Time To Get Oriented!
"Lets not confuse our tools with our goals....." - Smartypants McGhee, 1984.
Ok, What are we working with?
For the purposes of this orientation we will discuss the most commonly utilized databases here at the Evergreen State College Library. All three of these resources offer basic and advanced searching, there are times when you may want to utilize the basic functions, but we can tell you from experience that you may wind up with more materials than you are likely to read. Using the advanced searching options can really help in reducing those hits, so keep your eye out and if there are limiters, use them. You may just thank your stars, because facing the challenge of sifting through 8,000 articles really stinks compared to the 150 or so relevant items you will get by narrowing your search.
The catalog page for the Evergreen State College Library allows patrons and students to search through its collection of Books, Periodicals (on-line and print), Government Documents and audio/video media. This gives the user research access to nearly a million works ranging through mediums, genres and time periods. When used to its full capability it can be an extremely powerful research tool, however it can also send the unknowing user into the depths of research hell, or what we like to call quitting time.
Note: This Library Catalog allows unlimited access to all materials to public patrons and students alike, however if you are using it off-campus access to the online databases is restricted to students and faculty who have an "A Number" assigned to them by the Registration and Records Office.
The TESC Library Catalog offers a description of ProQuest as "a combination of an interdisciplinary, a business, a medical, and two newspaper databases. This indexes around 4000 journals, with full-text for half of them. Both indexing and full-text can begin as early as 1986, but most begin in the early nineties." And UMI the folks behind ProQuest offer.
The ProQuest® online information service provides access to thousands of current periodicals and newspapers, many updated daily and containing full-text articles from 1986. Our deep backfiles of archival material are also expanding daily as we digitize 5.5 billion pages from our distinguished microfilm collection.
Personally, I would say that for orientation purposes Proquest offers a basic, user friendly and comprehensive interface that does a good job to acclimate the "wet behind the ears" researcher to the wonderful world of internet based research.
The TESC Library Catalog states that Ebscohost offers "full-text for over 2000 journals, with coverage for many beginning in 1990. Indexing & abstracting is available for over 3300 journals, with coverage beginning for many in 1984. Coverage includes over 2500 peer-reviewed journals." And that it covers subjects ranging from "biological sciences, economics, communications [and] computer sciences" to "engineering, language & linguistics, arts & literature, medical sciences & women's studies." A comprehensive and slightly more complicated tool than Proquest, Ebscohost offers several different strategies to on-line research that can hinder as well as equip the avid investigator with easily used and easily confused tool for their inquiries.
The Folks who designed and built the Ebsco search engine devised this little tutorial that I have found to be extremely helpful. If you run into trouble or lose your way, then check it out, chances are it will offer the guiding light your hoping for. Just go to the main Ebscohost search page and find the "Help" link, it is slightly hard to find so check here if you cant find it.