Ereviews: InfoSci-Medical | April 1, 2012

IGI Global;

Content IGI Global’s InfoSci-Medical is part of IGI’s Global Research Collection, which offers books and journals on a wide variety of information technology topics. The medical collection currently consists of 114 ebooks, most of which are classified as reference titles by IGI but are in fact regular volumes. The medical collection covers a broad range of subjects, although certain themes predominate. Almost 20 percent of the books are related to bio informatics; a second large portion provides information on health information systems (patient information systems, distance medicine, etc.); and a third big group covers medical technology (imaging, visualizations, etc.). The medical collection is quite recent, with almost 80 percent of the titles published in the last four years and 15 percent bearing 2012 copyright dates.

IGI also offers several resources for librarians, including MARC records for all titles (either for sets or for individual books), an Excel spreadsheet with permanent URLs for all titles, and two COUNTER-compliant book reports: Total Searches and Sessions by Month and Database and Number of Successful Section Requests by Month and Titles. An additional journal report is available for libraries that subscribe to InfoSci journals, and the publisher also offers free online training, database icons, and complete title lists for all collections.

Usability Books are unearthed in two ways. The provided MARC records and permanent URLs allow patrons to find titles via the library OPAC, or the material can be directly accessed via the IGI interface. There, users can search all subscribed collections using basic, advanced, and expert search methods.

Basic search offers full text, title, and author queries. Advanced adds the options to search by ISBN, digital object identifier (DOI), and type of content (e.g., books, journals, or case studies, if a library subscribes to more than one collection). Expert search offers seldom-seen options such as the ability to ascribe weights to different search terms to affect the relevancy ranking of the results. While most patrons will have difficulty understanding these options, librarians will appreciate them. All of the searches work as expected with regard to Boolean operators and the asterisk truncation symbol.

Results are ranked by relevance, with percentages shown, but can also be sorted by title and copyright date and filtered by subject, author (which the database somewhat confusingly refers to as affiliate), and date (called copyright).

Users may also browse the collections via two categories: keyword and subject, although the distinction between these is not made clear. The subjects are InfoSci categories and broad subcategories (there are only four subcategories under medical), rather than Library of Congress subject headings. The assigned keywords, unfortunately, don’t seem to be author-selected keywords and don’t appear anywhere in the MARC records. They do offer a finer-grained way to browse, listing scores of sub-subcategories within the health-care and health-care database systems headings.

Finally, users can also access all of the items in the collection directly, by book title. This is manageable now that there are only 114 books in the file, but growth, while of course welcomed, may make this option untenable.

The books discovered in these various ways are offered via PDFs of book chapters, with brief descriptions of chapters available rather than abstracts for whole books. However, DOI numbers are provided for entire books, as well as for individual chapters, which makes creating direct links and citations simple.

While viewing the chapter abstracts, a handy box is available containing complete citations in MLA, APA, and Turabian formats. Users can easily create citations in additional styles by exporting information to the EasyBib website with one click, and they can send citations to their RefWorks accounts. Those who lack RefWorks access will find that the presence of DOIs for each chapter makes it easy to import citations into free citation managers such as Zotero or Mendeley. Students, especially, will appreciate these features.

Most of the books in this collection are not intended to be read straight through. As a result, the by-chapter PDF format is a good choice. Chapter PDFs are free of digital rights management (DRM) restrictions and can be downloaded to a computer, read on-screen, transferred to an ereader, or printed without hassle. Some of these titles are also available on other publishers’ platforms that allow only for one-page-at-a-time PDFs, making the books difficult to page through and read. From a usability point of view, the one-chapter-at-a-time PDFs available on the IGI platform are a much better choice.

IGI Global users can register for a personalized account that allows them to save searches and to add books and book chapters to a favorites list.

Pricing Libraries serving more than 1000 relevant FTE can subscribe to the medical collection for an annual fee of $5000 or purchase perpetual access to the content, which costs $15,000 (smaller institutions should contact the company for a price quote). Therefore, the cost to a library is based on the number of potential users rather than the entire population. This will make sense especially for small programs at large universities. The company offers various discount programs including consortium discounts.

Verdict The InfoSci-Medical collection is a highly specialized gathering of material related largely to medical technology. The collection is recommended for specialty medical programs that concentrate on bioinformatics or medical technology; most other academic institutions will need only a minority of the titles, and few public libraries will find them useful. Where the titles are of interest, though, the IGI platform is more user-friendly than many similar ebook products.

Bonnie Swoger About Bonnie Swoger

Bonnie J.M. Swoger is the Science and Technology Librarian at SUNY Geneseo’s Milne Library and the author of the Undergraduate Science Librarian blog, Readers can contact her at