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Wilfrid Laurier University Development
April 20, 2014
 
 
Canadian Excellence

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Development

New "Google-like search engine" offered through Library making research easy

Communications, Public Affairs & Marketing

Sep 18/06

Laurier is one of the Ontario universities that now has access to a powerful research tool called Scholars Portal, a service that incorporates a broad array of databases so students can search for journal articles and many other resources online.  Scholars Portal is managed by The Ontario Council of University Libraries (OCUL), which is a cooperative agreement between the universities to band together and provide services and resources.

One of the ways universities can benefit is through combined purchasing power, which makes both databases and journals less expensive.

“If 12 universities want to buy a database, we can make an agreement with the publishers to buy the database for a more affordable price,” says Deborah Wills, one of the reference and collections Librarians.

Wills likens Scholars Portal to “a google-like search engine of scholarly information sources.”

The whole process of research can be done in one place,” she says.  “Students can connect to full-text journals online.”

Scholars Portal allows students to “query over 65 million references to scholarly journal articles from over 50 major index and abstract databases through a single search interface,” boasts the website, which can be found at www.scholarsportal.info. “Our electronic journal collection contains more than eight million articles from over 7,300 full text scholarly journals published by major distributors and presses.”

Online journal articles can be shared and read from anywhere, anytime.  If books are found, Scholars Portal has a direct link to the TRELLIS Catalogue and the interlibrary loan form (RACER).  

It’s all free to the students,” explains Wills.  “If the only place to get a certain book is from Hong Kong, we’ll do our best to get that book from Hong Kong.  However,” she adds with a smile, “getting a book from Hong Kong might take a little longer than usual.”

Saving time is, perhaps, Scholars Portal’s greatest asset.

“Up until now, you would have to look at a number of individual databases one at a time,” says Wills.  Scholars Portal pulls a growing number of databases together and removes duplicate entries, saving time searching for articles and leaving more time to examine them.  

The website also offers a service called RefWorks, which allows students to manage their references.  Students can create a list of their references and annotate them as well, which is great for citing papers.  RefWorks keeps track of what sources they’ve selected, which can be organized into folders, so students see the resources they’ve used and the ones they’ve only looked at: another big time-saver.

But in addition to saving time, Scholars Portal helps users discover articles and books that they may never have thought to look for.  For example, a logical database to search for Sigmund Freud’s theories would be PsycINFO.  However, a quick search in Scholars Portal would also bring up articles from Arts and Humanities databases.  

The major databases for some subjects, like Religion for example, are not yet a part of Scholars Portal.  To facilitate the process of searching, though, the Laurier Library homepage, http://library.wlu.ca, links to the top few databases for each subject. Follow the “Find Articles” link.

Still, Scholars Portal continues to grow, and Wills stresses that “we’re adding to it all the time….  If you think you know it today, tomorrow it will be different.”

The service is new, and the library staff is encouraging students to not only try it, but to also send feedback to dwills@wlu.ca.

Mallory O'Brien
Public Affairs


 

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