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CAB Abstracts - more relevant today than ever before

The word 'agriculture' sometimes seems slightly unfashionable to those of us in the western world today. Not necessarily something you would associate with cutting-edge research. But the areas covered by CAB Abstracts, perhaps better thought of as the 'applied life sciences', include some of the hottest and most important topics around today.

Headline grabbers such as BSE, foot and mouth and avian flu are all comprehensively covered in the database from CABI Publishing. Take BSE, for example. The disease is a major concern around the world and is being actively researched, in academic and commercial institutions both in its animal forms (BSE, Scrapie) and its human form (CJD). So where do these researchers go for their information?

A great start would be a simple search on CAB Abstracts for 'bovine spongiform encephalopathy'. This reveals more than 2,400 records, dating back to the first identification of the disease in 1988 up to the most recent records available. All these records have been indexed with the term bovine spongiform encephalopathy by specialist staff at CABI, so that irrespective of the terminology used by the original authors, all relevant records are retrieved.

Another current research area, which CAB Abstracts comprehensively covers, is genetically-modified organisms.

Coverage stretches from major break-throughs in molecular genetics, genetic engineering and in vitro culture research (like 'Dolly' the sheep); to the applications of biotechnology for traditional animal and plant breeding; as well as the social, policy and legal issues. For example, a search on 'transgenic animals' uncovers more than 2,700 records. More complex searches aided by built-in search tools could either refine or expand the result. The built-in thesaurus enables the user to quickly find the correct indexing term. For example, CAB Thesaurus shows that in CAB Abstracts these papers are classified under 'transgenic' rather than 'genetically modified'.

On issues such as genetically-modified food and crops, CAB Abstracts' international coverage really comes into its own. With the majority of the world's genetically modified crops being grown in the developing world, the research coming out of these areas is increasingly important.

Users can access this information through CAB Abstracts, where they will find comprehensive abstracting of all major agricultural and applied life science publications, including foreign language journals, from around the world. Scientific information is not just confined to journals, so coverage of relevant grey literature, books, conference proceedings, newsletters and discussion papers is also to be found.

Valuable non-English material is unlocked with English language abstracts that have been specifically translated by CABI Publishing's staff. In addition, abstracts are drafted for most articles that do not include one in the original.

In addition to every 'core' agricultural science you would expect to be included, such as: agricultural economics, rural sociology, animal science, animal and plant breeding, crop science and plant protection, horticultural science and soil science, CAB Abstracts also covers many research areas not usually associated with 'agriculture'.

The database includes all aspects of veterinary medicine, from diagnosis to surgery and veterinary public health, plus all animal health and production issues. There is comprehensive coverage of human nutrition, research into diet and obesity (another of today's hottest topics) and clinical nutrition. Topics of major concern to scientists and environmentalists, such as forestry, biofuels, aquaculture, land/water management and natural resources, are also included.

Science today is increasingly interdisciplinary, and CAB Abstracts is exceptionally thorough at covering and indexing literature that intersects disciplines.

In addition to covering more of the core serials in agriculture and the applied life sciences than any other database, CAB Abstracts indexes from a vast number of journals and other literature sources that are not covered by any of its competitors.

This makes it the database of choice for many academics, librarians and information professionals from around the globe.

So what next for CAB Abstracts? CABI Publishing is continually striving to make improvements and keep up with market demand and has just embarked on an ambitious project to digitise the print archives from 1910 to 1973 and incorporate the data into a fully searchable database.

There is an increasing recognition within our industry that past scientific literature can inform current research, help avoid reproducing past discoveries, and also teach students an awareness of how scientific and cultural attitudes have changed. The period from 1973 back to the early 1900s covers a period of rapid growth in sciences that revolutionised our world.

CAB Abstracts already contains the latest research on today's top scientific concerns such as quarantine and disease control, bioterrorism and organic farming. The archive contains the early science on these issues, making CAB Abstracts an even more powerful tool, and ensuring it is more relevant today than ever before.

contact details

Theresa Canning
Tel: +44 1491 832111
Fax: +44 1491 829198