Monday, 8 May 2017

Ten search engines for researchers that go beyond Google | Jisc


Ten search engines for researchers that go beyond Google

<a href="">Neil Jacobs</a>

search engines effectively is now a key skill for researchers, but
could more be done to equip young researchers with the tools they need.
Here, Dr Neil Jacobs and Rachel Bruce from Jisc’s digital infrastructure
team share their top ten resources for researchers from across the web.

Every click of the mouse, every search box, needs to work hard to make the best use of a researcher’s time.

each gem of a resource that a researcher discovers, there may be a
dozen abandoned web pages, armies of half-read abstracts and false
leads. Knowing how, and where, to search for resources is vital for
saving time and getting quickly to the results that matter. 

One of the best ways to increase your hit-rate is by going beyond Google to a specific academic search engine or database.

we outline the top search engines and resources that work hard for
researchers to help them get the figures, answers and arguments they

Scientific queries


is it? A so-called ‘answer engine’, the service answers queries
directly based on the search terms rather than providing a list of

Key features: Search for information about domain names
and compare websites. It also has various maths and statistics

Neil says:

“WolframAlpha is probably
the most innovative of the answer engines. It attempts to answer
free-text questions or provide information about things rather than
supply a list of web sites tagged as connected with a subject.”

Open access search engines


What is it? An experimental service, allowing keyword and semantic search of over 10 million open access articles.

Key feature: If you find an article you like, CORE will find similar ones by analysing the text of that article.


is it? BASE is one of the world's most voluminous search engines
especially for academic open access web resources from over 2,000

Key features: Allows you to search intellectually
selected resources and their bibliographic data, including those from
the so-called ‘deep web’, which are ignored by commercial search
engines. There are several options for sorting the results list and you
can browse by Dewey Decimal Classification and document type.

Neil explains:

“BASE is bigger than CORE, but the discovery tools are not as advanced.”

Library catalogues


What is it? A Jisc service allowing you to look through the catalogues of over 70 major UK and Irish libraries.

features: Good for locating books and other material held in research
collections in the UK;  especially useful for humanities.

Rachel explains:

“It gets over 13 million searches a year from higher and further education, so it is a very well used service.”

Web Scale Discovery services

is it? Many university libraries have one of these services working
behind the scenes, they index a vast range of academic resources and
provide sophisticated search tools.

Key features: The search
includes journal articles, e-books, reviews, legal documents and more
that are harvested from primary and secondary publishers, aggregators
and open-access repositories.

Rachel comments:

researchers might not even know their library has this tool – it just
looks like the library catalogue to them – but is much more than that.”


is it? One of the world’s most comprehensive research databases, this
Jisc service gives you access to over 28,000 journals and more than 52
million article citations and conference papers through the British
Library’s electronic table of contents.

Key features: Researchers
can get email alerts of the table of contents in journals, keeping them
up to date with the latest literature in their field.

Neil says:

“This is a very popular feature and is an easy way to search back to previous articles to support your research.”


is it? This is a meta-catalogue of cultural heritage collections from a
range of Europe's leading galleries, libraries, archives and museums.
The catalogue includes books and manuscripts, photos and paintings,
television and film, sculpture and crafts, diaries and maps, sheet music
and recordings.

Features: You can download your resource, print it, use it, save it, share it and play with it.

Neil tells us:

“This is hugely important for the humanities and some social sciences.”

Social web


is it? Harness the power of social discovery and particularly the
#icanhazpdf hashtag for locating PDFs that you do not have access to
through your institution.

Features: Tweet an article you need using this hashtag and someone will point you to a copy that you can access.

Reference management and discovery services

Mendeley and Zotero

What are they? They are both ways to share reference lists, citations, and even full papers in the case of Mendeley.

Key feature: Save, organise and store your references so that you can remain organised ready for the final write-up.

Rachel says:

“You can read a review comparing them on the University of Cambridge website.”

Do you know these more well-known search engines and databases?

Jisc Inform - Issue 37
This article originally featured in issue 37 of Jisc Inform.

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About the author

Rachel Bruce

Rachel Bruce

Deputy chief innovation officer, Jisc

I am Jisc’s deputy chief innovation officer
responsible for research and development activities in the area of
research data, research infrastructure and library and scholarly

Currently one of the main areas I am is overseeing is
research at risk which aims to develop robust and sustainable
infrastructure and services for research data management for UK
universities, and as part of this I am leading Jisc’s strategy in the
area of a long-term solutions in research data.

l am also involved in technology foresight where a range of technologies and their impact on education and research is assessed.

have a strong interest in the updating of infrastructure for the
creation, sharing and managing of digital resources and related shared
services, as well as the policy and practices required to improve their
re-use and exploitation to enhance education and research, with the main
focus being on research. This also includes issues of sustainability
and transferring Jisc’s research and development work into services for
colleges and universities.

0203 006 6061


Neil Jacobs

Neil Jacobs

Head of scholarly communications support, Jisc

Neil is head of scholarly communications support for
Jisc. He was formerly programme director of information environment
(IE) work overseeing a variety of projects and programmes in the areas
of access to and management of digital resources.

His work covers
the issues of technical interoperability, cultural and organisational
change, sustainability and business models in relation to Jisc’s digital
infrastructure work in  linked data, digital repositories, scholarly communications, and research information management.

07841 951 303



Ten search engines for researchers that go beyond Google | Jisc

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