Monday, March 14, 2016


Hurt, C. D. Informational sources in Science and Technology, 3rd ed. Englewood, Colo.: Libraries Unlimited, 1998. pp. 57-58.
Botany can be approached from a variety of perspectives. As an example, there can be several classification systems employed within botany. A substantial literature discusses and argues the merits and faults of the various classification systems.
Plant diseases, heredity, form, and structure are examples of areas within botany. The range of areas within botany is a direct function of the immense variety of plants and plant-related issues. Like a number of other fields in science and technology, this means the botanist is forced to specialize. Unlike a number of other fields, the rampant specialization is not as widespread. This has the very positive effect of allowing specialists to see the work of other specialists in botany. The assumption, and it is a large one, is that such exposure leads to a certain level of interest. 
In terms of bibliographic control, two characteristics set botany apart from other disciplines. First, the number of journals devoted to botany is relatively small. Therefore, the bibliographic control is better in botany than it is in most of science. The major abstract and indexing service for botany is Biological Abstracts. Botanical Abstracts was an excellent tool but was merged with Biological Abstracts in 1926. Depending on the speciality area, abstract and indexing services in agriculture such as AGRICOLA and CAB Abstracts will be invaluable. 
Second, the scope of botany is not as wide as that of other disciplines. Relatively speaking, botany does not borrow from other areas as heavily as do other scientific disciplines, although borrowing does frequently occur, as botany incorporates some elements of chemistry, physics, zoology, and agriculture. 
At the present time, there appears to be two basic camps in botany. The first camp is the more traditional. This camp is concerned with refining the classification systems and fitting all categories of plants into the proper place. The second camp seems less interested in refining the building blocks of the field and more interested in moving forward and furthering new knowledge. One such area is the discovery (rediscovery, some would argue) of natural drugs from plants around the world. The pharmacological value of plants, rare or common, is a hot topic in botany and pharmacy. In keeping with the theme of interdisciplinary work, this last area of study is an example of a fundable project at the national level: it includes at least two fields and has a practical outcome. The future will see more of both camps, although it appears that funding levels and funding interest are more in tune with the goals of the second camp. 
Botany seems to be an area ripe for explosion in a variety of ways. If this is true, then botany will become just as difficult to control bibliographically as any other science.

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