Consistent search interfaces, oh so difficult

One of my annoyances of searching for journals in Web of Science has always been that in standard search you have to fill in the full journal title but when you search for a journal in the cited ref search you have to use the abbreviated jounal title. A very inconvenient way of doing searches in the same database, albeit a different index. Explain this in your classes on searching databases. Another small grunt in this respect is that the title abbreviations between or within different ISI products is not the same either so you are always left guessing.

This afternoon I had to check since when the Journal of Environmental Planning and Management has been indexed in Web of Science. The answer was found quite quickly. The journal only started this year to be covered by WoS. So I had to look up some citation data using a cited ref search. Easier said than done.

Using the official journal abbreviation list on the cited ref search the journal appeared not be there. But it has been indexed on WoS since the beginning of this year already. Moving over to the new interface, assuming they would have updated matters there a lot more, brought me some more disappointment. The journal list in the new interface was not up to date either.

Guessing the abbreviation I arrived quickly at the following abbreviations being used within WoS for the same journal:

  • J ENV PLANNING MANAG
  • J ENV PLANN MANAG
  • J ENV PLAN MANAG
  • J ENV PLAN MNGMT
  • J ENV PLANNING MANGE
  • J ENV PLAN MANAGE
  • J ENVIRON PLANN MAN

This list is certainly not exhaustive, but just illustrates my point of different abbreviations for the same journal (how do they ever calculate the right impact fact you might wonder?).

My idea is that when you have such a major overhaul of you web platform that you look at the search ergonomy as well. Full title search in the normal search and abbreviated title search in the cited ref search should have been a problem reported back to ISI headquarters by all marketeers and sales people on many different occasions. So this little annoyance should have been rectified in latest extensive product overhaul.

That journal abbreviation lists are not up to date with the latest additions of newly indexed periodicals is a sign of very sloppy maintenance of your databases. For an important database such as Web of Science I would have expected higher standards of accuracy.

It seems that the competition has not yet fully woken up this giant in database land. Please Thomson wake up!

3 thoughts on “Consistent search interfaces, oh so difficult”

  1. I totally agree! Consistency is so important — as is competition. Have you sent this to the folks at Thomson? They might be more responsive than they were before Scopus …

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