Mideast File (Learned Information, Anderson House, Stokes Road, Medford, NJ 08055)
Mideast Press Report (Claremont Research and Publications, 160 Claremont Ave., New York, NY 10027)
These two important new reference and research services should greatly simplify research on the Middle East for scholars, journalists and political activists alike. Mideast File is a computer-accessible abstract service. It evolved from published abstracts prepared by Tel Aviv University’s Shiloah Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies, and is now available on computer from the California data base vendor DIALOG. Any person or library with a computer terminal and a telephone hookup (modem) can access this information. The access fee is about $80 per hour. Since a single search takes perhaps five or ten minutes and saves many hours of valuable research time, the cost saving is considerable. For large organizations, the database is available on tape by subscription.
Mideast File includes some 10,000 items per year dating back to early 1979, drawn from 50 periodical titles published in the Middle East and 400 other periodicals published elsewhere, as well as many books and special reports. Summaries and article titles are in English, but publications referenced include many languages — Arabic, Hebrew, Turkish, Persian, French and German as well as English.
A sample search on the question of water showed the coverage to represent a broad range of perspectives. The selection is far from complete, however. The abstracts tend to be quite short, and often do not contain enough information. In spite of these shortcomings, the service offers considerable potential for rapid bibliographical searches.
Mideast Press Report is not as technically sophisticated as the Mideast File, but it is potentially of even greater value because of the depth and completeness of its coverage and the reliability of its selection criteria. The Press Report, a publication of Claremont Research and Publications of New York City, provides weekly copies of clippings from over 100 English-language publications. This includes not only major US publications, but also publications from England and elsewhere, including the Jerusalem Post. The Press Report, which averages over 500 pages a week, covers 20-30,000 items a year. It comes in a looose-leaf binder, organized by subject matter and indexed.
The breadth of its coverage means that virtually all significant developments in the region get notice, and important events are covered in great detail. Writers, researchers and analysts will find it enormously valuable as an information base for their work. Another strength of the Press Report is its coverage of specialized publications. By covering military journals, for example, it provides a rich source of documentation on the arms trade, local arms production, local military force structures, and global military strategies relating to the Middle East. In the special documents and essays section, materials are assembled that fall outside the purview of news clippings. These include articles from foreign policy journals and reports from study groups and think tanks and key government documents.
The Press Report makes clipping files obsolete by providing material in an easily accessible form with a breadth of coverage no individual could hope to match. As such, it will save individuals and institutions great expense in subscriptions and labor time. For that reason, its annual subscription price of $2,950 is a bargain. The reports will soon be available in a fiche edition, which will facilitate shipment and storage. Claremont is also considering providing a computer-generated index and a weekly press summary.
Few individuals will ever be able to own the Press Report, but few will fail to use this remarkable source as it comes into wider circulation. Those that do not now have access should urge their libraries to subscribe. Claremont Research and Publications also provides a research service using its extensive clippings and reference library.