An open letter to database companies

First, I love you. I really do. You make my job easier and more enjoyable. You make the lives of those seeking peer-reviewed articles on Britney Spears easier. I love your features, your full text and your adaptations to user needs. That said, there are some things you can do to make us love you even more. To potentially make you the second choice of students needing research (please, like they WON’T go to Google first?). A few items of notice:

  • We don’t need the picture of the journal cover. Researchers won’t look at it and say, “oh yeah THAT’S the issue I need!” I know Science and Nature make purty covers, but we still don’t need them necessarily.
  • Please convince journals to stop embargos on electronic versions. Please. I’ll help you. Students don’t get it; they live in a reality in which all information (in their minds) is free and instantly accessible. I love print, but research is consistently headed in an electronic format. Follow!
  • Please stop including citations for items not yet published. It does not excite students to know the perfect article is going to be published… next month! It confuses me and makes them go back to Google.
  • Thanks for making it easy to save and email articles and citations to oneself! Students LOVE IT! And they love citation tools embedded in your products. “Google can’t do that!”
  • Make sure tools work the way students expect them to. I got so psyched when I saw Academic Search Premier’s Find Similar Articles tool until I actually tried it. It was a mess. Students found using subject words from good articles worked better than clicking on that Find similar tool. Great great idea! But it’s not quite there yet.
  • Please stop making your logo the biggest thing on the page. It just confuses the poor souls. They don’t care who you are, just want you can provide. Sorry, sad, but true.
  • Have you thought about doing something like Stumble Upon? Researchers could type in some key words and single article citations with abstract pop up. They could just keep stumbling until they found something they liked? Could be a fun discovery tool!
  • This might be unpopular, but I do believe in paying for information, within reason. It does give it a perceived value. I do believe authors need to be compensated more for their intellectual property and creations. I just worry we are headed for the day when only pictures of Kim Kardashian garner money.
  • Students want to listen to articles. This feature is very popular with my students.
  • They also want to watch. Can we search for videos while searching for articles, too, please?


One response to “An open letter to database companies

  1. Caveat to #4 (which then goes along with #5)- if you are going to have citation tools, PLEASE make sure they are accurate. APA 6th does not include “Retrieved from Ebscohost” in its references; stop putting in your own advertising!

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