Tag Archives: database

Reading an Article on Wikipedia

As scholars, Wikipedia creates a major problem. There is a wealth of knowledge and materials available to anyone, but the drawback is anyone can edit the material. How do scholars utilize this tool? There are a number of steps a person can take in order to solve this issue.

The first is to inspect the content itself. Does the writing sound scholarly? How much depth is there (ie. – is it simple, short paragraph per section, or lengthy details)? Once satisfied with the content, how is it referenced? Any scholarly article needs to have extensive research in order to legitimize its facts and argument.

Another key way to check the accuracy of a Wikipedia article is to check how much and often it has been edited. Anyone can view past versions of a page, including the user who made changes and where. This can be seen by clicking on the ‘View history’ button on the top right of the page. Here people can see trends of how often a page is changed and to what sections, which can show whether the information currently shown is considered fact or if it is still debatable.

Some institutions have large numbers of links throughout Wikipedia. One of the best ways to see them consolidated is by using linkypedia. This site listed all the major institutions with links, and shows the various topics and pages that Wikipedia uses their information. Cross checking the individual pages with these institutions is one way to validate the information shown on Wikipedia. Most institutions frown upon citing Wikipedia as a source, and linkypedia is one way to find sources that do not have negative connotations.

JStor Database Review

Overview

JStor is a large database housing a wide range of primary and secondary sources. No content is created by JStor, it is a means of searching for content produced by researchers. It includes full length scholarly articles in the following subjects: Anthropology, Asian Studies, Ecology, Economics, Education, Finance, History, Mathematics, Philosophy, Political Science, Population Studies and Sociology. JStor has what is known as a ‘moving wall’ for the available date range of sources. This means the database will have most or all articles from a database up to five years ago. As time progresses, more recent articles become available for upload.

Searching JStor

There are a number of different ways a researcher can search the database. The first is a quick search from the home page. The search will pull all information from the entire database, and if the search terminology is not specific there can be hundreds of thousands of results. JStor is most effective when using the advanced search option. It is possible to search multiple fields such as whether the input is within the text of an article, an author, in the title, abstract, or caption. Under the advanced search, a researcher can narrow the search within the database to a few criteria. This can be an item type (article, book, review, etc), a specific date range, language, or publication title. It is also possible to only search publications within a specific discipline. Performing a search will show all results within the criteria set. Each result will provide the title, page numbers, author, publication, and date. There are two options when viewing a result: the researcher can view the result online or download a PDF to their computer.

Citing Sources

Each source within JStor has all the relevant information to site the particular source. The first page of every entry has a citation at the top of the page that includes the title, author, publication, page number, date, and number of pages.

History

Launching in 1995, JStor was conceived as a way to provide academia with a wide range of academic works being published. The founders would digitize articles by scanning each page as a TIFF document, compile the pages into a single file, and add then add the file to the ever-increasing database, which could then be accessed by institutions or individuals.

Reviews

Most reviews about JStor are positive. They agree that having access to such a rich database allows a researcher to save time trying to find sources for their work, and to have a much larger library of materials to work with. One of the main critiques is that, because the database is so large, searching the database with more generic terms will provide too many results to look through. They then said the addition of filtering results by subject matter has helped parse down the results in a more meaningful manner.

Access

JStor is a paid subscription to the database. There are two main options for gaining access to JStor: Institutional access or Individual access. Institutions can pay for access to the entire database or for specific journals. Individuals can purchase a one month or one year plan for access to the database for that time frame.