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CAB Abstracts: Quick Guide

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About CAB Abstracts®

CAB Abstracts includes over 7,200,000 bibliographic records dating from 1910 to the present, with over 200,000 records added each year. Selective coverage includes over 9,000 journals, as well as more than 2,500 books, reports, patents, and conference proceedings. Major areas of coverage include agriculture, animal health, forestry, human nutrition, and the management and conservation of natural resources.

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Use the drop-down search menus and operators (AND, OR, NOT) to customize your search. Search by topic, author, publication name , institutional affiliation, document type, CABICODE, CAS Registry Number, or descriptors (subject terms).


Use the Topic field to search within document titles, abstracts, and descriptors (subject terms); choose Title from the drop-down search menu to restrict your search to document titles only. Automatic lemmatization searches for both British and U.S. spellings and some plurals (lemmatization is not applied to keywords in quotes). Be sure to include synonyms and use truncation where appropriate.


There are two ways to search for authors; the Author Index and Author Search.

To use the Author Index, click the search aid icon (Search aid icon) to choose from a list of authors, editors, inventors, and corporate authors. This is the best way to find all forms of an author's name for the most comprehensive search.

  1. To find all articles by Kenneth J. Carpenter, click Search aid icon, enter Carpenter K in the search box, and click Move To.
  2. Click the Add buttons to add Carpenter K, Carpenter KJ, and Carpenter KJ et al to your search. Click OK.
  3. Click Search to complete the search.

To use the Author Search, choose Author from the drop-down search menu and enter an author's last name and first initial, followed by an asterisk (*) wildcard. You may also enter last names without initials.

Publication Name

There are two ways to search for records from a specific source publication: the Publication Name Index (Search aid icon) and Publication Search.

Select Search aid icon to see a list of source titles, or choose Source Publication from the drop-down search menu. Enter a full or partial title with an asterisk (*) wildcard.


Records include the addresses of the primary authors provided by the source publication. Abbreviations and spellings vary, so use truncation (*) to find variants. For example, Univ* matches University, Universidad, and Univ. Use the SAME operator to search for two or more words in the same address.

Document Type

The default search includes all document types. Some available document types include Journal Article, Book Chapter, Conference Paper, Patent, etc.


CABICODES are classification codes that indicate the broad subject areas covered by source documents. Each code consists of two letters followed by three numbers and a name (e.g. JJ100 Soil Biology). Every record in CAB Abstracts has at least one CABICODE. Click the search aid (Search aid icon) to select from a list of available CABICODES, displayed in a browsable hierarchy; click Scope note icon (scope note icon) to see more information about a specific code.

CAS Registry Numbers

A CAS Registry Number is a unique numeric identifier assigned to a chemical substance in the CAS Registry database.


Descriptors are preferred terms assigned by subject specialists to represent the content of a source document. There are four types of CAB descriptors, all searchable by selecting Descriptors from the drop-down search menu:

  1. Descriptors (specific terms: Irrigation, Viticulture, Grapes)
  2. Broad Descriptors (broader terms: Plants, Angiosperms, Developed Countries, Western States of USA)
  3. Organism Descriptors (Vitis vinifera)
  4. Geographic Location (USA, California)

Note: To browse available geographic terms, click the search aid (Search aid icon) and click on the Expand Term icon icon beside General, then select Named Regions and Countries.

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Combining Searches

Use the Search History link to combine the results of your previous searches, using AND or OR, and to save your search history and set up automated search alerts.

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Truncation and Phrase Searching

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Refining Search Results

After performing your search, use the Refine Results menu on the Results page to filter your result set (up to 100,000 records) by broad subject areas, source titles, document types, year published, etc.

Analyzing Search Results

Use the Analyze Results analyze results link on the right side of the Results page to produce a report ranking your search results by author, source title, year, address, or other criteria.

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Advanced Search

Advanced Search enables you to create complex search questions using field tags, search operators, and wildcards. It also allows you to combine previous searches using the NOT operator. Remember to include a number sign (#) before each search number.

Finding Full Text

Use the UC-eLinks button to:

UC-eLinks works best with post-1972 CAB Abstracts citations; to locate the full text of pre-1972 citations, you may need to search for the full publication title in Melvyl or ask at the Bioscience Library Reference Desk.

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Printing, Saving, Emailing and Exporting

Use the check boxes beside each record on the Results page to select records for output. Then scroll to the bottom of the page to choose from the following output options:

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Customizing CAB Abstracts

Register with ISI Web of Knowledge to save your search history and set up automated search alerts and citation alerts, which can be delivered by email or as an RSS feed. See Keeping Up to Date in the Biological Sciences for more information.

Getting Help

Click the Help link on any CAB Abstracts page to get context-specific help, along with search tips and examples (opens in a new window or tab).


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