If you are a reader of The Chronicle of Higher Education, you may have seen last week’s article about library discovery tools. Marc Parry’s article, As Researchers Turn to Google, Libraries Navigate the Messy World of Discovery Tools, sheds light on some of the complications and questions caused by discovery tools and their ability to make library resources more discoverable. Parry opens with this description of discovery tools:
“Instead of bewildering users with a bevy of specialized databases—books here, articles there—many libraries are bulldozing their digital silos. They now offer one-stop search boxes that comb entire collections, Google style.”
As much as we’d like to promise seamless access to our entire collection through a single search box, the discovery tools on the market are from perfect. The items retrieved in a search and their page ranking are not always determined purely by their relevancy or recency, but instead by algorithms and licensing agreements between publishers, database vendors and the companies creating discovery tools. Parry’s article questions the possibility of bias in discovery tools, which would cause results from one vendor or content provider to be ranked higher than another. (Vendors will not explain the algorithms used to rank results for fear of sharing proprietary information). The article also points to the possibility of the unfortunate pairing of an imperfect ranking system and high number of results so the “best” sources are lost in the mix. What happens if we’re using discovery tools as a primary access point for research, but we don’t exactly know how the tool sorts and ranks results? Is it that unlike searching Google, but not knowing how Google’s algorithms work?
It’s a familiar problem: You’re about to start researching in a subject area that’s somewhat new to you and you just aren’t sure where to start. You might fumble around Google for a bit, do a few searches in a few different databases or the library’s catalog, but with all of the resources available it’s tough trying to figure out where to go to get the information you need.
Enter Research Guides, your research superheroes!
Accessible from the Research Help menu on the library’s homepage, Research Guides are websites created by your subject librarians to help guide you to research resources appropriate to your subject area. There are Research Guides for Arts & Humanities, Psychology, Economics, and so many other subjects. You’ll save yourself a great deal of time and frustration by simply starting your research off right. So if you haven’t looked at our research guides yet, take a peek!
Life just got a little easier for students searching for psychological tests and measures. The library now has a subscription to the American Psychological Association’s PsycTESTS online database.
What PsycTESTS does NOT contain: Every psychological test, measure, scale, survey instrument or assessment tool ever written. Sorry, folks.
What PsycTESTS DOES contain:
- Over 5,000 actual tests or test items
- Primarily unpublished tests (tests developed by researchers but not commercially available as stand-alone testing kits)
- Summaries of some commercially available tests along with their purpose, some history of their development, and publisher contact information.
- Links to articles describing the development, review, and/or use of the test.
Not bad, huh?
Yes, many of the tests are relevant to psychological research, but there are measures that cover quite a few different subject areas, including education, sociology and health. If you’re working on your SMP or just a research paper and need a test, measure or assessment tool, try searching PsycTESTS.
But don’t forget! If you can’t find what you need in PsycTESTS, we have plenty of excellent print resources for locating tests and measures. Take a look at the Psychology Research Guide for a quick refresher.