1. Names and number of languages
      2. If known, proportion of documents available in English
    4. Publications and other documents included
      1. Types, e.g., journals, monographs
      2. Numbers and relative proportions of publications and other documents
      3. Availability of complete and current list of titles indexed
      4. Comprehensiveness of indexing
        1. Cover-to-cover or selective
        2. If known, proportion of selectively indexed items
    5. Size: total number of entries or records, as well as number added each year
    6. Currency
      1. Frequency of updates
      2. Time lag for updating of resource itself
      3. Time lag between publication and indexing

III. Format and organization

  1. Overall format and organization of resource, including printed cumulations
  2. Screen design of electronic source’s user interface.
    1. Character-based or graphical interface
    2. Use of space and colors
    3. Use of frames
    4. Use of buttons, menus, or hotlinks
    5. Text-only version available for Web site
  3. Internal format
    1. Internal arrangement of entries/records, i.e., overall placement of elements or fields
    2. Citation style
      1. abbreviations
      2. completeness
      3. clarity
    3. Legibility and typography of print in entries/records
    4. Magnification and clarity of microformats
  4. Overall functionality of electronic source

IV. Electronic record structure, retrieval, and display

  1. Record structure
    1. Searchable fields
    2. Displayable fields, if different from the searchable fields
  2. Record retrieval
    1. Level of searching
      1. Command language
      2. Menu
    2. Mode of searching
      1. Descriptor
      2. Keyword (free-text)
    3. Basic searching functions
      1. Boolean operators
      2. Nesting of operations
      3. Proximity searching
      4. Truncation
      5. Operators for dates
    4. Features for limiting searches
    5. Special features
      1. Exploding
      2. Lateral searching from record
      3. Other
  3. Record display
    1. Capacity for and ease of selection of fields for display, e.g., basic citation, full record

V. Indexing and subject access (kinds and quality of indexing)

  1. Author indexing
  2. Subject indexing
    1. Type
      1. Alphabetic
      2. Classified
      3. Precoordinated keyword
    2. Structure
      1. Single terms
      2. Subject subdivisions
      3. Hierarchical
    3. Vocabulary control
      1. Consistency and predictability
      2. Appropriateness of terms
      3. Cross-references
      4. Availability of a thesaurus

VI. Accuracy of entries/records

  1. Observed or reported numbers of errors
  2. Indexing errors, e.g., misclassification
  3. Factual errors, e.g., erroneous publication date
  4. Typographical errors

VII. User guidance

  1. User guides
    1. Printed or online
    2. Clarity, accuracy, and completeness
    3. Currency (up-to-dateness)
  2. Thesaurus
    1. Printed or online
    2. Organization, including availability of cross-references
    3. Clarity
    4. Lateral searching
    5. Currency (up-to-dateness)
  3. Help screens
    1. Accessibility
    2. Specificity
  4. Other means of assistance, e.g., e-mail, telephone

VIII. Document availability

  1. Printing and downloading capabilities
    1. Capacity to print and/or e-mail records and/or full text
    2. Ease of printing and/or e-mailing record and/or full text
  2. Cost, ease, and speed of document delivery

IX. Comparisons with related resources

X. Positive aspects

XI. Recommendations for improvement

XII. Endnotes: Bibliographic references and other credits

The following sources provided several of the concepts and terms used in this outline:

Cleveland, Donald B. and Ana D. Cleveland. Introduction to Indexing and Abstracting. 2nd ed. Englewood, Colo.: Libraries Unlimited, 1990.

Harter, Stephen P. Online Information Retrieval: Concepts, Principles, and Techniques. San Diego: Academic Press, 1986.

ANSS Bibliography Committee. “Criteria for Analyzing Indexes & Abstracts.” January, 1991.