CHOICE Current Reviews for Academic Libraries published a review of the ACI Scholarly Blog Index, a scholarly blog discovery service that provides researchers with a robust search engine, a unique combination of workflow, discussion, and citation tools, and an index to scholarly blog content. CHOICE is a publication of the Association of College & Research Libraries, a division of the American Library Association focused on higher education and academic librarianship. As the leading source for reviews of academic books and digital resources of interest to scholars, librarians, and students, CHOICE also includes monthly scholarly blog selections from ACI in its Choice Reviews Tablet Edition.
Below is the full CHOICE review, authored by reviewer Jonathan Potter, Director of the Spokane Academic Library at Washington State University.
CHOICE, June 2016 Vol. 53 No. 10
Cutting-edge developments and dialogue involving research and scholarship often find nascent expression in the free-ranging realm of blogs and other social media. Capturing those communications and sorting the wheat from the chaff has long presented a unique challenge to anyone outside the inner circle of a given scholarly community. The ACI Scholarly Blog Index cleverly applies the virtues and strengths of traditional bibliographic control to this new frontier of scholarly communication. The results are impressive and worthy of notice by students and researchers at all levels. By carefully curating and selecting material for inclusion based on the credentials of its author (and checking that material for factual accuracy), the index provides value-added, secure access to important material that might otherwise remain limited to specialist in-groups and lost to a wider academic readership.
The indexing team of ACI Information Group (formerly Newstex) overlays harvested blog posts with critical metadata, notably Library of Congress subject classes, authors’ degrees and degree subjects, and their affiliations, societies, and related institutions, among other facets. These descriptors help researchers follow the work of individual commentators by means of an authoritative author profile and makes the index a highly reliable entry point into social media, enhancing its academic credence and relevance as a legitimate forum of scholarly discourse. The functionality of the search engine, however, revealed a few glitches. For a repeated precise search one often encounters duplication of results and an odd variability and inconsistency in the number and order of returned results. Although searches can be limited by country of origin and English-language material predominates, there is no language-limiting function that pinpoints non-English items. Determining the scope of subjects or numbers of articles indexed presents challenges too, with no obvious way to browse content aside from scanning featured popular articles/authors; clicking See More yields vast, changing results that can be narrowed using an array of filters in the left-hand pane.
These interface performance concerns are minor compared to the overall excellent premise of the index, with its well-crafted metadata; ability to focus searches; MLA, APA, and Chicago citation formatting; links to related blog and Twitter posts; full-text reproduction of posts; and link-outs to the original sources. Subscribers (but not free-access users) can create personalized reading lists and bookmarks for sharing—a useful tool in the classroom. There is a rating metric (the Community Activity Score) based on numbers of views and shares that posts receive ranked against others in the system. Confirming its importance through inclusion in major discovery services (EBSCO, WorldCat, ProQuest Summon), the ACI Scholarly Blog Index is an exciting new way to follow academic discourse and research, providing librarians, students, and researchers with a trustworthy means of discovering scholarly material that might otherwise remain obscure in the murky realm of the blogosphere.
–J. D. Potter, Washington State University
Summing Up: Highly recommended. All libraries. All levels.
Reprinted with permission from CHOICE http:www.choicereviews.org, copyright by the American Library Association.
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