CABI Launches Electronic Research Archive, Unlocking Nearly a Century of Scientific Discoveries


Forgotten Studies Help Scientists Address Modern Medical and Social Issues


CAB International Publishing (CABI), a leader in publishing applied life science research since 1908, has been digitizing its records since the early 1980s. However, the huge volumes of important research papers, books, papers and other literature written from 1908 to 1983 existed only as deteriorating hard copies. Researchers produced an enormous number of discoveries during this period, forming the foundation for the fields of medicine, the environment, development and economics. Unfortunately, many of these important discoveries had been forgotten in library archives, and some modern researchers have even recreated past studies. They were simply unaware that their work duplicated previous studies until they presented it for public consumption.

CABI decided to address this challenge to provide scientists with all the pertinent historical information to address pressing issues such as biotechnology, germ warfare, food production and global warming. The publisher owned the rights to more than four million records from 9,000 peer-reviewed journals, along with 2,500 books, conference proceedings and other papers. While some of these records were supported by well-written abstracts, many others contained none at all. Far worse, many important papers were overlooked because their abstracts had not been translated into English.

Simply abstracting and publishing current papers was enough to keep CABI’s staff busy around-the-clock. Hiring personnel to work on 75 years of historic records was neither time- nor cost-efficient.


CABI decided its best option was to outsource the work to an experienced content services provider with a staff capable of writing abstracts in foreign languages. Innodata Isogen, the industry’s leading provider of editorial services, was chosen to abstract and digitize the backlog because of our extensive experience indexing large and complex sets of data.


Innodata deployed a team of more than 30 subject matter experts (SMEs). Each SME possessed a college degree, usually within the specific fields of science they were writing about. CABI provided the SMEs with thorough and extensive training regarding their technical writing, indexing and coding requirements. Before they actually wrote abstracts, they had to prove to CABI that they could craft well-written, accurate drafts. Once they met those standards, they were ready to start the project.

A production schedule was set-up based on a 14-day turn-around. One week was allotted for the data capture of bibliographic details, and another week was allocated to the abstracting and indexing of the articles. Each Friday, Innodata Isogen transmitted the records to CABI’s editorial staff.

The team wrote abstracts for articles that were lacking them and rewrote abstracts that were poorly written or failed to capture key points. The team wrote and coded all materials according to CABI’s specifi cations, and then created files comprised of abstracts and indices. Article citation information was captured, including English titles, foreign titles, ISBN, author names and author affiliations. As a final step before shipping the documents to CABI, the records were provided in ASCII text and tagged to comply with CABI’s indexing system.


Since launching its Global Health Archive in October, CABI now offers a powerful research tool that provides timely access to nearly 100 years of scientific study in public and international health. For the first time, thousands of relevant articles that had been lost and forgotten in out-of-print volumes, rare journals and other publications are now available through a modern, searchable, bibliographic database.

The database is helping CABI attract new clients in universities, industry and government. Additional business has been generated from existing customers who can quickly learn if their project duplicates, or expands upon, prior research. Ultimately, the public benefi ts from scientists who are now able to spend more time moving forward to uncover new research to cure diseases, lessen famine and better manage natural resources around the world.



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