eReviews: Ergonomics Abstracts, June 1, 2012

content EBSCO’s Ergonomics Abstracts is an index of just over 400 scholarly journals as well as books, magazines, and conference proceedings related to ergonomics, design, engineering, and occupational health. It is not a source of articles about treatments and diagnoses for doctors and medical professionals but, rather, is created for those who work in design or occupational health and safety to prevent injury.

The database offers a few titles from as far back as the 1970s, but the bulk of the material is from the past 30 years. Top publishers include expected companies (Taylor & Francis, Wiley, Elsevier, SAGE, etc.) but also smaller publishers such as the Association for Computing Machinery, IEEE, and a wide variety of international ergonomic associations and institutes.

The majority of the material is indexed selectively, but what the database refers to as Core titles are indexed completely. These include the Contemporary Ergonomics monograph series, academic journals such as Ergonomics and Spine, and trade publications‚ Ergonomist, for example. Selectively indexed works include the academic Journal of Occupational Health Psychology and the Proceedings of the IEEE, and the National Safety Council’s trade magazine Safety and Health.

Most of the titles offered here are also included in larger databases such as Web of Knowledge, Scopus, and Google Scholar. However, this resource’s focus on workplace ergonomics and occupational safety means that it emphasizes material not found in those resources. For example, a search for carpal tunnel in Ergonomics Abstracts returns 489 results. Sorting by relevance, I noted that the first ten citations are all from the past decade and pertain to evaluating the presence of carpal tunnel in the workplace. In contrast, the first ten results on Google Scholar are all more than 12 years old and are related to definition and treatment.

The EBSCO interface, which has been reviewed at length before in LJ (, serves the content of this database well. EBSCO offers basic and advanced search options as well as visual search, which displays results in an interactive map (

In this database, the advanced search options allow users to narrow results by publication date, limit to scholarly journals, and limit by publication type or document type. Users can also search for cover stories and define how long the articles should be. The latter feature will be popular with undergraduate students writing last-minute papers. Conveniently, all search methods provide spelling suggestions. Unfortunately, despite the diverse international origins of the database content, users cannot limit their queries by language.

By default, the results are sorted by relevance, but they can also be adjusted to be sorted by date or alphabetically by source or article title. Search results clearly indicate with words and images what type of publication the article is from, a feature that is particularly useful for quickly finding conference proceedings.

After completing a search, users can refine it without starting over. Once again, it is possible to search specifically for scholarly articles or cover stories and to narrow by publication date using text selectors or a convenient sliding bar. Ergonomics Abstracts comes with four filters: Source type (academic journals, books, etc.), subject, publication, and geography. The subject filter shows only the most common subject terms in a results list; a more comprehensive such tool would be useful.

Users can preview abstracts for individual items by moving their mouse over a magnifying glass icon and see the complete item record (though not the article itself) by clicking on the article title.

EBSCO provides convenient and easy-to-use features on the item detail pages, in addition to standard indexing information such as article title, authors, abstract, and subject terms. The indexed articles, book chapters, and proceedings are given subject headings as well as geographic descriptors.

There are some inconsistencies, however: author keywords are often preserved with the index record, but not always. Occasionally, no descriptors are included in the record. These differences are most likely because EBSCO began indexing using its own controlled vocabulary when it acquired the database in 2011. Entries added before then were indexed by the resource’s previous manager, the Ergonomics Information Analysis Centre (EIAC) of the University of Birmingham, England, which had created its own Classification Scheme and Applications List that were used for indexing.

The item detail page can be formatted for printing or saving, and the database also offers Permalinks to articles, ensuring that users can always access the information they need. One of the most convenient features for those at the reference desk is the quick link to email an item record to a patron (or to yourself); the resulting email includes neatly formatted item details as well as a persistent link to the record.

Users can easily export item records in multiple formats (RIS, XML, BibTeX) to use in citation management tools such as Zotero, Mendeley, or EndNote. EBSCO also provides direct export to RefWorks or EndNote web. In addition, users can bookmark item records via the Add This tool and allow direct connects via services such as CiteULike, Mendeley, Connotea, Facebook, or Twitter.

As in other EBSCO products, users can create an account, and this allows them to save searches and individual items, as well as create email or RSS alerts. Account holders can also add notes to individual item records when signed in and save them for later viewing.

PRICING Pricing for academic institutions is based on a variety of factors including FTE and existing EBSCO databases. Prices range from $3600 to $4500 for individual institutions. Ranges for consortia and online institutions may vary, and charges are subject to change based on royalty requirements and other factors.

VERDICT Ergonomics Abstracts includes a well-selected collection of literature. For colleges and universities with ergonomics-related programs or courses, this database will make a welcome addition to standard multidisciplinary resources.

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