Database Searching Capabilities Computer Science Essay

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Online databases are popular and widely used in everywhere. They are very useful for information professional, students, teacher, researchers and other information seekers. Online databases are mainly used in libraries and includes over millions of contents, articles, journal, images and other primary sources. Users also get the knowledge of the online databases features and they can search their information need from online databases effectively. Using of online databases people can save time, money, space and can also get the greater efficiency. Searchers can get qualitatively various kinds of results and easier to access the desire information. Online database services also offer term searching of fields, controlled vocabulary, keywords, etc. User can use the search functions (Boolean operator), word searching and search levels to search the required data simply and quickly. Online databases are well organized database so can be quickly select to find the desired information.

And also increasing the number of online databases, it is important for user need to select the right databases to meet their needs of information. Online databases have been used for searching many years ago and as they have gradually improved and become an acceptable tool for novice to expert users in various kinds of professional areas. In this paper, we would like to evaluate the three different popular databases. They are JSTOR (Journal Storage), ScienceDirect Online and Web of Science. Databases are also evaluated according to the three criteria: General, Search Functions & Capabilities, and Display & Output. And also compare these three of databases and pointed the distinct features of them.

2 Overview of the databases

Before we are going to evaluate the databases, we would like to introduce the general description and some features found in each database.

2.1 JSTOR (Journal Storage)

JSTOR (short for Journal Storage) is a United States-based online system for archiving academic journals, founded in 1995. It provides full-text searches of digitized back issues of several hundred well-known journals, dating back to 1665 in the case of the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society.(Wikipedia). JSTOR is one of the world's trusted sources for academic content. It provides more than a thousand academic journals and over one million images, letters, and other primary sources.

It uses high resolution images to display and print definite replications of the pages that make the complete published record of the journals in its archive. And also includes over thousand leading academic journals across art and humanities, economics and business, science, and social sciences. JSTOR is a full-text documents and collection of digitally achieved, scholarly articles. All articles in JSTOR are displayed in the PDF file format (Adobe Acrobat Reader software required to view).

2.2 ScienceDirect Online

ScienceDirect Online is a leading full-text scientific database offering journal articles and book chapters from more than 2,500 peer-reviewed journals and more than 11,000 books. There are currently more than 9.5 million articles/chapters, a content base that is growing at a rate of almost 0.5 million additions per year. Users can access full-text articles as well as abstract records from all fields of science. Most journal articles become available immediately after peer review and before the printed versions are issued. Additionally, they gain online access to multimedia features not available in print journals, such as video, audio and spreadsheet files. (About ScienceDirect)

ScienceDirect Online offered three different levels of searching methods (such as Quick Search, Basic Search and Advanced Search). There are no full search features of ScienceDirect Online for guest users. But, Guest users could search by using Quick Search. In order to search all available documents, journals, or books, Basic Search has provided pre-defined fields. And, Users could limit their search with document type, publication type, date period and subjects. Users can build complex search methods by using Boolean operators, proximity operators and truncations in the Advanced Search.

2.3 Web of Science

Web of Science offers access to world's leading citation databases and online academic citation index. It provides for authoritative, multidisciplinary with current journal, in-depth exploration of specialized fields and data in the sciences, social sciences, arts, and humanities coverage from the year 1900 to the present. And offer search comprehensive global and regional coverage. Moreover, can discover research ideas to detect emerging trends for successful research and grant acquisition with significant cited records. And also can see conference proceedings influence work in related disciplines and can be selectively obtained.

Web of Science provides seven databases that contain gathered information from thousands of books, journals, series, reports, conferences, and more. The seven databases of Web of Science are: Science Citation Index Expanded, Social Sciences Citation Index, Arts & Humanities Citation Index, Conference Proceedings Citation Index - Science, Conference Proceedings Citation Index - Social Sciences & Humanities, Index Chemicus, CurrentChemical Reactions.

3. Evaluation of Databases

After that we are going to evaluate the databases according to the following criteria:

Database General Information

Search Functions and Capabilities

Display and Output

1. Database GeneralInformation


Evaluation Criteria


ScienceDirect Online

Web of Science


Interface Design

The interface is simply and well-designed. Main page including search box and search button. And also show the advanced search link. Can search according to the category.

Textual interface,

Shortcuts, E-mail SDI

service, Search history,

Refining search history

The interface is a little cluttered. For the main page including search for lots of options. The early user can conflict with the first page design. Start with Boolean operator and multi search box search strategies.


Subject scope

JSTOR can cover may subjects such as art and humanities, economics and business, science, and social sciences.

25% of the world's

science, technology,

medicine full text and

bibliographic information

Web of Science can cover lots of subjects such as social science, science, art and humanities, conference proceedings citation Index- science and conference proceedings citation Index- social science &humanities.


Number and type of source covered

1289 titles and more than 260,000 individual journal issues and totaling over 38 million pages per text.

More than 9.5 million

articles and chapters

currently, journal

collection over 2,500


Over 10,000 of the highest impact journals worldwide, including Open Access journals and over 110,000 conference and information essential data across 256 disciplines.


Time coverage

Documents are available from 1655 to 2010.

Full text starts from

1995 - present, Most

subject areas coverage back to first volume of

each journal

Documents are available from 1900 to 2010.


Update frequency

Most of the journals did not have the updated issue. But some are updated for a year.

Continuously update,

Can get before printed versions are issued

Web of Science did its' database update by weekly and monthly

Comparisons in the use of General Features

Most of the interface designs of databases are not quite different. In out selected databases, JSTOR and ScienceDirect Online databases are similar in their basic interface and user needs (such as textual interface and search history facility). But, Web of Science starts complex interface design (such as search using Boolean operators, etc.). All of three databases mainly covered on sciences, technology, art and humanities. They also generally retrieved most of the journal's articles and journal's issues. And the three databases offered updated documents and old documents. Especially, ScienceDirect Online database offered even first volume of each journal. ScienceDirect Online and Web of Science database have continuous update (such weekly and monthly). But JSTOR database makes update per year.

2. Search Functions and Capabilities


Evaluation Criteria


ScienceDirect Online

Web of Science


Boolean operator



operators are offered,

Use AND, OR to link

words and phrases,

Use round brackets for

more complex search


Boolean operator

selection provides pull

down option in

ScienceDirect Online



Proximity operator

NEAR 5, NEAR 10, NEAR 25

W/#, PRE/#,


operators are offered




(*), (?)and(#) for stem searching used in relevance search.

! and * truncations are

offered, Use * for a

single character in middle of word, Use !

for different word

endings at the end of


(*) and (#)


Phrase searching

Phrase searching is allowed. It can be used with (" ").

Phrase searching uses double quotation

marks (" ")

Phrase searching is allowed.


Search levels (basic, advanced, command searching)

JSTOR provides basic search and advanced search. Can also search according to the category.

Quick search, Basic

search, Advanced

search are offered

Web of Science provides basic search, cited reference search and advanced search.


Search strategies formulation

Multi research boxes are used in advanced search and matching with Boolean operator AND for default.

Guest users can search

by using Quick search,

Basic search can search

by using pre-defined

fields, Advanced

search can build

complex searches by

using Boolean

operators, proximity

operators and


Multi research boxes are used in search and matching with Topic, Author and Publication Name in default using AND operator.


Limit search fields

JSTOR provides limit field that is easy to use. For item type (Article, Review, Editorial, etc). Also including date range and language.

Limit search fields

(Subject, Volume,

Document type,

Publication Year, etc)

are offered in

advanced search

Web of Science also provide limit filed that are Topic, Author, Publication Name in basic search and languages and document types included in advanced search.


Refining search result

Provide refined the search result by using modify search.

Flexibility to modify

the previous search

Modify search is offered by Web of Science


Search history option

Cannot get the previous search history. Can get only recent history.

Facility to clear search


Search history option is available. Search history also be modified and saved.


Saving of searches

Can save citation after login. And also export and email the citation. View PDF with the article to see and also can save the search results.

Users searching

history automatically

saved in ScienceDirect

Can save the articles in various format html, plain text, bibtex, etc… and can also save to other reference software.



JSTOR does not provide thesaurus.

Unavailability for

thesaurus in


Web of science without thesaurus.


Search help/ tips/ tutorial/ FAQ

JSTOR provides Search help, tips, tutorial and FAQ. Can access the entire detailed version. And also send an e-mail to know about the question.

Online help and search

tips within

ScienceDirect, Help

can get on each page

from icon

Web of Science provides help. Can access the detailed help version. Explain by contents and index.


User Guide

Briefly explain the user guide. It supports both video training and text guide to explain. And also support the poster with colorful PDF file.

User tips and guides

can get both online

and for printing in PDF


Briefly explain in help topics. It acting like user guide and clear explain.


News and Events

News is also published online.

ScienceDirect offers

Newsletter subscribing

Available online news in Web of Science

Comparisons in the use of Search Functions and Capabilities

All of three databases used similar Boolean operators (i.e. AND, OR, NOT). JSTOR and Web of Science databases use "NEAR", "SAME" keyword as a unique proximity operator. But ScienceDirect Online database uses some complex proximity operators. The three databases also use general truncation keywords (e.g. *, !, ?, #). And this three databases offered same phrase searching, same search levels and same search strategies using basic, advanced and multi research boxes. They also offered limit search fields and refining search result using modify search. But search history option cannot available in JSTOR, but available in ScienceDirect Online and Web of Science. JSTOR can save after login, SceinceDiect Online makes user searching history automatically and Web of Science can save various format (such as html, plan text, etc.). And they are not available for thesaurus. All of three databases offered help search, tips, news and FAQ within online and available PDF format user guide and news for offline.

3. Display and Output


Evaluation Criteria


ScienceDirect Online

Web of Science


Display Option (brief or full records)

JSTOR is a full-text documents and collection of digitally achieved, scholarly articles.

Leading a full-text

scientific database,

ScienceDirect has

digitized pre 1995

journal owned-content as possible

Web of Science is a full-text links. That directly access publishers all the full-text articles.


Available formats (html,pdf,etc…)

All articles in JSTOR are displayed in the PDF file format (Adobe Acrobat Reader software required to view).

ScienceDirect had

provided two record

formats (HTML and


Full text show in PDF file format but can save in html, plain text, etc…


Document saved or emailed

Documents can be saved after login. Saving documents can easily be printed and can also send the citation by email.

Document saved,

Printed or emailed are

offered in


Documents can be saved in various format (html, plain text, tab-delimited (win), tab-delimited (mac) and save to other reference software. And also be easily to send by email.


Document print option

Documents can print after opening the PDF file. Using Adobe Acrobat Reader program to print the document.

Available printing in

PDF format

Documents can print directly according to the Print button top of the search result list. And can also print after opening PDF file and print from Acrobat Reader program.


Availability of sorting or relevance ranking

After searching the result, search results can be sorted by relevance, newest to oldest, oldest to newest. Show how many items were found by the search and allows user to change the number of search results that are displayed on one page. The default is 25.

Lists of results will be

displayed as brief

citations (SummaryPlus, Full-

text + Links, PDF)

After searching result, search results can be sorted by Latest Date, Time Cited, Relevance, First author, Source Title, Publication Year and Conference Title. Also show how many items were found by the search results. User can also define the number of article show per page.


Download options

Can download the search article for printing later. Can download free document readers with the Adobe Acrobat Reader, Adobe Flash Player, Microsoft Windows Media Player, Apple QuickTime Player.


formats are offered,

To view the report


Formats are available

Can download the search article for printing later. The full text version is PDF format.


Supporting Language

JSTOR supports 7 languages. English, Dutch, French, German, Italian, Latin, Portuguese, Spanish

Printed support

materials are mostly

provided in English,

Some are provided in

French, German,

Italian, Japanese,


Search for English version only. But site also supports various Chinese versions. Searcher can view in English version and two differences Chinese versions.

Comparison in the use of Display/Output

JSTOR, ScienceDirect Online and Web of Science have full text documents features and all of these databases include basic search and advanced search. ScienceDirect Online includes expert search and Web of Science includes cited reference search. All of them have great output features, for example all of them of search results can easily be emailed, saved and printed out whatever the user like.

4 Conclusion

After evaluating the 3 databases, all of the above databases are mainly cover on sciences, technology, social science and humanities. But there are some different information depends on different database. Such Web of Science database also offer conference proceedings citation Index-science and multidisciplinary. This is very important for successful research. And JSTOR database can available oldest document from 1655 to 2010. This is the strength of JSTOR database than other databases. Time coverage is also important. In the ScienceDirect Online database, the subject areas can cover first volume of each journal and it also offers continuously update function. Update frequency is also important for information. And all of three databases offer their respective search levels using respective Boolean operators, proximity operators and truncations. Moreover, they provide refined search result using modify search facility. And above three databases display articles and records using PDF format. Another important thing is available languages.