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Recent research by ProQuest highlights how social science researchers who start information searches with specialist abstracting & indexing (A&I) databases, such as Sociological Abstracts, report that it’s easier for them to identify relevant content.
ProQuest surveyed more than 200 social science faculty around the world, and discovered that while resources such as the library website and Google Scholar are the most popular starting points for information searches, specialized subject indexes are used at least once a month by two-thirds of faculty, and at least once a week by one-third.
Eighty-nine percent of respondents said specialist indexes were good or excellent for quality of information, with most scoring them as good or excellent for comprehensiveness, relevance, and time saving. Even researchers who generally use other resources recognized the value of specialist databases.
Asked whether they find it easy to identify the relevant material when researching a topic online, 84 percent of those who use specialist A&I databases once a week or more agreed that they find this easy, compared to just 54 percent of those who rarely or never use such resources.
The survey results showed that most researchers don’t want to construct complex searches, but also don’t want to miss any relevant records. A majority also agreed that they normally return a lot of irrelevant results while searching. More detail on this survey is available in our whitepaper.
Because resources like International Bibliography of the Social Sciences (IBSS) and the other specialist indexes available as part of the ProQuest Social Sciences Premium Collection are focused on the content relevant for their disciplinary area, using a consistent subject vocabulary to index records, they will typically return a more relevant results set, even for an identical basic search, in comparison to more general search options. For example, a search for “coalition formation” in Google Scholar would return about half a million records, but many of the top results will relate to computer science or psychology, and be of no interest to a researcher looking for empirical studies on the formation of political coalitions.
An identical search in ProQuest’s Worldwide Political Science Abstracts, by contrast – without using any advanced search options or techniques – would immediately return a comprehensive set of results from within the relevant discipline. Better understanding of the value such resources have will help scholars save time and return more relevant results more quickly, without necessitating their learning expert search techniques.
Click here to learn more about the resources available from ProQuest that make it easier to find relevant content for social sciences research.