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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 78268 Find in a Library
Title: Criminal Justice Coverage in Online Databases
Journal: Database  Volume:2  Issue:1  Dated:(March 1979)  Pages:10-32
Author(s): D R Dolan; C E Heron
Date Published: 1979
Page Count: 23
Type: Best Practice/State-of-the-Art Review
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This article evaluates the scope of major data bases that contain information on criminal justice topics and provides guidelines regarding selection and search strategies.
Abstract: Since the only purely criminal justice data base in the United States is the National Criminal Justice Reference Service, this study analyzed coverage given to criminal justice by other commercially available data bases by designing 2 profiles: 'hot topics' consisting of recurring search requests and a general profile. Examples of 'hot topics' were hijacks, terrorism, euthanasia, and computer crime. Broad subject areas such as delinquency, crime prevention, and arson were included in the general profile. The 'hot topics' profile was first run against 45 data bases from the Bibliographic Retrieval Service, Information Bank, Lockheed Information Systems, National Library of Medicine, and System Development Corporation. General profiles were run on services which yielded documents on 5 or more 'hot topics.' All topics used in the profiles are listed, and a chart evaluates coverage by the data bases as high, moderate, or low. The user's orientation must be considered before selecting a search strategy. Suggestions on useful data bases are presented for prisoners interested in general or litigation research and emerging areas in criminal justice, particularly drug abuse and environmental crime. Multidisciplinary data bases such as Information Bank, Excerpta Medica, LIBCON, SSCI, and Psychological Abstracts are recommended as good first choices for criminal justice searches. The study revealed that several areas were poorly covered in data bases, including crimes against property, juvenile delinquency, criminal law, and penology. The discussion of these problems cites major journals which were not in any data base. The National Criminal Justice Thesaurus is recommended as a reference aid for search strategy. Suggestions for improving data base coverage are offered, although the article concludes that criminal justice has generally a well-controlled body of literature. The appendixes contain charts showing coverage given to specific criminal justice topics by the data bases, serials indexed in online data bases, criminal justice descriptors used by some data bases, and an annotated bibliography of selected data bases.
Index Term(s): Criminal justice information systems; Evaluation; National Criminal Justice Reference Service (NCJRS); Reference materials
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