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Top 10 Search Engines for Researchers That Go Beyond Google

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Researchers now need to know how to use search engines efficiently, but there should be more done to provide young researchers with the tools they need. Dr. Neil Jacobs and Rachel Bruce of Jisc’s digital infrastructure team discuss their top 10 web-based resources for researchers.

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Every mouse click, every search box, has to work hard in order to make the most of a researcher’s time.

There may be a dozen abandoned websites, armies of half-read abstracts, and false leads for every gem of a resource that a researcher discovers. Knowing how and where to look for resources is critical for saving time and getting the information you need quickly.

Going beyond Google to a dedicated academic search engine or database is one of the finest methods to improve your hit rate. Here, we’ll go over the best search engines and tools for researchers to find the data, answers, and arguments they need.

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Scientific Queries

WolframAlpha

What exactly is it? The service, which is referred to as an “answer engine,” immediately answers inquiries based on the search parameters rather than presenting a list of results.
Search for information on domain names and compare websites with this tool. It also has a number of math and statistics utilities.

Neil says:
“WolframAlpha is probably the most innovative of the answer engines. It attempts to answer free-text questions or provide information about things rather than supply a list of websites tagged as connected with a subject.”

Open access search engines

CORE

What exactly is it? An experimental service that allows users to search over 10 million open access publications using keywords and semantics.
Key feature: If you enjoy an article, CORE will look for others that are similar by analyzing the language of that article.

http://core.kmi.open.ac.uk/search

 

BASE

What exactly is it? The BASE is one of the most comprehensive search engines in the world, with over 2,000 sources of academic open access web content.

Features to look for: This allows you to search for intellectually selected materials and their bibliographic data, including those from the ‘deep web,’ which commercial search engines disregard. You can sort the results list in a variety of ways, including by Dewey Decimal Classification and document type.

Neil explains:
“BASE is bigger than CORE, but the discovery tools are not as advanced.”

Library catalogs

Copac

What exactly is it? A Jisc service that lets you search the catalogs of more than 70 major the UK and Irish libraries.

Features to look for: It’s a good way to find books and other materials kept in UK research libraries; it’s especially beneficial for humanities.

Rachel explains:
“It gets over 13 million searches a year from higher and further education, so it is a very well-used service.”
DELVING FOR DATA
Searching for research data is not yet easy.
Dr. Neil Jacobs says:
“Researchers probably start with the disciplinary repositories with which they’re familiar, although there are some catalogs of different collections of data.”
These catalogs include:
In Australia, there is a registry in Research Data Australia: http://researchdata.ands.org.au/
For environmental data, there is the NERC Data Catalogue Service: http://data-search.nerc.ac.uk/
Public data is searchable in the European Union Open Data Portal: http://open-data.europa.eu/
Particular software platforms also have their own searches, eg Dryad: http://datadryad.org/, which is specifically for data, and FigShare:
http://www.figshare.com/, which contains some data, but also researchers’ other items such as PowerPoint slides and images.

Web-Scale Discovery services

What exactly is it? Many university libraries employ one of these services, which index a wide range of academic resources and provide advanced search options.

Features to look for: Journal articles, e-books, reviews, legal papers, and other items are included in the search, which are gathered from primary and secondary publishers, aggregators, and open-access repositories.

Rachel comments:
“Many researchers might not even know their library has this tool – it just looks like the library catalog to them – but is much more than that.”

Zetoc

What exactly is it? This Jisc service allows you access to over 28,000 journals and more than 52 million article citations and conference papers through the British Library’s electronic table of contents, making it one of the most extensive research databases in the world.
Features to look for: Researchers can receive email alerts of journal table of contents, keeping them up to date on the most recent research in their field.
Neil says:
“This is a very popular feature and is an easy way to search back to previous articles to support your research.”

Europeana

What exactly is it? This is a meta-catalog of cultural heritage collections from some of Europe’s most prestigious galleries, libraries, archives, and museums. Books and manuscripts, photographs and paintings, television and film, art and crafts, diaries and maps, sheet music, and recordings are all included in the collection.
Features: You may download, print, utilize, save, share, and play with your resource.

Neil tells us:
“This is hugely important for the humanities and some social sciences.”

Social web

Twitter

What exactly is it? Make use of social discovery, especially the #icanhazpdf hashtag, to find PDFs that you don’t have access to through your university.
Features: If you use this hashtag to tweet an article that you require, someone will connect you to a copy that you can read.
Reference management and discovery services

Mendeley and Zotero

What exactly are they? In the case of Mendeley, they’re both means to share reference lists, citations, and even whole publications.

Save, organize, and preserve your references so that you can stay organized before writing the final report.

http://www.mendeley.com/

http://www.zotero.org/

 

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