Here are some free databases that you can use in addition to the Ebsco databases to which we subscribe.
Microsoft Academic has been around for a few years (Microsoft Windows Live
Academic was around from 2006 – 2008), but seems to be much less well known
than Google Scholar.
The idea with both Microsoft Academic and Google Scholar is basically the
same – connecting students and researchers with peer-reviewed scholarly
works and doing so without those pesky logins that libraries require.
Microsoft has taken a completely different approach from Google Scholar in
terms of content and the user interface.
Unlike Google Scholar, which crawls the web for academic content, Windows
Live Academic Search gets information directly from publishers. So the
content comes from a trusted source, the publisher of a scholarly journal.
Microsoft Academic includes over 38 million publications. Citations
include links to fulltext sources if available and links to purchase
Search results display subject headings on the left which can be used to
narrow a search. Or start your search on the keyword search page and use
the domain drop-down limiter. Advanced search allows you additional means
of narrowing, such as for a specific conference.
A visual explorer
citation trends covering the publications and number of citations.
The visual explorer page displays co-author relationships among scholars.
The more papers two authors write together, the closer their nodes are
positioned. Clicking on the line between the two authors retrieves
citations for their papers. Just like in virtual reference, it’s all about
An export button allows you to download citations in standard bibliographic
Google Scholar is better known, maybe because it’s Google, and it does have
some unique features. Since 2004, Google Scholar has been working on
improving how results display. It has added legal materials and patents,
making it a resource also for lawyers and law librarians. However, being
Google, there’s no transparency in terms of indexing practices. Which
makes it a nice tool for browsing and exploring, but not for conducting a
comprehensive literature review.
On the other hand, Academic Search says this about itself:
…objects in the search results are sorted based on two factors: 1) their
relevance to the query, and 2) a static rank value calculated for each item
in our index. The former denotes the extent to which the returned result
meets the information need of a given query. The latter encompasses the
authority of the result, including important details such as how often and
where a paper is cited.
One thing Academic Search may be especially useful for is searching for
More details about Academic Search’s various visualization features,
setting up RSS for a search, and much more are on the help
One more academic search engine is BASE
(Bielefeld Academic Search Engine)
This search engine was created by a university library (yay!) in Germany.
It’s unique as a source for open access documents and for what it does in
terms of collecting and indexing metadata. I haven’t explored this one
much, but it’s one more tool we can call upon.