User Tools

Site Tools


General-Interest and Scholarly Databases


Hi Class, this week we are going to examine general interest and scholarly databases. In this video I'm going to walk us through three databases: Factiva, which is our general-interest news and online web database and Web of Science and Google Scholar, which are our two scholarly, citation databases. In particular, these two databases are citation databases.

We're reading chapters 1 and 2 from Knott, and I will ask a question on the discussion board related to chapter 2. Knott covers specific databases in these two chapters, and UK has some of these databases, so you should explore them. However, I want to take this opportunity to cover databases that are not reviewed in these chapters, with the purpose of exposing us to a greater number of really good sources.


So, this is Factiva. This is a Dow-Jones owned database, and it's really good for news articles, market and company activity, and business related information. Like other databases that we've covered this semester, you can set up search alerts, saved searches, and more.

You can search against subjects, industries, within regions, and you can add other limits, and there are a slew of some advanced search operators that will help power up your search. One bonus is this thing called the Query Genius, which you can see up in the top right. I'll share with you a list of operators and field codes to use when searching here and also demonstrate how to use this.

Let's say I'm interested in any news about Google and open source software. To search this in Factiva, I can approach the query simply, like so:

"open source" AND google

This search was conducted on Feb 6, 2018, and you can see there are 2,560 results.

On the left side you can see a distribution of articles by date of publication, a list of relevant companies that appear in the documents that were retrieved, as well as lists of sources, subjects, industries, languages, regions, and so forth.

If I wanted to export any of these documents, I can click on specific check boxes and export the results in various ways, either as an RTF or a PDF file, or have it email the results to me or print them. We can look at the publication data distribution and note whether there are more results on a given day than on others. This may suggest a hot news day for this particular topic and so that may be something we want to explore.

Let's go back to the search builder. Say I found that the previous set of results were rather hit or miss and, as a result, I want to refine my search a bit more. Now I can try the adjacent operator. The adjacent operator tells the database to only return documents where the terms appear within a set amount of space between each other. The assumption is that the closer any terms are to each other, the more likely the document will be about those terms. Thus, if I type:

"open source" adj5 google

I'm saying that I want the term "open source" to appear within five words of the term "google", and I'm doing this because I expect that the list of results will be more hit than miss on this topic.

You can see that the results are much different than the previous one. Here I only have 128 results rather than 2,597. If we investigate any of these documents, you and confirm that our two terms, which are highlighted, appear within five words of each other.

There are many operators in Factiva, but unless we're familiar with them, it's hard to remember all of them, and the documentation isn't all that great, unfortunately. But we can learn about them with a little digging and elbow grease, and in the discussion forum for today, I'm sharing with you a list of operators to use and a list of field tags. Remember, search operators are the parts of a query that deal with the logic of a query. Thus, a Boolean NOT operator tells a search system to not include some term. A field tag refers to the metadata of a source -- that is, some part of a source that's fixed and described, like a source title, date, etc.

There are many more search operators in Factiva, like there are in other databases. Here's the page that lists them. In addition to the adjN operator, there are the standard Boolean operators, which you can use as lower case in Factiva, as well as other kinds, like the nearN operator, which works like the adjN operator but is bi-directional. That means the order of terms in our query doesn't matter, like it does in the use of the adjN operator. For example, if I do this:

"open source" near5 google

Then I'm telling the system that I will accept documents or results where the term "open source" is placed within five words before or after the term "Google". But if I use the adjN operator, then I'm implying a specific direction. That is:

"open source" adj5 google

means I'm telling the system that the term "google" must come after the term "open source" and also must be placed within five words of each other. By implication:

google adj5 "open source"

implies that order.

There's a lot more to Factiva. E.g., if I want to acquire more information about a company, then I'd want to click on the Companies/Markets link at the top and do a search. Here's a search for Google. I can also follow the same kind of steps for industries.

You can use Factiva by going to the UK Libraries website, clicking on the Databases tab, and searching for Factiva. If you're want a place to read the news everyday, this is a good option too. It doesn't simply have to be a source for searching for news articles when you need them.

Web of Science

Web of Science is an abstract, indexing, and citation database. What this means is that it's a database that does not provide access to full text sources, like full text articles, but only to information about the articles, like titles, abstracts, publications, and so forth. That's a big limitation, in some ways, because often we want something right now when we search for it, but it's fine, because we can usually get a full text copy of a work that we're interested in. I'll show you how in a second.

Web of Science is also, as mentioned, a citation database. Whenever a scholar cites another work, such as an article or a book, the citation database tracks that citation and uses it to connect the two works together: the citing work and the cited work. Having this citation link available to us provides us with a great information retrieval tool.

Why? It turns out that this development provides a great opportunity to retrieve articles that are like each other, and like each other in some way. In fact, Google's PageRank algorithm, the algorithm that judges relevance based on links to a page, is based on this citation idea.

The reason this works is because when one author cites another work, it's often the case that the citation is given because there's a connection of some sort between the two works. That is, when we cite a work, we don't just cite randomly or for just any reason or for no reason at all; rather, we cite because there's either a topical connection, a methodological connection, or some other type of connection to the previous work.

For example, if I'm conducting research on search engines and am writing a paper about this research, then it's highly likely that I will cite other research that is also on search engines. That's a topical connection. Or, if I am doing this research but I'm gathering data using interviews with people who use search engines, then I may cite other research on the method of interviewing. That's a methodological connection.

A citation database doesn't tell us anything about why two or more articles are connected to each other through citations, it simply tells us that there is a link. Since it provides that link, it's up to us to follow it and use the bibliographic information (author names, title, abstract, etc.) to determine if the citation connection resulted in a new find that is relevant to our information needs.

Let's see how this works. I'm in Web of Science. Again, to find this, go to UK Libraries, click on databases, and do a search for either Web of Science or Web of Knowledge, which is another name.

The Core Collection is the default collection/database. This is Web of Sciences main database. It's big but it's also curated---only journals that are considered really important by the owners of this platform make it to this database. WoS offers other databases and I can either choose among them or I can search all of them. Note that if I search against all of them that the results will be less precise since a number of these databases cover different areas, including biology, ecology, medicine and health, and so on. If you change the database, some of these search options change.

Let's try a search. We can try our open source and Google search:

"open source" AND google

We'll select the TOPIC field, which means our search scans the titles, abstracts, and keywords in the fields. Here are our results. This search was conducted on Mar 6, 2018, and we get 491 documents returned. If I scroll down, I can add some limits to narrow these results down a bit. E.g., I can limit by publication year, by Web of Science Categories, by Document Type, and so forth.

Let's say that my search is a bit too broad still and I want to narrow first by refining my query. Just like in Factiva, Web of Science offers a proximity operator called NEAR. Let's try it out with the following query:

"open source" NEAR/5 google

Now there are only 93 results, and if I examine the abstract, I'll see that the term "google" is placed within five words of the term "open source" somewhere in the title, abstract, or keywords of the record. If I want to really narrow down my search, I can change the field to Title only. Here you can see that I only get two results back.

The default results list is to show articles that are published more recently. I can change this default sorting method so that WoS sorts based on sources that have the highest citations first. Once I do this, I can go to the right side, and look at the Times Cited link and see which articles have been cited the most. This is what makes WoS a citation database. We don't have to use WoS as a citation database, but this is what really separates WoS from many other scholarly databases.

Theoretically, each one of these citing articles should be related to the article that is cited by them. I can them peruse these citing articles to help me find, perhaps, even more relevant sources of information.

Instead of basic search, we can search by author, cited reference, and more. If you click on the help button in WoS, you'll find a guide on how to use WoS. The guide includes some tips on the use of various search operators, including the near operator as well as the Boolean operators.

Remember that Web of Science doesn't offer direct access to content, but notice that there's this View Now link. This link is connected to UK Libraries' databases and if the article is available, we can get it directly. If not, then we can request it through interlibrary loan. Also, in some cases there's also a link to look up the full text in Google Scholar.

Google Scholar

Let's try Google Scholar now. Google Scholar doesn't have the great search operators that either Factiva or Web of Science has, but it's also a citation database and it's free to use. So let's repeat our search but lose the near operator because GS won't know what that means:

"open source" google

You can see here we get a lot of results. Maybe even too much. If we want to limit our results, we have to use other tricks. The most common one is simply to add more specific keywords to our query. E.g., of I add "Android" to the query, that reduces the results.

There is an advanced search option. It's not as advanced as something you'd find in the previous two databases, but it is useful.

Other than that, one of the nice things about Google Scholar is that it's also a citation database. You can see the Cited by N link just below each result. That's there if something has been cited, and I can click on that to follow citations. This is super helpful.

The reason Google Scholar returns so many more results is because it casts a bigger net than something like Web of Science does, which purposefully casts a smaller net. Because of that, I find Google Scholar is kind of nice for browsing works and for discovery, but that Web of Science is better for really rigorous and methodical literature searches.

The observant among you may have noticed that when I'm searching Google Scholar there's also a link to View Now @ UK option. This is something you have to set up, but it's pretty simple to do. Just click on settings, and then go to Library Links, and then search for the University of Kentucky. Be sure that you're signed into Google if you want to save this as a preference. After that, you should see the View Now option when something is available via UK Libraries.

There are some basic filters -- I can filter by articles (which also includes books) as well as case law. I can limit to dates or sort by date, and I can create search alerts (which we've already covered). If I click on the Cite button, I can bring up a box to show how to format my reference according to various styles. If I click on the Cited by link, I can retrieve the articles that are citing documents, and I by clicking on Search within citing articles, I can add terms and search within those results.


All right. That covers Factiva, Web of Science, and Google Scholar. Factiva is a general-interest news database, and WoS and GS are both citation, scholarly databases.

I'll raise a question on the discussion board that comes from our Knott reading. See you there.

teaching/general-interest-and-scholarly-databases.txt · Last modified: 2019/01/25 15:51 by seanburns