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CDL Database Transitions

a. Planning for the New Melvyl: Good News on the Personal Author Front

One of the many features that distinguish Melvyl as a catalog with extraordinarily sophisticated power is that users can look for personal authors and retrieve the pertinent records successfully, even when the author’s name might have been entered in variant ways (e.g. using only initials instead of full first name, using full name when the author usually is listed only with initials, etc.)  This is due to the complex algorithm for special handling of author names that was part of the original Melvyl proprietary software.

In planning for the new Melvyl using Ex Libris Aleph 500 software, one of our many tasks has been to evaluate the handling of personal author searches in Aleph catalog systems, to see if searches using variant forms of the name are as successful as they are in our existing Melvyl.  We are happy to report that a careful analysis performed by CDL Bibliographic Assistant Pam Daniels revealed that personal author searching gives results equivalent to those currently found in Melvyl.  The new Melvyl using Aleph software will have the additional bonus of enabling users to browse author names as headings, so that personal author searching should be more effective than ever.  For those interested in examining Pam’s analysis, it’s available at:

b. Database Vendors Chosen for PsycInfo and PAIS

The Transition Steering Committee has made the following recommendations regarding new vendors, basing its decisions on functionality, and on one of its guiding principles.  The first principle of the Transition Steering Committee (TSC) states, although the goal of providing a single user interface to all A&I database is no longer attainable, it is still desirable to provide as many databases under as few interfaces as possible.  In selecting CSA (Cambridge Scientific Abstracts) as its vendor for PAIS International and PsycINFO, the committee brings together a suite of social sciences databases under CSA that also includes ERIC, GeoRef, Social Services Abstracts, and Sociological Abstracts.

The transition schedule for these databases is as follows:

 Database Name  New Access Begins  Vendor  CDL Access Ends
PAIS International January 1, 2002 CSA Via OCLC, January 15, 2002
PsycINFO January 1, 2002 CSA December, 2002*

*CDL is committed to maintaining access through December 2002 unless there are unforeseen circumstances, such as vendors making significant changes to their data structure, or recommendations to remove parallel access earlier.

For detailed information about which databases will, or have already, transitioned to new vendors, please refer to the A&I Transition Status by Database Chart available at: []

Directions for access to these resources will be announced closer to their implementation date, after the CDL has verified access.

c. GeoRef Changes (Peter Brueggeman, Resource Liaison for GeoRef)

If you’ve gone looking for GeoRef on CDL since August 1st, you already know that the CDL version retired and Cambridge Scientific Abstract’s (CSA) version appeared in its place.  Why so sudden for GeoRef when the other CDL-hosted databases seem to be having a more leisurely transition? The CDL interface for GeoRef was accessing the database on the Stanford system that, due to technical problems, had not been updated since October 2000.  So it was time to transition GeoRef … and fast.  Campus contacts reviewed GeoRef vendors and CSA GeoRef came out at the top of the analysis.  CSA GeoRef became available in July, displaying obvious differences and some improvements over GeoRef@Stanford via the CDL hosted databases web interface.  As the UC Resource Liaison for GeoRef, I’m anxious to receive any and all feedback about the database.  Please contact me at

The database producer is the American Geological Institute which has this to say about GeoRef (see ) “…GeoRef provides access to the geoscience literature of the world. GeoRef is the most comprehensive database in the geosciences and continues to grow by more than 70,000 references a year (79,797 in 2000).  The database contains over 2.2 million references to geoscience journal articles, books, maps, conference papers, reports and theses. … The GeoRef database covers the geology of North America from 1785 to the present and the geology of the rest of the world from 1933 to the present.” GeoRef corresponds to the printed Bibliography and Index of Geology. GeoRef scans over 3,000 journals and there is a selected list of 99 journals given priority coverage.  See the publisher’s website for the complete serials list as well as the priority serials list; CSA GeoRef also links to them.

[Note: Below is detailed information on specific features and functionality of GeoRef from CSA]

Searching GeoRef

CSA has a stripped-down Quick Search interface that will be usable for general needs.  An Advanced Search interface is available for more involved searching, with access to all the GeoRef fields. Command line searching within Advanced Search is also supported.  Search terms are highlighted in results.  Searches can be recycled from an online search history and rerun or combined with new terms. Search results can be sorted by a relevancy ranking or reverse chronological order by publication date.  Relevance is determined using the first eight terms in the descriptor field, with records containing the search term within the descriptor field listed first.

Searching for an author

Unlike the author indexing CDL uses, the CSA scheme does not link the firstname and lastname together, so you may find articles that have the first name you asked for in one author and the last name in a second author.  To get the same type of retrieval you are used to getting in the CDl interface, use the CSA Browse indexes feature to get the best results when looking for an author.  The Browse shows all variants of the author name, for example, GeoRef references by Walter Munk are listed: Munk W; Munk W H; Munk Walter; Munk Walter H; Munk Walter Heinrich so you can get comprehensive retrieval. CDL has spoken with CSA about improving its author searching algorithm.

Proximity and Phrase searching

Phrase and proximity (word adjacency) searching is available on CSA GeoRef; this feature was unavailable in the CDL interface for GeoRef@Stanford and is very useful for obvious reasons.  Beware that the default search screen for CSA GeoRef has the radio button default set for phrase searching.  Thus if your habit was to type in several words in the CDL interface for GeoRef, knowing that an implied AND Boolean search would be executed, you won’t get a Boolean AND search on CSA GeoRef without clicking on the “All of the words” radio button before executing your CSA GeoRef search.  Truncation (wildcard) is more full featured on CSA GeoRef, with internal truncation available as well as specification of the number of characters appearing at the end of a word.

GeoRef Thesaurus

CSA GeoRef has an interactive version of the GeoRef Thesaurus. Thesaurus terms can be searched directly or as an embedded word; the thesaurus can be browsed alphabetically as well.  Variants will display, and you can read scope notes.  The thesaurus can be navigated among broader terms, narrower terms, and related terms.  Displayed thesaurus terms can be used in subsequent GeoRef searches The GeoRef Thesaurus is available in print from the database producer.

Alerts (aka Update)

You can now setup an automatic email for new GeoRef records retrieved by your pre-defined search. CSA calls this feature Alert, which is called Update on CDL.  CSA’s information on setting up an Alert is rather buried in its online help.  A specially created GeoRef Alert web page is available at UCSD, which you can edit for your own campus needs.  See

How do I get a copy of an article?

CSA GeoRef has a “locate document” link alongside each retrieved reference.  Click on it and it pastes pertinent bibliographic elements into a search screen for your review.  You can choose between a search of your online catalog or linking to online full text if available.

Here’s a GeoRef guide I surfed and found on the web, in case you are looking for something to adapt for your needs.  If you have developed anything local to your UC, please let me know.  We would all like to know about it: []

Editor’s note: We have a page at the CDL linking to adaptable outreach and instructional materials from the campuses and vendors.  Please send appropriate items to

d. MEDLINE Changes (Janice Contini, Resource Liaison for MEDLINE)

Access to MEDLINE via NLM PubMed with UC links to content, holdings, and request began on July 18, 2001.  CDL MEDLINE/HealthSTAR will retire on December 21, 2001.  PubMed offers users a more intelligent interface to searching by mapping natural language to controlled vocabulary and by linking to related articles. PubMed is updated daily, so is more current than the CDL hosted database.  Another special feature of PubMed is its links to databases of proteins, genomes, structures, and nucleotides.  Also, an advantage is that it remains freely available to students once they graduate and leave UC.  However, some features of CDL MEDLINE/HealthSTAR will not be available in PubMed.   These include access to a Telnet interface, searching from subject heading links, limiting by campus location, display configuration by field, and saving citations across sessions.

As the UC Resource Liaison for MEDLINE, I’m anxious to receive any and all feedback about the database.  Please contact me at

[Note: Below is detailed information on specific features and functionality of MEDLINE from NLM]


Links to many of the electronic journals subscribed to by the CDL and individual campuses have been added by UC/CDL staff.  As NLM enters into agreements with additional publishers/aggregators for additional titles in its Link Out program, UC links will be updated.  In order for the links to automatically display and to provide access to holdings and CDL Request it is important that the special UC URLs be used to access PubMed.  Instructions for creating these URLs are given in Creating special URL’s for PubMed, an RTF document on the MEDLINE transition page []. For example, the link from the UCLA Biomedical Library home page is: [] .

Search Options

The best way for the novice to search PubMed is to simply type the natural language search query in the “search for” box and press Enter.  PubMed automatically maps to the MeSH controlled vocabulary and also retrieves common phrases from its phrase index.  Browsing by journal and subject heading is available as well as looking through the database index for many fields such as author, major MeSH, text words, journal, etc.  The expert searcher may paste a complex, nested search query in the initial query box or may build a step by step strategy using the Preview/Index and History features and Boolean operators (and, or, not.)   Additional features include a citation matcher and clinical queries filter for evidence-based medicine.

Display Options

The user may display up to 500 citations on a single page.  The default display is a summary, basic citation format.  The abstract display offers the icons for linking to electronic articles, and the MEDLINE display provides the format for downloading into a citation management program such as EndNote.  The citation display shows MeSH terms for the citation in addition to basic elements and abstract.  The Related Articles display option retrieves the related articles for all articles in the original result.

Why don’t I get the same number of records from PubMed that I get with the CDL version?

PubMed provides access to bibliographic information which includes MEDLINE as well as:

  • The out-of-scope citations (e.g., articles on plate tectonics or astrophysics) from certain MEDLINE journals, primarily general science and chemistry journals, for which the life sciences articles are indexed for MEDLINE.
  • Citations that precede the date that a journal was selected for MEDLINE indexing.
  • Some additional life science journals that submit full text to PubMedCentral and receive a qualitative review by NLM.PubMed includes in-process records, which are added daily and display with the tag [PubMed – in process].  For more information see the Fact Sheet, “What’s the Difference Between MEDLINE and PubMed?”


The default display sort is chronological from newest added to oldest.  The user may change the sort to author, journal, or publication date.  The default sort for the Related Articles link is in rank order by most related to the citation linked from.  The user also may sort those by author, journal, or publication date.


The user may check boxes to select citations for printing, saving (downloading), or “ordering.”  Clicking “Add to Clipboard” saves up to 500 as a list for the current session for up to one hour of no activity.

Working with Results, and Output Options

Both the main display page and the Clipboard display page have a “Text” button for formatting citations for printing from the browser.  The “Save” button saves the citations on the current page in the current display format.  Users may click the “Order” button to bring the citations (up to 500) from the PubMed display page or the Clipboard to the CDL.  Once there, users may find local library holdings information as well as links to the additional UC electronic subscriptions not linked from PubMed by clicking the Check to see if your campus library owns this item link.  Also, by checking boxes for citations not available electronically, or from the local campus, the user may initiate a CDL Request from another campus.  To email citations, users simply click “History” and then click the “URL” button.  The citations with the search strategy in the URL will display, and then user may select the browser email or send page feature.


PubMed has a “Cubby” feature that allows users to store search strategies.  The user may then update their search by clicking on the ” What’s New for Selected” link for strategies they have checked.  Unlike the CDL version, PubMed does not email results of regular updates to users; however, there are some free programs that will do this.  The PubMed transition team has tested the free utilities that have an email update feature for PubMed. BioMail is the simplest and most straightforward of the ones tested.  See the Current Awareness RTF document available on the MEDLINE Transition page. staff/sharedcoll/a-i-trans/med/index.html

Additional Features

The Cubby also allows users to specify the library for “Link Out” to electronic journals and to specify the document delivery service.  Users who do not use the special UC URLs to link to PubMed mentioned above need to specify a UC link out library and University of California as their document delivery service to use the linking and ordering features explained above.


PubMed has a very complete tutorial (requires Macromedia Flash™ player)

PubMed has a FAQ and a help that while only partially context sensitive provides a good overview.  The PubMed transition team is preparing user guides to assist UC faculty, staff, and students in making the transition from CDL MEDLINE/HealthSTAR to PubMed.  The guides currently available are Current Awareness, Obtaining Articles, Using Cubby and LinkOut, Creating special URL’s for PubMed, and Transitioning to PubMed from the Telnet Interface.  Please see the MEDLINE Transition page: [].  The NLM National Training Center offers classes on PubMed in California regularly.  Class descriptions and schedules are available at: