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Research Brief #4: Archive by article
Unlock our history
Hard-to-access archives lock away our history. Find solutions to tough challenges by archiving professional journals by article and improve metadata to ease the use of research tools like Zotero.
The issue-level problem
The Army largely archives branch journals by issue. Unfortunately, issue-level archives challenge students and researchers interested in the specific topics in individual articles rather than what was published at a specific time in complete issues.
In recognition of this challenge, the Army maintains guides to accessing our information. As examples, Infantry maintains a 216 page subject-author index and the Army Heritage Center Foundation hosts dozens of research bibliographies on their website.1 Unfortunately, these guides are only as current as research librarians maintain them.
Case study: Recruiting
The Army’s long history with recruiting should provide a rich resource, but it is largely locked away. Notably, Infantry’s index includes only four articles relating to recruiting, while the Army Heritage Center Foundation’s website does not include a bibliography focused on recruiting issues.
Where should a recruiting researcher turn?
219 issue-level results from a search in Military Review for “recruiting”.
They might turn to the Fort Leavenworth’s Combined Arms Research Library (CARL) or Google Scholar. At the CARL website, a query of “recruiting” in Military Review returns 219 issues. The researcher must then (1) download the multi-megabyte, 100+ page complete PDF issue, (2) find the material, (3) determine the material’s suitability, and (4) take notes including the bibliographic information for future citation. This is a laborious process. Assuming a reasonable five minutes per issue, a researcher would spend at least 18 hours screening these 219 issues.
Conversely, Google Scholar (and other online databases) return search results more directly focused on the query. A query of “military recruiting” at Google Scholar returns 653,000 results, but these results are much more focused. Each result includes the abstract or an excerpt, links to other related works, and are easy to cite. While no researcher would screen that many results, archiving at the article-level eases the screening process.
Immediate access to a RAND report on recruiting archived at DTIC.
Modernize the archives
While outlets like Military Review and Parameters now publish by article, the information in their archives remains locked away. The Army cannot easily access this information when challenges emerge, and students interested in military problems cannot build on the work of those who came before them.
To modernize, the Army should consider:
Processing existing digital holdings to the article-level in text with an accompanying PDF for those who want to review the original material.
Improving embedded metadata to allow for rapid and precise citation with tools like Zotero.
Storing articles at the Defense Technical Information Center or similar archive could make them accessible via Google Scholar and other indexes.2
Download the brief here:
Visit https://www.moore.army.mil/infantry/magazine/ to access the 1996 - 2020 subject-author index. The Army Heritage Center Foundation’s bibliographies even include one focused on professional publication. They are available at https://www.armyheritage.org/programs/research/reference-bibliographies/subjects/. Many are at least two decades old.
See the first response in Figure 2. This book is hosted at the Defense Technical Information Center and is easy to find, scrub, and cite.