A while back I wrote that I was going to look into whether it’s possible for me, as an individual author, to submit my own article to be indexed in a database. Well, I finally got off my duff and actually looked into it. Actually I only contacted 2 database vendors: Wilson (re the Library Literature & Information Science db) and CSA (re the Library and Information Science Abstracts db). But these are 2 of the major dbs covering LIS, so I figured they’d be the place to start. This wasn’t intended to be an actual study, after all. I sent off an email to tech support at Wilson & CSA. I haven’t heard back from Wilson yet, but here are some highlights of the response I got from CSA:

Most of CSA’s databases cover only a few journals in their entirety, and most journals very selectively, in line with relevance to their subject.

However, the four databases produced in this office in the UK, of which LISA is one, were originally started up by the UK Library Association, and their remit was to index all articles in any titles covered, without being selective. Although this does mean some less relevant articles are included, it was felt that libraries were also using these services as a consolidated index to their library serials holdings. (A caveat is that only articles of one page or over are included; and some content such as letters, obituaries, and “newsy” pieces from newsletters, are excluded).

Recently, we have been modifying this policy also to exclude articles that are more peripheral to the subject of the service; for LISA, for example, this could be an article about paper and board production.

So, in summary, CSA databases (and, I would suspect, most literature databases) either (1) hoover up all articles in an issue of an indexed journal, or (2) index articles that are topically relevant to the scope of the database. No major surprises there.

The original reason for this investigation is that I had a paper accepted for journal publication, & I had to choose one of 2 copyright agreements:

  1. I assign copyright to the publisher, & the publisher handles all reprint & other copyright requests.
  2. I retain copyright, & the publisher forwards all reprint & other copyright requests to me.

I chose to retain copyright, but I was concerned that my article might not get indexed in the dbs that I’d want it indexed in. Conclusion, in light of CSA’s response: no worries.

Actually, looking at the copyright agreements again, either the publisher changed the terms since the last time I checked or I misunderstood, since the publishers’ site says:

Material covered under either agreement will be submitted to third-party database aggregators according to agreements of which [the publisher] is a party.

So in either case my article will be submitted for indexing in dbs. Great! Except for one thing… Submitted to whom? CSA indexes articles according to their own criteria, apparently without any reference to the publisher. So to whom exactly is the publisher going to submit my article? What “agreements of which [the publisher] is a party” are being referred to here? Anyone with a background in periodical publishing want to shed some light on this?