16 November 2005

Finding Out about Research: Part Two – Journal Databases

Most of the articles listed in the previous posting were identified using three online journal databases: FindArticles, IngentaConnect and HighWire. All three can be accessed on the web, for free. This is impressive given the size of the databases and the number of periodicals they collect. Each has its own pluses and minuses.

FindArticles offers “millions of articles from leading academic, industry and general interest publications.” Some are available in full-text for free, while others are considered premium content and come with a price tag. Results for general forced migration-related searches (e.g., refugees, internally displaced, asylum, involuntary resettlement, etc.), limited to the most current free content, appear to derive primarily from newspapers and news magazines. Those interested in more scholarly research would need to search the premium content as well. The Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies and Refuge are included in this repository, but access to articles in both require payment of a fee (around $10 for the latter; note that access to the full-text of the Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies and other journals is free if readers sign up for a free trial of the service hosting the text). The advantage of this resource is one can retrieve quite a lot of free full-text; however, it tends to be geared more towards news and opinion, rather than research and analysis.

For more scholarly works, researchers should turn to Ingenta Connect. While this service does not offer any free content, it serves as an excellent resource for identifying current and relevant research. For people who want to keep abreast of the latest developments, a number of helpful features are provided: New content is highlighted in one’s search results, so it is easy to focus in on the most current articles. And RSS feeds are available for every periodical in Ingenta’s collection – another easy way to monitor journal contents. Free registration with the service allows users to save searches and run them again at regular intervals. Registered users can also have the tables of contents for up to five publications e-mailed to them directly. Coverage is quite comprehensive; for example, all the key forced migration journals are included in Ingenta (IJRL, JRS, RSQ, Disasters, International Migration…), except IMR. As noted above, full-text articles/publications must be purchased, and can run anywhere from $10-$40. Per article fees may be less costly if one goes directly to the publisher web site. Alternatively, if you live near a library, check their catalogue to see if they carry the journal in question. The only cost will be for the photocopy machine.

HighWire Press also provides access to scholarly materials, with an emphasis on the sciences. That said, all three “refugee” journals from OUP are included in the HighWire collection. This resource is particularly helpful for researchers interested in health or medical issues relating to refugees and asylum-seekers. Searches can be simultaneously conducted in HighWire and in PubMed, the U.S. National Library of Medicine’s premier search service. Free full-text articles are clearly marked in one’s search results. Costs for premium articles appear to range from $10 to $35. Users who choose to register with HighWire can benefit from a variety of additional features, including table of contents alerts, favorite journals list, etc.

My focus in this review was on recently published journal articles relating to forced migration issues. These three services compared quite favorably with a number of subscription databases which I also tested out but which are only available in academic libraries. In fact, from the point of view of currency, they proved to be excellent resources for monitoring new journal content.

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