Treatment Codes – simple letters, big results!

By Mike Collins

Possibly one of the least appreciated data fields on the Inspec database is the Treatment Code (TC). There are nine individual letter codes and one or more can be assigned to represent the Treatment Type of the original document.

A purely theoretical paper, for example, would receive the TC “T” but several letters may be assigned to an Inspec record. Thus a journal paper presenting both a theoretical model and experiments to show that the model works would receive TCs “T” and “X” which at first sight might seem counterintuitive. 

Articles of a general or review nature are assigned the very useful TC “G” which is a great way of picking out material for a subject update or an introduction to an unfamiliar subject. TC “G” is also a means of gleaning useful expressions or recent nomenclature that could be used in a more detailed search. A search using the TC “G” can be used to yield papers that give a broad overview of a topic, such as renewable energy trends or future telecommunication services, rather than more specific papers that detail a practical engineering solution or a theoretical analysis.

TCs have a long history on the Inspec database. They were originally intended to be an exclusive device, whereby a large search could be reduced to, say, just those papers which have a practical approach (TC “P”) and likely to be of use to engineers and designers, for example. The modern searcher, armed with faster retrieval tools and a much larger Inspec Database, tends to use TCs as an inclusive device as a means of pooling similar material from the start of the search. The TC “R” which indicates product reviews is applied to product comparisons, tables and buyers’ guides.

In the Engineering sections of the Database, the TC “E” representing economic aspects is incredibly useful in isolating those documents dealing with commercial aspects such as cost, pricing and market forecasts. If you looking for material that has a significant focus on power market trading, industrial carbon credits, life cycle/ activity based costing, international trade or investment decisions the TC “E” can be used to narrow the search.

Prior art searchers will be excited by the TC “N” for new developments where a claim of novelty, in the patent sense, is made.

If you are planning to expand your collection there is a way of highlighting papers which contain a significant number of references by using TC “B” for bibliographies.

TCs are assigned by our indexers who have access to the original paper in its entirety. The author’s abstract, though probably describing the aims, methods and results, may not necessarily reflect the treatment of the whole document. As one of the Inspec Database’s “value-added” concepts, TC assignment reflects the underlying emphasis of the document that may not initially be apparent from other data elements such as Controlled Indexing and Classification in certain subject areas.

The search code for Treatment Codes is of course “TC”. Here is a rare case of just a few letters making all the difference.