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H809 – Using academic search engines (A3.1)

February 20, 2011

Academic search engines are on the agenda of the third week, well besides a lot of other tasks.

We are asked to explore the Open Library with all the services and search options it offers.  In H807 we were asked to solve a quiz as a collaborative group work and one question was about OU library services. I have to admit my initial thought was, well here we go again, another exploration of the OU library, one of many others. But pride comes, as you know, before a fall and I learned indeed something new about the different services the OU library offers. The OU library is a really valuable search tool and offers access to countless free articles, databases, elearning journals, etc.

I am a little bit biased with Google Scholar and I do not use it to often. Google Scholar searches for articles (including patents) and legal opinions and journals. However, I just tried to search for the British Educational Research Journal that is available with all issues starting from 1990.  Contrary, Google Scholar shows just unrelated legal opinions. Although the search options indicate to journals as well, the advanced search allows not to search for journals, just articles. Using the search option article reveals summaries and citations from articles, but often the full article is not available or requires a fee. This shows again the advantage of being an OU student 🙂

I am unfamiliar with the search engine ISI  Web of knowledge. Yet, already my first encounter with the search engine was not crowned with success, because it seems you can only access it via an educational institution. According our H809 course guide the academic search engine searches a large number of high-status journals in Web of Science databases. The course guide states that ISI can show similar to Google Scholar which document have cited a given paper, it shows related papers, and it links to the full text of the paper where possible. ISI can also take into account institutional journal subscriptions. However, it does not search for books, theses or dissertations.

Like I said the ISI Web of Knowledge can be accessed via our OU library. Clicking on Online collections and Databases, on the right side of the page, directly below Recommended links brings you to the next page where you can use the A – Z listening of databases to find your way to the ISI Web of Knowledge. The following description is given. ‘A multidisciplinary database which allows the cross searching of 23,000 journals, 23,000,000 patents, 110,000 conference proceedings and 9,000 websites going back to the early 1900s’.

Well, the look & feel of the database is a matter of taste, not directly my taste, although I would love to see some green in Mother Nature 😉 Anyway, my first impression is that educational technology, our subject, is not really represented. Web of Science, Medline and Journal Citation Reports are the three main databases. The main disciplines listed start from A like Agriculture, Astronomy, Biology, Chemistry, well Computer Science, Mathematics, Medicine, Physics, Psychiatry to Z like Zoology. I only wished I would have come around this source during my Human biology course as well when I took Infectious disease 😦

Well, although it seems first hand that this database is not from great use for the MAODE, I did the practice test simply searching for ‘blogs’ and was positive surprised to see that a lot of results showed up. You can use different search options, like the Boolean search method, using AND, OR or NOT and search for topic, author, etc and you can refine the initial search. Well, that is not new and the other search engines offer that as well.

Ok, to what conclusion do I come, what recommendations could I give?!

Like I said before I am not such a great fan of Google Scholar and I normally do not find what I am looking for. ISI Web of Knowledge is a new search option, although so far I am not so convinced, probably because due to the fact that the OU library yields so far the best results. However, in my experience different search engines reveal different search results and it might be thus be more effective to a couple of search engines to see what sources they come up with. Or, you simply use this traditional search engine ;-), which is unfortunately not so effective for MAODE.


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