Making Academic Research More Efficient

Students and other researchers face many challenges when they’re searching for information. One of the biggest is sifting through the sheer volume of search results their query generates and honing in on the specific resources that are most relevant to their work.


 

Making Academic Research More Efficient

Students and other researchers face many challenges when they’re searching for information. One of the biggest is sifting through the sheer volume of search results their query generates and honing in on the specific resources that are most relevant to their work.

“The amount of information available to researchers is only increasing,” says Serena Rosenhan, Vice President of User Experience Design for ProQuest. “A key challenge for students and researchers is navigating this quantity and picking out the quality.”

Helping researchers make sense of all the information at their disposal is one of the many challenges that ProQuest has sought to address with its new ProQuest One Academic service, a revolutionary product that gives researchers a single destination for all of their information needs.

ProQuest has designed the platform’s interface to help users quickly evaluate each resource that appears in the search results to determine whether it’s appropriate.

“ProQuest One Academic contains 600 million documents and artifacts,” says Stuart Beach, senior product manager for ProQuest. “We have spent a lot of time focusing on how we can help researchers evaluate the relevance of these resources, so they can find the right resources more efficiently.”
 

Designed with Users’ Needs in Mind

Combining four leading multidisciplinary databases within a single platform, ProQuest One Academic brings together more than 250 years of authoritative, curated content across every format and academic subject. The service gives students, faculty, and others a single place to search for a full range of content types, including journal articles, news reports, magazines, ebooks, graduate works, streaming video, and more.

“The way information is consumed and communicated is changing,” Rosenhan observes. “It comes in lots of shapes and formats. Just because something isn’t published in a scholarly journal doesn’t mean it lacks value.”

While bringing together different content types within a single platform makes research more convenient, it also delivers many more search results that users have to navigate. To help users through this process, the interface enables users to search across the full range of resources or filter their search by specific content types. It also contains valuable information to help users determine whether a resource is appropriate for their needs.

“We have given a lot of thought to what information should appear on the results page to help users quickly identify the relevance of a resource,” Rosenhan says. For instance, video clips are identified by their title and source: Is it a 60 Minutes interview? A TED Talk? Each video has a thumbnail image that “gives users the flavor of the content,” she says.

What’s more, a box in the right-hand margin of the search results page recommends the top two ebooks and videos that match the search topic. “Because ebooks and videos are new to the platform, we have called out relevant ebooks and videos in a visually distinct presentation,” Rosenhan explains. This makes it easier for users to evaluate content they might not have considered otherwise.
 

Helping Researchers Use the Content They Find

Helping users quickly determine the relevance of information delivered in search results is key to delivering a user-friendly search interface, but user’s tasks don’t end on the results page, there are other elements designed with users’ needs in mind.

For instance, video clips are linked with transcripts for the convenience of users, and ebooks are oriented within ProQuest’s Ebook Central Reader, which contains intuitive navigation to help readers quickly find the information they need. Ebook Central Reader includes an expandable Table of Contents, a robust Search Within feature, relevancy-ranked search terms by chapter, and a navigation tool bar in the content pane. If users determine that a particular ebook is relevant to their search request, they can download the full text or individuals chapters DRM-free.

ProQuest did extensive research to understand how users search for information and assess whether it meets their needs, from watching researchers as they complete their work to testing various interface designs and soliciting user feedback. “We’re constantly observing what they do and listening to what they say,” Rosenhan says.

As a result, the entire search interface was designed to help researchers quickly and easily leverage the content they find.

“Better research leads to better outcomes,” Beach concludes. “If we can’t help researchers use the content we make available, then we haven’t done our job properly.”
 

Ready to explore the industry’s most complete destination for multidisciplinary research?

Schedule a demo of ProQuest One Academic by calling 1-800-779-0493 or email sales@proquest.com.
 

What Librarians Think About Varied Content Types

Download the recently published “The Librarian’s Point of View On the Need for Varied Content Types” and learn how librarians perceive research databases and what they have learned from their users.

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