Break open the bubbly

Break open the bubbly�not only is end of term in sight but a new scholarly search engine has just launched! What more reason is there to crack open a bottle of your favourite carbonated beverage (after work hours of course?) This week, we explore Windows Live Academic Search, a new scholarly search engine from Microsoft, a searching tip for the ProQuest databases, new web sites for educational technology enthusiasts and a couple of new sites from across the pond.

1) Windows Live Academic Search Launched
The big news in the Internet search world this week was the launch of Windows Live Academic Search, Microsoft�s answer to Google Scholar. You may recall that Google Scholar is the search engine that limits its results to scholarly content only, that is, abstracts and articles from scholarly journals, conference proceedings, white papers, etc. Many of these results aren�t free but you can access some of them through your local Library (or pay for the access yourself, usually on a per article basis.) So, the search engine allows you to find solid content for your research but accessing it requires another step (purchase/moseying over to your Library.)

Welp, in the neverending game of catch-up/copycat, Microsoft has launched its own version of Scholar. Unlike the Google version however, Windows Live Academic Search (which we�ll call WLAS henceforth in order not to have to repeat that rather hulking moniker) is rolling out in phases. The first phase will offer content in three areas (computer science, electrical engineering, and physics) and from 10 publishers (with two more on the way.) Popular publishers such as IEEE, Nature, ACM Press, Institute of Physics, and Elsevier are signed up. Over 7,100 titles and 8 million articles are in the search database at the moment.

The search results page is quite dandy if you care to have a peak. Enter your search term(s) in the box (remember, WLAS only searches computer science, electrical engineering and physics at the moment�.I entered �particle physics� because who wouldn�t want to find out about particle physics?) The results appear in the left pane. If I mouse over an article in my result list, more information about that article appears in a right pane (information like author, title, publisher, etc.) You can choose to see the abstract, BibTeX or EndNote. Want to see the actual article? Click on the article title link in the right hand pane. Keep in mind though that many of these articles aren�t freely available on the open web. Take note of the title of the citation or even just the title of the journal if you find one of interest, then mosey on over to the Library @ Mohawk�s E-Journal Portal to see if we carry that particular journal or article. You may be able to access it for free through the Library�s online collections!

2) Library Tip of the Month: ProQuest Topics!
Did you know that you can access quick searching tips when using the Library’s ProQuest databases? (ProQuest databases include: Canadian Business and Current Affairs, Hamilton Spectator, ProQuest Nursing and ProQuest Science, and Applied Science and Technology Abstracts.) If you are doing research on a topic and aren’t quite sure how to narrow down your results or what aspect of the topic you’d like to explore, check out the “Topics” section in any ProQuest database. You can enter a broad search term and get all kinds of suggestions for related terms and search queries.

Here’s how it works: Let’s say we were interested in particle physics (because who isn’t, really?) Choose the ProQuest Science database from the list of science databases on TheBRAIN as a science database is your best bet for this kind of information. Click on the Topics tab at the top of the web page. Enter “particle physics” in the search box. Make sure the “Suggest Topics” radio button is selected. Click the Find Term button. A list of suggested searches displays. For example, we have “Particle physics and quarks”, “Particle physics and Experiments”, and so many more exciting search queries about particle physics! Lovely! Beneath each suggestion are links to view the documents related to that search and to narrow the search further. Does this not make life so much easier?

3) For the educational technology enthusiasts
Online conference for higher ed: For those of you interested in how technology is transforming education, check out the Higher Edcon blog. There are still 2 weeks left (conference runs April 3 � 28, 2006) in this online conference. An interesting approach to hosting a conference, the blog features articles, podcasts, and screencasts from individuals representing more than 30 colleges and universities around the world exploring the topic of �transforming academic communities with new tools of the social web.� This week the topic is Admissions, Alumni Relations and Marketing and Communications. Access the content from the week of April 3rd to learn about the use of blogs and podcasts in the classroom, and new approaches to curriculum development!

For the bleeding edge folks: For those of you on the bleeding edge of educational technology, there is a new resource from Sun called Education Commons. From the site: �Education Commons is a virtual community of academic systems users, designers and systems implementers sharing knowledge, experiences and best practices. � The site contains forums, a list of projects, a knowledgebase and more bleeding edge stuff too edgy to mention here.

New database just for educators now available for free: The Teacher Reference Center (TRC) is now available for free. This index of over 260 titles from the most popular teacher and administrator trade journals, periodicals, and books is geared towards K-12 teachers however many of the titles are also relevant for college educators. Coverage is focused on key education topics such as Assessment, Continuing Education, Current Pedagogical Research, Curriculum Development, Instructional Media, Literacy Standards, and more. To access, go to the Library Research Centre and choose the link to the Teacher Reference Centre. Remember, if you find something of interest, take the Library�s E-Journal Portal for a whirl to see if you can access the full-text through the Library @ Mohawk.

4) And now for something completely different�
Those British folks, always coming up with deliriously comedic entertainments and now, deliriously interesting web content! Could not let another blog go by without mentioning these new sites from across the pond. First up, Nature Sounds. Ever wondered where you could find the sound of an African Toad, a Black Grouse, or a Barn Owl? Well, your answer has arrived. Listen To Nature is a collection of over 400 recordings from the British Library Sound Archive, browsable by location, animal group, or habitat.

Next up Public Information Films! Who wouldn�t be interested in viewing public information and propaganda films from the 1940�s? Well, now you can with this new site from The National Archive (also from the U.K.) Choose a time period (1945-1951, 1951-1964, 1964-1979 or 1979-2006) and then view the film index. View films about how not to spread germs, the Suez Canal, the Atom Bomb, army recruitment, �children and disused fridges�, �jobs for young girls� and all kinds of other historical gems! Also available are some excellent historical information pieces and timelines to put these little goodies in context.

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