October 31, 2007

Web of Knowledge 4 (New Version) - "All Databases" Search Problem

The new version of WoK allows you to do an 'All Databases' search across all years. This is a nice expansion of the old CrossSearch (which was limited to 'topic' searching.

A user mentioned that an article authored by Caltech's 'EW Hughes' published in 1941 was missing from WoS.

I searched WOS (au=Hughes EW and py=1939-1945) and found 3 articles but not the 1941 article in question.

I then did an 'All Databases' search (WoS+INSPEC). This found the same 3 articles but again not the missing 1941 article.

I then searched INSPEC alone and, in addition to these 3 articles, there were two more, both from June 1941.

It seemed odd that the two additional articles in INSPEC were not retrieved in a 'All Databases' search that supposedly included INSPEC.

Thinking it might be a problem with the new WoK version (WoK4), I contacted the ISI helpdesk [], and here is their (edited) reply:

1. The two additional articles in INSPEC are from a JACS issue that was left out of the Century of Science backfile.

2. The reason why these articles were not retrieved in an 'All Databases' search relates to a special author search set-up in Inspec to handle author names, which include periods between initials ... unlike WoS.

In Inspec, the system automatically bumps the initials together for searching. This [automatic bumping] does not transfer to 'All Databases' searches, so that 'All Databases' author searches will not retrieve INSPEC articles, if you search with 'bumped' author initials.

The moral of this tale is that you should search with both forms of an author's initials (e.g. Hughes EW or Hughes E.W.) in an 'All Databases' search, that includes INSPEC.

- Dana Roth

P.S. the missing 1941 article has been cited over 1000 times and was the subject of one of Gene Garfield's 'Citation Classics' ...

Actually all the articles from JACS Jan.-June 1941 are missing. My contact at ISI claims they are working on adding them but more complaints (hint,hint) might help get them moving faster.