Getting Better Results with CAB Abstracts

What is CAB Abstracts?

CAB Abstracts, also called CAB or CABI, is the database created by the Centre for Agriculture and Biosciences International, which used to be the Commonwealth Agricultural Bureaux. It covers the literature of agriculture broadly, from agronomy to veterinary medicine, with citations to journal articles, monographs, conferences, books and annual reports, from 100+ countries. It indexes materials back to 1904. The publisher is still known as CABI.

It has utility for veterinary and human health topics, especially public health, nutrition and food.

Not all the articles are in English, but most have abstracts in English. Many of the items have attached full text. We don't own all the journals, but you can make requests for articles through Interlibrary loan. Want materials more likely to be about research specific to the U.S., Canada and Central or South America? Try Agricola or the new NAL Search..

CABI is also a book publisher, so we have authoritative books from them on agricultural crops and topics. Check the catalog.

Searching in CAB Abstracts

Search CAB Abstracts using your chosen terms, along with Boolean operators AND, OR and NOT (or the operators in the dropdown menus); the truncation symbol gets variations such as other work endings and plural forms.

For example: (cotton or gossypium hirsutum) and (water or irrigat*)

The CAB Thesaurus will show what the indexing terms are for a topic. If you are having trouble finding 'it', check the thesaurus for other terms. There are also lists of corporate authors, 'subjects geographic" and 'subjects organisms'.

For example, for 'chickens', the subject term is fowls, or Gallus gallus. Poultry includes chickens, geese, ducks and any other domesticated birds raised for meat and eggs.


If you want your search terms to be close together or in a specific order, the proximity operator is placed between the words that are to be searched, as follows:

  • Near Operator (N): N5 finds the words if they are a maximum of five words apart from one another, regardless of the order in which they appear. For example, type tax N5 reform to find results that have a maximum of five words between the beginning and ending terms, that would match tax reform as well as tax that has been submitted for reform.

  • Within Operator (W): W8 finds the words if they are within eight words of one another, in the order in which you entered them. For example, type tax W8 reform to find results that would match tax reform but would not match reform of income tax.

Search our catalog

Search the Libraries' Catalog for books, dvds, and more. Materials from CAB, including journal holdings and government documents, may show up here. The relevant terms in the catalog may differ from those in the databases.