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From digitising the past to capturing full-text for the future

CABI Publishing has had an exciting year so far; 2005 has seen several new developments aimed at meeting the needs of customers in the applied life sciences.

Digitising the past

The landmark event for CABI Publishing has been the launch of CAB Abstracts Archive. This digitisation project has been a major undertaking. The archive is a fully searchable, electronic A&I database covering the scientific literature from 1910 to 1972. It covers all aspects of research in agriculture, veterinary science, nutrition and the environment.

The project involved digitising more than 600 printed abstract volumes. More than 1.8 million records were re-indexed and obsolete terms supplemented with modern equivalents to allow today's researcher full and immediate access to the older research.

The archive contains a wealth of research, much of it previously untapped. It contains abstracts of all the leading scientific papers of the day and information on hundreds of thousands of lesser-known but important research papers. The CAB Abstracts Archive covers research on topics that are central to researchers today, such as biodiversity, pest control, environmental surveys, pollution, animal diseases, nutrition and food production.

The development of CAB Abstracts Archive follows the launch last year of Global Health Archive, which covers public health, tropical and communicable diseases, nutrition, helminthology, entomology and mycology. It also covers key topics of relevance to today's researchers, such as bioterrorism, human migration and its effect on disease patterns, and the effects of economic development on health.

Improving coverage

CABI Publishing continues to improve the scope of its existing databases. CAB Abstracts has expanded its subject coverage and there are regular increases in the number of serials abstracted. More than 300 new titles were added in 2004, providing some of the 200,000 new records added annually to CAB Abstracts. Coverage in the Global Health section has also expanded rapidly; the archives and front files combined now contain more than 7.2 million records.

Delivering full-text

So what next? Well, CABI Publishing is already developing a full-text repository.

The transition towards online journal publishing has made more research available to more people than ever before. It has also meant that A&I databases have come further into their own. Rather than informing people of the whereabouts of research, they can now link directly to that research.

This development makes reaching the full-text easier than ever before but it also raises users' expectations, making them disappointed when they can't link directly to the full-text. CAB Abstracts already links directly to a library's electronic journals; however, it also covers a substantial amount of non-journal content, where electronic full-text might not be available.

This literature can be as valuable as journal content. Many important papers are available in the form of conference proceedings, months before the research paper is published. But while conference proceedings can represent the forefront of research, they can be difficult to get hold of. If they are published online they are often removed or deleted after a short time, making them difficult to find and impossible to link to.

To improve this situation, CABI Publishing is setting up a unique repository of electronic full-text. This repository will make more full-text material accessible via CAB Abstracts than ever before. Containing conference proceedings, reports and some journals not available through the major aggregators, the repository aims to make an additional 10,000 full-text articles available via CAB Abstracts every year.

The aim is to preserve material that is 'hard to find' and that may be lost to the scientific community, and make it available via CAB Abstracts. This will save the user the time (and expense) of trying to locate it, and goes some way to meeting full-text access expectations. The repository will help place valuable, but more obscure documents alongside the mainstream literature, giving researchers fast, easy access to a wider spread of relevant material.

Reviews publication

CABI has a long history of publishing high-quality review articles alongside leading A&I information. To build on this, and to make new and existing review articles accessible to a wider audience, CABI is launching a brand new electronic reviews publication. CAB Reviews will cover the scope of the CAB Abstracts database - namely agriculture, veterinary medicine, nutrition and environmental sciences.

The reviews will provide scientists, academics and students with an authoritative resource to help them keep abreast of the latest developments in various fields and place their research efforts into context. CAB Reviews will feature up to 100 peer-reviewed reviews per year. These will be published online, in PDF format, on an article-by-article basis. CABI is also digitising all reviews previously published in its printed abstracts journals between 1973 and 2003. This will make more than 1,500 reviews available electronically for the first time.

The future

Looking forward into the rest of 2005 and 2006, CABI Publishing is working to improve the quality and quantity of both new and existing resources. By combining the thorough navigation of its databases, the specific interpretation of reviews and the exclusive linkage to unique full text material, CABI is developing an integrated and comprehensive set of database-centred products for the applied life sciences.

contact details

Theresa Corless
Tel: +44 (0)1491 829196