What's the best library database for finding journal articles on Internet and other digital research?
November 11, 2008 8:04 AM   Subscribe

What's the best library database for finding journal articles on Internet and other digital research?

I have a hell of a time finding articles on Internet research without resorting to some cheap and hardly-comprehensive tactics: 1) looking through other people's bibliographies, or 2) using Google Scholar. Frankly, the rest of the academic library databases out there are often so fragmented by field -- and Internet research takes place across a range of fields! -- that it's time-consuming and often fruitless to use them. Not to mention how many of them have antiquated, frustrating search algorithms (sorry, I'm just used to Google).

This question seems to have stumped the Columbia University librarians, so I'm going further afield (and hoping Jessamyn will weigh in, among others). Thanks!
posted by gusandrews to Education (14 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
I stick almost exclusively with Google Scholar at this point (and shout out to Zotero, the best reference manager out there), but Thomson's Web of Science may be more comprehensive, depending on your field. After those options, I run searches on ProQuest, EBSCO, Factiva, and JSTOR.
posted by blahblahblah at 8:28 AM on November 11, 2008

Can you be more specific about what you're looking for? For example, are you looking for articles on using the Web for scholarly research in a particular field? For marketing or demographic research?
posted by ryanshepard at 8:34 AM on November 11, 2008

I always use a vendor who has a lot of databases, then choose to search a bunch of databases at once. In EBSCO, for instance, you can search a dozen plus databases-- each with its own special subject scope and depth-- at once.

I empathize with your frustration with the search terms, but there might not be too many ways to get around that. Make good use of wildcards and Boolean operators in your searches, and search by subject, abstract, and descriptor at one time, and you should get decent results, at least within the journals covered by the databases.

I'm surprised your question has stumped the Columbia librarians, so I'm curious as to what you're looking for that you're not finding. I'm certainly no Columbia-grade librarian, but this is standard procedure for looking for academic journal articles. I don't mean this to sound snarky, but given your "I'm just used to Google" comment, it might be that the problem lies in your method.

Also, lots of schools have a highly integrated "Find It"-type interface, where you type your search terms into a generic menu, and then the system automatically searches the bazillion online resources the school subscribes to. You might want to ask about that, but again I'm surprised that wasn't mentioned to you already.
posted by Rykey at 8:41 AM on November 11, 2008

Best answer: The ACM Digital Library is a helpful, though not comprehensive, full-text resource for lots internet/digital-related journals, conferences, and ACM-affiliated organizations. I use it a lot, and love the citation linking. If you are a student at Columbia, you've got access. Might be a good place to start, depending on what you're interested in.
posted by activitystory at 8:42 AM on November 11, 2008 [1 favorite]

Best answer: i'd suggest the following:

ASIST Digital Library

Library, Information Science & Technology Abstracts (LISTA)

Wilson's Library Literature & Information Science

LISA: Library and Information Science Abstracts

But for given your interest in digital research, I'd try the top two above first . . . best of luck . . .
posted by deejay jaydee at 8:44 AM on November 11, 2008

Best answer: Actually, now that I think about it, if you're researching Internet Research, you might want to search Library/Information Science journals. There's quite a bit of research IIRC. One of Wilson's databases, Library Literature, and EBSCO's LISTA might be a good place to start.
posted by Rykey at 8:53 AM on November 11, 2008

Damn you, DJJD!
posted by Rykey at 8:53 AM on November 11, 2008 [1 favorite]

Best answer: The thing with doing research, especially given the proliferation of resources out there, is you have to consult a variety of sources so, yeah, it's time consuming. That's the nature of the beast.

Your research topic could cross over into a lot of fields: information science, information technology, library science, and perhaps sociology and psychology as well. deejay jaydee mentioned some good databases that I would think should have some decent articles.

Also perhaps Inspec, since it has quite a bit of IT/information science coverage, and Web of Science, since it is very cross-disciplinary in nature and primarily includes journals. Columbia definitely has both of these.
posted by medeine at 9:01 AM on November 11, 2008

The ACM Digital library is very good for more technical research (CSCW, HCI stuff). For social science the EBSCO databases or Web of Science, both of which may be useful for business related research. I don't use JSTOR that much, but there are occasionally useful internet related articles there.

I don't remember if the other databases do this, but in the EBSCO I always search for my key concepts in the "author-submitted abstract" field. I find this tend to return the best results, because titles are useless, and keywords and subject terms in internet research can vary quite a bit.
posted by DiscourseMarker at 10:08 AM on November 11, 2008

Response by poster: Ooh, gracious... when I said "stumped the Columbia University librarians" I was apparently feeling pissy and was overgeneralizing... What actually stumped the ask-a-librarian I was speaking to was a request for a specific article in the notes from the annual meeting of the Association of Internet Researchers. I figured that would be a relatively easy conference to find, so I was kind of irritated when neither of us could come up with something. (And I should probably mention, in this case it was a Teachers College librarian.) Sorry for being misleading in my wrathful description of the incident.
posted by gusandrews at 6:49 PM on November 11, 2008

Best answer: Columbia has a librarian for Library and Information Science:
This is what subject specialists are for.

Web of Science just added the Index to Scientific & Technical Proceedings to its search, so you might see if it's part of your subscription. For proceedings, I also send people to Inspec or Google Scholar.

Also, you can actually go to other academic library sites and look for their research guides. Here is the list for MIT:
Then, you will have to see if Columbia has the actual resources, but my guess is that they will.
posted by unknowncommand at 8:23 PM on November 11, 2008

And, btw, don't diss the Teachers College librarians! Some of them are *absolutely* awesome.
posted by unknowncommand at 8:28 PM on November 11, 2008

Best answer: Seconding unknowncommand. By nature, reference work is as much art as science, and subject specialists are spread over a larger system. Finding the right answers often involves consulting the right librarians, which takes time.
posted by Rykey at 6:48 AM on November 12, 2008

Seconding (thirding?) Web of Science. I used that database pretty much exclusively on my last dissertation, which was in Information Systems. Admittedly I lean towards the philosophical side, but there's plenty for everyone in there. I LOVED being able to find out who cited my favourite papers and build up the trail that way. Scopus is the other big one, but embarrassingly I have never got round to trying it...
posted by danteGideon at 2:32 PM on November 12, 2008

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