18 avril 2023 Blogs

Why multidisciplinary databases are the library’s ’Swiss Army Knife’

Investing in a single resource that can serve a wide range of users saves academic libraries time and money

Academic libraries play a vital role in supporting research, teaching and learning. Providing access to scholarly resources is key to this support, but serving the breadth of disciplines, range of user expertise and knowledge, as well as varying learning styles can be a monumental challenge. It requires finding the right databases, matching them to the university curriculum and then managing individual databases.

Multidisciplinary databases, which aggregate many resources into one, were created to address those issues and as a result, they have become staples in university library collections. They save libraries time and money and provide assurance that all major disciplines have a foundational resource for scholarly content. ProQuest Central, from ProQuest, part of Clarivate, is one of the largest of these multidisciplinary databases, encompassing 47 full-text databases. Used by libraries around the world, ProQuest Central is an example of how a thoughtfully designed, multidisciplinary database can help libraries effectively serve varying user needs with a single investment.

Accelerating research and learning with a variety of content

There’s more to breadth than disciplinary coverage. While scholarly journals are key resources for both students and expert researchers, other content is integral to help accelerate learning and inspire breakthroughs. ProQuest Central draws from the vast variety of content that ProQuest digitizes and aggregates, including news, magazines, dissertations, working papers and market reports. So, an undergraduate student can ground themselves in a topic with content like newspaper articles before wading into challenging scholarly journal articles. On the other end of the spectrum, working papers preview work that’s yet to be published, providing researchers with a richer view into their field.

Making the library as mobile as its users

Multidisciplinary databases are infinitely more useful if they help libraries meet users where they are. Increasingly, that means on mobile devices. Consider Generation Z – born between 1997 and 2012 – who average nine hours on screens of all types per day1. Millennials – born between 1981 and 1996 -- clock just short of four hours on their phones each day2. It’s critical for libraries to ensure the resources they invest in are easy to use and accessible on all devices, including phones and tablets. ProQuest Central is among the leaders in creating mobile-friendly interfaces. Developed by ProQuest’s team of user experience (UX) experts, ProQuest Central’s platform continually evolves to respond to user expectations for easy navigation and consistency from device to device. (Read our blog about the principles of good UX design.)

Accommodating narrowing attention spans

Good search functionality is a critical element for delivering a great user experience and it’s becoming more challenging as user attention spans shorten. Generation Z’s attention span is estimated at eight seconds, a four second drop from that of Millenials3. ProQuest Central provides a range of search features that allow users to refine their search results and get to what they want quickly. The platform's left-hand limiter column offers key facets that users can use to refine their results, including source type, date, subject and publication title. Additionally, the platform offers tools that allow users to work directly within each search result item, such as citing, emailing, or saving to My Research. A "Quick Look" option is also available, allowing users to quickly move through search results item-by-item and get key information.

Eliminating content silos

One of the key advantages of ProQuest Central is that users can cross-search content across the library’s multiple ProQuest databases, meaning that they can access content like primary sources, streaming video (hello, Gen Z) and even government documents in one search. Cross-search drives broader discovery of the library’s collection for better return on investment. Users have better experiences, including serendipitous discovery that was once confined to physical resources.

Nurturing the user journey with metrics

ProQuest Central is a continually evolving resource. Earlier this year, it took another significant step forward when it integrated data insights from Web of Science™ and Journal Citation Reports™. Users can access important metrics like Journal Citation Indicator and Journal Impact Factors (JIF) within the ProQuest interface, enabling them to make informed decisions about the sources they use in their research. This integration helps libraries deliver more to their users, simply and with no additional investment from their budgets or their staff time.

Learn more about how ProQuest Central can provide users of all types with the resources they need to reach their academic goals – whether that’s a better grade or a groundbreaking research insight. Explore even more by requesting a trial today.

    1. Average Screen Time Statistics 2023 - TrueList
    2. Ibid
    3. Forbes, 5 Differences Between Marketing To Millennials Vs. Gen Z

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