EBSCO Publishing has acquired two abstracting services covering computers, the Internet, and information sciences from Information Today, Inc. The two abstracting services— Information Science & Technology Abstracts (ISTA) and Internet & Personal Computing Abstracts (IPCA)—currently have no full text, a feature that ITI publisher Tom Hogan says that users today require. Rather than enter into extensive negotiations with full-text sources, ITI decided to sell the services. EBSCO plans to package them with full-text connections from its EBSCOhost services, supplemented by links to other full-text suppliers. The full transfer of production will not take place till the end of the year.
"We're excited about this arrangement," commented Tim Collins, vice president and division general manager for EBSCO Publishing. "Information Science & Technology Abstracts is already available via EBSCOhost and has met with a very positive response since we first released it in late 2002. Our intention is to expand coverage of library-related journals, enhancing value to researchers in the library science field." Collins continued: "We feel as though Internet & Personal Computing Abstracts will be a nice fit alongside our full-text database, Computer Source. It was a pleasure working with Information Today, and we look forward to honoring their tradition of providing top-flight reference databases."
"It has become increasingly obvious that users of information services prefer integrated solutions," said Hogan, president and CEO of Information Today, Inc. "They want abstracting-and-indexing databases to be seamlessly linked to full-text sources. Rather than create yet another full-text aggregator, we chose to find a home for our databases that would better serve the needs of our user community. EBSCO has initiatives in place to provide this sort of integrated service and has a robust sales and customer service organization to take the databases to the next level of market penetration."
Selling off publications has a human component to it. Hogan commented: "This decision to divest IPCA and ISTA came with its fair share of mixed emotions. We have produced IPCA (formerly Microcomputer Abstracts) for 15 years and ISTA for 5 years. It was difficult to let them go, but the time seemed right, and the EBSCO offer was a good one. We are continuing to produce and publish the two products until the end of 2003 under a services agreement with EBSCO, even though ownership has officially changed hands."
Information Today, Inc. has acquired a number of companies itself over the last few years. Hogan remarked: "At ITI, we have been much more accustomed to acquiring than divesting. It feels strange when the shoe is on the other foot. You start to appreciate what the seller goes through. Though we made the move with mixed emotions, I am very appreciative of how sensitive and what a pleasure it was to deal with the people from EBSCO."
Since 1966, Information Science & Technology Abstracts (formerly Information Science Abstracts) has abstracted books, journals, e-journals, conference proceedings, reports, and patents in the fields of the science, management, and technology of information. ITI took over production from Documentation Abstracts and IFI Plenum in 1998. The print version publishes nine times a year and covers over 450 publications.
Internet & Personal Computing Abstracts abstracts some 120 trade publications, computer magazines, and professional journals covering personal computing products, libraries, the Internet, information science and technology, electronic commerce, e-publishing, etc. It updates monthly. ITI acquired it from Database Services in 1988.
I asked Collins about EBSCO's future plans for the databases. Both files are available on Dialog; ISTA is also on Ovid, and IPCA on CSA. These relationships may or may not continue. At this time, EBSCO has no files on Dialog, but Collins thought that fact would not constitute a barrier in itself. However, Collins would not confirm whether EBSCO would continue with a print version of the databases when it takes over complete production at the beginning of 2004. He indicated that the main value of abstracting services to searchers lies in the increased precision it can give searching over full text only.
EBSCO Publishing, EBSCO Subscription Services, and EBSCO Book Services form the EBSCO Information Services group. EBSCO maintains a comprehensive database of more than 282,000 serial titles and upholds active relationships with more than 60,000 publishers worldwide. Recently, the company has added a number of abstracting-and-indexing services through a policy of acquisition. For example, it bought the Mass Media Articles Index from Pennsylvania State University. MMAI indexes over 40,000 articles on mass media published in over 60 research journals, along with major journalism reviews, encyclopedias, and handbooks in communications studies. EBSCO plans to merge MMAI with CommSearch, recently acquired from the National Communication Association (NCA), to create the Communication & Mass Media Index for release via EBSCOhost in the near future. The company also acquired three hospitality and travel databases from Cornell, Purdue, and two universities in the U.K. As a rule, according to Collins, EBSCO markets its databases to institutions through subscriptions, rather than through pay-per-view outlets.