Elsevier, SciTopics, and Free Stuff – What I learned at Websearch University

Posted on April 1, 2011. Filed under: information search, science & technology | Tags: , , |

Earlier this week I spent two days in Scottsdale, AZ (poor me)  at “Websearch University”, where I and the other attendees delved deep into tips, tricks, tools, and resources for internet-based research – both fee-based and free.   

A session titled “Market Research for Sci-Tech”  opened my eyes to a resource I’d never heard of … which led to me exploring the site … which led to me being reminded of how much “free stuff” can be found on all kinds of otherwise fee-based, commercial sites.  Take Elsevier for example. 

“SciTopics:  Distilled, authoritative and up-to-date information for researchers on scientific, technical and medical topics.”

Elsevier is a HUGE publisher of scientific and technical journals (and many other fields).  It’s not known for being inexpensive.  Quite the contrary.  But from its website you can get to a wonderful (and free) resource called SciTopics .   Select a research summary from your field of choice (materials science, for example) and, in addition to the short research summary, you’ll find a list of related SciTopics pages, other recent related articles, web search results, and a list of related keywords.  (invaluable to me as an information researcher for building a good search strategy!)

SciTopics research summaries are not peer-reviewed, if that’s important to you.  But  they can provide a nice starting point and point to additional resources.  A great find – but there’s more!

Top 25 Hottest Articles!  Another way to begin exploring a topic.

As long as I was at the Elsevier site, I did a little exploring and clicked on ScienceDirect.  I’d forgotten about ScienceDirect – it’s a tool to search across Elsevier’s journal and book content for topics of interest (hint – use the “advanced search” feature). 

At no cost, you’ll get a list of citations, a “preview” look, and links to related articles and related reference works (i.e. encyclopedia sections).  All that at no cost, along with links to the PDF files of the articles, which can be purchased.  But wait, there’s more 🙂

If you register with ScienceDirect, you can set up “alerts” ,  identify a set of favorite journals, and customize the page to meet your needs as a researcher.  And, ScienceDirect offers up lists of the “Top 25 Hottest Articles” in any or all of their subject areas.  A quick way to take a mental break whule still, sort of, working.

Rooting around in these sites can turn up all kinds of useful – and no cost – good stuff!

While rooting around in SciTopics and ScienceDirect, I clicked on the link for Scopus, also an Elsevier product.  Scopus is a not-inexpensive abstract and citation database of peer-reviewed literature.  But the Scopus website, I discovered, provides an “Author Preview” link.  Again, full details cost $$, but you CAN type in an author’s name and find out a little about their subject area, affiliation, and sometimes city and country.  OK, admittedly this limited bit of information might not be that useful very often — but there have been times I’ve been trying to track down author affiliations.  This tool could help!

Thank you Websearch University (and Mark Goldstein who taught the session) for showing something new to me, and for reminding me of the value of rooting around for the gems to be found in so many sites.

Need research assistance?  Perhaps I can help!

Nora K. Stoecker, NKS Info Services

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