Exploring official publications

Official publications are the literature which emanates from official organisations such as national or regional governments or international organisations.  Nuffield Library has a large collection of British and international official publications, both historical and contemporary.  It covers a broad range of subjects, from agriculture to welfare, with a large amount on employment, economic development, sociology and social inequality. Official publications may be useful to your research because they provide official statistics and impartial data from institutions with a long research history.

British: The collection includes a sizeable proportion of the important Committees and Enquiries of the 19th and 20th centuries.  In addition, the library regularly acquires a wide selection of government department, parliamentary and non-parliamentary publications representing the various areas of interest among college members.  More recently this has included items from organisations such as the Institute for Public Policy Research, Institute for Government and Policy Exchange.

International: A number of major international bodies are well-represented in the collection: the European Union, UN, OECD, IMF, ILO, FAO, EFTA, World Bank, World Health Organization, and GATT/WTO.  Major statistical series are taken from these sources as well as other material relevant to current research within college.  The collection concentrates on the EU (particularly Western Europe) and the United States, although there is a significant amount of material relating to less developed nations.  There is also some interesting historical material from the League of Nations.


The majority of official publications at Nuffield are found in the Library Extension.  The exceptions to this are new additions to the collection, which are displayed on the New Books shelves in the Current Affairs Room on the first floor of the main Library and on shelves in the Small Reading Room.

These titles are included in the monthly publication updates, one on British and one on European & international material, which are emailed to registered readers, both internal and external.  The updates also contain information about and links to relevant news, publications and websites including the annual budget documents, economic & political developments and Scottish referendum material.  See the latest ones here: Brit Feb 2014 Pub UpdateEuro and Int Feb 2014 Pub Update

Shelfmarks explained

There are in-depth guides to the different classifications used in the Extension but here are brief examples for the main collections:

British official publication monographs are shelved first by general theme, such as ‘Population’ or ‘Welfare’, and then classified more precisely within that subject using a number.  For example: a book on using child benefit in the family budget:

X Welfare 2:2              X=Extension, Welfare=major theme, 2:2 specific area 

International monographs (except the UN and US) generally share the same basic structure and are organised alphabetically by an acronym for the publishing organisation. They are generally further subdivided by subject code and year of publication:

X OECD EC 09               X=Extension, OECD=publishing organisation,
EC=subject area, 09=year of publication

The official publications part of the Nuffield College Library website lists and annotates a variety of online resources related to official publications. We have collected websites that provide direct access to official publications and compiled sites that explain official publications. These pages are regularly updated.  The monthly publication updates are also available here.

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Easter 2014 vacation opening hours

Monday 17th March marks the start of our vacation opening hours*. They are as follows:



Monday 17th March – Tuesday 15th April: 09:30 – 17:30

Wednesday 16th April – Monday 21st April inclusive: CLOSED

Tuesday 22nd April – Friday 25th April: 09:30 – 17:30


*College members will have usual access during this time.

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Tony Benn

To mark the announcement this morning that Tony Benn, the veteran Labour politician, has died at the age of 88, this blog-post highlights material held in the College Library which may be of interest to those who wish to find out more about his life and thought.

Benn was no stranger at Nuffield College; he spoke at Nuffield’s Friday Media and Politics Seminar a number of times (most recently in 2009), and also visited the College in order to take part in interviews with David Butler as part of the Nuffield College Oral History Project. In these interviews he spoke at length about his well-known campaign to renounce his hereditary peerage. Benn’s attempts to relinquish his peerage (which prevented him from sitting in the House of Commons) were instrumental in the creation of the Peerage Act of 1963. His wife, Caroline Benn, was also interviewed by Butler speaking about the peerage case, as well as about her relationship with Tony.

Those wishing to learn more about the peerage case are very welcome to contact the library (library-archives@nuffield.ox.ac.uk) to arrange to consult the papers of the Oral History Project, kept in Nuffield College Library’s archive. In addition, the library holds copies of all of Benn’s diaries (which he kept from a very early age, and wrote in daily from 1964 – the year in which Harold Wilson’s Labour government came to office – onwards). These can be found on the third floor, under shelfmark DA 591.B36.

We also have available a number of his political writings including:

Parliament, people, and power: agenda for a free society: interviews with the New Left Review (1982) – HX 243.B

Arguments for socialism (1979) – JN 231.B

Common sense: a new constitution for Britain (1993) – KD 3989.B

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From the archives – Nuffield College Social Reconstruction Survey and Private Conferences

The second post in our series on the library’s archives concentrates on the Nuffield College Social Reconstruction Survey and Private Conferences.

Nuffield College Social Reconstruction Survey publication

Nuffield College Social Reconstruction Survey publication – Nuffield College Social Reconstruction Survey archive, box K2/5.

The Social Reconstruction Survey came to life in February 1941 after Sir Harold Butler, Warden of the College at the time, and G. D. H. Cole prepared a joint report proposing that Nuffield College undertake research into problems caused by redistribution of the population during World War II.  The Nuffield College Committee approved the research scheme and the Social Reconstruction Survey was set up with Cole as Chairman of the Committee and, later, Director. The Survey was set up before the College even had any buildings of its own and was originally based on Broad Street, in the Indian Institute.

The Survey was an unofficial body but received a grant of £5,000 from the Treasury in 1941-42 and, in return, staff prepared reports at the request of government departments for official inquiries. Indeed, the Survey assisted the Beveridge Inquiry, a government inquiry headed by Sir William Beveridge into Social Insurance and Allied Services.

It was decided that it would be beneficial to bring people together from different political and professional backgrounds to discuss plans for social reconstruction and, so, Cole instigated many Private Conferences, creating a forum for people to express their views without fear of scrutiny from the public or media.

Despite the extensive work of the Survey, opposition to its research began with the Hebdomadal Council, the chief executive body for the University of Oxford, which requested the Survey reduce its scope of research. Lord Nuffield also expressed concern at Cole’s involvement with the Survey and the Treasury refused to offer further funding. Government departments were, by this point, paying a lot more attention to social reconstruction and saw the Survey as intruding on their responsibility.

NCSRS letter - Treasury not extending funding A1,3

Letter from the Treasury on the matter of funding, 22nd January 1943 – Nuffield College Social Reconstruction Survey archive, box A1/3.

And so, three years after its inception, the Survey was wound up. Cole resigned from his position as sub-Warden of the College in September 1943 and as Director of the survey in January 1944. The Survey’s education, local government and social services sub-committees continued to meet though and published books and pamphlets over the next four years, until their work ended in December 1947.

Agenda for meeting on 2nd March 1944 with Cole's resignation as item 3 -

Agenda for meeting on 2nd March 1944 with Cole’s resignation as item 3 – Nuffield College Social Reconstruction Survey archive, box. A1/2.

All information in this post came from sources in the ‘Nuffield College Social Reconstruction Survey’ section and the ‘Nuffield College Private Conferences‘ section of Nuffield College Library Archive (in particular box A1/1-5 of the Social Reconstruction Survey and box K2/5 of the Private Conferences). More information about the archives, including a guide to their contents and information on how to access them, can be found on the archives pages of our website.

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How to track citations / impact factor tools

One of our most popular blog posts is How to track citations – Google Scholar vs. Web of Science
This post aims to be an updated and expanded version!

How to track citations – Web of Science, Google Scholar and Scopus

A search for an article on Web of Science gives the following result:


This article has been cited 63 times.

You can then create a citation reports for your search results:



Note that Web of Science only includes citations from journals included in Web of Science.

The same search on Google Scholar gives the following results:


Note that the number of citations is much higher – 164! Google Scholar may contain duplicate results due to variations in citation methods.

Another database which will be of use to social scientists is Scopus. The same search gives 76 citations:


Again, Scopus will only return results from journals included in Scopus. It is also worth noting that coverage begins in 1996 (as oppose to 1945 for Web of Science).

Impact factor tools – h-index and altmetrics

H-index or “An index to quantify an individual’s scientific research output”

Both Web of Science and Scopus will let you see an author’s h-index.

Web of Science gives one author’s h-index as 27:


Whereas Scopus gives the same author an h-index of 22:


Note the differences in the years covered and therefore the number of articles published and the citations.

Altmetrics are an alternative way of measuring the impact of an article, according to altmetrics.org:

“altmetrics is the creation and study of new metrics based on the Social Web for analyzing, and informing scholarship”

Scopus has a built in altmetrics tracker, provided by the website altmetric.com.

For instance, the following article has been cited 6 times:alt

On the right hand side of the screen you can see the altmetrics box, giving details of online mentions. Click “see details” for the full report:alt2

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From the Archives – The Founding of Nuffield College

This is the first post in a new series which aims to illustrate some of the material held in the archives at Nuffield College Library.

In 1937 Lord Nuffield purchased land at Canal Wharf, offering it (and nearly £100,000,000) to the University of Oxford for the foundation of a new college bearing his name:


The Times, Wednesday 13th October, 1937 – in Nuffield College Papers Archive (Album B4)

Nuffield’s original vision was of a college for engineers and business students. However, after discussions with senior University staff he was persuaded that there was greater need for a postgraduate institution focused on work in the social sciences.

Though it didn’t take long for the University to appoint an architect (Austen Harrison), progress in constructing the physical space of the College was slow; hindered by both the outbreak of the Second World War and by disagreement over the design of the buildings. As a consequence, a licence to begin building work was not obtained until more than ten years later, in 1948. During the intervening period College business took place in offices on Banbury Rd and Woodstock Rd. As will be made apparent in the next post in this series, despite the lack of a permanent home Nuffield College remained very active during WWII.

At a ceremony in April 1949 the Foundation Stone was laid by the Chancellor of the University, Lord Halifax, and work to build a home for the growing group of Fellows and Students associated with Nuffield College finally began.


Photograph of the laying of the Foundation Stone from Nuffield College Papers, album B1

As well as programmes and pictures of the event, the archive also contains the speech delivered by the Chancellor on that occasion. In it, he took time to expound upon the merits and purpose of this new College:


The Chancellor’s Address on the occasion of the Laying of the Foundation Stone, from Nuffield College Papers – A 3/1/20

Due to spiraling costs and Government control of building it would take more than ten years for work to be completed. On June 6th 1958, with construction close to completion, the Duke of Edinburgh landed a helicopter on Christ Church Meadow, participated in the first ever meal held in the Hall of Nuffield College, and – in the presence of the Founder – presented then-Warden Norman Chester with the Royal Charter. In so doing he granted Nuffield College the same independent status as other Colleges of the University, marking the final stage in its foundation.

Photograph of the Duke of Edinburgh with Lord Nuffield and Norman Chester at the ceremony for the presentation of the Royal Charter - from Nuffield College Papers, A3/4/9

Photograph of the Duke of Edinburgh with Lord Nuffield and Norman Chester at the ceremony for the presentation of the Royal Charter – from Nuffield College Papers, A3/4/9

All information in this post came from sources in the ‘Nuffield College Papers’ section of Nuffield College Library Archive (in particular Chester, Norman – Nuffield College – Nuffield College Papers, A5/9/1). More information about the archives, including a guide to their contents and information on how to access them, can be found on the archives pages of our website.

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