Monday, November 29, 2004

Post-Thanksgiving reference shift, early morning version. It's cold, it's 8 am, no one in their right mind is asking reference questions. Well, that's not quite true. There are a few diligent souls wandering around...
  • How can I find a copy of the article titled "Paleontology: Dinosaurs take to the air," published in Nature in 2003?

Out of curiosity, I typed the title into Google Scholar after I helped the student find it via our online subscription to Nature. No go, of course. I haven't had much of a chance to look into GS yet, but a quick search on, say, "mercury fish" brings up lots of stuff that would sure look good to the average undergraduate--abstracts in The New England Journal of Medicine, Science, JAMA, and tons of other medical journals (via Pubmed), a whack of references in scholarly works, more abstracts via Taylor and Francis / ingenta, government reports, etc. So far there's not a lot of free content there, but as an indexing service it looks pretty good. I can imagine students using this as a finding aid, rather than the library's databases--it's easier to find, to use, and to understand. Of course, you don't get as much, and once you've found your abstracts, you're still only halfway up the tree, but most researchers don't realize that.

Searching Google Scholar for "Zadie Smith" brings back only about 54 hits, the topmost of which are WorldCat holdings records. Then ingenta abstracts, including one titled "Challenging Shakespeare: Strategies of Writing Back in Zadie Smith's White Teeth and Caryl Phillips' The Nature of Blood," published in Postmodern Studies in August 2004. Interestingly, this doesn't show up in OCLC's version of MLA yet. I presume it hasn't been indexed or uploaded yet, and that once it has been, it'll appear. In the meantime, Google Scholar may offer a shortcut to the most recently published research, as soon as it's available on the provider's platform.

Out of curiosity, I did another search on "Nora Okja Keller," another author on whom I've had trouble finding critical studies when working with students. GS brings up an ingenta abstract for an article titled "Princess Pari in Nora Okja Keller's Comfort Woman," published in positions in July 2004. This isn't indexed in MLA yet either. (Although positions is indexed by MLA.) So maybe Google Scholar is worth showing to some students as an alternate search strategy for new or sparsely-covered research topics.

In other news, today marks the advent of my wearing glasses on the desk. Lo, I am a true librarian. With a mild headache.


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