Monday, January 29, 2007

Databases, Indexes, Print and Online

Recently 2 graduate students asked me if online databases would find print journals articles as well as electronic ones. And, they wanted to know, would they find articles that weren't in their own database. "Would Sociological Abstracts find journals that weren't full-text in Sociological Abstracts?" That was pretty ironic, since Sociological Abstracts actually contains no full-text journals.

"Huh?" you say. "I found an article that was online from SA just yesterday." Yeah. Sort of.

This explanation might bore you to tears (which is why we rarely tell anyone). On the other hand, it might clear up everything in the world for you.

Here's my beautiful diagram:
The first two boxes under the main database box show that some databases only index journals and articles, but don't have full text themselves. In our fields, these are the databases used most often, like LLBA, Sociological Abstracts, and PsycINFO.

You look through these databases for articles of interest. If you find one, our software, called SFX uses DOIs (digital object indicators -- links directly to articles) to find the ARTICLES we have access to through other databases. Sometimes articles don't have DOIs or our SFX database isn't up to date. Then you can follow the link to our catalog where wel list whether we have print copies of the journal or whether we subscribe to the e-journal for any period. (It doesn't tell you if we have the particular ARTICLE there.) If we have subscribe to some period of time (through any database), it will link to our database of e-journals and then to the database where the journal is. You need to look for the article there.

Other databases only contain full text journals -- most of these are publisher's databases or Open Access databases. In the Social Sciences you generally don't use these to look for articles. They are basically archives of journal articles. Generally, you use SFX or serial solutions to provide links between the indexing databases and the archiving databases.

But there are other databases. Like Academic Search Premier or Gale's OneFile. These have journals from lots of different publishers. The database indexes all kinds of articles, scholarly and popular, from all different fields -- science, social science and humanities. Some is full text, some are just citations.

So you can look up citations to full text or print in almost any index and find full text and print articles there. Link to them. Link to the library catalog. Pretty much just play around for as long as you'd like. I hope this made some sense and was a bit interesting to you...

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