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BioDDC in the Virtual Library of Biology: an introduction

What is BioDDC?

BioDDC is a system for the subject indexing of biological publications (books, articles, internet resources, etc.). By assigning BioDCC numbers, individual publications can be allocated to the various sub-areas and topics of biology. By this means, targeted thematic researches are made possible, i.e. the finding of publications dealing with a particular sub-area or topic (thematic browsing). In addition, with the inclusion of content relevant bilingual keywords the probability of finding publications via keyword-based retrieval is increased.

The system is based on the Dewey Decimal Classification (DDC; Copyright belongs to OCLC; cf. also the German edition as well as the introduction to DCC as a presentation (620 KiB) (in German only)).
Don't miss the Dewey Decimal Rap on YouTube.

The structure of the system

BioDCC is a so-called classification system. The whole of biology is progressively divided into sub-areas. The system constitutes a tree structure (Topic tree). The individual sub-areas are each characterised by numbers (notations) and names (captions), for example 572 = Biochemistry.

The first step divides biology into three areas:

  • 570 = Biology (not especially botanical or zoological topics),
  • 580 = Plants, and
  • 590 = Animals.

In the subsequent steps smaller divisions are made, e.g. 570 includes, amongst other things, 572 = Biochemistry and 577 = Ecology. 577.3 = Forest ecology and 577.7 = Marine ecology belong, for example, to the topic 577. The longer a number, the more specialised the topic described. Altogether, about 400 biological categories are in use. A general overview exists both as hierarchic tables, and alphabetised term indexes; both are contained in the PDF version of this introduction (350 KiB).

In hit lists and catalogues in vifabio the numbers are not shown but only the corresponding verbal description. The browsing function of the Internet Guide enables browsing in the BioDCC tree structure under "Subject" and "Spatial coverage".

Multiple numbers are assigned for publications that cover multiple sub-areas. In addition to the biological topic numbers, geographical numbers may also be assigned that, if necessary, describe the reference area of a publication. By this method, publications are often found through different paths.

Special features of the structure

The most important sub-headings of 570 = Biology are the sections physiology, biochemistry, genetics, evolution, and ecology; 579 = Microorganisms, fungi, algae are also found here.

Botanical topics can be filed under 580 = Plants (if they concern the plant as a complete entity) as well as in the various sub-headings of 570 (e.g. 575 = Specific parts of and physiological systems in plants, and there, for example, 575.4 = Stems). The same applies to zoological topics in 590 and 570.

Resources concerning taxonomically defined groups of organisms (e.g. bacteria, ungulates, gymnosperms, Rosidae, ...) are to be found in the Internet Guide under the category "Natural history of specific kinds of organisms".

Sub-areas and topics, that are strongly application oriented or include aspects not related to natural history, are classified with numbers from areas other than 570/580/590, often in combination with additional numbers from 570/580/590:

  • Greenhouse effect (under 363.7 = Environmental problems), or
  • Genetically manipulated, useful plants (under 660.6 = Biotechnology).

Further information

Tabulated overviews of the system, as well as an alphabetic term index are also contained in the PDF version of this introduction (350 KiB).

It is anticipated that the edited Version 2.0 of BioDDC will be available in 2009.

If you need help with special searches or wish to have further information about BioDCC, please ask us!


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