Because the ACI Scholarly Blog Index was designed to meet the needs of academic researchers, its innovative tools and features readily support college and university users seeking authoritative content from scholarly blog authors. This support extends beyond a basic topical search, however: ACI’s award-winning research database supports students throughout a project development cycle, whether for term papers, group projects, or other research-based activities. Students can use ACI to find credentialed commentary, thoughtful discourse, and other informational content relevant to their term paper’s topic. They can also search for tips and guidance on writing that paper from scholars, and integrate the knowledge gained into their composition. In addition, ACI’s toolkit includes citation tools to ensure appropriate attribution, curation & productivity tools for saving and organizing found content, sharing & collaboration tools for group-based projects, and many more features to support a student’s workflow.
In this post, we’ll give some step-by-step instructions to help guide students through the workflow of using the ACI Scholarly Blog Index for one of the most common course assignment formats: the term paper. (Just click on a thumbnail below to view that screenshot in a new tab or window.)
I’m writing a term paper for my Introduction to Archaeology course. I know I need a topic related to archaeology, but I’m still unsure of what to write about or where to start.
Search or browse for content on the ACI homepage.
I can easily search for relevant scholarly blog posts in a number of ways right from the main page. I can search by keyword or phrase, author’s name, blog title, college or institution, and more. I can also search exact phrases just by enclosing them in quotation marks. In addition, because search suggestions will display potential options as I type – such as an author, university, or Library of Congress subject classification – I can also click on one of those suggestions in order to browse by that selection. The various options will help me find appropriate topical content on a wide array of topics, from the very general to the very specific.
In this example, I know my term paper needs to be archaeology-related, but I haven’t decided on a topic yet. Starting at the ACI homepage, I’ll start typing in the term archaeology. Because there is a Library of Congress subject heading for archaeology, that appears as a search suggestion – along with some archaeology blogs – below my search box. I’ll click on that search suggestion so that I can browse those blogs that have archaeology as a major topic.
Refine search results using facet filtering options.
Now that I’m on the search results page, my results can then be further refined with the facet filtering options located on the left-hand side of the page. Clicking on a facet will limit my results to that category or selection. I can apply any combination of facets to my search, and I can click again on any facet to remove that filter and return to my previous results.
In this example, I want to see those posts authored by PhD scholars, so I’ll click on the PhD facet under Author’s Degree. This limits my results to authors with a doctorate.
Explore blog posts for relevant content.
On the right side of the search results page are the resulting posts from my search, and I can click on any title to explore that blog post in more detail. In this example, I’ll click on the post “Unwrapping the Karanis Dolls with Micro-CT Scanning”.
On the blog post page, I can read the full-text or abstract of the post using the tabs in the upper-right, and the original tab will let me view the full-text of the post as it appears on the original blog. I can also view the blog and author information on the right, and I can even click the author’s name to view more educational or social affiliations, ORCID-based publications, and more.
This blog post interests me, and the phrase analysis technique in the abstract gives me an idea: I’ll write my term paper on analysis techniques in the field of archaeology, and will use this post as a resource. (Later on, I’ll follow the same steps as above, but with a keyword search for the word analysis or the phrase analysis technique to continue my research – or I’ll start fresh with a search term like archaeology analysis or archaeology analysis technique.)
Use the built-in citation tool.
However, I’ll click on the Save this Citation button in the ACI cite options box instead. This will open my citation in a new tab or window, and even if I close out the tab or window, it will keep a running list of every blog post citation I saved during my current search session in ACI.
Use the built-in export tool.
Next to the Cite button is the Export button, and clicking this button will give me several options I can use to save the post as a PDF, export to a reference management tool like Mendeley, RefWorks, EndNote, or Zotero, in order to keep track of my resources.
Because I think a PDF would be helpful for working on my paper offline, I’ll click on the PDF option. The PDF will include post information, an ACI bibliographic note, and live hyperlinks, so I can also use it to visit the original post or other resources the author might reference in the post.
Save the post using the Bookmarks and/or Lists tools.
I can bookmark – or save to a list – any blog post in ACI, whether from an individual blog post page, or from a search results page. Bookmarks allow me select and save posts and organize them by topical area using tags – for descriptive keywords and phrases – and notes – for a reminder of the course, assignment, or other intended use of the post. For example, I can save this post as a bookmark with the tags archaeology, analysis, my course ID ARCH1020, and the semester. Because I can always visit my bookmarks page later, I can click on a tag to see all bookmarked posts with the same tag.
A list will let me curate a collection of posts that I can then easily organize or share, so I’ll also create a list with the title Archaeology: Term Paper, a few tags, and a brief description of why I’m curating this list. I don’t want it searchable to all ACI users just yet, so I’ll set it to Private for now. (I can still share the list with my professor, and if I were using my university’s subscription, I would also have the option of sharing it with other students and faculty at my school.)
Search or browse public lists to find relevant collections curated by others.
There are several ways I can access public curated lists:
– I can search public lists using the search tool on the ACI Lists page.
– I can browse recommended lists through my university’s subscription and view institutional lists by users at my school.
– I can browse and follow suggested lists on the ACI Suggested Lists page.
– I can search or browse Feedly’s content discovery collections for LC-based ACI feeds.
I decide to browse public lists, and I come across a curated list on student writing tips, with posts offering writing, essay structure, and other guidance that I can reflect on as I’m writing my paper. I’ll click the star in the upper-right to follow the list, so in addition to being able to easily go back to the list, I’ll also get an email notification when a new post is added to the list. Because I use an RSS feed reader, I’ll also click the RSS subscription button in the upper-left corner, and get notified anytime new list posts are added. (I can also do that from any search results page in ACI.) I’ll click on the Print Handout button on the left side of the list page. This will help me keep track of those writing posts I’ll surely need, and I’ll be able to access the list on my phone with the handout’s QR code. Which leads us to the final step…
Use the ACI Mobile App for real-time syncing and mobile tools.
With the ACI Mobile App, I can not only search or browse scholarly blogs on my mobile device, but I can also find and follow lists, add bookmarks, and share noteworthy posts with myself or others. The real-time syncing means that I can save a great blog post on an archaeological analysis technique on my laptop, and then read it later on my phone or tablet – or vice versa.
Sound useful? See for yourself how valuable scholarly blogs can be to your research when you have the tools and resources that help you integrate them into those assignments. Visit scholar.aci.info, or your university’s custom ACI portal, and find out how ACI’s tools and features can help you in your studies. If you’re not an ACI subscriber, use this promo code to get started. Whether you’re writing a term paper, preparing for a debate, or some other course project, get the help you need with the ACI Scholarly Blog Index.