An examination of the retrieval from two databases which cover philosophical materials, Philosopher's Index and FRANCIS, revealed that each database retrieved unique relevant items. A philosopher is likely to get relevant ‘hits’ from Philosopher's Index. At the same time, one is likely to miss at least some relevant items if one searches only that database. Some items are included in only one of them, e.g. theses and special issues of journals appear only in FRANCIS. Philosopher's Index, containing the larger collection of philosophical materials, often requires a more restrictive search strategy in order to retrieve relevant items but not large numbers of irrelevant items. There were some ‘misses’ that seemed to be due to journals not being regularly or ever indexed, and some ‘misses’ due simply to indexer error. Among items missed by Philosopher's Index were items in recognizably important journals, items by important figures in the discipline, and important kinds of articles.
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