National Wildlife Health Center, USGS Biological Resources Division, Madison, WI, USA
Expanding information resources have broadened the options for those seeking information on veterinary topics. Governmental, university, and private organizations offer a variety of mechanisms that can effectively deliver answers to the questions that arise in research or in practice. However, there are many choices to be made when seeking informational services. A personal information-seeking style should be first identified, and then a specific service can be matched to it. In addition, the format of information products must be considered as well. For instance, is gleaning pertinent facts from an abstract an option, or is obtaining a full text article a necessity? Is current or retrospective literature needed? Another issue is cost; those on limited budgets may need to obtain information for free, but if you can afford their services, for-profit institutions can act as your personal librarian. All of these issues come into play when evaluating informational resources.
A starting point in finding information sources might be to evaluate personal styles of learning or problem solving. These might be relying on memory, asking questions of other veterinarians, or consulting personal books, journals, computerized and print indexes, and files. Other approaches may require the use of an intermediary, such as a librarian or research firm. The approach that creates the broadest information base for questions that arise in treating multiple animal species requires the use of computerized and print indexes. The trend in veterinary schools is to require course work in bibliographic searching, so many new graduates have learned how to formulate basic search strategies and choose the correct database to search. If the “do it yourself” approach is daunting, academic librarians and other information professionals are often willing to evaluate search strategies or to formulate them using specialized vocabularies. Libraries associated with schools of veterinary medicine also offer a variety of services to veterinarians in their state or region. These services generally include computer bibliographic searches of veterinary databases with little more than a cost-recovery fee. A listing of the veterinary libraries in the United States and Canada and the library services available at each can be found in the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) Membership Directory and Resource Manual.
Once the topic is defined and the search strategy constructed, a decision about what database to search must be made. The most comprehensive databases have historically been compiled by governmental agencies. Agricola, Medline, and CAB International are all examples of government-created compilations that contain citations from veterinary journals. These are the computerized versions of the Bibliography of Agriculture, Index Medicus, and Index Veterinarius, respectively. Their dates of coverage span almost four decades making these three databases ideal for retrospective searches. Private database vendors, such as DataStar and Dialog Knight-Ridder,1 Scientific Technical Network,2 Ovid Technologies,3 and SilverPlatter4 offer access to a multitude of these databases through subscriptions to libraries, individuals, and companies. These databases are most cost-effectively utilized at university or college libraries, because searching is free or available for a nominal charge. The AVMA’s NOAH site5 offers access to the ISI/NOAH World Veterinary Index and the Veterinary Literature Database.
Because many databases were compiled by the government with taxpayer monies, the trend is to allow free use by the public. The National Library of Medicine6 provides Internet access to Medline in the form of PubMed7and Grateful Med8 and the National Agricultural Library9 has plans to make Agricola available in the future. The querying mechanisms that allow searching of these databases have evolved to the point that a novice can successfully structure searches and obtain relevant citations. Other databases such as TOXLINE,10 CANCERLIT,11 and the CAB International12 databases are available for free searches from non-profit or corporate sponsored sites. The Fish and Wildlife Reference Service database consists of more than 25,000 bibliographic citations and covers many state resource agency project reports that are not published in journals. This is a free search database13, with a CD-ROM version available from the National Information Services Corporation14.
Once the citation is identified, there are several methods available to obtain the reference. A public library may be a useful starting place. It is usual policy that a public library will attempt to obtain book and journal information through interlibrary loan services for its clients. A point to keep in mind, is that interlibrary requests usually take 4–6 wk to be filled. University or college libraries usually maintain good journal collections, and it may be worth the time to travel to these, and make photocopies of needed materials, minding copyright restrictions. However, if none of these solutions are workable, private companies offer their services as well. Some free-search databases have associated fee-based document delivery options, such as Loansome Doc15 for Medline, and the Fish and Wildlife Reference Service13. An Internet-based current awareness service is Uncover.16 This database contains over 5 million articles from 1989 to the present that are available through an online order system. The database can be scanned for free and users only pay for the articles they request. Uncover’s Reveal Alert Service is a fee-based system which allows subscribers to receive table of contents or results from user-created searches directly to an E-mail address. Other providers of current references and documents are the Institute for Scientific Information (ISI)17 with Table of Contents information from over 938 journals in the Agriculture, Biology, and Environmental Sciences edition, as well as the BIO-JOURNALS/bionet.journals.contents Table of Contents Archive.18 Options also exist for obtaining author’s addresses so reprints can be requested with no charges involved. EBSCO Document Service19 offers a full-service document delivery service in the form of article photocopies, reprints, and conference proceedings. The Canada Institute for Scientific and Technical Information (CISTI)20 is another supplier of scientific, technical, and medical information. Clients can use the Internet to search CISTI’s online catalog and order documents from the more than half a million books, reports, and conference proceedings from around the world.
Other information outreach programs exist that can also obtain books, run retrospective literature searches, or put you in touch with an expert in your field. One such organization that does all that in addition to document delivery is the Wisconsin Tech Search,21 an information outreach program located at the University of Wisconsin. This organization offers act as a personal librarian and bills on a cost-recovery basis.
1. DataStar and Dialog Knight-Ridder - http://www.krinfo.com
2. Science and Technical Information Network - https://www.fiz-karlsruhe.de/en
3. Ovid Technologies
4. SilverPlatter - http://www.silverplatter.com (VIN editor: The original link was not accessible as of 3-12-21.)
5. AVMA NOAH - https://www.avma.org
6. National Library of Medicine - https://www.nlm.nih.gov
7. PubMed - https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
8. GratefulMed - http://igm.nlm.nih.gov (VIN editor: The original link was not accessible as of 3-12-21.)
9. National Agricultural Library - https://www.nal.usda.gov/main
10. TOXLINE - http://www.healthy.net/library/search/medline.htm (VIN editor: The original link was not accessible as of 3-12-21.)
11. CANCERLIT - http://www.healthgate.com/HealthGate/MEDLINE/search.shtml (VIN editor: The original link was not accessible as of 3-12-21.)
12. CAB International - http://bmnlive.biomednet.com (VIN editor: The original link was not accessible as of 3-12-21.)
13. Fish and Wildlife Reference Service - http://www.fws.gov/search/fwrefser.html (VIN editor: The original link was not accessible as of 3-12-21.)
14. National Information Services Corporation - http://www.nisc.com (VIN editor: The original link was not accessible as of 3-12-21.)
15. Loansome Doc - http://tendon.nlm.nih.gov/ld/loansome.html (VIN editor: The original link was not accessible as of 3-12-21.)
16. Uncover - http://uncweb.carl.org (VIN editor: The original link was not accessible as of 3-12-21.)
17. Institute for Scientific Information - http://www.isinet.com (VIN editor: The original link was not accessible as of 3-12-21.)
18. BIO-JOURNALS Table of Contents Archive - http://www.bio.net/BIO-JOURNALS.html (VIN editor: The original link was not accessible as of 3-12-21.)
19. EBSCO Document Service - http://www.ebscodoc.com/home.html (VIN editor: The original link was not accessible as of 3-12-21.)
20. Canada Institute for Scientific and Technical Information - http://www.rrc.ca/cisti (VIN editor: The original link was not accessible as of 3-12-21.)
21. Wisconsin Tech Search - http:www.wisc.edu/wendt/wts.html (VIN editor: The original link was not accessible as of 3-12-21.)