Bibliographic databases

Bibliographic databases . They are compilations of publications of scientific-technical content, such as magazine articles, books, theses, conferences, etc., of thematic content, which aim to gather all the possible bibliographic production on an area of ​​knowledge.


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  • 1 Basic concepts
  • 2 History
  • 3 Functions
  • 4 Organization of information
  • 5 Bibliographic Database Examples
  • 6 See also
  • 7 Sources

Basic concepts

Documentary or bibliographic databases contain information about documents, that is, references to documents, but many of them also contain the full texts of those documents, generally in pdf format. For example Medline , is a database that compiles everything that is published worldwide about Medicine. If a researcher needs to know what has been published on a subject of interest, they can locate this information by searching the existing database on their area of ​​research or a multidisciplinary one. The databases contain relevant, updated, accurate, verified and quality information. For all scientific areas there is a specific database or at least a multidisciplinary one.


The Databases have their origin in printed repertoires that began to be published at the beginning of the 20th century, known as Magazines of summaries. They existed for each scientific specialty, for example the Chemical Abstracts for Chemistry or the Biological Abstracts for Biology.

With the arrival of computing in the 70s of the last century, these repertoires were automated, making their consultation and distribution much easier.

They are produced by private companies such as the one mentioned above as public entities National Library of Medicine , USA and can be distributed and marketed directly through the internet or through intermediary companies such as EBSCO , or PROQUEST . They are mostly paid products, although some, especially public ones, are distributed free of charge, such as: Agris , produced by FAO .


Bibliographic databases greatly facilitate the task of being informed about everything that has been published about a field of research.

Typical searches in a database:

  • Know what has been published on a certain topic.
  • Stay up-to-date on what’s new in a field of research.
  • Know what a specific author has published.
  • Know which institution is being investigated the most on a subject.
  • Which magazines publish more about a certain area of ​​study.

Organization of information

In bibliographic databases the information is structured and ordered in records and fields. Structure of a database:

Records: each record represents a single document (a reference to a journal article, book, thesis, etc.) Fields: the records are divided into fields. Each field represents a type of information about a document, for example the title , the author, etc. They are identified with a tag: Au = author, TI = titlo, DE = descriptors.

Search software or interface. It is the computer program that allows searches. It varies according to the company with which the subscription is contracted and usually has text drawers and drop-down menus to filter searches.

Registration example Technical University of Valencia, Spain

  • Title: Towards an integrated crowdsourcing definition
  • Author: Estelles-Arola-Enrique; Gonzalez-Ladron- de Guevara, Fernando
  • Corresponding author: Estelles- Arola Enrique
  • Publication Title: Journal of Information Science
  • Volume: 38
  • Number: 2
  • Pages: 199-200

Bibliographic Database Examples

It is the most suitable tool for finding information because it allows you to carry out specific searches on sources that can group from hundreds to millions of references. Although BDBs mainly collect journal articles, there are also others where you can search for books, conference papers, technical and scientific reports, etc.

MEDLINE ( ) is the best known and most widely used BDB in the healthcare field. MEDLINE compiles almost 4,500 biomedical journals. Its current number of indexed references is over 12,000,000 with coverage that began in 1966. Its accessibility through the Internet has been free since 1997.

Although MEDLINE is the best resource for finding references to biomedical articles, the preponderance of articles written in the English language (approximately 88%) are inconvenient for professionals from other countries who do not have a command of this language. Furthermore, MEDLINE, even though it is the database with the largest number of references and indexed journals, only catalogs around 4,500 journals, when it is estimated that around 25,000 biomedical journals are published worldwide.

But MEDLINE is not the only BDB in biomedicine. EMBASE ( ) is the BDB that emerged from the bibliographic index Excerpta Médica. Like MEDLINE, it compiles nearly 4,000 biomedical journals. Its main difference with MEDLINE is that it dedicates an important part of its collection to topics such as pharmacology, rehabilitation or alternative medicines and that it owns a larger number of indexed European journals, contrary to MEDLINE where North American journals predominate.

Another interesting product that has boomed in recent years is The Cochrane Library CD-ROM . Said product produced by the Cochrane Collaboration ( ) includes four databases. The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews contains the full-text systematic reviews of the Cochrane Collaboration; The Database of Abstracts of Reviews of Effectiveness (DARE); The Controlled Trials Register that contains the references of more than 350,000 controlled and / or randomized clinical trials; The Cochrane Reviews of Methodology that collects articles and monographs related to the methodology in the preparation of systematic reviews.

  • ISOC:The database of the Higher Center for Scientific Research – CSIC -.
  • Redalyc:Network of Scientific Journals from Latin America and the Caribbean , Spain and Portugal .
  • Dialnet:Portal for the dissemination of Hispanic scientific production.


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