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Systematically Ascertaining Requirements of Scientists for Information

JIŘÍ SPIRIT and LADISLAV KOFNOVEC

At present, the increasing amount of scientific and technical literature renders it impossible for scientists and technical workers to follow up all the new literature related to their fields. In order to identify and obtain the most important documents, they inevitably need the assistance of information unit officers. These are in a position systematically to provide information about newly published documents by means of (abstracts) cards.

If an information unit is to work for only a small number of research and technical workers, the information officers will be able to store up in their memories the different items that may be of interest to individual scientists. If, however, the number of specialized scientists or research workers is large, the information unit must be provided with special accessories if a systematic information service is to be correctly performed. In what follows, one of the most important of these accessories, i.e., the thematical plan of the establishment or institution, will be described in detail.

Obviously, a scientist cannot wait until some report of some foreign experience happens to come to his knowledge. Therefore, the information officer must know in advance what the individual creative workers will need. He must also know how and where the necessary information can be acquired.

In order to survey the requirements of the individual scientific workers, information officers must constantly be in contact with the scientists and choose useful information on the basis of the thematical plan. That is to say, each

JIŘÍ SPIRIT and LADISLAV KOFNOVEC Research Institute for Materials and Technology, Prague, Czechoslovakia.

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The paper by W.K.Lowry and J.C.Albrecht entitled “A Proposed Information Handling System for a Large Research Organization” (Area 5 of the Conference) also contains a discussion of methods for determining the information requirements of individual scientists served by an information service.



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--> Systematically Ascertaining Requirements of Scientists for Information JIŘÍ SPIRIT and LADISLAV KOFNOVEC At present, the increasing amount of scientific and technical literature renders it impossible for scientists and technical workers to follow up all the new literature related to their fields. In order to identify and obtain the most important documents, they inevitably need the assistance of information unit officers. These are in a position systematically to provide information about newly published documents by means of (abstracts) cards. If an information unit is to work for only a small number of research and technical workers, the information officers will be able to store up in their memories the different items that may be of interest to individual scientists. If, however, the number of specialized scientists or research workers is large, the information unit must be provided with special accessories if a systematic information service is to be correctly performed. In what follows, one of the most important of these accessories, i.e., the thematical plan of the establishment or institution, will be described in detail. Obviously, a scientist cannot wait until some report of some foreign experience happens to come to his knowledge. Therefore, the information officer must know in advance what the individual creative workers will need. He must also know how and where the necessary information can be acquired. In order to survey the requirements of the individual scientific workers, information officers must constantly be in contact with the scientists and choose useful information on the basis of the thematical plan. That is to say, each JIŘÍ SPIRIT and LADISLAV KOFNOVEC Research Institute for Materials and Technology, Prague, Czechoslovakia. 1   The paper by W.K.Lowry and J.C.Albrecht entitled “A Proposed Information Handling System for a Large Research Organization” (Area 5 of the Conference) also contains a discussion of methods for determining the information requirements of individual scientists served by an information service.

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--> year, prior to the beginning of work on research, development, and design problems, the information officers will note, in a most detailed and specified way, the requirements of the individual scientific workers. These requirements should be arranged from two different points of view: (1) from a personal one, by making for each of the creative workers separately a specification of his requirements, classified, for example, according to the UDC; (2) from a subject field point of view, by systematically arranging the specified items according to the UDC, together with the name of the workers interested in them, all classified into larger groups for easy survey. These two specifications, if necessary supplemented by an alphabetical index of the main groups, represent a year’s accessory tool for the information unit (or the technical library) and form the thematical plan which is the basis for providing foreign and domestic technical information. The thematical plan is of the utmost importance in organizing a systematic information service, and is a significant component of any active information service. In order to gather the individual requirements of scientific and research workers, a special “Information requirement sheet,” of which a copy is appended, is filled in by the creative workers served by the information service. On the information requirement sheet are shown the name of the scientific worker, his section and department, the number, designation and details of the research problem in question, and also the stage of its elaboration and the corresponding UDC number. It is most useful to indicate where best to search for information sources and during what period of time, and also to give characteristic details about the information required. Frequently a retrospective search is required, translations from various languages, etc. The back of the page provides space for entering data about accomplished searches or studies and translation work, and about the range of information services during the year. These “Information requirements sheets” are filed in the study department. These “Information requirement sheets” are the basis for elaborating the establishment’s thematical plan. Great care is taken in indicating UDC numbers for the different items since they are fundamental to the information unit’s work for the coming year. The first and basic part of the thematical plan is a systematic arrangement of all information requirements according to UDC, as for example,   Steam boiler   621.18 Steam boiler materials Dr. Wild 621.18.004.6 Disturbances on steam power plants Lindner 621.181.021 Steam boiler pipes Dr. Wild 621.183 Steam boiler fittings Dr. Wild 621.183.002.3 Materials for steam boiler fittings dipl.Ing.Schmidt

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--> 621.186.1/.4 Steam line welding Landgraf 621.187 Steam boiler operation Dr. Wild UDC numbers are indicated in the left column, the second column gives short descriptions of the required information, and the right column indicates the names of the scientific or research workers who wish to get information on the topics listed. The second part of the thematical plan is arranged by departments of the establishment or by individual research groups of the Institute, with the names of the research workers in alphabetical order. Under the name of each research worker are all his information requirements and the respective UDC numbers, as for example, Dipl.Ing.Schmidt 539.3.19   Methods for measuring residual stresses 539.4.014 620.17 539.319 621.986   Stresses after cold forming 539.4.015 621.986 Influence of cold forming upon mechanical and physical properties of materials 620.18 Metallography, microscopy, apparatus for making polished sections 620.182 620.183.002.3 Materials for steam boiler fittings When abstracting a book or another nonperiodical publication or some journal literature, the information officer states, with the aid of UDC numbers, which of the scientific workers are to be supplied with the respective information. Thus, the systematization of the information service is assured, every research worker mentioned in the thematical plan receiving, for his personal use, copies of abstract cards, prepared in the study department, pertaining to his field of interest. In establishments where the information service is already in common use, supplying copies of abstract cards, as mentioned, will be sufficient. In establishments where such services have not yet been introduced or are only occasionally used, the abstracts may be written on special forms with explanatory text such as: “We call your attention to the following article…. The periodical in question is at your disposal in our library,” etc. The thematical plan is designed to be used not only by workers of the information unit, but also by scientific and technical workers, since it provides them with a good survey of the problems under study and of those who are working on them and who are in a position to give advice in certain cases. This is especially advantageous in large establishments or institutes where it is quite difficult to get a clear picture of the activities of the individual workers.

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