Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Comparison of Sociological Index -Sociological Abstracts

David B. wrote up this comparison of Sociological Abstracts and Sociological Index - They have many features in common but also major distinctions, which should guide selection of one database or the other or even possibly both if enough demand and sufficient budget permit subscription to two. Sociological Index is a little easier to navigate for the novice database user. The ultimate determinant might be better coverage. Consultation with the Sociology Department for its preference for student and faculty use might be appropriate although time consuming. Still the following table might be helpful.

Sociological Index
GUI Visual Design -Clear, simple though boring repetition of blue, green, etc. Visual impairment friendly?
GUI Information Hierarchy, Legibility -Basic: Clear sequence for searching even with supplementary fields and drop down menus. Advanced: Clear with even more choices to narrow or focus. Boolean Use: Clearer default to “and,” more commonly employed.
Tabs or Buttons at Top Many clear but some redundant, such as “author” leading to profile often cited in first page of journal article; publication data not as comprehensive for article submission.
Chronological Depth - Difficult to compare; Apples to Oranges comparison because these have relatively few journals in common; Crude gauge, survey of sources under “A” reveals that only Acta Sociologica is in both.
“Bells & Whistles” - Includes “Cited references” for citation analysis; author profiles mentioned above; e-mail and print options, Subject guide (controlled vocabulary) akin to LCSH.

Sociological Abstracts
GUI Visual Design - More Appealing with greater array of colors. Visual impairment friendly?
GUI Information Hierarchy, Legibility - Basic: Modest ambiguity over initial step to select a database or discipline (eg, natural vs. social sciences). Advanced: lacks tools, e. g., fields to complete, drop down menus to highlight or boxes to check at the earliest stage; a variant to narrow or expand at later stage is possibly masked in a more sophisticated graphic design. Boolean Use:“and,” “or” and parenthesis helpfully present in Advanced but not explained until help consulted
Tabs or Buttons at Top “Browse” leads to great resources for mature scholar or others seeking information about the chronological depth, journals covered & article submission.
“Bells & Whistles” -Many of same “bells and whistles” but more deeply buried in database—subject subdivisions as links once bibliography compiled.Thesaurus on tab at top of first (home) page; adjacent schematic of page for article PDF (with scrolling capacity?)

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