Random resource round-up

February 20, 2008

From past students in psychology and management (and some of my non-academic friends), I often got the question about where to go to find relevant articles. There are, of course, all the major repositories (Web of Science, Psychinfo, etc.), but I find that more and more I have been using alternative resources for identifying interesting articles, ideas, methods, etc. One of the big ones is Google Scholar (in fact, there’s been some neat uses of GS recently, for example, Publish or Perish), which has been a great resource, and probably my single most-used research tool over the last year. Together with Google Books, I think it’s nearly doubled my monthly research-related book budget, something I can ill-afford as a grad student. I’m thinking of sending Google my bill.

CiteSeer is another big source for citations and draft papers that’s been quite invaluable. It focuses more on topics like computer science and IS, but I’ve been surprised by the amount of information I’ve gotten that’s been useful to my own research in social network analysis – particularly when it comes to questions of statistical modeling and computation, but also for helping me find theories and points of view on certain topics that goes outside the particular theoretical “sandboxes” in which I was raised. There is also the newer site BizSeer for academic business articles, but I have to admit I haven’t really tried it yet. For those types of articles, Google Scholar and library resources seem to work quite well. Still, the main reason I love CiteSeer is for the fast and easy websurfing from link to link; I go for one article, and half an hour later, I’m reading articles from entirely separate domains by authors I’ve never heard of on theories I didn’t know about. If BizSeer is as good at that particular aspect of searching as CiteSeer, I imagine I’ll be using it much more.

There are also two other smaller research portals I’ve run across, which have helped me to find some interesting new research, often in the form of harder-to find (for me, anyway) research reports: Scientific Commons and the Social Science Research Network. I had heard of Scientific Commons before, but only recently started using it, and I was surprised by the amount of articles I got back. SSRN seems harder to navigate, but has helped me browse for research reports that sometimes get lost in my usual Google searches, or which haven’t been indexed at CiteSeer.

Frankly, I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the amount of useful material I’ve run across in the kind of research reports that aren’t covered by the usual academic resources, and it’s just getting easier to find those kinds of articles as time goes on. I’m still not entirely certain how well-received the use of such citations would be in my area, however. I see it all the time in statistics-related articles, but hardly ever in the psychology and management articles I read, despite the large number of relevant research reports out there in those domains. I don’t know if that’s because finding the articles is hard, or because they’re somehow deemed to be “poor” citations for academic articles.