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Some useful online resources – II

Back in 2010 I did a brief review of some online resources I’d found useful. Here’s a few more.

Although a great deal of scholarly writing is paywalled from non-academic viewers in specialised online resources such as JSTOR – there seems to be an increasing commitment to “open access” scholarship, and one of the most well-known access points for open access work is Open Access Theses and Dissertations which indexes over 1.6 million theses and dissertations. There’s also the DART-Europe E-thesis Portal.

Another place worth visiting is – an online resource which allows academics and researchers to share papers and do a bit of social networking. Creating an account is free, and allows downloading of research material (Terms of Use).

Papers and dissertations do occasionally “leak” from journals and depositories, and sometimes can be found on Scribd. Scribd has Premium Subscriptions, but also an option whereby if you upload a new document (and Scribd “checks” to ensure that the document hasn’t already been uploaded) into the system, you can download something in return.

I mentioned Questia in the previous post. The service has evolved somewhat – and users can now add bookmarks, notes and generate citations for specific pages and generate bibliographies in MLA, APA or Chicago format. Users can also create “project folders” for organising work. Questia has recently added interactive research tutorials, and there is now an IOS/Android App. For more information, news, and occasional promotions, visit the Questia Blog.

A similar – although far less polished – offering to Questia is ProQuest’s Udini service, which promises 150 million articles from over 12,000 publications, and is squarely aimed at “independent” researchers who don’t have institutional affiliations. I’ve been obtaining dissertations through ProQuest for a few years now, so I decided to give Udini a go. There are a wide variety of Plans ranging from pay-as-you-go to subscriptions (2 months is the minumum); and Udini allows you to consolidate all your work in one place – not only can documents purchased via Udini (at a discount for subscribers) be accessed online, but you can also drag-and-drop PDFs and Office documents from your desktop into your Personal Library, and save web pages too. Udini uses a HTML5 presentation layer which is fairly tablet-friendly, and as far as I know, there are no plans for supporting Apps.

Highlighting and note-taking is supported, and users can share collections of documents too – giving some potential for collaboration – although shared documents can’t be downloaded or printed. Some of the paid content has a “trial access” option – $3.99 gives you a limited, 72-hours access (no printing or downloading) for previewing a text, which is then credited if you go ahead with the purchase. Udini renders documents reasonably quickly, although the text selection/highlighting functions doesn’t work (as one might expect) with PDFs which been scanned in from Microfilm. Udini is a bit buggy at times, and the help section is rather vague – for example it says that very large files may fail to upload but doesn’t specify what constitutes a “large” file. Although promising, Udini needs more development, if it is aiming to mount a series challenge to services such as Questia or Highbeam.