The Database - The Turfgrass Information File!

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In 1983, the United States Golf Association (USGA) Turfgrass Research Committee and the Michigan State University (MSU) Libraries agreed to design and develop a bibliographic computer database to provide access to all published materials reporting on aspects of turfgrass and its maintenance. The project, known as the USGA Turfgrass Information File (TGIF) database, was located at MSU due in large part to the prior existence of the O. J. Noer Memorial Turfgrass Collection. As much of the turfgrass literature is widely scattered in annual research reports, conference proceedings, trade publications, scientific journals, field day programs, and newsletters not generally available to many turf managers and students, TGIF provides quick access to published and electronic resources for users throughout the world.

Materials indexed in the TGIF database include articles from peer reviewed publications, technical reports and conference proceedings, trade and professional publications, local professional newsletters, and popular magazines as well as monographs, theses and dissertations, fact sheets and brochures, software, and web documents. TGIF indexes materials from government, college/university, professional organization, and private publishers. Coverage emphasizes English-language materials but does include coverage of non-English languages.

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As of February 2015, there are over 250,000 records in TGIF, with a gradually increasing percentage of content linked to full-text sources. About 12,000 new records are added every year, with over 50% including full-text or linking to full-text. Ultimately, the Turfgrass Information Center will offer online access to the complete publication history of turf science, reaching back into the late 19th century (or perhaps before) through TGIF. In fact, much of this older material is already listed in TGIF; for example, all USGA Green Section periodicals published since 1921 are now indexed and linked to full-text electronic versions from within TGIF!

Read about the continuing effort to add this older material to TGIF! (pdf)

The Turfgrass Information Center (TIC) and the continued expansion of TGIF have been supported by subscription and user fees, donations, and the MSU Libraries.

An Endowment exists to stabilize the long-term basis for the Center's efforts - we are actively seeking organizational, institutional, industry, and professional support.

TGIF Content (Scope - of - Coverage)

To build TGIF, hundreds of journals, magazines, annuals, etc. are selectively monitored on an on-going basis to "keep track of" items potentially relevant to turf culture. The "periodical turfgrass literature" is made up of a wide range of "published" material. This includes about 90% of TGIF's content. To understand this better, we can break the literature into categories or LEVELs:

Typology of Turfgrass Literature for TGIF Search Purposes (Updated: April 2017)
Category (Level) Primary Audience Example Titles % of TGIF Content
Refereed Researchers Crop Science, Plant Disease, HortScience, Agronomy Journal, Journal of ITS 6%
Report Researchers ASA/CSSA/SSSA Annual Meeting Abstracts, Iowa Turfgrass Research Report, Fungicide & Nematicide Tests, Rutgers Turfgrass Symposium Proceedings 18%
Proceedings Practitioners Proceedings of the Michigan Turfgrass Conference, Proceedings of the Florida Turfgrass Conference 6%
Professional Practitioners USGA Green Section Record, Golf Course Management, Greenkeeper International 27%
Trade Practitioners SportsTurf, Lawn & Landscape, Landscape Management, Golfdom, Golf Course Industry 23%
Newsletter Practitioners Tee to Green, New Hampshire Turf Talk, Hole Notes, The Perfect Lie 9%
Popular The Public Golf Journal, newspapers, Golf Digest 4%
Miscellaneous Unclassified Varies Widely No pattern; includes books, theses and dissertations, webpages, booklets, fact sheets, podcasts, and other monographs 7%
Over 50% of TGIF now links to full-text

This model gives TIC the ability to slice the literature based on the type of source it was published in."Refereed" materials are clearly the most important from a research perspective. They have passed through the process of peer review and revision, with traditional academic rigor. "Report" materials are not refereed, but are research, often qualified as "preliminary" or "incomplete." "Professional" sources are those generally produced by Not-For-Profit corporations as communicative media for membership."Proceedings" are usually from a specific conference, and can include individual articles which might show up in any of the other categories, except refereed. The Proceedings literature is very unpredictable, uneven, and sometimes frustrating, but it is an important category in the whole of the literature, particularly from 1950-1990. "Trade" sources are generally commercial magazines, and are distributed widely within the industry. "Newsletters" are just that, mostly GCSAA affiliate productions. The "newsletters" vary tremendously in their availability, size, and "usefulness" from the perspective of TGIF. "Popular" publications are those intended for a general public readership, outside the professional arena (if you think these are not important to your job, we think you are mistaken!). In addition, there are"Miscellaneous" sources which complete the literature. This includes the increasingly important 'born digital' portion of the literature, such as podcasts and video.

More complete list of periodicals monitored

What is the significance and role of these categories or LEVELs? In TGIF, the LEVELs are searchable in and of themselves. If a searcher wants to see citations on a topic, but only those published in refereed sources, this can be done. Likewise, "categories" can be excluded wholesale from a search. If a searcher wanted articles on mole crickets, but only ones that were published in trade or professional magazines a practitioner might be likely to have on his/her shelf, this can be done. In the Guided Search, the LEVEL is easily specified by drop-down list.  In "Power Search", specify LEVEL="category name", for instance LEVEL=REFEREED.

In the Power Search, a searcher could also restrict the search to a specific magazine, and/or a specific author, specific "types" of materials, and/or a specific year/years of publication. More details about searching in Power Search.

In addition, new books, technical reports, special bulletins, theses and dissertations, fact sheets, Web documents, and other forms of "monographs" are also indexed in TGIF.

In producing TGIF, TIC monitors the turfgrass literature, regardless of sector, context, geography, or language. Thus, TGIF can produce excellent searches on transitional overseeding, cricket wicket preparation, kikuyu grass invasion, gray snow mold control, sod production in Florida, or variety trial results in German.

More information on the "State of completeness" of TGIF.

The TGIF Record

TGIF records are created at the "lowest" level of discreteness possible, based on the published item. This is referred to as "the work," which in TGIF is most typically a discrete magazine or journal article. However, it could also be a book chapter, an entire book, or a subsection of a conference proceeding presentation (if more than one discrete work is presented in the same "article."), etc. Because of these variations, TGIF records vary in their appearance and structure. Thus, not all fields (i.e. data elements) will appear in every TGIF record. In some cases a specific field is not relevant to a given record, or possibly it was not "done" for that record at the point in time that the record was processed (Remember that some TGIF records are over 20 years old now). The database structures have evolved in the past and will continue to evolve in the future. What is seen in TGIF records are "snapshots" taken through time, just like the literature itself. Of course TIC can and does update indexing vocabulary, etc., as time passes, and in many cases, as time permits (which it often does not, given the increasing amount of "new" material to process).

Sample TGIF records to look over.

TGIF Indexing

"Subject indexing" within TIC databases utilizes a standardized vocabulary. These "assigned keywords" (="index terms"="descriptors"="subject headings") are normally in the form specified in The Turfgrass Thesaurus. Searching only the assigned index terms can result in a highly "precise" search, but it is not the only alternative, by any means.

Caveats About the Turfgrass Information File (TGIF)

  • TGIF represents a very small proportion of the total published literature in the sciences, or agronomy in particular. There will always be "more out there."
  • Not "everything ever written on turf" is in TGIF. Someday, perhaps, but for now there are some limitations:
    • One is that older materials are not as likely to appear in the database, particularly pre-1972. However, TGIF does now include almost all USGA published material since the 1920's! We began building TGIF in 1984, intending to add current published literature as a first priority and work back in time as time was available. There is a tremendous amount of material in TGIF, but it is not "everything there is." We use a variety of construction methods to build the file; some move rapidly, some more slowly. What you do know is that next week there will be more records available than there are this week. Use the Beard Bibliography to identify the remaining older material.
    • If it wasn't "published" and made available for circulation in some way it isn't in TGIF. Internal corporate research is generally "not reported." If it was never written up, it isn't in. We define "published" as "reproduced and distributed in a public setting."
    • Conversely, even if it was "reported" but no one bothered to send us a copy and we weren't able to track one down to process; it may not be in (yet). Help us grow the collections!
    • Just because a particular article might be useful for a turf manager in a given situation does not mean it belongs in TGIF. Many functions of turf managers can fall outside TGIF's "scope of coverage." Examples include personnel management, budgeting, equipment repair, and communications skills. Unless they have been directly related to turf culture or turf facility maintenance, per se, these kinds of material will not be found in TGIF.
    • The same clearly holds true from a research perspective. For example, some comparative evaluations of growth regulators in a forage environment (or perhaps even a row crop) may be of interest from a biochemical or physiological perspective, if the active ingredient is being considered for evaluation in a turf environment. Such materials may or may not be found in TGIF. For such citations, we at TIC tend to defer to the end-user's evaluation of relevance; i.e. it goes in. But we don't see a lot of this material to begin with; it's generally beyond our scope-of-coverage. Other more traditional agricultural online resources (e.g. AGRICOLA, CABA, AGRIS) may provide access to this "broader" context.
  • There are items in TGIF which are not part of the current collections. We do create records for items which we do not own but which are part of the literature. These will display with a "WANTED! Help Us¬†Please..." annotation.¬† If you see items like this listed in TGIF, please help us acquire a copy!
  • Having a TGIF Record (citation);¬†How to Find the Original Article (5 ways).
    • If the record has a World Wide Web location (URL) listed within it, you can use your Web browser to immediately view the document, unless some form of access restriction is detailed.
    • Some books (monographs) may be borrowed through the Interlibrary Loan Department available at your local library, and some libraries might also obtain copies of items for you. Give them a copy of the TGIF record when you make the request.
    • ¬†If you do not have access to a library, a photocopy of some articles may be requested via a phone call, letter, or FAX to TIC. Approximately 80% of the citations in TGIF are from sources which are held by the MSU Library. Further details on arrangements and charges.
    • If you have access to a major library using the Library of Congress (LC) Classification System, you can try to locate the items in that library using the Call Number given in the TGIF record, if the library owns the item. Unfortunately, even many major land-grant institutions have weak turfgrass collections. Do not be surprised if you do not locate many of the items; or they might be cataloged differently; check the institution's online catalog. (For articles, don't forget that you're searching the name of the journal in an online catalog, not the title of the article!)
    • Create and utilize your own "library." We encourage all turf professionals to build their personal or corporate collections. TGIF can act as an index to your own collections as well as ours.
  • All information provided within the TIC online systems (Web and otherwise) including TGIF is for educational purposes only. References to commercial products or trade names do not constitute endorsement by Michigan State University nor bias against those not mentioned. TIC information resources are intended for use by an audience capable of information evaluation, recognizing that a wide range of opinion is represented in the data sets including contradictions, controversial, and/or outdated references. Such is the nature of professional and research literature!

Getting Started with TGIF Guide

This Getting Started with TGIF guide (pdf) is a two page handout that provides a quick overview of the basic search, guided search, where to find more information on power searching, and the way you can connect to TGIF depending on your form of access to TGIF. Please feel free to copy and use in classes or in any other way you would find it helpful.