Issues in Science and Technology Librarianship
Information Science Specialist
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology
Periodically the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) Library gets a request to find Japanese publications for the JPL's Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer (ASTER) Project Bibliography. ASTER is a cooperative effort between NASA, Japan's Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI), and Japan Space Systems (J-spacesystems).
At the time the JPL Library first got this request in early 2007, searching the Dialog database JICST-EPlus, from the Japan Information Centre of Science and Technology, met this need for finding Japanese scientific and technical information. By the end of 2007 JICST-EPlus was no longer available on any platform. A 2010 draft document from Dialog, "Finding Japanese Sources in Dialog Engineering Files," recommended searching Inspec, NTIS, EI Compendex, Pascal, and SciSearch Dialog databases. These databases were found to be insufficient for the ASTER request for Japanese publications. Both for the 2009 and the 2014 ASTER updates, searching various bibliographic databases for literature about finding Japanese scientific-technical articles only led to articles written in the 1990s or earlier. Searching Google finds a presentation about Japan's distribution of sci-tech information, which seems to be dated 2008. However it does not cover changes after 1999. This brief review attempts to address this lack of current information about finding Japanese scientific and technical articles by providing information about databases helpful for the ASTER requests.
This guide is selectively focused upon Japanese databases that provide information about scientific and technical publications published in Japan. Web sites are included that allow searching of publications with English terms even if many of the publications are in Japanese. Citation information for the journal articles, conference papers, etc. needs to be available in English. Additionally, the site needs to be current and updated regularly. The key criterion is its usefulness for the ASTER Bibliography for finding any Japanese scientific or technical publication -- journal article, conference paper, etc.
In 2009 two Japanese organizations, "JST, Japan Science and Technology Agency" and "Japanese National Institute of Informatics (NII)," were identified that provided access to Japanese publications. Both JST and NII are making efforts to provide access within Japan to publications published in Japan on a regular basis.
A challenge has been changes made to the "JST, Japan Science and Technology Agency" web site. The Google 2009 search led to the "JST, Japan Science and Technology Agency" web site list of databases. Bookmarks to both the English version of JST's home page and to the English language list of databases did not work in 2014 because the URLs changed and the "Science Links Japan" used previously was gone. The English language version of JST databases was found again because the main URL, (http://www.jst.go.jp/), for JST remained constant. In 2009 the JST databases J-STAGE, Journal@rchive, J-EAST, J-STORE, were searched for publications. The JST list of databases was changed in 2014 but was still useful. It still provided the databases J-STAGE for publications, and J-STORE for patents. When recently checking the JST database list J-STORE is no longer listed on the JST list of databases. It is still available through a separate URL (see description below). JST seems to be making the Databases list more of a "Dissemination of Scientific and Technological Information" of a broad variety of databases rather than the emphasis upon publications seen in 2009.
The other organization used for access to Japanese publications is the "Japanese National Institute of Informatics (NII)." NII has the database JAIRO, Japanese Institutional Repositories Online. It was used in both 2009 and 2014. While it has not changed URLs for this database NII has added an additional database of potential interest.
The Databases page provides links, which may not be maintained to be accurate, to 12 databases. These include J-STAGE, which covers leading scholarly e-journals from Japan, and J-Global. J-Global is in Japanese and covers databases, publications, patents, researchers and research institutes.
No longer listed is J-EAST (English Article of Science and Technology database), which was a useful database in 2009. The nonworking link still existed in 2014 but was removed by May 18, 2015. It contained documents from academic publications, serials, proceedings and technical reports of hospitals, universities and enterprises published in Japan. When used in 2009, J-EAST clearly stated it stopped being updated after April 2007. No current counterpart to this database has been found.
While it is available free of charge it does provide links to full text, some of which is paid content. For the article search option, there is a simple search box that searches the entire article. There is also an advanced search option. Searching by year is one of the advanced search options. Again there was no search history or combining of searches options. Some of the links to full text or to additional information lead to J-STAGE. There is the ability to select and download bibliographic records into various bibliographic managers. The User Guide is helpful: http://support.nii.ac.jp/en/cia/quickguide
It was difficult to limit search results in all three databases, J-STAGE, JAIRO, and CiNii. For instance, JAIRO uses a string search when searching. So searching for ASTER also retrieves asteroids, Asteromphalus, Asterina, etc. J-STAGE does do an exact match but without assigned keywords it is difficult to limit to the ASTER instrument because the Biology "Subject Area" may contain articles using ASTER imagery. The advanced search in these databases allows a logical "Not." But there is no way to combine multiple searches to avoid retrieving the same references. Author names vary according to the database that supplied the citation. Some author names and publications are only presented using Japanese characters. Such records may not be useful to download for a bibliography. Since the database interfaces continue to evolve, it is useful to review any current guides to the databases. The 2009 search experience was documented in Coppin (2009).
Coppin, Ann. 2009 Internet Corner: So now where do we find Japanese information?" Special Libraries Association Petroleum and Energy Resources Division Bulletin 30(4): 4-6, November 2009. Available from DPER column
This column gave the resources used in the 2009 update to the ASTER Bibliography and listed selected older related articles and resources.
Acknowledgement: The research was carried out at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, under a contract with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Copyright 2015 California Institute of Technology. Government sponsorship acknowledged.
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