April 13, 2009

Bibliography of NZ Sheep Research 1932 - 1976


1. Knol of Clive Dalton's NZ Sheep Research Bibliography listing Authors A-M
2. Knol of Clive Dalton's NZ Sheep Research Bibliography listing Authors N-Z

The beginnings of Online search in the 1970s

In the late 1970s, librarians at the Ruakura Agricultural Research Centre, Hamilton, got excited about a new development called ‘on-line searching’. From a tiny narrow store room in the library, the librarian (we were not allowed near the key board) would type into a teleprinter, the key words we gave her to search references on the subject. We were amazed at the speed – the printout would appear in our mailbox as fast as the next day!

We scientists thought this was incredible, but there was a problem - regularly our own names and published research didn’t appear on the list. This was a major concern, not just for sheep research science but for our egos! So the obvious question was what was in this marvelous database somewhere in cyberspace, and how far back did it go?

Knowing the amount of sheep work that had come out of Ruakura Research Centre, and the Whatawhata Hill Country Research Station alone, it was clear that the old material had not been picked up, so current researchers around the world would not know where it was, and then there was the bigger problem that future sheep researchers would assume it didn’t exist.

This sadly has proved to be true, and I regularly see research being repeated by young scientists who clearly have not found the old work. Google didn’t find it so it cannot have existed! But the situation has got worse, because libraries have actively done away with books and Journals on shelves. They have become ‘information hubs’, and are all concerned about ‘intellectual property’.

I now for example cannot access to the Ruakura library without going through a security check and unless I pay!

Let’s not blame the system

But let’s not blame the system, as a massive amount of important sheep research done in New Zealand never saw the light of day. It was never formally published to appear in major peer reviewed scientific journals which then should have been picked up. It was far easier for us scientists in a hurry to report research to farmers directly, as they were wanted to know to put the results into practice.

We had some great farmers’ journals and agricultural journalists to do just that. Full peer-reviewed journal publication was an agony, going through the hoops of writing, colleagues’ criticism, usually rewriting bits and regularly redoing statistical analysis.

Then came submission to the Journal’s Editorial Committee, who always had their two pennyworth which often meant going around, or half around the loop again. I regularly formed the opinion that the senior scientists on a research station who your work had to pass, got worse with age, and seemed to want to stop anything going out of the establishment, unless it had their name on it!

Then as we scientists aged, we got less keen to do battle with external Editorial Committees (with members from other research institutions), so Manila folders of data got put into filing cabinets, waiting for some younger scientist to come along, hungry for publications to get up the salary ladder, and who would do all the work and put our name on the finished paper! Sadly it often didn’t happen.

A long-hand search

When a ‘Scientific Liaison Officer’ at the Ruakura Research Centre, I thought I’d go through all the journals and books on the shelves in the extensive library, as well as all our other publications, from Ruakura, Massey and Lincoln when they were colleges - long before becoming Universities.

I hand wrote the references on cards and bits of paper, and filed them in a box in the Ruakura library where they sat for some years. I showed the material to Dr Alan Royal when he was at the NZ Meat Board heading the R&D Council, and he kindly got his secretary to typed them all up for me. She deserves a medal for her very accurate typing of my handwriting, and my sincere thanks. So now at least the material is ‘captured’ and available.
What is included in these bibliographies?

I have listed all papers and articles from New Zealand publications referring to ‘sheep’, and then all papers in other journals that reported research on ‘New Zealand sheep’. Against each reference I have given it a classification.


  1. General production & history
  2. Management
  3. Anatomy & Physiology
  4. Health & disease
  5. Behaviour
  6. Reproduction
  7. Growth & teeth
  8. Nutrition & feeding
  9. Lactation
  10. Breeding & genetics
  11. Meat & carcass composition
  12. Wool & skins
  13. Economics & marketing

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