Abstracts, Journal of

Abstracts, Journal of


a periodical containing abstracts of scientific and scholarly works and such secondary materials as bibliographies and annotations together with the reference and research apparatus. The last includes the table of contents, classification by headings, and indexes.

Journals of abstracts inform specialists about scholarly, scientific, and technical materials currently published throughout the world. The journals help researchers find previously published materials devoted to particular fields, problems, and subjects. It has been established that without journals of abstracts a specialist can familiarize himself with no more than 6 percent of the works published in his field. This figure is increased to 80 percent with the use of the journals. Journals of abstracts thus provide a means of coping with the mass of published material that has resulted from the specialization of knowledge.

Journals of abstracts promote the integration of knowledge by enabling specialists to keep abreast with and make use of recent developments in related fields. The journals also enable specialists to become aware of emerging and rapidly growing peripheral fields of knowledge and to launch research in such fields. Journals of abstracts help maintain scientific unity, regulate scientific and technical terminology, partially eliminate barriers to the acquisition of information, and develop workable systems of classification in various fields.

By the early 1970’s, three basic forms of compiling and publishing abstracted materials had developed: (1) systematized volumes devoted to broad fields of knowledge, (2) special sections in such volumes that are devoted to branches of these fields, and (3) separate issues containing interdisciplinary materials or materials concerned with specific subjects. Other journals of abstracts deal with specific problems in various fields of knowledge. Most journals of abstracts are published 12 times a year, but some are published 24 times a year or more often.

Journals of abstracts should provide a complete and usable listing of publications in any given field. They should help eliminate barriers to the acquisition of information that are caused by language or by lack of access to published materials. In addition, they should make it easy to locate both current and previously published materials.

The number of scientific and technical publications has steadily increased, new publications are continually appearing, and others cease publication. All this complicates the work of the researcher and makes it essential for journals of abstracts to provide complete listings.

It is often decisively important to make currently published scientific and technical information immediately available. Increased use of electronic computers makes the publication of journals of abstracts more efficient. The language barrier ceases to exist, since all the information in a given journal is in the same language, regardless of the language used in source materials.

Factors that make journals of abstracts effective in research involving current and previously published materials are regularity of publication, a suitable format, and the presence of headings and a reference apparatus. Of greatest importance in this apparatus are the supplementary indexes, which are divided into four basic types: subject, author, formula, and patent.

In the USSR, the publication of journals of abstracts is coordinated by the government to provide scientific, technical, economic, and cultural information. The journals are published by the All-Union Institute of Scientific and Technical Information of the State Committee on Science and Technology of the Council of Ministers of the USSR and of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR (VINITI). They are also published by the All-Union Scientific Research Institute of Medical and Medicotechnical Information and by the All-Union Scientific Research Institute of Information and Technological and Economic Studies on Agriculture. The VINITI journal of abstracts covers internationally published materials on all natural sciences as well as most technical sciences and fields of the national economy. In 1975, 184 issues were published, of which 140 are contained within 25 volumes. In the field of the social sciences, journals of abstracts are published by the Institute of Scientific Information on the Social Sciences of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR: Obshchestvennye nauki v SSSR (Social Sciences in the USSR, seven series) and Obshchestvennye nauki za rubezhom (Social Sciences Abroad, nine series).

In 1974, approximately 1,500 journals of abstracts published throughout the world covered a wide variety of fields, problems, and subjects.

Abstracted information became established in scholarly and scientific journals of the 17th and 18th centuries, but considerable attention was devoted to it even in the first published journal, issued in France in 1665, the Journal des savants. Philosophical Transactions, published since 1665 by The Royal Society of London, abstracts discoveries and the results of observations and experiments. Abstracts of new books were listed in the Italian journal Giornali dei letterati (1668–80). One of the most authoritative journals of this type was the German publication Acta eruditorum (from 1682). A widespread network of journals developed subsequently, differing in character and format but all possessing traits characteristic of journals of abstracts.

The 19th century witnessed the emergence of scientific and technical journals of abstracts as such. These included the German publication Pharmazeutisches Zentralblatt (1830), later renamed Chemisches Zentralblatt. The journal Fachzeitschrift für die gesamte Papier-, Pappen und Papierstoffindustrie was founded in Germany in 1873, and Stahl und Eisen has been published there since 1881. Science Abstracts has been issued in Great Britain in two sections since 1898: Physics Abstracts and Electrical and Electronic Abstracts. The journal Engineering Index has been published in the United States since 1884.

In Russia, the first attempts at abstracting were made in the first quarter of the 18th century. Abstracts were prepared primarily for official documents, and an attempt was made to develop systematic abstracting of foreign sources. The St. Petersburg Academy of Sciences became the first abstracting center, and the first Russian journals of abstracts were Kratkoe opisanie kommentariev Akademii nauk (A Brief Description of the Commentaries of the Academy of Sciences, 1728), Soderzhanie uchenykh rassuzhdenii (The Content of Learned Discourses, 4 vols., 1748–54), and Nova Acta (1801), a compilation of academic works selected from the first volume of Deianiia imperatorskoi Akademii nauk (Activities of the Imperial Academy of Sciences).

M. V. Lomonosov set forth the basic theoretical and methodological requirements for organizing and writing abstracts in “On the Task of Journalists in Writing Works That Aim To Encourage Freedom of Discourse” (M. V. Lomonosov, Sbornik materialov dlia istorii imperatorskoi Akademii nauk v XVIII v., part 2, St. Petersburg, 1865, pp. 515–19; Poln. sobr. soch., vol. 10, Moscow-Leningrad, 1957, pp. 31–32).

Periodicals with characteristics of journals of abstracts were published in Russia in the early 19th century. They included Zhurnalpoleznykh izobretenii v iskusstvakh, khudozhestvakh i remeslakh i noveishikh otkrytii v estestvennykh naukakh (Journal of Useful Inventions in the Arts and Crafts and of the Newest Discoveries in the Natural Sciences, 1806–10) and Tekhnologicheskii zhurnal (Technological Journal, 1816–26). A journal devoted entirely to abstracts was N. P. Shcheglov’s Ukazatel’ otkrytii po fizike, khimii, estestvennoi istorii i tekhnologii (A Guide to Discoveries in Physics, Chemistry, Natural History, and Technology, 1824–31). In the late 19th century, a number of journals had important sections of abstracts. These included Zemlevedenie (Geography), Khirurgiia (Surgery), Zhurnal Russkogo fizikokhimicheskogo obshchestva (Journal of the Russian Physicochemical Society), and Vestnik Obshchestva tekhnologov (Journal of the Society of Technologists). Other publications were journals of abstracts as such, including Meditsinskoe obozrenie (Medical Review, 1874–1918) and Ezhegodnik po geologii i mineralogii (Yearbook on Geology and Mineralogy, 1896–1915).

The 20th century witnessed the establishment of abstracting services, the extension of areas and languages covered, and the comprehensive coverage of scientific and technical fields with emphasis on the exact natural and technical sciences. Thus, the number of biological journals of abstracts has increased: Bulletin de l’Institut Pasteur (France, since 1903), Agricultural Index (USA, 1916), Berichte über die wissenschaftliche Biologie (Germany, 1926), Review of Applied Mycology (Great Britain, 1922), and Review of Applied Entomology (Great Britain, 1913). The same expansion has taken place in the fields of chemistry and physics: Chemical Abstracts (USA, 1907), Physikalische Berichte (Germany, 1920), Chimie et industrie (France, 1918), and Geophysical Abstracts (USA, 1929).

The first Soviet journal of abstracts was Soobshcheniia o nauchno-tekhnicheskikh rabotakh v Respublike (Reports on Scientific and Technical Works in the Republic, 1920–32). Later journals were Tsentral’nyi meditsinskii zhurnal (Central Medical Journal, 1928–41), Khimicheskii referativnyi zhurnal (Journal of Chemical Abstracts, 1938–41), Referativnyi biologicheskii zhurnal (Journal of Biological Abstracts), Inostrannaia literatura (Foreign Literature, 1933–37), and Fiziko-mate-maticheskii referativnyi zhurnal (Journal of Physical and Mathematical Abstracts, 1939–41). Other Soviet journals of abstracts included Za ovladenie tekhnikoi (The Mastery of Technology, 1931–33) and Mirovaia tekhnika: Zhurnal referatov i annotatsii statei iz inostrannykh zhurnalov (World Technology: Journal of Abstracts and Annotations of Articles From Foreign Journals, 1933–38).