Online Research Resources are Often Left Untapped by Students
Published: Sunday, October 21, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 19:01
Are you worrying that you don’t have enough resources for that history paper? Do you have no idea how to start an analytic essay? Or are you just getting tired of those historical books that take an hour to get through to finally find something you need? For any students with these concerns, Boston College’s online database is right here for assistance.
BC libraries were pioneers in the development of online databases when CD-ROM networks were used. BC’s online database is widely ranged and well organized. In total, there are over 600 subjects which cover almost every area of research. Each area has approximately five to six sub-databases. Not surprisingly, BC pours a large amount of money into the online databases and renews them every year. “That is why I think students should use online database more because that’s where their tuitions are used,” said Kwasi Sarkodie-Mensah, BC digital librarian.
The online database is like an unlimited treasure vault. Newspapers such as The New York Times from 1851, The Washington Post from 1877, and The Boston Globe from 1872 can all be accessed online at BC, which provides a tremendous convenience to students here.
Aside from historical newspapers, numerous categorized research articles are also crucial components of the online databases. In fact, BC libraries keep buying and updating articles from vendors such as EBSCOhost and ProQuest in order to help students with research of any kind.
If students want to do some research on religion, for example, there is ATLA Religion Database with ATLA Serials, which is an index for finding essays, book reviews, and journal articles in all disciplines related to theological and religious studies. The database is international in scope and now includes access to over 50 journals via linked citations.
If students need more information on natural sciences like biology, they can find everything they need in the Biological Sciences database that offers abstracts and citations to a wide range of research, including some aspects of agriculture and veterinary science. The database provides access to literature from over 6,000 serials, as well as conference proceedings, technical reports, monographs, and selected books and patents.
If students are interested in African or African-American culture and literature, thousands of rare and valuable works are available from the Black Drama and Black Studies Center databases, which provide approximately 1,200 full text plays from the mid-1800s to the present by more than 150 playwrights. Many of the works are hard to find or out of print. Students can also get access to the collection of some previously unpublished plays by writers such as Langston Hughes.
BC students are appreciative of these online databases. As a history major, Meagan Keating, A&S ’13, uses the online data base at least three times a week. When asked to comment on the online databases, she said, “The resources available to us as students in this age of the Internet are boundless. It is truly incredible the amount of accessible information which is made so easily available to us. While traditionally going to a library may feel more productive, the online databases are far more easily searched and can be sifted through much better than reading through volumes upon physical volumes.”
Online databases are not perfect however, and sometimes there can be a different story. Mike Ayala, A&S ’13, has a hard time with online databases. “It has tons of information,” Ayala said. “But sometimes it is really hard to get a specific document. Sometimes I would like to use Google, which prioritizes information based on how often key words are used.” Ayala is not alone. Sometimes people do have trouble finding what they need. For this problem, Keating strongly suggested using the advanced search. “The advanced search makes it so easy to narrow your search results and get the best sources in the fastest way.”