Reference Sources: Indexes, Abstracts and Bibliographies

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1. INTRODUCTION

 

Bibliographies, Indexes and Abstracting services constitute important sources of reference for social science researchers. These sources allow a scholar to find out relevant material before starting their research so as to understand the already existing pattern and trend of research in a given field. Hence it is important to study these sources.Bibliographies constitute an important source of information for research scholars and other users of libraries. Generally speaking a bibliography is a list of books on a particular topic or subject prepared for the reference of a particular library user. Bowers (1949) refers to bibliography as a procedure that identifies books in “specific collections or libraries,” in a specific discipline, by an author, printer, or period of production. Basic bibliographic information includes title, author or editor, publisher, and the year the current edition was published or copyrighted. Bibliography, also known as works cited, reference list is basically an orderly study and referencing of books and source materials used in academic research.

 

2. Bibliographies

 

Bibliographies constitute an important source of information for research scholars and other users of libraries. Generally speaking a bibliography is a list of books on a particular topic or subject prepared for the reference of a particular library user. Bowers (1949) refers to bibliography as a procedure that identifies books in “specific collections or libraries,” in a specific discipline, by an author, printer, or period of production. Basic bibliographic information includes title, author or editor, publisher, and the year the current edition was published or copyrighted. Bibliography, also known as works cited, reference list is basically an orderly study and referencing of books and source materials used in academic research.

 

The purpose of bibliography is to organize information about materials on a given subject so that students of the subject may have access to it. A descriptive bibliography may take the form of information about a particular author’s works or about works on a given subject or on a particular nation or period. Critical bibliography, which emerged in the early 20th century, involves meticulous descriptions of the physical features of books, including the paper, binding, printing, typography, and production processes used, to help establish such facts as printing dates and authenticity. Thus a bibliography is a list of books or articles related by way of authorship or subject, and sometimes annotated. Large bibliographies may be published as books in their own right.

 

A bibliography is also a list of books, articles, and other sources which a scholar uses when researching a topic and writing a paper. The bibliography appears at the end of research paper and is also called Works Cited or Works Consulted.

 

2.1 Need for Bibliographies

 

The need of bibliography is to organize information about materials on a given subject so that students of the subject may have access to it. A descriptive bibliography may take the form of information about a particular author’s works or about works on a given subject or on a particular nation or period. Critical bibliography, which emerged in the early 20th century, involves meticulous descriptions of the physical features of books, including the paper, binding, printing, typography, and production processes used, to help establish such facts as printing dates and authenticity. Thus a bibliography is a list of books or articles related by way of authorship or subject, and sometimes annotated. Large bibliographies may be published as books in their own right. One of the purposes of a bibliographic entry is to give credit to other authors whose work one has consulted in research. Another objective of a bibliography is to make it easy for a reader to find the source which has been used.

 

3. Bibliographies Importance

 

A bibliography is an important source of information for a research scholar. It serves as a ready reference and directs him or her towards right kind of material which helps in research and studies. A bibliography helps in organizing research material properly and saves the time of user. Preparing a bibliography is a specialized job and requires some knowledge and understanding of the subject.

 

3.1 Kind of Bibliographies

 

Over the years bibliographies have evolved into several categories. This evolution of bibliographies has essentially taken place on account of value additions of different kinds to the basic concept or model. Carter (2010) describes bibliography as a twofold scholarly discipline — the organized listing of books (enumerative bibliography) and the systematic, description of books as physical objects (descriptive bibliography). Some of the important categories of bibliographies can be described as below:

 

3.2 Enumerative Bibliographies

 

Enumerative bibliography is simply a lists of books, articles and other writings on a given theme or subject, Bowers (1949) refers to enumerative bibliography as a procedure that identifies books in “specific collections or libraries,” in a specific discipline, by an author, printer, or period of production. Enumerative bibliography provides a list, rather than to describe minutely. Little or no information is likely to be provided about physical aspects of the book such as paper, type, illustrations, or binding. A library’s card catalog is an example of an enumerative bibliography, and so is the list at the back of a book of works consulted

 

3.3 Analytical Bibliographies: The analytical bibliographies consider books as physical objects rather than as academic contents and contain the details of their production, the effects of the method of manufacture on the text. Analytical bibliography largely deals with the historical background of printers and booksellers, with the description of paper or bindings, or with textual matters arising during the progression from writer’s manuscript to published book.

 

3.4 Annotated Bibliography: An annotated bibliography contains an annotation of book or article in the form of an abstract, note[s] intended to describe, explain, or evaluate the publication. This is a specialized kind bibliography for special kind of users.

 

3.5 Current Bibliography: A current bibliography records recently published material, for the purpose of reporting the recent literature in a particular subject like current list published by American Centre Library.

 

3.6 National Bibliography: A national bibliography of documents published in a particular country like Indian National Bibliography.

 

3.7 Period Bibliography: A period bibliography lists works about a given time period.

 

3.8 Retrospective Bibliography: A retrospective bibliography can be described as alist of documents published in previous years, as distinct from a current bibliography.

 

3.9 Serial Bibliography: A serial bibliography appears at fixed intervals of time, e.g. weekly, monthly, quarterly, annually. Its objective is the reporting of publications as they appear.

 

3.10 Subject Bibliography: A subject bibliography provides details of publications on a given subject.

 

3.11 Bibliographical Formats

 

As is evident from above that bibliographic record can be created for any independent bibliographic item (book, journal, newspaper, audio cassette, video cassette, cartographic publication etc.) and for component part (article from the journal or newspaper, chapter from a book, map, sheet, illustration etc.

 

To render bibliographical information correctly it is necessary that some standard is followed. The objectives of following a standard are as under

  • To ensure the international exchange of records and
  • To promote the conversion of bibliographic records into machine-readable format.

 

Over the years several standards for bibliographic citations have been evolved by different organizations which are described below briefly.

 

i. APA Style of Referencing

ii. Chicago Manual of Styles

iii. Harvard Style of Referencing

iv. BIS Style

 

4. Some Important Bibliographies

 

There are several national, international and subject bibliographies being published both by governmental and non-government organizations in the area of social sciences. Some of the guidelines are as under.

 

1. Indian Books in Print 2005: A Bibliography of Indian Books Published in English Language/edited by

Sher Singh and Bhawana Singh. Delhi: Indian Bibliographies Bureau, 2005.

2. Indian National Bibliography. Calcutta, Central Reference Library, 1957-Monthly- (With Annual Cumulation)

3. International Bibliography of Economics- London: Routledge, 1991. 44v (International Bibliography of the Social Sciences).

4. International Bibliography of Political Science- London: Routledge, 1984. 35v (International Bibliography of the Social Sciences).

5. International Bibliography of Sociology- London: Routledge, 1991. 45v (International Bibliography of the Social Sciences).

6. International Bibliography of Social and Culture Anthropology- Chicago: Aldine Publishing, 1973. 17v (International Bibliography of the Social Sciences).

7. London Bibliography of the Social Sciences. London: Mansell Publishing, 1970. 31v.

 

5.   Salient Feature of Bibliographies

 

Some of the salient feature of Bibliographies is as follow:

 

1. Bibliography is an important source of information for a research scholar.

2. It serves as a ready reference and directs him or her towards right kind of material which helps in research and studies.

3. Bibliography helps in organizing research material properly and saves the time of user.

4. Preparing a bibliography is a specialized job and requires some knowledge and understanding of the subject.

 

6. ABSTRACTS and INDEXES

 

An abstracting service is a service normally provided both by libraries and commercial organizations that provides abstracts of publications, often on a subject or group of related subjects, It is a value added service rendered by libraries whereas commercial organization provide service on a subscription basis and categorized as secondary source of information.

 

An indexing service is a service that aims at describing the location of an article and assigns descriptors like author, title, keywordand other kinds of access points to documents while an abstracting service provides shortening or summarizing of documents and assigning of bibliographical access points for referencing documents.

 

These are activities performed to identify concepts and aspects of published information and research reports. Anindex to a publication is an alphabetized list of names, places, and subjects treated in a printed work, giving the page or pages on which each item is mentioned. (http://www.definitions.net/definition/abstracting+and+indexing+as+topic)

 

The product is often an abstract journal or a bibliographic index, which may be a subject bibliography or a bibliographic database.

 

7. Need for Indexing and Abstracting Services

 

Indexing services are provided by libraries essentially to help their users ingetting required material. An index is essentially a source of information which has originated dueto huge volume of literature in a subject. It is primarily a research tool and helps a researcher to access information pin pointedly without wasting time.

 

7.1. Abstracting Service

 

Abstracting service is one step ahead in terms of being a source of information as an abstract provides summary of an article or publication so as to familiarize him or her with contents. It enables a user to have an understanding ofthe publication without actually needingto consult the publication.

 

“The process of indexing begins with any analysis of the subject of the document. The indexer must then identify terms which appropriately identify the subject either by extracting words directly from the document or assigning words from a controlled vocabulary. The terms in the index are then presented in a systematic order”. (http://www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Subject_indexing)

 

7.2. Some Important Services

 

Following are some of the important indexing and abstracting publications in the area of social sciences which serve as source of information to library users and research scholars in identifying relevant literature.

 

I. International Political Science Abstract

II. Sociological Abstract

III. Library and Information Science Abstract

IV. LISTA

V. Dissertation Abstract International

VI. Historical Abstract

VII. Social Science Abstract

VIII. PAIS International

IX. Psychoinfo

X. Lexis Nexis Academic Universe

XI. Popline (Population Information Online)

XII. Econolit

 

8. CONCLUSION

 

Bibliographiesand Indexes haveemerged as a source of information due to increased importance of learning and research. Preparing a bibliography is in itself an academic exercise and should be done carefully. An updated bibliography is an important part of user service in a library. However it can be stated that since the arrival of internet and availability of information in electronic formats, the importance of bibliographies as source of information has been reduced to a great extent. The bibliographical details of most of the publications are available immediately upon their release by their respective publishers and online book stores like amazon.com and flipkart which almost eliminates the need for preparing bibliographies separately.

 

However with the advent of information technology, most of these indexing and abstracting services are now available in electronic format and as commercial databases. Role of libraries in their development has furtherbeen reduced as most the online publications are searchable full text.

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