Monday, February 8, 2016

Literature of science and technology

Bonn, G. S. and L. C. Smith. “Literature of science and technology.” McGraw-Hill Encyclopedia of Science and Technology. 8th ed. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1997. pp. 139-145.

The accumulated body of scientific-technical writings published to serve the informational needs of, primarily, scientists, engineers, and research workers, and, to the extent that it can be understood, the general public. This vast literature is worldwide in origin, international in language, diverse in subject content, varied in form, uneven in quality, and expensive. An ever-increasing portion of it is being produced, stored, and retrieved or published electronically, and is being made available on film, tape, CD-ROM or magnetic disk, or through remote terminals as well as in print-on-paper format. 
The primary sources of scientific-technical information are the first (and often the only) published records of original research and development, and accounts of new applications of science and engineering to technology and industry. These unorganized and usually not closely related contributions appear almost exclusively in periodicals, topical compilations such as Festschriften, and independently published proceedings of conferences, separate research reports or monographs, patents, standards, dissertations, or manufacturers’ literature. 
Organized works and compilations that derive from or refer to the primary-source literature make up the secondary sources of scientific-technical information: the handbooks, encyclopedias, treatises, bibliographies, reviews, abstracting and indexing serials, machine-readable bibliographic databases and databanks, other reference works, and, of course, all translations. 
Guides to the literatures, directories (of persons, organizations or products, for example), and textbooks are often looked upon as tertiary sources. Popularizations, biographies, histories, and similar relatively nontechnical publications are thought of as being about science rather than of science. 
Primary sourcesThese are the records of original research, patents, standards, and manufacturers’ literature. 
PeriodicalsThese publications traditionally make up the bulk of the primary-source literature of science and technology. Periodicals include journals, bulletins, transactions, proceedings, or other serial publications that appear regularly and continuously in numbered sequence, but not newspapers or annuals. More than 20,000 scientific and technical periodicals are published worldwide.
At least 150 countries regularly publish research journals in science-technology, and these may appear in many different languages. The growth of English as the major language of science has not displaced the considerable body of material in other languages, but the importance of language varies from subject to subject, and the importance of subject varies from country to country. 
Current issues of some periodicals are available on black-and-white or coloured microfiche as well as in print-on-paper format, and complete volumes of many periodicals are available on microfilm for space-saving storage. Some periodicals are available online in electronic form, although most have printed counterparts. Many authors are still reluctant to publish in nonprint formats alone, but electronic peer-reviewed journals with graphics and searchable texts are an alternative. See PHOTOCOPYING PROCESSES; PRINTING. 
The contents of periodicals vary considerably in the kind of material included as well as in the technical level. Professional, scientific, and technical societies, for example, tend to emphasize basic research and the more technical aspects to a subject, while industrial and trade associations lean toward the practical, personal, and popular side. Societies, too, almost uniformly make use of highly qualified subject experts, called referees, to evaluate critically all original contributions before they are published, thus imparting reliability, authoritativeness, and prestige to their publications. Other organizations, such as research institutes, university experiment stations, and government agencies, publish periodicals comparable with those published by the societies, but such organizations are more likely to emphasize their own work. There are, of course, noteworthy exceptions. 
Conference papers. Papers presented at national and international scientific conferences, symposia, colloquia, seminars, and other technical meetings often are important contributions to the primary-source literature of science and technology but are also often uneven and elusive. At widely varying intervals following their presentation they may be published as complete (or partial) collections by the convening bodies themselves, by the parent scientific societies, or by private publishers; they may appear as articles in, or supplements to, regular journals; or they may only be noted or at most abstracted. Audiotapes are sometimes available as supplements to, or substitutes for, printed proceedings. Sometimes papers are preprinted and not later published at all, thus being made available only to those who attend the meetings or who write for them in time. Announcements of forthcoming scientific meetings as well as of resulting technical publications are now published regularly. World Meetings, for example, is a 2-year registry of such meetings, and Index to Scientific and Technical Proceedings is one of several indexes to the resulting publications. 
Research monographs. These are separately published reports on original research that are too long, too specialized, or otherwise unsuitable for publication in one of the standard journals. Each monograph is self-contained, frequently summarizes existing theory or practice before presenting the author’s original and previously unpublished work, and is likely to be one of a series in the same field. Research monographs are also being published on microfiche with paper copies available on demand, a practice which may escalate as costs of print-on-paper publishing continue to rise. 
Research reports. Reports from research and development projects make up another important part of the primary-source literature of science and technology. Reports are a more primitive form of literature because they are produced earlier in the research program, often as progress reports. While a progress report is only a temporary reference, it is important because it may include negative results and incidental data which may be missing from a final report.
Research reports originate in all research organizations doing work under contract to the United States government and are in turn distributed to all installations (including designated depository libraries) that have an interest in them. Classified reports, those containing data having some bearing on national security, are distributed only to properly cleared individuals or organizations. Since distribution of even unclassified reports is somewhat limited, few of them are indexed, abstracted, or even listed by the standard services which cover other parts of the primary literature. 
The National Technical Information Service (NTIS) of the U.S. Department of Commerce (Springfield, Virginia) is the agency responsible for the announcement, sales, and distribution of unclassified research, development, and engineering reports, translations, and other analyses prepared by United States and foreign government agencies, by their contractors or grantees, or by special technology groups, including many information analysis centers. NTIS also is the source for federally generated machine-processable data files and software. Since 1981, it has had the additional responsibility of operating an indexing service covering ongoing federally sponsored research projects, a service previously provided by the Smithsonian Science Information Exchange (SSIE). Established in 1970, NTIS superseded the Clearinghouse for Federal Scientific and Technical Information. 
Summaries of unclassified government research reports and of available translations of foreign research reports are published in the comprehensive biweekly Government Reports Announcements & Index (GRA&I) and in the 27 NTIS Alerts, each covering a different subject area. Copies of the full reports are available from NTIS in paper copy or microform, and the NTIS database can be searched online through major vendors. 
While the GRA&I and the 27 NTIS Alerts cover most government unclassified research reports, several government agencies also publish their own more specialized announcements and abstracts. Examples include Scientific and Technical Aerospace Reports (STAR), published by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), and Energy Research Abstracts (ERA), published by the U.S. Department of Energy. 
Preprints. Preprints are research-in-progress reports to the small but often international group of fellow scientists working in the same relatively narrow research speciality, somewhat after the fashion of seventeenth-century “invisible colleges”. Like government research reports, the preprint is a primitive form of technical literature, unrefereed and unannounced but historical. In the past, preprints were far more elusive than conference papers since only those on particular “preprint circuits” knew of their existence, even though they may have been cited as references (for example, “in preparation”). However, now that many scientists are conferring with each other via computer conferencing and electronic mail, paper preprints are becoming obsolete except for possible record purposes. Preprint databases are being developed with abstracts distributed via electronic mail to announce the availability of new titles and the full text for downloading via a computer network. To scientists on the research frontiers, paper prints or preprint electronic reports are vital (and quite conventional); to others they may be stimulating or perhaps just interesting. Yet even mere identification of specific areas of ongoing research can help research and development managers and policy makers to avoid unwarranted duplication of research effort and expense as well as to suggest other areas where research could be more profitable. 
Patents. Patents are considered part of the primary-source literatures, since an invention must be new in order to be patented and more often than not there will be no other published description either of the idea or of its application. Patents are sources of information about new products, microorganisms, and chemical compositions. Announcement publications, abstracts journals, and the individual patents are available from the various patent offices and in selected depository libraries, but extensive patent searches require knowledge of both the subject field and patent law, as well as much time. There are more than 130 patenting authorities in the world. 
Standards. Often a standard is a pamphlet describing acceptable levels of dimension, quality, performance, or other attributes of materials, products, or processes. Standards are established by general agreement among representatives of concerned groups, such as manufacturers and consumers, and may be issued by companies, trade associations, technical societies, government agencies, and national or international organizations. Technical societies also often issue statements of recommended practice as followed by competent practitioners. 
Dissertations. Doctoral dissertations and master’s theses are reports of original research. Although the research may later be reported in one or more periodical articles, dissertations and theses may still be consulted for their comprehensive literature reviews and for details not included in subsequent publications. 
Festschriften. Compilations of scholarly papers memorializing a distinguished scientist, scientific society, or important scientific event often contain accounts or results of original research, the significance of which may well be comparable with that of the person, society, or event being commemorated. Each paper usually is related to some aspect of the subject’s work or professional interest.
Manufacturers’ literature. These publications are often the only source of specific information about particular products or their development; if the information is not published elsewhere, this source becomes a primary source. Technical service bulletins, data sheets, price lists, catalogs, and other specialized publications describing a manufacturer’s equipment or processes are typical examples. 
Secondary sourcesReference works, which make up the bulk of the secondary literature, are in three types:
  • Those which in effect index selected portions of the primary literature and which thus aid in finding what has been published on a given subject (and where) generally or specifically, recently or retrospectively, for examples, indexes themselves, bibliographies, indexing serials, and under certain conditions, abstracting serials, all of which, if computer-compiled, may become machine-readable bibliographic databases.
  •  Those which survey selected portions of the primary literature and which thus aid in acquiring state-of-the-art, recent background, or comprehensive and definitive information on a given subject; for example, reviews, treatises, monographs, and again under certain conditions, abstracting serials.
  • Those which themselves contain the desired information (but rather concisely presented), such as established facts, formulas, procedures, equations, meanings, theories, history, and biography. All this information is compiled selectively from the primary literature and arranged in some definite manner for convenience in finding; for example, dictionaries, encylopedias, handbooks, and compilations of tables. An increasing amount of the statistical, numerical, and structural data found in these works is also available from machine-readable data banks.
Technical translations are another important (and expensive) part of the secondary literature of science and technology. For all practical purposes these take on the characteristics of the particular primary-, secondary-, or tertiary-source literature that was translated, and they are often treated as if they were in fact the original publications. Translations, of course, are not new to science and technology, but since 1957 a crash program to disseminate scientific-technical information has encouraged many more government, society, academic, and private organizations throughout the world to produce English translations of works published originally in Russian, Chinese, Japanese, and other languages; translations from English into these languages are also occurring.
Some 500 periodicals translated into English are now available in cover-to-cover, selected articles, or abstract form, and additional thousands of separate articles, monographs, and other works translated into English are available from commercial sources, from NTIS, from the National Translations Center (U.S. Library of Congress), and from similar agencies in Canada and elsewhere. Many authors of research papers still prefer to cite original sources, so translations tend to serve largely as a kind of monitoring system with an inherent time delay for non-Western science and technology. World Translations Index, published by the International Translations Centre, announces translations in all fields of science and technology. 
Index types. The following subsections discuss the various indexing services. 
Indexes. An index is a detailed alphabetical list of the names, terms, topics, places, formulas, numbers, or other significant items in a completed works (such as a book, set, or bound journal) with exact page references to material discussed in that work. It may be part of the work or it may be published separately. Rather than alphabetically, it may be arranged chronologically, geographically, numerically, or in some other fashion. No reference work except, of course, a dictionary and possibly an encyclopedia is any better than its index; a properly compiled index is the information hunter’s most useful tool. 
Bibliographies. A bibliography is a list of references to primary or other sources relating to some given subject or person; it is usually arranged chronologically or alphabetically by authors. It may be published separately or as a part of a larger work to acknowledge information sources, recommended additional reading, or direct attention to more detailed treatment elsewhere. Almost always the time span and the subject coverage are well defined, so that a good bibliography represents a definitive coverage of the literature within the defined limits and makes retrospective literature searching that much easier. 
Indexing serials. An indexing serial, sometimes called a current bibliography, is a regularly issued compilation of titles of articles (or of subsequent references to them) that appear in current primary-source journals; titles of new books and of separately published material are often also included. In each issue the titles usually are listed alphabetically by subject; but they may be listed by both subject and author in one alphabet, or the authors indexed separately. Issues are published with a specific frequency, weekly or monthly, for example, and they may cumulate. Some indexing serials aim to cover only selected journals in their fields but do it comprehensively, listing only articles of real substantive interest. Current issues of typical indexing serials aid in finding recent articles, while bound sets are helpful in searching older literature, especially that published before the advent of machine-readable bibliographic databases in the 1970s. 
Express services (such as Current Contents), which reproduce, often translate, and index the tables of contents of selected current primary-source journals and then distribute the usually weekly compilations by air mail or computer networks, are important current awareness aids as well as pertinent leads to reprint sources. 
Most indexing service are now being compiled and printed with the aid of computers, and the tapes become available for custom literature searches by the producer or for online searches through vendors of information services which lease them. In some cases the tapes may also be purchased. 
Abstracting serials. An abstracting serial, also at times called a current bibliography, is a regularly issued compilation of concise summaries of (1) significant articles (often in a very limited subject field) that appear in current primary-source journals and (2) important new research monographs, reports, patents, and other primary-source publications in that field. In each issue the summaries usually are arranged by rather broad subjects followed by an author index, but some abstracting serials also include report number, corporate author, and more exact subject indexes as well. Most abstracting serials aim at selective substantive coverage of all known and available journals in their fields. Issues may be published with almost any specific frequency, but usually do not cumulate. Instead, exhaustive annual or multiple-year indexes according to author, subject, patent, formula, or report number are now being published. Most abstracting serials are now being compiled and printed with the aid of computers, and the tapes become available for custom or online searches or for purchase. Long runs of many abstracting serials are available in microform.

Abstracts, however published, are likely to be further behind the current primary literature than title compilations are, but they also cover much more primary literature and give much more subject information per reference. Serious research workers find lengthy runs of abstracts, properly indexed, particularly suitable for in-depth searching of the older subject literature, especially that published before the advent of the applicable subject machine-readable bibliographic database. They find the current issues to be particularly suitable for keeping abreast of worldwide scientific progress in their chosen fields. Abstracts thus serve both as indexes to specific information and as surveys of particular subject areas. 
Bibliographic databases. A bibliographic database is essentially a current bibliography or an indexing or abstracting serial in machine-readable form. It may be used to print paper copies in journal format, or it may be used to provide online (user-interactive) or batch (custom once-only) search service by the producer or by an information service vendor. Bibliographic databases are also distributed on CD-ROM, searchable by using a microcomputer. Some databases cover the literature of a subject, while others cover particular types of primary literature (dissertations, standards, patents, conference papers). References may be retrieved online or from CD-ROMs by using sophisticated search strategies, including terms from title and abstract as well as index terms. See DATABASE MANAGEMENT. 
Survey types. The following subsections discuss the various survey types of reference works.
Reviews. A review is a subject survey of the primary literature usually covering the material that was published since the most recent review on the same subject. A good review accumulates, digests, and correlates the current literature and indicates the direction future research may take. A critical or evaluative review by a competent author is an important aid in keeping up with the work being done in a particular field and in spotting the outstanding developments. A review may appear as one of a collection of more or less related papers in an annual, a quarterly, or monthly series, or it may appear as an article in a regularly issued primary-source subjects journal. 
Review reference lists are often extensive and, in a way, form a definitive bibliography of the subject for the period covered. One shortcoming of a review, though, is the inevitable delay before comprehensive and critical coverage of the primary literature can be obtained; one hindrance in getting a good review is the difficulty in finding a qualified specialist with both the time and literature-searching competence to do the job. Nevertheless, information experts believe that reviews are and will continue to be an important part of the literature of science and technology. 
Treatises. A treatise is a comprehensive, authoritative, systematic, well-documented compilation or summary of known information on a subject, covering it so completely that the work becomes definitive at the time of writing. Thus a treatise is an aid in acquiring a foundation in a subject adequate to enable a trained individual to carry on advanced research; at the same time, it is a source of facts, procedures, theories, and other important data, presented in such a way to show their development, correlation, and probable reliability. A treatise combines characteristics of an advanced textbook and handbook; in fact, certain multivolume German Handbücher and certain multivolume British textbooks are good examples of treatises. One drawback to a treatise is that it is soon out-of-date. By the time the last part of a multipart treatise is published, the first parts are already quite old. Here, too, the time lag is unavoidable because of the scholarly inventory nature of the work itself. Periodic supplements and occasional new editions of the whole or of consecutive parts help overcome this lack of recency of the basic work, and so long as the dates of publication and the probable value of the original sources are clearly brought out, the usefulness of a treatise will not be impaired. 
Monographs. A monograph, in effect, is a short treatise on a particular subject, a single division or part of a larger branch of knowledge. Hence it can be more up to date when it is published and can be brought up to date more easily for a revised edition; it frequently is published as part of a series. Almost any book on a special topic may be called a monograph unless obviously it is something else, for example, a research monograph, part of the primary literature already discussed, or a textbook, discussed later. 
Reference tools. Five major types of reference tools are encyclopedias, dictionaries, handbooks, critical tables, and machine-readable data banks. 
Encyclopedias. An encyclopedia is an idea book. It deals with concepts and is usually arranged alphabetically by separate subjects, those parts of all knowledge or of a branch of knowledge which are considered to be significant by the compilers. Treatment is as thorough as space will permit and may be descriptive, explanatory, statistical, historical, or evaluative, but it should be impartial and should summarize the information thought to be of the most general value at the time of writing. Illustrations, tables, drawings, and photographs are often used, lavishly on occasion. Source references may or may not be given, so authoritativeness depends largely on the reputations of the publisher and of the authors of the individual articles. The large-subject approach usual in a multivolume set requires a competent index, while the small-subject approach usual in a one-volume work does not; however, if the subject arrangement is not alphabetic, an index is indispensable. 
An encyclopedia is designed to give a summary of background knowledge and a discussion of concepts in a particular field, useful for orientation in a strange subject area and for determining key words for more specific searching. One-volume encyclopedias give something less than this and tend to be considered and used as expanded dictionaries. 
Dictionaries. A dictionary is a word book. In science and technology its purpose is to define commonly used terms as simply as possible, preferably without much recourse to other technical terms and, in addition, with some indication of the specific subject field in which a given definition is the accepted one. Etymology and pronunciation of terms may also be included. Terms may be illustrated to show shape or use, and the treatment of terms may be expanded beyond simple definitions to include information bordering on encyclopedic or handbook coverage. A good technical dictionary always gives the generally accepted correct spellings of the words it defines, and it often notes variants. For acronyms and abbreviations, the fully spelled out terms are given. Bilingual and polylingual dictionaries normally give just the direct equivalent word in the other language with no definition other than identifying the subject field in which it is used.

Handbooks. A handbook (or manual) in science and engineering usage is a compact, fairly up-to-date, relatively complete, authoritative compilation of specific data, procedures, and professional principles of a subject field. Much of the information is given in tables, graphs, and diagrams, and illustrations are freely used. Symbols, equations, formulas, abbreviations, and concise technical language all help condense much practical information into a handbook, but they also require that the reader already has rather a broad knowledge of the field in order to use the work effectively. Hallmarks of a good handbook are an exhaustive index, up-to-date references, expert editorial staff, easy-to-read printing, and convenient format. The term handbook implies ready reference in a technical subject field. The term manual in common usage implies instruction in how to do something with the aid of very explicit step-by-step directions.
Critical tables. A collection of standard preference data (for example, physical and chemical properties of materials) that has been compiled, documented, evaluated, published, and kept up-to-date by reputable and responsible specialists is an essential reference tool to the working scientist or engineer. The compilation of a directory of critical (that is, critically evaluated) tables of standard reference data from worldwide sources is the responsibility of the World Data Referral Centre in Paris, established by the international Committee on Data for Science and Technology (CODATA). The National Standard Reference Data System of the National Institute of Standards and Technology is the United States affiliate. 
Data banks. A data bank is a compilation of numerical, statistical, or structural (for example, chemical) data in machine-readable form. Advances in instrumentation in all fields of science and technology have led to dramatic increases in the amount of data available, from gene sequences to space-based Earth measurements. When data banks are accessed online, numerical data may be retrieved and manipulated using available computer programs. 
Tertiary sourcesThese sources include textbooks, directories, and literature guides. 
Textbooks. A textbook is a standard work used for instruction, arranged so as to develop an understanding of a branch of knowledge rather than to impart information for its own sake. Textbooks characteristically are graded in difficulty and are, therefore, suitable for either introductory or advanced study at almost any level, depending on the background of the reader. The most elementary textbooks assume no prior knowledge or experience at all; they work with and build on long-established (and sometimes already superseded) theories and concepts and proceed logically to newer and more advanced ideas as the student learns to master the material. The most advanced textbooks, on the other hand, take on the aspects of monographs or treatises in the thorough coverage, systematic development, and rigorous treatment of their subjects. 
Directories. A directory is an alphabetical listing of at least the names and addresses of persons, organizations, manufacturers, or periodicals belonging to a particular class or group. The directory may include indexes or supplementary lists by subject field, geographical location, product, or some other desirable classification. It may be published separately in one or more volumes, or it may appear as a part in, an issue of, or a supplement to another work such as a journal or the proceedings of a society; it may be revised from time to time or not at all. 
Biographical directories vary in coverage from annual membership lists with only the briefest information about the persons listed to the specialized compendiums of the Who’s Who type. Trade and product directories, often appearing as annual buyers’ guide issues of certain industrial and trade periodicals, frequently contain an unsuspected variety of information, such as sources, producers, dealers, properties, hazards, shipping instructions, trade names, and trademarks. Industrial directories—city, state, national, and international—often contain considerable data on manufacturers and their officials, subsidiaries, plants, dealers, capitalization, trade names, and products. 
Organization directories of learned societies, professional associations, research establishments, trade groups, educational institutions, and government agencies, for example, usually give at least the officers, the address, the functions, and the date of establishment of each organization listed; coverage varies from community-size to worldwide. Periodical directories include full bibliographic information, frequency, publisher, and price of each title listed; some also include index coverage, advertising arrangements, and availability in libraries. The more complete periodicals directories and lists are often considered to be national or subject bibliographies rather than directories. 
Literature guides. A literature guide is a reference manual designed to aid research workers or other prospective users in finding their way into and through the literature of a specific subject field. Its purpose is to acquaint its readers with the important types of information sources available to satisfy their needs and to help them make fruitful current or retrospective literature searches. Library resources and services are discussed, and all important specific and related titles of works in the field are cited and many are described quite fully. Guides also exist, in both print and audiovisual forms, to assist users of specific reference tools, searching aids, or information services. 
Information sourcesCollecting, organizing, and providing easy access to the literature are generally performed by libraries with the aid of the tools produced by professions, governmental, academic, trade, and other members of the international information industry. 
Role of libraries. The library has long been the institution most concerned with the methods, skills, and systems for the acquisition, storage, preservation, retrieval, and use of literature. The depth of a library’s concern has always been determined primarily by the needs of those it serves and by the fields of literature it handles.
A subject-specialized research library acquires, classifies, catalogs, stores, and supplies both whole works and bits of information as precisely as possible, combining library practice with the techniques of documentation or information science. 
But science-technology is vast, polylingual, expensive, and only imperfectly distributed or indexed (although better than most other subject literatures). No large research library can have everything published in even a relatively narrow subject field, to say nothing of the broader subject disciplines. 
To the serious research worker, to industry, and to science itself, this present inability of libraries (however large, rich, dedicated, or specialized) to cope with the literature of science and technology is a very critical matter. In an attempt at solving this problem, local, regional, national, and international networks have been developed among libraries of various types, with members associated electronically in order to share resources, services, or internal technical procedures. Thus anyone in need of specialized information can get help from the total resources of a particular network or, if need be, any other network, by inquiring first at the local public, academic, or special library. 
Role of information technology. Of even greater help to the serious research worker is the rapid development of electronic information and telecommunication systems combined with improvements in input and output devices and storage media. The Gale Directory of Databases lists over 2200 databases of all types in science and technology. In addition to the bibliographic databases and data banks listed as separate categories above, many other databases are machine-readable counterparts of various primary, secondary, or tertiary sources. Examples include the full text of several periodicals dealing with chemistry and medicine, an encyclopedia of chemical technology, chemical dictionaries, biographical and organizational directories, textbooks in emergency medicine, and the full text of technical reports. At present, most databases are equivalent to or supplements of their printed counterparts rather than total replacements. In the case of full text in electronic form, text can be searched for combinations of key words, and retrieved text can be displayed or printed on demand at remote terminals, or it may be produced in microform (computer output microfiche, or COM).
The kinds of information needed by research workers and now found in the present varied literature of science and technology probably will not change much over the years. But the form and manner in which information is produced, published, stored, retrieved, and analyzed certainly will change as information science and technology and the information industry (1) find out more about how information is really used by research workers, and (2) find ways to solve problems that seem to beset the new electronic information systems: reliability, security, access vocabulary, copyright, archiving, and user visual fatigue, among others. Some solutions to these problems are emerging. For example, the Copyright Clearance Center operates a centralized photocopy authorization and payment system on behalf of copyright owners, both foreign and domestic, providing a practical means for organizations to comply with copyright law in the use of scientific-technical information. 
New technologies continue to be introduced. CD-ROMs offer the possibility of high-volume, low-cost storage of databases, including multimedia. Microcomputers are proving to be versatile devices, used by individual scientists and engineers for both document creation and retrieval of information from databases. The Internet, a worldwide system of interconnected computer networks, allows access to information resources all over the world from a desktop computer workstation. Software tools for navigation and retrieval improve access to distributed resources, including data, images, sounds, text, and computer programs. See MICROCOMPUTER; MULTIMEDIA TECHNOLOGY; OPTICAL RECORDING. 
Documenting progress. Research, development, and state-of-the-art reports and current news items covering all aspects of the science information field may be found through Library and Information Science Abstracts (an abstracting serial) and Library Literature (an indexing serial). Machine-readable database material is featured in Online, Online & CD-ROM Review, and Database.

George S. Bonn; Linda C. Smith

Bibliography. C. D. Hurt, Information Sources in Science and Technology, 2nd ed., 1994; H. R. Malinowsky, Reference Sources in Science, Engineering, Medicine, and Agriculture, 1994; E. Mount and B. Kovacs, Using Science and Technology Information Sources, 1991; National Academy of Sciences, Realizing the Information Future: The Internet and Beyond, 1994; G. Stix, The speed of write, Sci. Amer., 271(6):72-77, December 1994; R. D. Walker and C. D. Hunt, Scientific and Technical Literature: An Introduction to Forms of Communication, 1990.

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