OceanBase: a Marine Science & Technology Bibliographic Database

James W. Markham

Peter Brueggeman

Victoria Welborn

 

Abstract: OceanBase, available on trial from Elsevier, was evaluated by comparing its coverage of oceanographic topics of current interest with coverage by several other databases already available to the authors. Although OceanBase retrieved citations for all topics searched, retrieval was much less than in the other databases.

 

INTRODUCTION

The California Digital Library (CDL) arranged for a trial of a set of science databases made available to the University of California (UC) through Elsevier ScienceDirect in April and May 2000. For our original report to CDL, OceanBase was evaluated by 4 librarians, representing 4 different University of California Libraries: J. Markham is Aquatic Sciences/Biology Librarian at UC Santa Barbara. UCSB has a strong marine science program and library collection. P. Brueggeman is Director, Scripps Institution of Oceanography Library, UC San Diego, representing the strongest marine science program and collection in the UC System. V. Welborn is Ocean Sciences Librarian at UC Santa Cruz, which has a strong marine science program and collection . J. Gelfand, Applied Sciences Librarian, UC Irvine, also participated in the evaluation for CDL, as a representative of a library with a more multidisciplinary approach to marine sciences, with less emphasis on oceanography. In order to provide more information for the IAMSLIC community, the first 3 authors, all marine science librarians, then expanded the study to include more comparaison databases and produce the report presented here.

METHODS

Many papers have reviewed and compared databases. Various approaches have been used by different authors, depending in part on the object of the evaluation. Markham (1992) surveyed database evaluation literature and divided database aspects compared into coverage, indexing, and database protocols. Our evaluation was conducted to answer one question: Considering the databases to which we already subscribe, individually or systemwide, should we add a systemwide subscription to OceanBase? Accordingly, our evaluation efforts were concentrated on coverage. We reasoned that the database is usable enough that we can conduct searches, and any purchase decision would be based on content, contribution to our programs, and price, not usability. This is consistent with other CDL collection and access decisions.

From OceanBase description: "OceanBase provides you with the entire contents of Oceanographic Literature Review, including Ocean Data News together with material from Fluid Abstracts, Civil Engineering and Ecological Abstracts. Coverage includes physical oceanography and fluid dynamics; marine meteorology; chemical oceanography; marine geology and geophysics; biological oceanography; marine ecology; pollution; environmental issues; toxicology; applied oceanography; remote sensing; coastal and offshore engineering; natural resources; ports, harbors and shipping; waste management, and policy and law. The database holds over 50,000 records."

With this as a background, we then compiled a list of 25 current topics, as keywords, from our knowledge of current research and by scanning tables of contents of recent issues of nine representative oceanography or marine science journals:

Continental Shelf Research; Deep Sea Research; Dynamics of Atmospheres & Oceans; Journal of Oceanography; Journal of Sea Research; Limnology & Oceanography ; Marine Environmental Research; Oceanologica Acta; Progress in Oceanography

These keywords mostly fell into topics in three general areas of oceanography: physical oceanography, biological oceanography, and ocean pollution.

The keywords were then searched in OceanBase, and for comparison, also in other relevant databases available to some of us, either systemwide on CDL, or locally on certain campuses. All searches were restricted to items published 1993-2000 (except for INSPEC, 1995 to present) to compare with the reported coverage of OceanBase.

The comparison databases were divided into two categories: aquatic or marine science databases ("Aquatic"); and discipline specific databases not restricted to the marine or aquatic environment ("Non-Aquatic"). The 4 aquatic databases were: Aquatic Sciences & Fisheries Abstracts (ASFA) and Oceanic Abstracts, available through Cambridge Scientificís IDS service at UCSB; and 2 NISC superfiles, Aquatic Biology, Aquaculture and Fisheries (ABAFR), and Marine Oceanographic and Freshwater Resources (MOFR) both available at SIO/UCSD. ABAFR includes the biology section of ASFA as well as several other fish, aquaculture, and fisheries databases. MOFR includes Oceanic Abstracts, the non- biology sections of ASFA, and several other databases which encompass marine biology and other marine sciences. The 5 non-aquatic databases, mostly discipline specific, were: BIOSIS Previews (Biology) available to all campuses through CDL; GeoRef (Geology) available on CDL from Stanford University; INSPEC (Physics) also available on CDL; SciFinder Scholar (Chemical Abstracts) available on our campuses through individual subscription; and Science Citation Index, a very multidisciplinary science database available on our campuses through individual subscription.

RESULTS

The results of the content searches are presented as number of hits in each database for each term, for aquatic databases in Table 1 and for non-aquatic databases in Table 2. From the results, it is obvious that, for almost all topics, OceanBase has fewer hits than the other databases tested, often showing a very marked difference. OceanBase, at 50,000+ records, is a much smaller database than the other databases. File sizes for the other aquatic databases are: ABAFR (over 799,000); ASFA (over 697,000); MOFR (over 885,000); Oceanic Abstracts (over 208,000). For the non-aquatic databases, file sizes are: BIOSIS Previews (over 3,900,000); INSPEC (over 1,800,000); SciFinder Scholar (over 15,000,000); Science Citation Index (over 17,000,000). Information on the number of records in the GeoRef database for items published 1993-2000 is not readily available.

CONCLUSIONS

OceanBase retrieves citations for all topics searched, and would be satisfactory for a basic search on nearly any oceanographic topic aiming to cover the major marine science journals. However, many of the major marine science journals are already covered in a variety of discipline-oriented databases already licensed systemwide by UC. OceanBase provides an ocean focal point to the some of the coverage already available in other CDL-licensed databases and undoubtedly extends that coverage further. OceanBase provides an inexpensive alternative to the more expensive databases subscribed to by UCSD and UCSB, which are absolutely essential to support research programs of that magnitude at the doctoral level. For UC campuses that do not have a strong marine science program, and thus do not wish to pay a large subscription amount for abstracting and indexing coverage of marine science, OceanBase would be sufficient for most needs, particularly undergraduate needs, and should be attractive because of its lower cost. However, the benefits are mostly to the less marine-focused campuses, where general undergraduate use is anticipated.

With search methods available to us at this time, with no easy way to eliminate duplicates, it was not determined how many of the items retrieved on OceanBase may have been unique. It is assumed that OceanBase would have a relatively small percentage of unique items compared to the much larger databases, particularly the NISC superdatabases which merge several databases into one. OceanBase might be an addition to our existing UC databases if crossfile searching were available, due to general undergraduate usage across the UC system.

According to the tests we carried out, OceanBase cannot replace the other databases on those campuses with strong marine science research and education interests, cannot retrieve more than a fraction of that retrieved by the others, and is not adequate for in-depth marine science searching. OceanBase would be a good addition for a campus which presently has none of the other marine science databases tested here, since undergraduate coursework may address the ocean environment. For those who already have ASFA, Oceanic Abstracts, ABAFR and MOFR databases, however, there would be no reason to pay for OceanBase in addition to existing campus subscriptions. As we were asked to make a recommendation based on a systemwide subscription, we concluded that we should not subscribe to OceanBase at this time.

REFERENCE

Markham. J.W. (1992). "Bibliographic database comparisons." In: The Aquatic Environment: Description, Management and Conservation: Proceedings of the 17th Annual Conference (ed. by E. Fuseler McDowell & S. Wiist), pp 87-95. Fort Collins, CO : IAMSLIC.

 

 

 

 

TABLE 1: Number of Hits from Keyword/Phrase Searches in OceanBase and

4 Aquatic Databases

TOPIC

Ocean

Base

ABAFR

ASFA

MOFR

Oceanic

Abs

ATOC*

5

5

15

61

12

Dissolved organic matter

244

529

897

787

429

ENSO and warming

42

16

56

69

38

Equatorial countercurrent

49

12

59

89

46

Kuroshio

343

224

615

644

363

Onshore transport

22

26

42

54

34

sea surface temperature and california**

86

50

119

74

92

surf-zone flow

2

2

2

1

2

Temperature and salinity and marine

654

1,326

3,782

966

2,323

Thermohaline

586

64

724

1,087

545

yellow substance or gelbstoff

51

27

72

80

41

algal dynamics and marine

1

0

4

2

3

calanus finmarchicus

115

216

215

151

167

diel migration and marine

31

26

35

19

28

Euphausia pacifica or krill

243

647

551

375

326

Intertidal and california

86

177

237

122

172

littoral and california

11

18

46

27

23

marine snow

77

83

110

119

97

Phytoplankton distribution

49

85

64

64

39

Plankton distribution

23

53

33

39

16

Vertical distribution

723

2,518

2,749

1,730

1,480

Vertical migration

304

827

527

461

275

Dissolved hydrocarbon

4

2

2

20

0

Intercalibration and

trace metals

1

0

2

2

1

Petroleum hydrocarbon

119

116

80

4,285

35

* ATOC = Acoustic Thermometry of Ocean Climate ** Searching "sea surface temperature" in OceanBase results in message: "Your search has been interrupted because it retrieved too many records." Adding "and california" allows search to continue.

 

TABLE 2: Number of Hits from Keyword/Phrase Searches in OceanBase and 5 Non-Aquatic Databases

TOPIC

Ocean

Base

BIOSIS

GeoRef

INSPEC

SciFndr

Scholar

Science Cit.

Index

ATOC

5

2

0

14

11

22

Dissolved organic matter

* and marine

244

1,681

*248

358

*128

79

*25

2123

*286

>500**

*381

ENSO and warming

42

15

13

79

26

141

Equatorial countercurrent

49

4

5

41

6

0

Kuroshio

343

201

49

39

86

>500

Onshore transport

22

52

61

20

12

47

sea surface temperature and california

86

41

30

37

10

154

surf-zone flow

surf zone flow

2

4

6

1

29

3

3

Temperature and salinity and marine

654

403

216

54

317

>500

Thermohaline

586

95

250

133

197

>500

Yellow substance or gelbstoff

51

118

6

20

202

129

algal dynamics and marine

1

47

3

1

9

3

Calanus finmarchicus

115

161

1

3

31

330

diel migration and marine

31

42

0

0

5

21

Euphausia pacifica or krill

243

450

1

5

182

>500

Intertidal and california

86

150

80

4

24

265

Littoral and california

11

13

37

0

10

42

Marine snow

77

145

46

39

76

380

Phytoplankton distribution

49

976

83

3

320

137

Plankton distribution

23

588

125

4

200

45

Vertical distribution

*and marine

723

3,191

*302

1070

*195

2739

*81

2926

*159

>500

*449

vertical migration

*and marine

304

859

*107

572

*87

494

*7

471

*37

>500

*226

dissolved hydrocarbon

*and marine

4

127

*14

113

*21

22

*5

926

*39

22

*1

Intercalibration and trace metals

1

2

0

0

1

5

petroleum hydrocarbon

*and marine

119

440

*53

4136

*586

59

*6

6475

*360

240

*30

* In non-aquatic databases, for topics that have many non-aquatic contexts, "and marine" was added in a second search to narrow the search to marine topics for a better comparison with this aquatic database.

** In Science Citation Index, retrieval is limited to the first 500 items.