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The Indexing of SAE Publications in Compendex - The Ongoing Discussion

:: Recently, a thread began on ELDNET-L, regarding the lack of indexing of SAE publications in Compendex. Please note that for all ELDNET-L posts listed below, permission has been obtained from each author to do so. One post, part of a response to it, are not included, at the request of the originating author.

The discussion began with the following post from Richard West from the Wendt Library at U Wisconsin Madison.

We think this is a problem that should be called to the attention of the engineering library community.

In June, 2004, staff at the Kurt F. Wendt Library at the University of Wisconsin-Madison discovered a problem in Engineering Index in citations to the series of Special Publications from the Society of Automotive Engineers. Somehow EI has used an incorrect ISSN in many cases involving the SAE SP series. Since the SFX linking software that is used on our campus searches for the ISSN, patrons are taken to the wrong record in our OPAC.

For example, search for author “Humphrey, Kevin B.” in EI. There is one citation to his article “Review of European steering column technology” in SAE Special Publications v. 1307, Nov., 1997, pp. 1-6. This citation erroneously gives the ISSN as 1054-6693, but that is for another series entirely (though also from SAE), Sensors & Actuators. The patron will therefore be misdirected to something that does not have the article that was cited. There are many more such citations to the same incorrect ISSN.

The problem was compounded when we found that there were two legitimate ISSNs for the SAE SP series. We reported this duplication in July to the National Serials Data Program, and by October (after a lot of work) they had sorted out this knotty matter. NSDP took the unusual step of cancelling one of the ISSNs. OCLC record #10648576 has now been edited to be a very good serial record for the SAE SP series. This now has the proper ISSN 1533-6204 in field 022 subfield a, while the cancelled ISSN 0099-5908 is in a subfield z in the same field. We are very grateful to NSDP staff at the Library of Congress, particularly Regina Reynolds and Hong Ta, for putting in the time and effort to correct this problem.

We are now in process of consulting with staff of Engineering Index to edit their database to use ISSN 1533-6204 in all their citations to SAE Special Publications. This will allow SFX, or any other linking software, to find the matching serial record in an OPAC.

Richard C. West
Kurt F. Wendt Library
email: west AT engr.wisc.edu

Richard followed up with this additional information:
I should add that I've heard from Engineering Index this morning and they expect to have the correct ISSN in the affected records in the next 3 weeks (which I think is pretty good going). Unfortunately, they also tell me that EI is no longer allowed to index SAE publications, which I hadn't realized. But at least the records that are already there will be correct. Many thanks to EI for taking care of this.
When I read that Ei no longer indexed SAE publications, I wrote back, "Ei is no longer allowed to index SAE publications? That is bizarre! Any explanation?" The following series of posts resulted from that question.

Tom Volkening, Michigan State U:

Bizarre but true. I confirmed it with the SAE academic representative, Diane McGuire (724-772-4002, dmcguire AT sae.org), when she visited MSU in May. As for a reason, I would guess money. They seem to want to be the sole vendor for their product. Maybe if they receive enough feedback, they might reconsider their position.
volkenin AT msu.edu
Richard West:
I'm afraid I wasn't quick enough on my feet to think to ask. Perhaps someone on this list from Ei or SAE can comment.

My guess, however, is that this is probably related to SAE having its own website, SAE Digital Library, which has full text from year 1998 on. Perhaps, then, the SAE staff might prefer that people use their own SAE DL rather than any other website?

Still, I would suggest that it would benefit everybody if SAE pubs were at least indexed in other appropriate places such as Ei, so that people searching any such databases would know the material existed. In the case of my campus, we subscribe both to Engineering Village and to SAE Digital Library. If our patrons found an SAE pub in Compendex that was of interest, the linking software we use (SFX) would take them to the corresponding record in our OPAC, and that record would tell them both if we had it in print format and also hotlink to the online version in SAE DL.

Larry Thompson, Virginia Tech:
But, it seems that if it was money, that there would be an advantage to having Ei index the materials. Because, even if Ei indexes the material, SAE still owns the content, so SAE could still be the sole vendor for the full text.

Most of the requests we get for SAE technical papers come as a result of people finding citations in journal articles, etc. Because SAE is not dexed in Ei, SAE is getting no full text requests from people doing subject searches and finding papers as a result of that. Why would SAE be so short sighted to restrict the way that people can discover their publications? Don't they realize that they're marginalizing themselves?

Does anyone know if SAE has any bibliographic info accessible through Google? Probably not.

What about the new CSA database that deals specifically with automotive / transportation issues? Are SAE pubs indexed in that?

As Tom said, this is bizarre.
larryt AT vt.edu

Randy Reichardt, U Alberta:
Tom: I think we need to lobby SAE to reverse this decision. I'll let Diane know my feelings about this, and I encourage other librarians who use SAE Digital Library and/or Compendex to do the same.
Alice Trussell, Kansas State U:
This reminds me far too much of the proprietary philosophy that was staked out by Apple in the early years. By insisting that they tightly controlled "access" to software products that worked in their computers, they lost a lot of ground that was gained by Microsoft and the PC platform because a variety of software could be developed. Even though Apple was & is superior in many technical respects, Microsoft gained dominance by allowing easy access to their systems.

SAE is very short-sighted and will lose ground, not gain it, through this marketing strategy. alitrus AT lib.ksu.edu
Tom Volkening:
1) In response to Alice Trussell: I think notifying faculty about this situation is a good idea, especially those faculty who write for SAE publications. People who write for them may have more clout with SAE than we do.

2) In response to Larry Thompson: Diane McGuire could tell you for sure but I don't think SAE makes the bibliographic information about their publications available to anyone.

Randy Reichardt:
I agree with Larry's comment. I did a seach on CSA's Mechanical & Transportation Engineering Abs, restricted the search to PB=(("society of automotive engineers") or sae), restricted to 1995-2004, and the resulting set had 2,114 hits, as recent as June 2004.
Alice Trussell:
After reflecting on this a bit, I also realized that we really need to inform and involve our faculties in this information exchange. They will be among the first trying to find SAE information, & would be perplexed that they can't find it in Compendex. I'm notifying my faculty of the problem and encouraging them to voice their concerns.
Mel DeSart, U Washington:
Unfortunately, this is NOT a new problem, and I've mentioned it to Diane McGuire at SAE and to a number of folks at Ei in the past. There was apparently something of a falling out between SAE and Ei some years back, and is seems it still isn't settled. Unfortunately for Diane, I don't believe she had started at SAE until well after whatever rift between them and Ei resulted in SAE pubs not being indexed in Compendex, so I don't know how much history she has on the issue.

Just fyi . . .

The last issues of SAE's Automotive Engineering International indexed by Compendex are two issues from 2000 (#s 3&4). The fact that many of the issues from 1998 through 2000 that ARE indexed have "Automotive Engineering (Warrendale Pennsylvania)" rather than "Automotive Engineering International" in the serial title field (since according to our catalog the title changed with vol.106 in 1998) is a whole 'nother problem.

The last issues of Aerospace Engineering indexed are from 1999. And the last SAE SP's that are indexed appear to be from 1998.

If memory serves, that's well before SAE came out with their Digital Library, although perhaps NOT before they had a searchable index of their own pubs up on their Web site (not sure about that one).

Regardless of the historical reasons that contributed to the rift between SAE and Ei, I agree entirely with the sentiment that it benefits NO ONE, be they with SAE, Ei, engineering librarians, or members of our user population, to not have SAE pubs indexed in Compendex. desart AT u.washington.edu

Christine Taft, Linda Hall Library of Science, Engineering & Technology, Kansas City, in response to a previous e-mail which I cannot locate:
I may be showing some ignorance here but can a publisher deny an indexer the right to index their publications? At some time in the past I thought there was some discussion of what counts as information vs. copyrighted content. Is the article title, journal name, issue, date etc., a significantly small portion of the whole. Sort of like publishing a directory.
Taft: Obviously they can refuse to provide them the material for free, which makes the indexing a much more expensive proposition. taftc AT lindahall.org
Charlotte Erdman, Purdue:
It might be best to ask SAE why they no longer want to have their publications indexed. I've encountered times when papers from major societies were inconsistently indexed. I don't remember whether SAE was one of those societies. erdmann AT purdue.edu
Randy Reichardt:
Mel: If Ei had to pay for everything they indexed, the third potential consequence would be that Compendex would increase in price geometrically, I still think SAE is shooting themselves in the foot by not being indexed in Compendex.
Mel DeSart:
OK, just so we don't pick entirely on SAE and their relationship with Ei, please take note of the following.

Go into your version of Compendex and look for ASME's journal "Mechanical Engineering". To make it simple, and to avoid hits from titles that have the phrase "Mechanical Engineering" in the serial title (there are actually a bunch of them) but that aren't actually the journal "Mechanical Engineering", I searched by ISSN, which is 0025-6501.

Search each year individually from 2004 back through 1999 and see how many records you turn up and how much content from each year is indexed. Fair warning - you're not gonna like what you find.

Now search any of the few years earlier than '99 to see what a normal year's worth of content should look like.

OK, for those of you who don't want to do all of the above yourself, here's what I found (we have Compendex on EV2).
  • In 2004, there's only a single issue (February) and a supplement indexed - 25 records total.
  • In 2003, there are three issues (June, October, and December) and a supplement indexed - 35 records total.
  • For 2002 back through 1999, there is _nothing_ indexed - ZERO records for the entire four year span.
  • For any year between 1995 and 1998, the number of records falls in the 80s, and most, if not all, issues seem to have been covered.
Anybody besides me find that to be a tad problematic???
Mel DeSart, in response to a post not included here, so I have edited it slightly:
And while I agree ... that the automotive industry supplies SAE with the vast majority of its members and authors, most all of those members and authors start by going through a college or university system somewhere. And as it stands now, if those students are searching for an automotive topic in the last five years or so in one of the two most common general engineering databases (Compendex, Technology Research Database), they will find content . . . but virtually NONE of it will be from any SAE publications. What does it say about SAE and its pubs when a student can find all kinds of content in those databases from other journals and conference proceedings, but almost nothing published by SAE? Where's the importance that SAE pubs should be registering with those students in their first exposures to looking for content on a particular topic?

Here at UW, we're buying SAE journals and papers, but not the SAE Digital Library. Unless a student specifically asks us where to search to find SAE content at the paper level (the SAE Web site), they're missing out on a large chunk of valuable content simply because it isn't in the most common engineering databases that we've directed those students to in the past.

Deborah Kegel, U Washington:
Mel DeSart:
I talked with Diane McGuire at SAE on Friday. She's meeting today with someone at SAE about this situation and has been forwarding these e-mails up the ladder to those in a decision-making capacity within the organization. I also suggested she send me a list of titles from other comparably sized engineering societies. I in turn looked each one up in Compendex and fed her back the number of records in the database from each title in the period from 2001 to date. She was going to use those numbers in her meeting to show how well other society pubs are indexed within Compendex, while SAE pubs don't show up at all during that same time period. My impression from my conversation with her on Friday is that she'll post something to ELDNET-L on this topic in the next day or two.

I also just heard from a former employee of Ei on what his remembrance is of what led to this situation between SAE and Ei to begin with. However, it's up to him whether he wants to share his recollection with the list or not.

Dana Roth, CalTech:
This is really an appalling situation, that is probably not unique with Ei.

Librarians reasonably expect that 'chemistry' journals will be indexed in Chem. Absts. and 'physics' journals in INSPEC, etc.
This should also be true for engineering journals in Ei.

For Ei to have 'dropped' SAE publications is really inexcusible and raises the question of other possible 'obvious' engineering titles that are missing.

An example is Mechanical Engineering (which Mel has reported to have less than 500 records in Ei since 1995). ISI for example has nearly 4500 records for the same time period, with the latest issue being October 2004.

Would it be unreasonable to ask Ei for a 'missing' list .. with omission dates??

As an aside, was the Ei database used as a resource for 'Scopus'??

P.S. ISI indexed Automotive Engineering only from 1974-1985.
dzrlib AT library.caltech.edu

Matt Marsteller, Carnegie Mellon:
Years ago I stumbled into this situation between Ei and SAE with a search on hypocycloid gear mechanisms for the diesel research lab at the Federal Energy Technology Center. Most of my searching was on Dialog, but I would venture onto STN and, on occasion, Orbit. The hypocycloid gear mechanism search took place not long after my Dept. of Energy Performance Monitor complained to my boss about the slight increase in costs of database searching. When I looked at my costs, some of the increase was due to using the then new features of Dialindex and its counterparts. Some of it was due to the then new ability to do multiple file searching. One could say that I was searching ... oh perhaps a bit too far and wide when I was doing a search that the scientist or engineer expected to be comprehensive. My boss and my performance monitor met with me and directed me to be a bit more picayune with the databases ... to cut back a bit.

Well, then along came the hypocycloid gear mechanism search. I think I searched Compendex and the DOE Energy Science & Technology database ... perhaps ISMEC and a couple of others. Did I worry about the odd little files unique to STN or Orbit? No.

To make a long story short, our diesel research lab spent about $30,000 doing unnecessary research that was only indexed by the SAE database. When they presented their research at a conference, someone let them know that it had all been done before. They were mortified. The lead researcher came to me - only about six foot nine and easily a trim 275 pounds (all muscle - maybe 0.003 percent body fat). I have to hand it to him ... he kept his cool (barely) ... and we retraced my steps. He showed me the paper that we had missed. Using Dialindex I found that it was nowhere to be found on Dialog. I then went through all of the engineering files on STN and Orbit looking for files that were both unique and related to automotive engineering (or just engineering). Since we knew the paper was one published by the Society of Automotive Engineers, we both knew which database I shouldn't have skipped when we saw it. The ONLY paper unique to the database at that time was the one that I had missed. Interestingly, it was the only one coauthored by a woman.

I called SAE to let them know that perhaps they had left it out when transferring data to Compendex. That's when I learned that first, the mistake (if it was one) would not be corrected, and second, they no longer released their indexing and abstracting data to other publishers. Well, I apologized profusely to the researcher - at least 275 times - one for each pound. I couldn't take back his embarrassment (and as a librarian I certainly didn't want to pay for the waste of taxpayer dollars), but I had at least demonstrated that I found my mistake and that I would never EVER do another search in that discipline and skip the SAE database. I think he took with him a deep appreciation for what a librarian puts up with. He always reminded me to search it after that though.

Of course I went back to my boss and my Performance Monitor and let them know what had happened. I expected at least a letter of reprimand or worse ... termination, or maybe even 12 rounds with the researcher. They talked it over for a few minutes and then asked me what I thought I'd done wrong. I started into a description of database choice and that there was absolutely no reason that I shouldn't have used every database suite available to me ... I could have gone through all of the database lists by hand to choose the databases ... They stopped me after a couple of minutes. The Performance Monitor simply said - "your mistake is that you listened to us. Never listen to us again! Go back to your old/new way of choosing databases. So you missed one database ... very likely because we put you in a mind set for failure."

Maybe you'll all remember my tale of woe and that if you ever need to be comprehensive in automotive engineering (or locomotive/diesel engine research) you will not forget the databases of SAE. I also feel that if all of our patrons were six foot nine and weighed 275 pounds that customer service would never be a problem! matthewm AT andrew.cmu.edu

Diane McGuire, SAE:
First, let me confirm the worst, that SAE documents have not been indexed in Compendex, CSA, or most other databases for at least 5+ years. The only places you can get SAE bibliographic information currently are directly from SAE or through STN.

That said, however, I really value your comments and feedback. Hearing stories like the one Matt Marsteller shared are painful to read, but they provide much needed input from you, our customer. On the positive side, I have had an initial meeting with one of our Directors and am encouraged by his receptiveness. One of his top priorities is to make SAE more vital for younger members, which certainly includes those at universities.

Since this is a battle that needs to be waged at the highest levels here at SAE, I don't anticipate a quick response. However, please know that your comments are vital to help make any changes here at SAE, so I encourage you to continue to post them to the list or email them to me directly. I will continue to forward them all to the appropriate people internally so your input _will_ be heard. Comments from your faculty and students should also be encouraged, especially anyone actively involved in SAE.

I appreciate all the help many of you continue to give me, especially educating me on your needs. Bob Schwarzwalder is correct in that SAE has historically developed resources to meet the needs of the corporate user, not academia. The good news is that we have recognized this as a shortcoming, which is why my position was created several years ago.

Thanks again and keep fighting the good fight! dmcguire AT sae.org

Rafael Sidi, Elsevier Engineering Information, Inc
Recently there have been a number of postings on ELDNET-L regarding gaps in Compendex coverage of SAE and ASME publications. On behalf of Engineering Information, I'd like to offer some clarification.

Some on this listserve have raised the question of SAE abstracts in the Compendex database. Unfortunately the use of SAE abstracts was the subject of a lawsuit brought by SAE against Ei in 2000. The suit was subsequently settled under confidential terms. Since 2000, Ei has repeatedly requested permission to include SAE abstracts in Ei database products and has to date been refused. We regret the situation, and believe that inclusion of SAE abstracts would be beneficial, but cannot proceed against SAE's wishes.

Ei cooperates with more than a thousand publishers who value having their publications abstracted, indexed and included in Ei databases. Fortunately, it is extremely uncommon for a scholarly publisher to restrict coverage of their publications in abstracting and indexing services. We are hopeful that the SAE will reconsider their position and we are eager to cooperate toward the goal of abstracting and indexing SAE publications in Elsevier database products once again. We remain convinced that inclusion of SAE publications in Ei databases will best serve the engineering community.

With regard to coverage of publications from the ASME, Engineering Information acknowledges the gaps in coverage of ASME publications that were identified. We have been working with the ASME to correct this situation on both a retroactive and forward moving basis. We consider resolution of this problem a top priority and remain committed to providing the highest quality and most comprehensive databases of engineering literature available.

Please feel free to contact me directly should there be additional questions about Ei coverage and our policies. R.Sidi@elsevier.com, 201-356-6845

Dana Roth:
I understand the importance of the abstracts, but did the 'secret' agreement also preclude indexing the bibiographic information?
Richard West:
...I had a phone call from someone at Ei last week. I'm afraid I've forgotten her name, but what she said was Ei had discovered that many of their records (and also those in other bibliographic databases) used the ISSN for SAE SP that was just cancelled. That is, the citations use one of the two ISSNs that had been assigned to SAE SP (rather than the ISSN for a completely different title, Sensors and Actuators, that was used in some citations), and they happen to use the one that was cancelled rather than the one that was retained. She said that NSDP was re-investigating the matter, so the decision could be reversed.

It occurred to me afterwards that -- should this matter? Both the current and the cancelled ISSN are in an 022 field in the OCLC record (#10648576), in different subfields to indicate which is current (1533-6204 in subfield a) and which is cancelled
(0099-5908 in subfield z). So, they're both searchable, and I think they should both be, um, link-able. But I'm waiting to hear what NSDP says.

As of this writing, I am waiting to hear from one or two others who posted to ELDNET-L about this topic, before adding their comments to this long but very interesting entry. What I think is especially valuable is that Diane McGuire at SAE and Rafael Sidi at Ei have taken part in this discussion, and are aware of the dilemma facing librarians and instructors regarding this issue.

The corporate vs academic mindset of some vendors concerns me greatly, and I agree with Mel's comments about this. It's a problem that extends to the standards organizations as well - SAE, and other producers of major subject-specific databases and standards, relying on industry more than academia, must be more aware that their customers of the future are preparing for their careers on campuses of our universities, colleges and technical schools. By not providing access to their product, or making access cost-prohibitive by either charging outrageous rates or insisting on restricting access to one stand-alone computer, the message being sent to students is that they don't matter, until they are working in industry. The problem is, how can students expect the best education possible when access to the information they need to do this isn't available?


Holy Cow! I am so glad you reported this because I don't think any of us here are on that list serv. I'll join immediately!

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