Udini, Proquest’s new tool allows research to escape from its leash

Simply described by Proquest as “articles on anything”, Udini is a brand new research platform with a nice clean look and some useful document management features which combines news, research and academic papers from numerous publishers, including those that are open source (free). It’s also free to sign up so that you can have a good look around and try it out.

Content: 150 million articles from 12,000 publications – academic and scholarly, news, reports and professional magazines.

This is the new look for what used to be dial-up online searching from Dialog or Datastar, whose collection of over 500 databases required a complex command search language in order to navigate it to its full effect.

Not that you can’t still do so, if you wish, as the variety of search interfaces has largely been retained (wow, yes even Dialog Classic!), but – and it’s a significant but – the companies behind these databases have finally accepted (librarians had been telling them for decades) that requiring all users to learn a special search syntax, plus accept the pricing model (connect time charges as well as a charge per record downloaded)  is not very helpful.

We had no choice in the “old days” there was no alternative then, but the rise of the internet’s free search tools changed everything – a much-needed disruptive force.  To be fair, the search interface was improved many years ago, as the providers came up with search templates to allow a more simple search (sometimes over-simple so that it was hard to construct a decent search at all!), but the pricing model has been slower to change.

Web search engines such as Google have proved that, in most cases (not all – try the world of patent searching for example), there’s really no need to create a complicated search strategy to find pretty much what you want quite quickly.  There’s even a school of thought that feels  Boolean Logic (the AND, OR, AND NOT commands) should have been consigned to the rolling stacks by now.  Personally, I wouldn’t go that far, although people who notice these things spotted when Google moved its Advanced Search to a less prominent position…at least it’s still available!

It’s a different way of searching now.  We usually have side-bar options to help refine a search.  These may suggest other relevant titles, or group results by publication type, author, source and date.  Some sites offer cited and citing references for academic search so you don’t always have to go back and refine your original search statement, but instead can go wandering off the main path to see what these suggested links look like – a more iterative process.

I could continue at length on this topic, but I don’t want this blog to become a cure for insomnia and I’d also rather go and test-drive Udini, so I’m off to do that – I hope you will as well, I’d recommend it.

 

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