Friday, October 06, 2006

Bibliographic sleight of hand

I had a student come to the ref desk looking for a 1969 article in a journal called Bio Med. Using Jake, we found several journals with what appeared to be the correct name, but couldn’t get the date to match up with the volume and issue numbers on any of them. I searched for it on PubMed and a reference to an article in a journal called Igaku to Seibutsugaku showed up (which interestingly is Medicine and Biology if you translate it literally from Japanese). The article title was in English, but it was followed by a note that the article was in Japanese.

After about 15 minutes of fruitless searching (it was a fairly slow day) we finally concluded that the authors of the article had translated the journal and article titles and put them in their bibliography, leading to a fruitless search. I still had a hard time convincing the student that the article didn’t exist in English and that her only hope of getting it was to write to the publisher in Japan. However, if she didn’t read Japanese, it wouldn’t do much good unless she was satisfied with an English abstract. I also suspect that the authors didn’t read Japanese either and simply used the English abstract to report the results.

All this trouble caused by an author who decided to be clever and translate rather than transliterate.

2 Comments:

Blogger Dean Giustini said...

D,

Don't know if you know about "Journal Seek":

Medicine and biology

I find it more up to date even though it draws on Jake tools

Dean

9:31 AM  
Blogger PubMed Junkie said...

I tried entering the abbreviation "bio med" (which was all I had orignially) in Journal Seek, but got no hits. It seems I would have to know the full name of the journal.

It doesn't show up in WorldCat in Japanese or English, although presumably it exists somewhere!

2:59 PM  

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