John Deen, DVM, PhD
Good databases of scientific abstracts are becoming increasingly available over the Internet. For the most part they are proprietary services that charge for access. However, Medline, a comprehensive medical database, has recently been made available to use free at http://wwwindex.nlm.nih.gov/databases/freemedl.html . Medline is also currently expanding the number of databases available for searches. Currently, Medline searches the classical veterinary journals, including such journals as JAVMA. It does not, however, search journals that are normally classified as agricultural, such as the Journal of Animal Science.
Agricola is still the most common agricultural database to search. However, it is not free. It can be obtained from commercial vendors, such as Dialog Select(R) (http://dialogselect.krinfo.com/). Dialog Select(R) charges per record and for search time. Search times will vary in duration, but rarely exceed 2-3 minutes. The cost will vary, but accessing four to five selected abstracts should cost between $3-$5. Other databases available from Dialog Select(R) include CAB Abstracts and AGRIS International, dissertation abstracts, and intellectual property and pharmaceutical information.
In most cases, the search processes themselves are self-explanatory. Medline is in the process of updating its user interface to make the search process easier. Once you obtain a record, you can print it and use it as a source of further information. In some cases, you can order the full copy of the article.