Posted by: alinesoules | March 31, 2011

Biography 6 – The Search Process

Biography Reference Bank (BRB) to which H. W. Wilson provided trial access:

  • search last name, first name in Basic Search
  • copy and paste text portion into word document to see “word count” offered by MS Word (consists of removing header)
  • track Most Recent Articles , Books About, and Books by
  • Reviews and Criticism includes a link to “Books and Reviews” which takes you to the “Books by” list (see above)
  • Articles and Books includes a link to “Biography Index Citations” which takes you to similar results as “Books About” (many duplicate entries, but the numbers are not the same)  In the end, I opted for “Books About” only, as it generally had higher numbers.
  • under “notes” column, make notes about anything unexpected, unusual, or notable

Contemporary Authors Online (CA; part of Literature Resource Center) as searched through the subscription at the San Francisco Public Library:

  • search last name, first name in Basic Search
  • Select CA Online entries (sometimes there are multiple entries–autobiography or obituary in addition to regular biographical entry)
  • Use “count” provided by vendor (which I confirmed through the same process as I used for BRB entries)
  • of the “tabbed” offerings—literature criticism, biographies, topic & work overviews, reviews & news, primary sources & literary works, and multimedia—track number of biographies from the tab in the actual entry (this corresponds as closely as possible to the BRB “Books about” option)
  • note if there are lists of the authors’ works, further reading, etc., corresponding roughly to BRB elements “Books by” and “Most Recent Articles”
  • under “notes” column, make notes about anything unexpected, unusual, or notable

Wikipedia

  • search first name last name
  • copy and paste text portion into word document to see “word count” offered by MS Word (consists of removing table of contents, images and captions, “see also” refs within Wikipedia that relate to other, tangential topics, wikipedia notes about “stubs,” requests for confirmation of data, etc.)
  • note lists of works, further reading, external links, and other elements that roughly correspond to BRB and CA.  Of note is that there is less consistency in presentation; however, regardless of differences in terminology (further reading, bibliography, references, sources or combination thereof), these elements are generally present in some form
  • note unique features (Wikipedia has a number of these)

Open Web other than Wikipedia

  • search first name last name
  • in the results list, check the first screen and, possibly, on to the second (if nothing reasonable appears on the first screen); do not go beyond that (as most students will not)
  • copy and paste text portion into word document to see “word count” offered by MS Word (consists of removing ads, images and captions, non-related references)
  • note lists of works, further reading, external links, and other elements that roughly correspond to BRB, CA, and Wikipedia.  Of note is that there is even less consistency in presentation than can be found in Wikipedia.  Not all elements are present, but certain significant Web sources are emerging.  Coverage is quite uneven.
  • note significant elements in results, e.g., links to interviews, images, etc.

In all cases, note any major differences in the depth of coverage as well as differences in content or elements or other unique features.


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