Life, the universe and a few search tools

The search tool world is just buzzing with excitement and new stuff lately. So we don�t all spontaneously combust from the sheer thrill of it all, I�ve organized this issue into two sections: 1) scholarly resources to jump up and down about and 2) search tools that will knock your proverbial socks off.

1) Scholarly Resources To Jump Up and Down About
a) You�d better sit down for this
I know, I know…first I tell you to jump up and down and now I tell you to sit down! For your own good, I recommend you sit down for this one. We have some gargantuan news about online journals and magazines at the Library @ Mohawk! By the end of this week you�ll be able to access EVEN MORE magazines and journals through TheBRAIN than ever before! You may be familiar with the EBSCOhost suite of databases�.these databases provide access to thousands of online magazines and journals that you can search, save, print or email. Popular titles such as Time, Maclean�s and The Economist are included as are scholarly research titles such as Lancet, The Chronicle of Higher Education, the Journal of Advanced Nursing, and my personal favourite The Journal of Aerospace Engineering. Literally thousands of articles at your fingertips I tell you! By the end of this week, the number of titles to which you will have access will double! That�s because we have acquired several new databases! Watch this space for these new database titles: Academic Search Premier (access to 4681 full text titles!), Healthsource Nursing Academic, American Humanities Index, Healthsource Consumer edition and Clinical Pharmacology. These complement our current suite of titles (such as the ERIC educational database, Business Source Elite, MEDLINE and more.) Not sure which database to choose? Go to this page on TheBRAIN for help with selecting a database to search. As usual, when you log in from home or anywhere off campus, you will need to log in with your staff (or student) number and a PIN. Not sure what these are? We�re here to help!

b) How to become an astronaut in 10 easy lessons (and also get great ideas for your course development!):
OpenCourseWare at MIT

MIT OCW has been around for a while but it demands to be featured in case anyone hasn�t heard about this fantastic resource! The web site says it all when it describes MIT OCW as �a free and open educational resource for faculty, students, and self-learners around the world.” Here you�ll find course materials organized by subject area�everything from lecture notes to course outlines to reading lists. Choose a subject area from the left sidebar and see a list of courses taught at MIT in that subject area. Choose a course and then view loads of material for that course. Here�s an example. Having always really wanted to be an astronaut (rather than a librarian), I selected the topic �aeronautics and astronautics� as maybe there is hope for me yet. There are course materials available for courses in the undergraduate and graduate streams. After choosing �undergraduate�, I see 18 courses listed. Aerospace Dynamics is as good a place to start as any in my new career so I select this link. Below the rather intimidating diagram of a gyroscope are links to the lecture notes and assignments. (NASA here I come!) In the �lecture notes� section there are many PDF documents organized by lecture number. Some courses also have a related resources listing, sample projects, and downloadable textbooks. The site has a clear, usable design and a search feature so that you can search the whole site or within courses. Not interested in astronautics? There is a full range of courses available from anthropology to engineering to history to music to urban studies. Whether you are taking up a new career or looking for ideas from other instructors when developing your own courses, MIT OCW is definitely a stellar resource! (MIT OCW is also featured in the facultyspace under �Class Corner/Lesson Plans and Curriculum Resources�.) Now I�m off to master my Axisymmetric Rotations and the making of Tang instant beverage drink!

c) Oxford opens up, comes out of shell, makes a few friends
The prestigious publisher Oxford University Press (OUP) recently announced a new project called Oxford Open. Oxford Open will provide free and open access to select scholarly journal titles owned by OUP. This is another great indication that the Open Access movement is gaining ground. See more information about the movement and a previous posting (April 5th, #3) about open access on the BRAIN_blog. For an example of open access in action, see the Public Library of Science.

2) Search Tools That Will Knock Your Proverbial Socks Off
a) Yummy morsels of knowledge at�Factbites
If you are a fan of Answers.com and Ask Jeeves then you may also like Factbites which was launched in March of this year. The Factbites web site proclaims �Other search engines spew out meaningless site-names and mangled phrases. Factbites offers you real, meaningful sentences and picture previews.� Like Answers.com, the factbites results list gives you links to encyclopedia articles about your topic rather than links to miscellaneous web sites. For example, I did a search on The Philippines and my result list contained links to encyclopedia articles, articles from Lonely Planet guidebooks, newspapers and some government sites. However, some of the sites were less than credible�some of the encyclopedias were not the most authoritative sources on the net, and some links were questionable. A good feature though is the long description of each search result that gives you an idea of the content on that site. Answers.com has it all over factbites at the moment but it will be interesting to see where this new tool goes in the coming months.

b) Another gift from the Google gods� Google Print
Yet another great gift from the Google gods, Google Print (currently in beta) allows you to search for books that Google has digitized. Google has agreements with publishers as well as libraries to digitize books so that they can be searched online. The complete full-text of public domain books and snippets (and sometimes only bibliographic information) from books under copyright are available. Some great features are: the nifty book cover images in the search results, the ability to search within a book, to view whole pages of a book, and to link directly to Amazon, Chapters.indigo and other booksellers to purchase the book, and the ability to link directly to a search of your local library catalogue (where the book is available in libraries). In some cases, the table of contents of a book is available which gives you a good idea of content before you buy or borrow. And no, you cannot download or read entire copyrighted books on Google Print (only public domain ones.) As Google says, �In general, Google Print is designed to help you discover books, not read them from start to finish. It’s like going to a bookstore and browsing � only with a Google twist.� Unfortunately, I couldn�t find any information on how many books are currently in Google Print �if you find out, let me know! Another easy way to access Google Print is to type �books about [topic]� (without quotes or brackets) in the regular Google search box. At the top of your search results will be a link to �book results for [your topic]�.

c) A9.com Revisited
Last September , we featured the new search engine a9.com. Last month, a new beta version of this tool was launched with some great new features. The biggest change is that there is now a list of checkboxes at the top of the screen (instead of buttons on the right) that allow you to narrow your search (to reference books, web sites, images, movies, etc.) To say that this is truly a great search engine would be an understatement. If I was on a desert island and could only have one search engine, this would be it. The results are nicely organized by format and for many of the searches I tried, contained authoritative sources (government sites, newspapers, reputable publishers.) You can also limit to sites you use most often such as PUBMED, the New York Times, Creative Commons, etc. The same great personalization tools are also still available (your history, your bookmarks, your diary, etc.) And to top it all off, a9.com uses the Google database in its search results. It�s got everything I tell you! Everything!

d) Dictionary in Limerick Form
Need I say more? What could be more fun and useful at the same time? The Omnificent English Dictionary in Limerick Form is currently in progress with definitions in limerick form complete up to “ba”. Worth a gander!

One Response to Life, the universe and a few search tools

  1. Tony says:

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