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More than 500 geologic journals are currently published worldwide. Staying abreast of the outpour of professional information seems insurmountable for any one person. Online data base searching provides rapid access to most of this material; it has better precision and recall than manual searching and can be performed with a microcomputer.
Consumer guidelines exist for selection of microcomputer hardware and software to enable manipulation of search results. A suitable communications interface, appropriate software, and a telephone modem are necessary peripheral equipment; a printer and storage media are useful additions.
Data bases vary in subject coverage, file format, and document coverage. Bibliographic data bases specialize in scientific and technical information, and nonbibliographic data bases are strongest in the area of business, finance, and economics.
Two of the most powerful bibliographic exploration files are GeoRef (online version of the American Geological Institute's Bibliography and Index of Geology) and TULSA (online version of the University of Tulsa's Petroleum Abstracts). However, problems exist in searching these data bases: complex search protocol, a multiplicity of command languages, and expensive online time. Search expertise can be developed through several alternatives, including formal training, printed search guides, and local online user groups. A petroleum independent or consultant who will devote time to learn the systems will find the effort to be cost-effective. Such a geologist is rewarded with immediate access to a sophisticated research library.
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