In my music bibliography course at Brigham Young University we regularly review the major periodical indexes. I start by handing out a matrix that lists five major music periodical indexes across the top and along the left side lists about a dozen key points of comparison. For the midterm examination I regularly include the following essay question:
In an essay: compare and contrast the following music periodical indexes: RILM Abstracts, RIPM, IIMP, The Music Index, and the Bibliographie des Musikschrifttums. Describe the relative strengths and weaknesses for each in the following categories:
years of coverage
number of journals indexed
number of citations
access to full text online
quality and/or presence of abstracts
coverage of foreign language sources
coverage of non-periodical publication types
coverage of scholarly vs. non-scholarly publications
quality of online search interface
coverage of reviews
distinctive or unique contributions or strengths
Be specific and cite current statistics when appropriate. Be sure to take into consideration both print and online versions of each index where applicable.
This semester one of my students wrote an essay I think is worth sharing. Here is her unedited essay, writing without access to her personal notes. Good work Jamie!