Tag Archives: ProQuest

Beyond Citation: Understanding Databases

Every year, more and more research is done by scholars online via academic databases. Print journals, scholarly monographs, newspapers, periodical indexes, and even ephemera and image collections are steadily transitioning from print to electronic.

Historically, research using print collections took place in library reading rooms with material owned by the library. Increasingly, research using electronic collections takes place outside of the library using proprietary digital platforms subscribed to by libraries. This change greatly affects how libraries function — an ownership model morphs into an access model — and how research is done. Database searches are crucial to uncovering information, but little is known about how these searches work. Additionally, it’s not always easy to find what full text content is covered in these database titles.

The goal of Beyond Citation is to help the researcher to better understand how academic databases work, and provide easier access to the database’s holdings information. For the CUNY Digital Praxis Seminar, the Beyond Citation team needed to determine which databases to feature in its initial launch, and what information to gather about each title.

First, we wanted to feature humanities databases and steer away from STEM titles. (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics.) Second, we ideally wanted to cover titles that were available at the CUNY Graduate Center’s Mina Rees Library, and we wanted representation from the big three “e” vendors: EBSCO, Gale, and ProQuest. Additionally, we wanted to cover different kinds of content, including historical newspapers, scholarly journals, and historical e-books from both non-profit and for-profit companies.

After much discussion, the Beyond Citation team has decided to focus on the following databases and collections for its initial launch.

Google Books



ProQuest Historical Newspapers

19th Century U.S. Newspapers (Gale)

Early English Books Online (EEBO) with TCP (Text Creation Partnership) (ProQuest)

Gale Artemis: Primary Sources – Nineteenth Century Collections Online (NCCO) and Eighteenth Century Collections Online (ECCO).


Project Muse (Johns Hopkins University Press)

Artemis Literature Resources (Gale)

EBSCO Humanities Source

We are open to and eager for feedback from users of these titles, or from any other researchers and librarians who use databases in their research. More to come in future posts on what information we hope to gather from each title, and how that information will be displayed. You can reach us at BeyondCitation [at] gmail.com

Knowledge Workers Unite!

In May, 2012, ProQuest, the historical newspaper and scholarly journal database, introduced Udini, “an inventive new research service that provides individuals with access to premium content and cutting edge tools.” The “premium content” they advertised was pulled from select ProQuest databases which previously had only been available through research and academic libraries. According to their press release, Udini offers scholarly content to “knowledge workers without access to research libraries.”

Then in September, 2013, JSTOR, the online academic journal and e-book platform, announced JPASS, a subscription service also geared toward the unaffiliated scholar. For a small fee, you can access a set number of articles in the JSTOR archive. As the JPASS press release suggests, “It’s a great option if you are not able to get ready access through an educational institution or public library.”

Udini and JPASS, combined with increasing number of open access scholarly journal and monograph content, plus the full text titles available in Google Books, HathiTrust, and the Internet Archive, has made initial research for the unaffiliated humanities scholar easier than ever before. And if one adds the growing amount of content digitized from specialized libraries, plus access to library subscription databases, a curious mind need only to have an internet connection and a library card to begin her independent studies.

In fact, one could argue that many of the alt-ac career paths that were mentioned and discussed in class on Monday don’t require a PhD at all. Many don’t (or shouldn’t) even require a Masters degree. What many of these alt-ac jobs require are the same skills that many jobs require: clear writing and communication, research skills, organization, interpersonal skills, critical thinking skills, and intellectual curiosity and initiative.

Intellectual curiosity, while perhaps once only satisfied by classroom engagement and course readings, is now easily fulfilled by tools accessible to a large portion of the population. Indeed, syllabi, lectures, and like-minded scholarly communities are all now easy to find outside the academy. In fact, there are many articles and blogs written by non academic scholars and enthusiasts whose writing and research are more aligned with their academic brethren than their publishing platforms may suggest. And much of their work is increasingly intersecting and interacting with traditional academia in interesting and productive ways.

I’m not suggesting that the world of material available to unaffiliated scholars mirrors the deep archival content that can be found in a university or academic library, or that an independent researcher is necessarily the equal to a PhD. But in 2013, there is so much more available to whet one’s curiosity and engage in learning, to participate in communities, and to publish, speak, and collaborate outside of the academy than ever before. And it doesn’t take a rocket scientist, or a social scientist, or even a library scientist to do it.