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Finding information on rubber using the Rapra Abstracts database.

There is an increasing diversity of applications for rubber, including tires, roads and civil engineering applications, and new forms of natural rubber, such as epoxidized and thermoplastic rubbers, are coming to the fore. The International Rubber Study Group's most recent figures show consumption at 16.54 million metric tons, with synthetic rubber accounting for almost 61% of the total. The automotive industry is responsible for a large share of the rubber industry. The driving force for this comes from two sources: The continuous increase in population and the aspiration of countries throughout the world for ever-higher levels of economic development. Within the tire industry there is growing interest in the use of recycled rubber, and therefore a great effort is underway to overcome the thus far inherent limitations on the use of recycled materials. The bonding of rubber to metals and other materials is also of increasing importance in the rubber industry.

When considering the rubber industry, a basic process understanding is vital, as the technology continues to evolve and increases in sophistication. In addition, new polymers, blends and other material systems play an important role in advancing technology. Major challenges will be to choose the appropriate material and develop process technology that will directly control the shaping and property distribution of rubbers and thermoplastic elastomers as they are transformed into finished products, parts or sub-assemblies. Environmental and recycling issues and compliance with legislation/standards will also continue to be of significance.

In order to achieve the above without wasting time, money and effort on effectively reinventing the wheel, it is necessary to have access to published information on topics such as new materials, modification of existing materials, modification or improvement of existing techniques, new technologies, and new or improved machinery.

Furthermore, in a world where competition is fierce, to gain advantage in the industry it is necessary to keep up to date with economic and commercial matters, such as markets, mergers and acquisitions, etc.

The Rapra Abstracts database is an effective tool in locating information on all the above topics. Started in 1972 and updated every two weeks with over 1,400 records, the Rapra Abstracts database is the world's premier bibliographic database for the rubber, plastics and polymeric composites industries, and currently contains in excess of 670,000 records. Over 180,000 of these relate to rubbers, thermoplastic elastomers, composites and polyurethanes. The database contains abstracts (or summaries) of journal articles, conference papers, patents, standards, books and a unique collection of company brochures. With over 500 different journal titles from around the world in a wide variety of languages, the database is a truly comprehensive source of information.

The database is available on subscription either via the internet ( or on CD-ROMs. To search a demo version of the database simply use user id `demo' and password `demo.' (Editor's note - the apostrophe [`] is not to be typed into your query. It is used here to seperate keystrokes used in performing the computer operations). Demo users can search the entire database and see the list of titles of the records, but cannot display the abstract and bibliographic details. The web version has a user friendly interface and is suitable for both the novice and experienced searcher. Extensive online help is only a few mouse clicks away.

Conducting searches

For our first example, we will search on rubber to metal bonding. Users can type their query into the main search box and can click on the search button to start the search.

The user is then presented with a screen showing the first 25 hits that match the query. The title of the article, the year of publication and Rapra's copyquest order number (for document delivery) are shown.

In the above example, the user has used natural language and consequently a vast number of documents were retrieved, namely 447,129. However, not all of these records will contain all the search terms desired, but due to the relevance ranking used by the system, the first records displayed will probably be pretty well on target.

By clicking on one of the titles, a registered subscriber is then presented with the full details for the record. These include the title, abstract, author, affiliation, bibliographic reference (e.g., journal name, conference name, patent number, etc.) and are supplemented by Rapra's extensive indexing and classification codes. Companies discussed in the article and/or trade names are also included if appropriate.

Also shown on this screen is a box which subscribers can fill in to request a copy of the original article. This can be delivered by fax, mail or e-mail, and incurs a separate charge.

The database supports both the American English and Anglicised English spelling of words such as tire or tyre, but to retrieve the maximum number of records, users are advised to use both spellings.

The main search line searches for words from the title, abstract, index terms, location (countries or geographic regions), non-polymer terms (chemicals which are not polymers) and trade names. To search in a field other than these, you either need to type in the term or terms in one of the other boxes on the search screen (e.g., companies or authors) or use the field name preceded by a colon after the search term, e.g., `rubber world':journal_name.'

For the system to recognize phrases, you must either put it in single quotation marks or use the adj operator, e.g., injection adj molding or `injection molding.'

If your search query produces hundreds or even thousands of documents, then you will probably want to limit this in some way. You can do this in a variety of ways. First of all, you may want to use operators. If you simply type in a list of terms separated by spaces, the system will simply OR the words together. For example, if you type in "recycling of tires" you will retrieve over 44,700 records, because the system will actually find all records that mention one or more of these terms, namely recycling and tires. However, because of the relevance ranking in operation, the first records actually returned will probably be about this subject, as they will include all of these search terms.

If, instead, we make use of some operators as follows: recycling and (tyre or tire), this narrows the search down to around 2,200 records, and all of these will include all the above terms.

Another way of restricting the search is to simply restrict by publication date. Alternatively, you can limit the language of the article - all the abstracts are in English, but the language of the original could be German, Russian, Chinese, etc.

The Rapra Classification Code, devised over a number of years for the systematic classification of scientific, technological and commercial information on plastics and rubber, can also help in narrowing a search. If a classification code is used for a record, this means that a substantial or important part of the article is related to the subject of the classification code.

For example, searching on the injection molding of nitrile rubber using natural language, Boolean operators and classifications as follows gives a wide variation in the number of records retrieved:

* `injection molding of nitrile rubber' retrieves 219,039 records using natural language;

* `injection molding' and (nitrile adj rubber or acrylonitrile adj butadiene adj [rubber or copolymer] or NBR) retrieves around 253 records using Boolean and other operators. The above search statement also shows the different ways a polymer can be named.

If you alternatively use the classification codes for these two concepts as follows: `831:class_codes and 42D11C391: class_codes,' this reduces the number of records retrieved to 26 records. In addition to reducing the number of records, this use of the classification codes should also have increased the relevance of these articles.

However, in most cases, free text searching (and even some natural language searching) can often achieve good search results.

The patent literature is often the first indication of new technology, or materials, and can sometimes be the only place this information is divulged. Since 1994, Rapra has abstracted U.S. and European patents, and hence you can find an indication of the current new developments of your competitors and/or find information on new technology by using patent as a document type in connection with other search terms.

For example, using `EPDM' or `ETHYLENE ADJ PROPYLENE ADJ DIENE' in the main query box, 1998 and 1999 in the date range boxes, and selecting Patent as the Document Type (from the drop down menu), retrieves 333 records.

The CD-ROM version of the Rapra Abstracts database contains essentially the same information as the web version. There are a number of differences between the two systems. The web version is updated every two weeks, whereas the CD-ROM version is updated every two months. The web version has only one search screen and you can only keep one search at a time. The CD-ROM version has two search screens catering for both experienced and less experienced searchers. The expert search screen has 99 search lines, allowing complicated search queries to be built up. You can also keep the results of one search while executing another one. To combine different search statements, simply use the CS = (combine sets expression), as shown below. Like the internet version, there is also extensive online help for searching the CD-ROM. In contrast to the internet version, the CD-ROM system automatically assumes a phrase for two words adjacent to one another.

Because the database is so large, the complete database will not fit on a single CD-ROM. There are, therefore, a number of CD-ROM versions. Subscribers to the CD-ROM versions have unlimited access to all records on their particular CD-ROM(s), and for certain of the sub-sections this can be a more cost effective option than a subscription to the web version.

In order to carry out a search of the full version and full version backfile, it is necessary to swap CD-ROMs. Both the expert and compound search modes have the facility of saving and then restoring searches, so you can create and execute a search on the current CD-ROM, save the search strategy, exit the application, swap to the Backfile CD-ROM(s) and then restore the search.

The CD-ROM has two main search screens. One is the Expert search screen. However, you do not need to be an expert to use this screen. Simply use the Br button and the system will prompt you for what it needs next. Combine different search lines using the CS = expression. The above search is looking for records on the database which are in English and are about automotive applications of EPDM.

By clicking on search, the user is presented with a summary screen showing the list of titles, and then by clicking on a specific title, the user is taken to the record display. There are various display formats from which the user can choose.

The Compound Search screen shows how to search for information regarding mergers or acquisitions which were published in 1998 or 1999, and which are in English, French or German.

The web version, as well as containing the entire abstracts database, also contains two other types of records - namely trade name and address records. These latter two record types are available on the Trade Names CD-ROM. These two types of records can be used to find, for example, the manufacturer of a polymeric material, additive, machine or application.

For example, searching "injection adj molding and machines" gives 57 records. One of the titles of the record is HUSKY E-SERIES MACHINES (Trade Name Record). On clicking on this we retrieve the following record:

* Copyquest_Order_Number-667465 - Update - 9807

* Title - HUSKY E-SERIES MACHINES (Trade Name Record)

* Abstract - Two platen injection molding machines.

* Language - English

* Citation - Birmingham, c. 1997, pp.6. 12 ins. 17/12/97.



* Class_Codes - 2

* Document_Type - Trade Literature - Record_Type - Trade Name Record

From this we can then pick up (copy) the company name back into a clear search screen, put quotes around it (so the system recognizes it as a phrase) and choose address record as the record type. This in turn will then give us the address details for the company.

* Copyquest_Order_Number - 667829 - Update - 9807


* Address - West Midland House, Coleshill, Birmingham, B46 1HH, UK-Tel- 1675468900- Fax - 1675467531



* Record_Type - Address Record

In conclusion, therefore, the Rapra Abstracts database is a cost effective and easy to use product for both experienced or beginner searchers to find information on all aspects of the technology and commercial information relating to the injection molding industry. So, if you are looking for information on materials, additives, companies, health and safety, legislation, processing and equipment, properties and testing, then the Rapra Abstracts database should be your first stop.
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Article Details
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Comment:Finding information on rubber using the Rapra Abstracts database.
Publication:Rubber World
Article Type:Statistical Data Included
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Mar 1, 2000
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