All posts by Adrian

Web of Science – new interface

Web of Science was the first major database made available for online searching by students themselves. It launched in the U.K. back in 1990 as BIDS (Bath Information and Data Service, as it was based at Bath University.)

Despite the name, Web of Science (WoS) contains something for everybody. It includes the Science, Social Science, and Arts and Humanities Citation Indexes.  Clearly it cannot cover everything in such wide areas: in fact, it only covers about 5% of the journals published.  However, it covers the core titles, the journals which are most cited in each field each year.

This makes it an excellent first choice for exploring a subject. You get to see what has appeared in the core journals, without anything that will be too obscure or hard to find. For undergraduate work that will usually be ideal. Researchers have the further option to search for papers which cite the key papers on their topic, to see how the field has progressed.

The latest WoS interface has a black banner with orange lettering, very like the new RHUL style.  Perhaps we were ahead of a trend? Beneath it the search form has been reduced to a single search bar, like Google’s (and LibrarySearch). For more complex searches you can click “Add another field”.

It is still possible to narrow your search to just some of the indexes, to save time and reduce unwanted results.  Just click on “More settings” to see the indexes and deselect those that are not needed by unchecking their boxes, as in this example:

WoS science search

In the search above, the inverted commas around “honey bees” specify that we only want those two words together as a phrase.  The asterisk after disease* is a “wild card” which will also search for ‘diseases’ or ‘diseased’.

Notice in the black banner that we are searching “Web of Science core collection” but there is an orange arrow by it.  Clicking that gives the option to search other databases, in particular Biosis Previews, which lets you search the largest single life science database from 1969 to 2008.  You can also choose “All databases” to search them all at the same time. This makes WoS the core resource for biologists.

When the results appear, the FindIt@RHUL  lozenge which previously appeared under every result has disappeared.  Don’t worry, just click on the solid block labelled “Full Text” and the familiar blue button will reappear.

WoS search results

The range of saving buttons above the search list has been replaced by a single block labelled “Save to EndNote online”.  But it has a down arrow beside it.  Click that, and you will get more options, including “Save to EndNote desktop” and “Save to RefWorks”, the main supported options at Royal Holloway.

If you liked the old interface, don’t be put off by the solid blocks of the new one, everything still works as it did.  Whether you are researching for a first year essay or a doctoral thesis, WoS is a good place to start.


Adrian Machiraju

British Pathé online

Charles Pathé (1863-1957) was a pioneer of the moving image, who founded a company with his three brothers in Paris in 1896.  A London branch was established in 1902, and by 1910 it was producing the Pathé Gazette twice a week for the country’s growing number of cinemas.  The company had many other interests, including cinema equipment, films and audio recordings, but it was best known for its news services.

Pathé news continued to be produced till 1970, so it recorded the world in the twentieth century through two world wars, revolutions and the Great Depression to the postwar years, the Iron Curtain and decolonisation.  Over 90,000 clips covering a vast range of subjects have now been made available on the website

These clips are free for the public to stream and view.  They contain a fairly obtrusive copyright statement across the foot of the screen, but are still fascinating and enjoyable. They are potentially a treasure trove for anyone interested in social history.

British Pathé home page

The home page (above) features a different clip each week.  When this blog was written, the week of the Australian Open tennis championship, it was a clip of Fred Perry winning that tournament in 1934.

There is a simple search engine, and the collection can be searched in full or under broad categories. A general search for “Library” (I know, but I’m a librarian . . . ) produced a video of (very quiet) activity in the long lost British Museum Library Round Reading Room in 1947, among many other results.

All rights to the material remain with the company,  this is not public domain material. Downloading clips for re-use has to be paid for, usually £30 to £40 per clip according to length. However, anyone can create a free user account, which then lets you mark your favourite clips to return to.  There is no limit to the number of times you can stream a clip online.

Adrian Machiraju