March 10th, 2010

Where did the Full Text go?

If you are a frequent user of PsycINFO you may have noticed a recent change: your searches find fewer full-text articles. Instead there’s a Check Article Linker listed where the old full text link would be.

So, what’s going on?

The library recently changed our automatic settings in PsycINFO to help learners locate the breadth of resources available both in the library and outside it. To understand the change, and the reason behind it, it may be helpful to learn a new library term: index.

An index (in the library sense of the word) is a collection of information about published articles or other works. Typically this would include title, author, journal name, publication date, and subject terms. Originally all indexes were typed and bound. You may remember seeing them on the shelf in the reference section of the library : the general Reader’s Guide to Periodical Literature or the subject-specific Art Index are both examples.

When computers first entered the library, the index quickly shifted to a digitized form (often a CD-ROM, but later an internet resource). Suddenly researchers didn’t have to thumb through volumes of an index to find relevant literature. You could just type in some keywords and search dozens of years at once! Even though there was no full text, it was still a giant improvement.

As computers became more powerful, and digitization spread, suddenly the index could be much more robust. Full text was added. Some library resources (most notably JSTOR) started with the first issue of a journal and slowly worked toward the present. Others started with the present and worked backwards.

Either way, there are still a lot of articles that are not yet digitized. And some publishing companies embargo the most recent issues of their journals, so you can’t get digital copies of those either. To keep these resources from being completely lost to the tech-savvy researcher, databases still include them in the index.

Searching the full index in a database is great when you have time to wait for Interlibrary Loan, but not so great when you have a discussion post. To limit your search to full text, simply click the full text limit in PsycINFO or ERIC.

Whenever you search the full index, you can also use the Check Article Linker to see if we have the article in another database. Check Article Linker automatically does a search for the article using the Journal and Book Locator tool. It’s a great way to make sure you aren’t missing great articles on your topic.

– Erin

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