Complementary Value of Databases for Discovery of Scholarly Literature

A User Survey of Online Searching for Publications in Art History

Published in: College and Research Libraries, v. 71, no. 3, May 2010, p. 223-235

Posted on RAND.org on May 01, 2010

by Erik Nemeth

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Discovery of academic literature through Web search engines challenges the traditional role of specialized research databases. Creation of literature outside of academic presses and peer-reviewed publications expands the content for scholarly research within a particular field. The resulting body of literature raises the question of whether scholars prefer the perceived broader access of Web search engines or opt for the precision of field-specific research databases. Surveys of art historians indicate a complementary use of on-line search tools with a reliance on field-specific research databases to discover authoritative content. Active use of Web search engines and initiatives for open access suggest that research databases will integrate into an evolving Web-based infrastructure that supports discovery and access of scholarly literature.

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