Bibliographic study of
certain journals for relevance to the
urban water systems group
Submitted by: Jennifer Hancock and Yiwen Wang
For: Dr. W. James
Edited by: William James
Special Topics in Urban Hydraulics
School of Engineering
University of Guelph
Papers on urban water systems are distributed among many hydrological, environmental, and civil engineering journals. Even worse, the number of serial publications becoming available is increasing. Researching these papers can be a frustrating, time consuming and expensive task. To help reduce the effort, this study has two objectives. First, indicate which journals consistently provide hit papers over the most recent nine year study period. (A hit is a citation of a relevant peer-reviewed journal paper that was reached through a computer-based indexing service; an anomolous hit occurs when an irrelevant paper is hit; a miss is a relevant paper that was not hit by that search.) The second objective is to compare the effectiveness of several, currently-available bibliographic research tools.
Our journal survey found that, for the selected group of keywords, the total number of hits is very small. However, the American Society of Civil Engineers Journal of Environmental Engineering, followed by the Journal of the Water Pollution Control Federation, published relatively more hits. These journals are circulated bi-monthly and monthly, respectively. As the former is less expensive, especially for members of the American Society of Civil Engineers, it is considered to be more cost-effective. Additionally, it will occupy less shelf space.
Journals are referenced by many different index systems, and several are provided at most libraries. The Science Citation Index, on compact disc, was the most effective tool available at the University of Guelph for locating paper titles by key words. Even though SCI covered most of the selected journals for the entire period studied, it is not considered to be very good for our subject area. Better index systems may be accessed independent of the library.
Conglomerate databases, such as WATDOC, CAN/OLE, and DIALOG, that contain other useful indexes, are also effective research tools. However, the costs associated with these systems are high compared to the SCI CDROMs, a service provided free to members of the University of Guelph. For journals, and especially for other than journals, access to EICompendex Plus on CDROM appears to be essential: it is imperative that the currently-available hit-rate be increased.
We conducted a brief review of all journals available locally at several neighboring universities, and found a large number that published papers related to urban water systems over the period from the mid-1980s to the present. Moreover, the number of periodicals appears to be growing quite rapidly, probably due to growing environmental concerns for natural resources. In this Information Era, new findings are also being distributed by databases that become continually larger and more accessible. Research papers can now be classified, shuffled, and extracted from any point on the globe. However, despite these trends, many important topics remain scattered, and/or neglected.
This study focuses on urban water systems, a field for which the existing body of literature is distributed widely among civil engineering, environmental, and hydrological periodicals. To reduce lengthy literature reviews, it would be beneficial for a researcher to limit searches to journals that consistently provide a larger number of pertinent papers. It is the goal of this effort to determine which journals are relatively more informative and cost-effective.
In central and southwestern Ontario there are many academic institutions that provide access to relevant engineering publications. We considered all with Engineering faculties that were less than an hours drive from Guelph: the University of Guelph, the University of Toronto, the University of Waterloo, and McMaster University, in Hamilton. Another potentially useful library is located at the Canada Centre for Inland Waters, in Burlington. The latter was not studied because it lacks an on-line catalog.
University libraries provide several means for conducting literature searches. Procedures used to review journals also provide an opportunity to simultaneously analyze the utility of the various information sources and the source publications. We also consider herein the most useful modes for literature-searches for researchers in urban water systems.
2.1 Literature Review
Information sources include: abstracts, bibliographic citations, federal, provincial and municipal government reports and documents (published and unpublished), conference proceedings, books, and journal articles (WATDOC, 1977). Of this list, journal articles best represent the peer-refereed literature on current trends in scientific and engineering research - their papers are deemed to be most credible. Journals, therefore, remain a central research tool in both academic and professional circles.
For this study, fifteen journals were selected somewhat arbitrarily, and were available at the four universities as shown in Table 1.
The primary objective of this review was to establish which journals published most papers related to urban water systems. The following list of keywords/topics, based on our research groups current interests, was selected to determine the number of hits:
Key Words/ Topics
Urban Stormwater Management
Combined Sewer Overflow
Potable Water Distribution
Urban Best Management Practices (BMPs)
Only the above keywords were used in a title search of the journals appearing in the period from 1985 to the end of 1994. The Science Citation Index (SCI), on CD-ROM (1984-93), allows title searches by key word(s), and was used because it appeared to cover every journal in the survey. Other index systems omitted various of the selected journals over the study period. Journals for 1994 were searched manually. Short and long bibliographic information is available on SCI for each paper, yielding the serial name. When the survey was complete, the number of hits was summed for each journal, for each year of the study. The results were verified by searching two of the journals manually for the complete period studied.
2.2 Research Methods
The research methods in this study included: manual journal searches, CD-ROM databases, and on-line databases. Canada-accessible, CD-ROM and On-line systems were judged by 1) the number of water resources and engineering-type databases in the system, and 2) their availability and price. The CD-ROM databases available included: Waves Database Canada/ AQUAREF, WATDOC/ENVIRONMENT, and the Science Citation Index. The two On-line services reviewed were CAN/OLE (Canada On-line), and DIALOG. Of all indexing systems, EICompendexPlus would evidently have been the best for our purposes, but it is not available on CDROM at the University of Guelph.
3.1 Journal Review
SCI is an effective means of reviewing journals. It provides compact discs by year, e.g. 1985 or 1986. Search-time is related to the number of keywords or topics reviewed per disc. Table 2 shows the number of hits per journal, and the years when more articles related to urban hydraulics were published. The ASCE Journal of Environmental Engineering had the most hits over the nine-year study period, a total of (only) 17 papers. This accounts for 20% of the hits in the survey. The Journal of the Water Pollution Control Federation (JWPCF), which changed names in 1990 to the Research Journal of the Water Pollution Control Federation (Water Environment Research), provided 13 hits. This represents 15% of the hits. The third and fourth place journals also produced consistent hits, but at a lower rate. The ASCE Journal of Water Resources Planning and Management published 11 hits, 12% of the total, and Water Engineering and Management published 9 hits, 10% of the total. The complete listings from the SCI search are given in Appendix G.
Two of the selected journals failed to publish any hits: the Canadian Water Resources Journal (CWRJ) and the Journal of Hydrology. Two others published only one hit over nine years: the Journal of Environmental Management and the Journal of Hydraulic Research. In 1985 and 1994, proportionally more hits were published, for all journals, than in other years of the study.
Additionally, it was found that some of the selected keyword terms were relatively more common in the titles of hit papers. Topics that were most common included terms related to water distribution, combined sewer overflows, and sanitary sewers. Least common terms were: best management practice(s), porous pavements, and urban wetlands.
The number of volumes produced each year and the costs associated with the journals are shown in Table 3. These factors, along with the circulation, indexing services, contents and the document type (Ulrichs, 1994-95), will determine the value of each journal. Appended at the back are excerpts from Ulrichs for the list of journals.
Table 2: (Refer to Excel "Table2".)
Table 3: (refer to Excel "Table 3".)
3.2 Database Review
The March 1993 AQUAREF database, on compact disc, cited references for fourteen of the fifteen study journals. The Water Engineering and Management journal was not included in the database between 1985 and 1993. While AQUAREF covered many water-related issues, the titles issued under each journal over the nine year study period were rarely related to urban hydraulics.
Ulrichs International Periodicals Directory, 33rd Edition (1994-95) (Appendix F), provides information for all journals in this survey, except the Journal of the Institute of Water Environment and Management. Most journals indexed by several main systems, the most common being: Current Contents, GeoRef, Geo. Abstracts, Selected Water Resources Abstracts, Energy Info Abstracts, Pollution Abstracts, Biological Abstracts, Science Citation Index, Chemical Abstracts, Environmental Abstracts, Risk Abstracts, International Engineering Abstracts. Thus the utility of a database for urban hydraulics research depends on which of these indexes are included.
4.1 Literature Review
The journal review confirmed that the existing body of peer-reviwed journal literature for urban water systems is widely dispersed, and probably limited. Efficient researchers should, therefore, for current trends in urban hydraulics, refer first to the ASCE Journal of Environmental Engineering, next to the Journal of the Water Pollution Control Federation, the Journal of Water Resources Planning and Management, and Water Engineering and Management. Other journals publish key papers haphazardly, probably because their readership, editors and regular authors are not particularly associated with our narrow study area, and would not be as effective on a regular referral basis. The Journal of the Water Pollution Control Federation and the ASCE Journal of Environmental Engineering, are supported by large professional societies that hold numerous conferences and technical specialty meetings and sessions that stimulate the publication of papers in their journals. Had conference proceedings, government documents, and other information sources in addition to journals been included in this survey, the total number hits would have been much greater.
In a comparison of cost between the Journal of Environmental Engineering and the Journal of the Water Pollution Control Federation, the former is a better deal, especially for members of ASCE, as the journal comes bi-monthly, at a cost of 34 US$ for members (136 US$ non-members), while the latter journal, comes monthly at a cost of 144 US$. Subscription costs as listed in Ulrichs directory are given in Appendix F.
The least useful journals for urban water systems research, according to this survey, are the CWRJ and the Journal of Hydrology. Both are evidently more concerned with rural, rather than urban, environments. While the CWRJ covers a diverse range of Canadian water issues, no hits for our special topics were discovered, indicating a low publication rate by Canadian colleagues. This quarterly journal, however, costs only 55 Cdn$ per year.
4.2 Database Review
4.2.1 Science Citation Index
SCI is available on annual compact discs or in bound volumes, providing international coverage of most science disciplines. All fifteen journals were included in SCI between 1985 and 1994. One must be aware of journal name changes, and in what year they occurred, to make successful searches. A problem with keywords-in-title searches, in SCI and any other index, is that the title may not provide insight to the content of the paper. Also, the list of keywords may be inadequate, causing many misses and/or anomolous hits. This was confirmed by our manual search of the tables of contents for two of the journals: CWRJ indexes verified the zero SCI count, as strictly defined by the keywords, but we found six potential misses, papers that were significant, having only part of the keyword phrase in the title. Similarly, our manual search through the Journal of the Water Pollution Control Federation verified the SCI count, but a number of the hits were potentially anomolous hits, being literature reviews rather than research papers.
Because the SCI system contains most of the water journals, is easy to use, and is freely available in universities, we conclude that it is an effective research tool. Hits are determined quickly with SCI, but anomolous hits and misses are likely in journals that accept catchy titles (ASCE requires titles to be 50 characters or less). Indexing systems that search keywords in the abstract are very much to be preferred.
WATDOC, the Water Resources Document Reference Centre, produces an on-line database for the Canadian Federal Department of Fisheries and the Environment. Designed for scientists, librarians, information centre personnel, planners, engineers, academics and managers (WATDOC, 1977), the system provides information on journal literature, papers, and reports in the water resources field. Datafiles, prepublished reports as well as full bibliographic citations are available in various sections of WATDOC. On-line access to Water Resources Abstracts, which until recently was produced by the Water Resources Scientific Information Centre of the United States Department of the Interior, and the commercially-produced Pollution Abstracts, are also available through WATDOC. WATDOC has the ability to search the Canada Institute for Scientific and Technical Informations CAN/OLE databases and the INRS - Eau (Institut national de la recherche scientifique - Eau) subset of the BADADUQ (Banque de donnees a acces direct de lUniversite du Quebec) data base.
WATDOC has created three databases available through QL Systems Limited: ENV - Environment, D-REF - Data references, and NEWS - summaries of newspapers clippings. For published papers in our area, Environment is the most appropriate to search. This database provides full bibliographic citations, keywords, and abstracts to published and unpublished books, journal articles, and conference proceedings since 1970, on Canadas water resources and related topics (WATDOC, 1977). WATDOC-supported databases available though QL Systems Limited include: ASFA - Aquatic Sciences and Fisheries Abstracts, DEL - Delft (Delft Hydraulics Laboratory and WATDOC joint effort to provide citations to world-wide literature on water, hydraulics, waterways, and other related subjects), FSL - Flueve St-Laurent, SOL - Solid waste Management, SWRA - Selected Water Resources Abstracts, PAB - Pollution Abstracts. For further information on QL Systems Limited databases see Appendix C.
AQUAREF, produced by the Inland Waters Directorate of Environment Canada, provides access to scientific papers and technical literature related to water resources and the environment (Users Guide, 1993). It gives a bibliographic description, a subject description, an abstract, and location of libraries holding the document. While the contents are available within on-line services, and on annually updated compact discs, AQUAREF updates can be sent to owners on a fortnight basis. AQUAREF is affiliated with two other databases: the WAVES Database and the Directory of Marine and Freshwater Scientists in Canada. WAVES is designed for scientists, consultants, students, educators, and librarians requiring information on fisheries and marine science document collections (Users Guide, 1993). As shown in Appendix A, the WAVES subject areas are not of interest to our group. The Directory lists marine and freshwater specialists and their addresses. Appendix B is a listing of AQUAREF special topics, some of which are relevant to our group.
4.2.3 DIALOG vs. CAN/OLE
DIALOG and CAN/OLE are comprehensive on-line systems that offer access to many contributing databases. CAN/OLE is a product of Canada, with predominantly Canadian interests at the forefront, while DIALOG is produced in the United States. The following summarises these research tools.
DIALOG subjects are located in Appendix D; the complete listing of DIALOG databases is too extensive for this report, however the databases which contain pertinent information to this study are included in Appendix D. Canadian content is lacking in DIALOG databases. CAN/OLE provides almost identical databases but with more national subject matter.
CAN/OLE is produced by the Canadian Institute for Scientific and Technical Information, a division of the National Research Council of Canada. CAN/OLE does not have as extensive, or diverse, a range of databases as DIALOG, however CAN/OLE specializes in scientific issues. This makes CAN/OLE a more viable on-line system for researchers (i.e. engineering consultants, academics, and students) of water-related fields. The listing of appropriate databases for research in urban water systems is given in Appendix E.
There are a large number of well established database conglomerates, of which CAN/OLE and DIALOG are only two examples. Goals of the various on-line systems vary from specific interests to diverse fields of information. It is impossible to draw a schematic of the hierarchy of databases that consider water-related issues. There are companies/institutions that have compiled many different databases, some of which may be useful to urban hydraulics research. Locating hits may take longer in the larger databases, however their diversity may allow researchers to check sources that may otherwise be overlooked. Canadian researchers may find CAN/OLE beneficial because Canadian content is high, and literature and authors will be easier to recover.
For a single database, the Science Citation Index (SCI), on-line or on disc, is an effective research tool. Another alternative for on-line searching is to log-on to midsize to small database systems. Systems such as WATDOC offer numerous information categories and databases. Of the mid-size databases, WATDOC is an effective research tool in urban water systems, as it contains many of the index services listed for the journals surveyed.
Canadian Institute for Science and Technical Information. CAN/OLE: Selected Database User Aids. June, 1992.
Canadian Institute for Science and Technical Information. CAN/OLE 1994 Database Users Price List. 1994
Department of Fisheries and Oceans. The Waves Database Users Guide. Ottawa, Canada. 1994
DIALOG Information Services. DIALOG Database Catalogue. Dialog Information Services, Inc. 1993.
Fisheries and Environment Canada. WATDOC. Water Resources Document Reference Centre. Ottawa, Ontario. Feb. 1977.
Ulrichs International Periodicals Directory 1994-95. The Bowker International Serials Database. Reed Reference Publishing Company. New Providence, New Jersey.
Environmental impact assessment
Fish processing and products
Fisheries biology (freshwater and marine)
Law at sea
Environmental impact assessment
Ice and snow
Sedimentation and erosion
Other QL Systems Limited Data Bases
OAB Oceanic Abstracts
BNT Boreal Northern Titles
YKB Yukon Bibliography
WAA World Aluminum Abstracts
MET Metal Abstracts
RSC Revised Status of Canada
SRC Status revises du Canada
SCR Supreme Court Reports
RCS Recueils des arrets de la Cour supreme
FCR Federal Court Reports
RCF Recueils des arrets de la Cour federale
HOQ Hansard Oral Questions
HQO Hansard questions orales
HWQ Hansard Written Questions
HQE Hansard questions ecrites
SBC Statutes of British Columbia
SNB Statutes of New Brunswick
OCA Ontario Court of Appeal
OHC Ontario High Court and Divisional Court
STO Standing Orders
DIALOG Major Areas of Interest
Agriculture, Food and Nutrition
Biosciences and Technology
Business News and Information
Company Information and Financial Information
Computers and Software
Energy and Environment
Government and Public Affairs
Medicine, Health Care, and Drug Information
New and Complete-Text Publications
Patents, Trademarks, and Copyrights
People, Books, and Consumer News
Physical Science and Technology
Social Sciences and Humanities
DIALOG Databases Offering Information on Water-Related Studies and Costs (Database Catalogue, 1993)
Ei Compendex*Plus - worldwide coverage of approx. 4,500 journals and selected government reports and books. U.S. prices: $2.00/connect minute; $.80/full on-line type; $.80/full format off-line print; $.70/kwic window; $12.00/monthly DIALOG Alert plus prints.
Enviroline - more than 5,000 international primary and secondary source publications reporting on all aspects of the environment. US prices: $2.00/connect minute; $.45/full on-line type; $.45/full format off-line print; $12.00/monthly DIALOG Alert.
Environmental Bibliography - covers the fields of general human ecology, atmospheric studies, energy, land resources, water resources, and nutrient and health. More than 300 periodicals are indexed. US prices; $1.00/connect minute; $.10/full
on-line type; $.10/full format off-line print.
SCISearch - Science Citation Index and additional records. Includes 90 percent of the worlds significant scientific and technical literature in pure and applied sciences. US prices: $1.10/connect minute; $.90/full format on-line type; $.90/full format off-line print; $21.00/biweekly; DIALOG Alert (default); $15.00/weekly DIALOG Alert; Nonsubscribers US prices: $2.70/connect minute; $.90/full format on-line
type; $.90/full format off-line print; $21.00/biweekly DIALOG Alert (default); $15.00/weekly DIALOG Alert.
Water Resources Abstracts - material from over 50 US water institutes and research centres on water resource economics, ground and surface water hydrology, metropolitan water resources planning and management, and water-related aspects of nuclear radiation and safety. US prices; $1.60/connect minute; $.65/full format on-line type; $.65/full format off-line print; $9.00/monthly DIALOG Alert.
Waternet - index of premier publications (books, journal articles, government reports, conference proceedings, handbooks, manuals, selected technical reports) relating to water and wastewater. Also included are all American Water Works Assoc. (AWWA) and American Water Works Association Research Foundation materials. US prices: $1.50/connect minute, $.45/full format on-line type; $.60/full format off-line print.
Appropriate Databases for Urban Hydraulics Research in CAN/OLE, and Costs (CAN/OLE , 1994, and CAN/OLE Canadian Price List, Jan. 1994).
AQUAREF - access to bibliographic references to the general, scientific, and technical literature on all aspects of Canadian water resources and other environmental topics. Cdn price: $40.00/ connect hour; $.10/reference printed on-line; $.02/abstract printed on-line; $.12/reference printed off-line; $.03/abstract printed off-line.
Aquatic Sciences and Fisheries Abstracts - (also in DIALOG) an international database covering the science and technology of marine and freshwater environments (journals, books, conference proceedings, and technical reports). Engineering is listed in Subject Coverage. Cdn price: $40.00/ connect hour; $.10/reference printed on-line; $.02/abstract printed on-line; $.12/reference printed off-line; $.03/abstract printed off-line.
EIPlus72/EIPlus90 - known as Compendex*Plus, or the Engineering Index, these databases are produced by Engineering Information Inc. They cover the worlds technological literature in all engineering disciplines found published in journals, technical reports, monographs, conference proceedings, directories and other materials. The following EI subject areas would be helpful for urban hydraulics research: civil engineering, control devices and principles, and possibly construction management. Cdn price: $132.00/ connect hour; $.70/reference printed on-line; $.02/abstract printed on-line; $.72/reference printed off-line; $.03/abstract printed off-line.
Enviro - as cited in Appendix D under DIALOG. Cdn price: $124.00/ connect hour; $.31/reference printed on-line; $.16/abstract printed on-line; $.33/reference printed off-line; $.17/abstract printed off-line.