Large database comparison

Comparison Review by CCL-EAR Committee

This was a comparison review of the ProQuest 5000, EBSCO Academic Search Premier, and Gale Academic OneFile. We looked at title lists, search results, and search interfaces. Through our analysis, we felt that the most important criteria in making our final recommendation was the number of current, full-text, peer reviewed journals.

Download the full text of our evaluation for more details.

If you have any experience with this product, please leave a comment and rate its appropriateness for use in a community college environment.

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2 Responses to “Large database comparison”

  1. Brian Greene's rating and/or comments:

    I think the committee’s review succinctly captures the biggest downside to Gale’s suite of databases, including Academic OneFile. While it is expensive to add current, full-text, peer-reviewed titles, there are a number of other improvements that Gale can and should make immediately. Here are four inexpensive suggestions:

    1) Change the default citation format for exporting citations to MLA 7th edition. I understand that the 6th edition is still used by many, but the 7th edition has been available for more than two years and Gale should default to the current format.

    2) Enable libraries to automatically add their proxy url to links created through the bookmark feature. As it stands the feature is complicated to use if the links are sent off-campus.

    3) Add the ability to limit by date to the “Refine Results” box.

    4) Improve the way links to articles on publishers’ websites are handled and displayed. Currently, some abstracts from a handful of publishers (e.g. Elsevier, Blackwell’s) include doi links to the full-text article on the publisher’s website. Quite a few of these articles are free, yet users who restrict their Gale search to full-text won’t find them. I understand that Gale can’t – nor should it – say it has the full-text of an article when it’s not truly in the database, but there must be a way to differentiate abstracts with links to free full-text copies from others that don’t include links to the full-text. (Ideally, institutions with link resolvers and users knowledgeable enough to use them will quickly find the free full-text articles.) More problematic are the instances when the links are to articles that aren’t free. In such situations users are prompted to pay if they want to view the article. At a minimum, libraries should be able to disable such links in their subscriptions.

    In short, the current third-party linking situation is misleading, confusing and, in my opinion, bad practice when it takes users to an article that they’re prompted to pay for.

  2. Brian Greene's rating and/or comments:

    This is an update on my previous comment.

    The newly released Powersearch interfaces includes enhancements that address three of the four concerns I noted above: the default citation format has been changed to MLA 7; bookmarks now function properly off-campus; and date limit functionality is now available when viewing results lists. Linking to third-party pay sites still occurs and there doesn’t appear to be a way to turn it off.

    In addition, the new interface has a couple of bugs. The biggest one I’ve come across is a problem with subject indexing and display. For example, a subject guide search for ‘autism’ returns five subjects (one is a duplicate) and then fourteen results that appear to be groupings of similar titles (such as a group of book reviews). I’ve brought this to Gale’s attention and have been assured that this is being worked on.

    Lastly, we recently configured a link resolver and I gather Gale products are known to have a relatively high incidence of interoperability issues with such products. For numerous examples see the SFX listserv archive. I think link resolver-like products and services will play an increasingly important role in academic libraries and I therefore urge Gale to take whatever steps are necessary to ensure it’s databases can be seamlessly integrated with all standard link resolvers.

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