Ask A Librarian

New Library Resources Connect Users to Wealth of Research

Posted by Monte Maxwell.
March 15th, 2006

Two new West Virginia University Libraries’ offerings are providing a boost to faculty and student researchers. Web of Science and Elsevier’s Science Direct, among the top academic digital resources, can now be reached with just a few clicks on the WVU Libraries’ web site.

Web of Science is an index to 22,000 journals, 23 million patents, 12,000 conference proceedings, 5,500 web sites, 5,000 books and other scholarly Web content. Science Direct includes electronic versions of frequently used journals from 1995 to the present.

“We heard from our faculty and graduate students about their research needs and, through the support of the Research Corporation, we’ve been able to provide them with updated services,” Provost Gerald Lang said. “Like everything else, the educational environment and our learning environments are changing, and I think that the ability to provide access to the scientific literature in a much more contemporary way – at one’s desktop – will improve the quality of our faculty members’ research and student learning.”

Dean of University Libraries Frances O’Brien said Web of Science was the Libraries’ most requested database. It provides users with access to Science Citation Index Expanded, Social Sciences Citation Index and Art & Humanities Citation Index, with multiple search methods.

The general search allows users to search by topic, author, group author, journal time and address, while the advance search incorporates field tags, Boolean operators and set combinations.

Dr. Stephen Alway, chair of exercise physiology, considers Web of Science a critical addition because it enables users to quickly retrieve the most up-to-date research.
He has already witnessed its impact by locating a recently published paper that shed new light on a topic he had been discussing with his class.

“Some of the things we have been thinking about in the last couple of years may not be correct based on this new data,” Alway said. “Being that current and not being out-of-date by two years, as we all know textbooks are, just makes a lot more sense in terms of pure education.”

Dr. Gregory Elmes, a geography professor, also appreciates that Web of Science covers an enormous range of scientific literature. He considers its unique cited reference capabilities as one of the most helpful features.

Previously, researchers could easily find older articles cited in materials; however, it was more difficult to find research sparked by a particular article. Web of Science changes that by providing a comprehensive history of citations concerning an article: works cited in the article and later materials that cited the article.

“If you found a paper published in 2000, you can find articles that have subsequently referred to that one and move forward and, that way, bring your citations and understanding of the literature reasonably up to date,” Elmes said. “That’s been the biggest persuader for me that this is a very valuable resource.”

Elmes holds high expectations for how Web of Science will impact his work and his classroom. Already he has directed his students to start with their research statements and use the database to find the recent information as well as material they had not yet found.

“It’s obvious that Web of Science is a fundamental tool for research at every level, and if WVU wants to be in the forefront of research universities, it can’t afford to be without these sorts of resources,” Elmes said. “The University has demonstrated a major commitment to research with the addition of these services.”

Elsevier’s Science Direct online journal package responds to requests to increase back issues in the Libraries’ electronic journal holdings.

Science Direct contains not only previously held titles, but also a combined list of titles of 31 participating PALINET libraries. For WVU, this arrangement increases online access to more than 300 formerly unavailable journals.

Dr. Fred Minnear, assistant dean for Graduate Studies in the WVU School of Medicine, considers access to electronic journals essential to survival in the research world. He is an advocate of delving into older literature to give his students a broader view of a subject.

“Sometimes it’s nice to go back to the old articles. I like to give the history of how a particular area was researched,” Minnear said. “The earlier scientists came up with exciting ideas and conducted simple, novel experiments.”

Science Direct also gives Minnear a better chance of finding articles that he needs immediately, which he believes is extremely advantageous when writing grants.

“You’ve got deadlines,” Minnear explained. “If you can be efficient in your time in accessing particular articles for information purposes, it really helps you a lot.”

O’Brien is especially pleased by the positive response of these and other faculty members and the support received from the Research Corp.

“We are very grateful to the WVU Research Corporation for providing the funds for these purchases,” O’Brien said. “We could not have purchased either of these resources without their substantial allocation.”

To access these new online resources go to:
For Web of Science, click “W” on the list of databases and click on the Web of Science link to take you to the database. The services are restricted to faculty, staff and students. For access from a remote location, follow the log-in instructions provided on the library site.

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