CHOICE, the American Library Association’s publication providing current reviews for academic libraries, recently asked a subject-matter expert to test out and evaluate Elsevier’s Reference Module for Earth Systems and Environmental Sciences. Elsevier introduced Reference Modules on ScienceDirect in September 2013. Reference Modules combine thousands of related reference work articles into one source of trustworthy information that is continuously updated by experts. The first modules available to researchers are in Chemistry, Molecular Sciences and Chemical Engineering, and in Earth Systems and Environmental Sciences.
Here’s the CHOICE reviewer’s take on the new product:
Earth Systems and Environmental Sciences Reference Module. Elsevier. Contact publisher for pricing
[Visited Dec’13] This Reference Module is a new resource for the earth system science interdisciplinary area of study. Using a newly developed subject hierarchy, this database pulls content from 17 of Elsevier’s major reference works, e.g., Encyclopedia of Ecology , edited by S. E. Jørgensen (CH, Sep’09, 47-0032). It organizes peer-reviewed articles into seven major topics: Atmospheric Sciences, Bioscience, Energy and Natural Resources, Geosciences, Global Change, Hydrology, and Oceanography. Articles from the reference works, which span 12-plus years, have been reviewed and time-stamped with “current as of” dates. Overview articles are included. In some cases, the articles serve as updates to the original encyclopedia articles. The publisher indicates that newly commissioned articles will be added to the database. These peer-reviewed articles offer in-depth looks into the various topics with helpful illustrations, diagrams, and graphs. This database is part of Elsevier’s ScienceDirect platform (CH, Sep’06, 44-0034), making navigation intuitive for those familiar with the platform and nearly as useful for those familiar with similar platforms. All of the 3,800-plus articles are labeled as either introductory or advanced, and may be narrowed to either category while browsing the module. Articles may also be sorted by relevance or date.
The sidebar column allows users to drill down within the major topics and into further subtopics to limit the number of articles to browse. Or users may enter keywords into a simple search box. The downside to pulling articles from various encyclopedias becomes apparent when browsing, as the article title conventions of the different encyclopedias vary. Some articles have numbered titles that correspond to the volume of the encyclopedia from which they were drawn, which may add an element of confusion. Navigating to the article page gives users bibliographic information, as well as citing, recommended, and related articles. All articles include an abstract and keywords. Articles may be viewed as full text, emailed, or exported as PDFs (as well as in the ePub or Mobipocket formats—for ease of use with e-readers that may not display PDF files properly). Overall, this Reference Module is a good resource for environmental science and earth system science studies for academic libraries with a research focus. Since much of the content is repurposed from other reference sources, libraries will need to weigh overlap with their existing print and online content. This resource is appropriate for libraries supporting earth system science programs or those looking to expand their current electronic reference resources with one that is regularly updated. According to the publisher, a one-year subscription-only model is available, with pricing dependent on institutional size. Discounts are available if an institution owns static reference works in perpetuity. Summing Up: Recommended. Upper level undergraduates through professionals/practitioners.
–J. K. Oleen, Kansas State University
Copyright 2014 American Library Association
Reprinted with permission from CHOICE http://www.cro3.org, copyright by the American Library Association.