Database Comparison

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This will be a comparison of two database providers: EBSCOhost and ProQuest. I will first look at each provider individually, and then compare the Library and Information Science collections specifically.

 

EBSCOhost.

EBSCOhost provides access to approximately 57 different subject-specific databases; while some of these collections house only abstracts and citation information, a large number also include full text information for some or all of the references. Databases include: Academic Search Complete, America: History & Life, Business Source Complete, ERIC, Index to Printed Music, MEDLINE, Newspaper Source, and more. This gives EBSCOhost a very broad scope; within each database are thousands of resources including journal articles, newspaper articles, editorials, and even an ebook collection.

Many students might consider EBSCOhost a prime database to search for academic papers. In addition to the broad range of topics and massive content, it is fairly simple to use. There is the option to search for a word or phrase within a specific field, the easy addition of Boolean operators, the ability to limit results to full-text only or only scholarly journals, and other easy to use features. As with any resource, users will need to take care that the reference they locate is appropriate to their search. While a large part of their collections are scholarly journals, editorials and newspaper articles are (by nature) a different kind of authority.

EBSCOhost has a simple layout; there is a bar across the top of the screen with header information, which easily takes you to the sign-in page, preferences, or a new search (all indicated with text links). Across the top of the search bar the website indicates which databases are being searched and provides the option for the user to choose other databases. Multiple databases can be chosen at one time. By default, the new search gives users three search bars, allowing the user to easily create a Boolean search even if they are uncertain what a “Boolean search” means. There is an option to add more operators, and to limit a term to a specific field. There are also approximately 30 translations of the website. I easily changed the language preference to Japanese to see the result, and the change was very quick. Note that while this changed the interface to Japanese, the titles, citations, abstracts, and articles remained in English. EBSCOhost also offers limited functionality on mobile devices, allowing research while away from a traditional computer.

There are five databases which EBSCOhost offers access to for free: American Doctoral Dissertations; GreenFILE; Teacher Reference Center; Library, Information Science, and Technology Abstracts; and European Views of the Americas: 1493-1750. Additional cost information was unavailable, as it appears to vary based on which databases the library or institution chooses to offer.

 

ProQuest.

Like EBSCOhost, ProQuest is a very well-known research database. The number of databases offered changes based on how the user counts; for example, there are there are eight databases included in the “Social Science Premium Collection” database, and inside the “Criminology Collection” (which is nested inside the Social Science collection) there are an additional two databases. So while there are less than 30 databases at first glance, the scope can be considered as broad as EBSCOhost’s. The nesting feature makes it very easy for a user to select multiple databases related to a broad subject, or select individual databases on a narrower subject. Similar to EBSCOhost, each database contains a large number of references, including citations, abstracts, and some full-text items. Many of these databases also include a timeframe, stating clearly on the database collection page when the articles were published.

ProQuest is also a database collection which is very likely to be accessed by students, and is fairly simple to use. It has a simple search bar and offers the ability to limit results by full text and by peer-reviewed only items.

The layout is more modern than EBSCOhost. There is only one search bar, and there are no dropdowns available for Boolean operators or field limitations. Those are only visible if the user clicks on “Advanced Search”. The search bar is more centered on the page, and there is an image of a library in the background. There is also information about the collection selected below the search bar; users are easily able to see what is included, search tips, included databases, and higher databases (hierarchy). Advanced search features are similar to EBSCOhost. Across the top is easy access to recent searches, selected items, and profile information. These are images, as opposed to words, making some features more “hidden”. The language option is under the profile, and it is not immediately obvious that it can be changed. Only by clicking on the current language is the list of available translations visible. I chose the same language (Japanese) and the translation was quick. Again, only the interface was translated. Citations, titles, abstracts, and articles remained in English.

Cost was unavailable, and again seemed variable based on database selections.

 

Comparison.

To compare, I chose the Library Literature & Information Science databases from EBSCOhost (both the full text and the abstracts) and the Library and Information Science collection from ProQuest. I first decided to do a basic search on the word “wiki” with no limits. ProQuest returned 8,398 results, while EBSCOhost returned only 2,196. ProQuest also offered a “did you mean” suggestion. Both ProQuest and EBSCOhost provides “refine results” options in a left-hand navigation bar. ProQuest also provides the option to search within the results. EBSCOhost allows both truncation and wildcard searches, as well as proximity searches. ProQuest offers these as well as hyphen searches (allowing a range).

In addition to the limits mentioned above, EBSCOhost also offers limits by publication type, document type, publication date, publisher, and language. ProQuest offers the same options, and adds in subject, location, company/organization, and person. EBSCOhost will allow you to choose more than one limitation in most cases (i.e., both journals and academic journals) before submitting. In the ProQuest database limits must be chosen one at a time, and the results refresh with each limitation added.

EBSCOhost does offer some controlled vocabulary options. Under the “more” heading there is an option for “Indexes”, and then the database can be chosen. The search term can be entered and then a list of similar terms, books, and organizations will show as results. These can be selected and then used as search terms. Record counts are included.

ProQuest has a similar option called “Thesaurus”. Unlike ProQuest, when terms show as results in the thesaurus then the user can click on the “notes” icon and see a definition as well as related terms. These can then be included in the search. Additionally, users can combine terms using any of the three Boolean terms (OR, AND, or NOT). Record counts are not included on the ProQuest site.

EBSCOhost and ProQuest both sort by relevance by default. Results can also be sorted by date on both platforms, and EBSCOhost also allows sorting by author and source. ProQuest does offer command line searching in any search box which is not limited to a specific field, and while EBSCOhost does not explicitly state the same logic, the notes on field codes imply the same.

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