Stanford Libraries brings article searching to SearchWorks

September 25, 2017
Stuart Snydman
SearchWorks Articles+ header image

The Stanford Libraries has added article search capabilities to its online catalog and resource discovery environment, SearchWorks.  Stanford students, faculty, and patrons world-wide can now search a database of over 300 million journal articles, ebooks, patents, book chapters, newspaper articles, reports, and other high-quality scholarly resources from over 80,000 journals and other sources.  SearchWorks Articles+  is now live at https://searchworks.stanford.edu/articles

One of the Libraries’ primary goals is to provide our patrons with easy access to the information resources they need to successfully pursue world-leading research and to support instruction.  The libraries built SearchWorks to enable users to search the Stanford Libraries’ catalog of over 9 million books, media, dissertations, government documents, reference materials, and special collections, and to offer enhanced online access to digitized collections and other electronic resources.  In addition, the Stanford Libraries spend over $11 million each year to license over 2,000 relevant and discipline-specific academic databases. However, in order to find specific scholarly journal articles, and to get direct access to full-text, users have until now had to learn about, find, and individually search from among these 2,000 databases licensed by Stanford. Many also resort to using Google Scholar. 

Now library patrons can search the library catalog and a vast corpus of scholarly journal articles from a single, familiar interface.

SearchWorks Articles+ landing page with drop-down opened

Article searching in SearchWorks is driven by EBSCO Discovery Service (EDS), which is a commercial aggregation of scholarly content licensed by many academic research libraries. EDS was selected after a several-months-long evaluation of options by a team of library professionals and information experts from across the Stanford Libraries, including representatives from the School of Medicine, Law School, and Graduate School of Business.  After selecting EDS, an implementation team from across SUL began work to plan how article search would be incorporated into the Stanford Libraries web environment. Two critical decisions helped determine the path forward: 

  1. Article searching should be part of SearchWorks, and should look and behave similarly to SearchWorks catalog search.   We felt that this was important so that users would have continuity in their search experience, and have trust that they would get the same high-quality results as they do in the SearchWorks catalog.  
  2. Catalog search results and article search results would not be combined in the same search results list.  There were several reasons for this, not the least of which that our library catalog and the EDS system work from very different technologies, so merging them into one search result list would be prohibitively difficult and expensive.

The implementation team from the Stanford Libraries then began work in close collaboration with the technical team from EBSCO to integrate EDS into SearchWorks.  This required significant work by both teams.  The EBSCO team developed new technology to make its service compatible with SearchWorks. The Stanford team designed a new interface that looks and behaves like SearchWorks catalog search, but also supports many of the new EDS features.  A team of three engineers and a designer from Digital Library Systems and Services then worked for fifteen weeks to fully customize and integrate EDS into SearchWorks to create the new Articles+ interface.  A team from the Acquisitions department that manages access to electronic resources worked alongside the engineering team to make sure all Stanford Library patrons will have the appropriate level of access to Stanford-licensed resources in the EDS index. 

As with the SearchWorks catalog search, Articles+ allows users to enter their search term(s) in a single search box, and then narrow their search a variety of ways. On the left of the screen there are controls allowing a user to refine a search by date, source type, language, topic, publisher, and a variety of other dimensions.  Users can also limit their results to show only scholarly or peer reviewed content, or results with direct access to the full text. 

 SearchWorks Articles+ controls to refine your search

For certain searches, users will see a special Topic Overview panel.  This links the user to a long-form essay on a broad topic relevant to their search that often also includes a list of references.  This will be extremely useful for those new to a topic or beginning researchers.  

 SearchWorks Articles+ example of topic overview

While Articles+ certainly includes open-access resources that are available to anyone on the web, many of the resources come from data sources for which Stanford has paid a license fee, and are thus restricted to Stanford affiliates.  We’ve used this as an opportunity to greatly simplify the process of enabling access to licensed resources from off-campus locations.  When searching from off-campus, in order to view results and full-text for licensed resources, users simply need to login with their SUNet ID. Licensed resources can be viewed from on-campus locations without logging in.

We’ve tried to make it easy for researchers to get to and see results from Articles+ from both SearchWorks and the main library website (library.stanford.edu).  If a researcher initiates a  search from the SearchWorks catalog landing page, they will see a link to results from Articles+ after the third catalog result. They can also simply toggle the drop-down to the left of the search box to Articles+, to see article search results with the same search terms.

SearchWorks catalog search displays link to Articles+ results

If a researcher initiates a search from library.stanford.edu, they will be directed to a search results page that presents results from several sources, including the library catalog, Articles+, the library’s informational website (which includes handy topic and course guides), and a link to results from Yewno, a visual concept-searching tool.

Advanced researchers who rely on the ability to direcly search for specific journals or databases can still do so.  Links to the eJournals search page and database listings can be found on the library homepage as well as on our list of additional search tools.  

Links to databases and ejournals on the library homepage 

Article searching in SearchWorks is a new service and the libraries will continue to improve it and add new features over time.  For example, you may notice that Articles+ does not currently allow users to select a list of resources and export them as formatted citations. We expect to add these and other new features in the coming year. 

This new searching service represents a major step forward for Stanford researchers and students, opening up a vast trove of electronic resources from a single search interface.  As always, we welcome your feedback. Please tell us what you think using the feedback form on SearchWorks, or any other library website.