The dimensions of cited reference
enhanced database subsets
University of Hawaii, Hawaii, USA
Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to discuss databases with cited references.
Design/methodology/approach – The paper considers the dimensions of cited reference enhanced
Findings – The typical database has the ski slope shape, as there is a fairly steady, gradual growth
in the yearly number of records added. This is not true for the shape of the cited references subset, as in
most databases cited references have been added to the records only for the past few years.
Practical implications – There are many features which are speciﬁc to cited references, and thus
the traditional bibliographic database design is just not sufﬁcient.
Originality/value – The paper examines the issues surrounding cited reference enhanced database
Keywords Reference services, Databases
Paper type General review
Background and context
Like diamond rings, databases with cited references come in quite a variety. Selecting
the most appropriate cited reference enhanced database is a daunting task because of
the number of variables to be considered. Beyond the obvious common trait that the
diamond/the set of cited references is likely to represent – the cost element, – there are
other important features to consider. The metal quality, composition, shape, and
structure of the setting of the diamond ring (the set of database records which hold the
cited references) are also important, but they account for the lesser part of the cost.
Database producers rarely provide enough information about the size, volume and
shape of the set of cited references; understandably, they do not mention its inclusions
and blemishes, let alone the software aspects: the indexing, search, sort and display
options of cited references.
Diamonds are forever, but not database licenses, which are typically valid for a year,
so the commitment is less binding. If the ﬁrst choice turns to brass, the library can choose
another one for the next year. However, databases with cited references can be much more
expensive than traditional databases, especially the largest, multidisciplinary ones.
Choosing the most appropriate ones for a library without understanding these important
features is akin to buying a diamond ring without knowing the size, colour, clarity and
shape of the diamond – along with and beyond the features of the settings.
This part addresses the issues related to the size, volume and shape of the cited
reference enhanced subset of databases, primarily in the Thomson/ISI citation
databases on Dialog, in Web of Science (on the WoK platform), Scopus, and in the
PsycINFO implementations of CSA, and EBSCO. The next part will discuss the
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Online Information Review
Vol. 31 No. 5, 2007
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