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FreePint Review of Elsevier’s Reference Modules

By: , Posted on: June 6, 2014

An Excerpt from FreePint’s Review of Reference Modules


FreePint’s full review of ScienceDirect Reference Modules is available at the bottom of this blog post.

Reference Modules combine thousands of related reference work articles into a single “go-to” source of subject-related information that is continuously updated by experts. The initial modules available to researchers are:

  • Chemistry, Molecular Sciences and Chemical Engineering
  • Earth Systems and Environmental Sciences.

Reference Modules are constantly updated by an expert editorial board and are intended to provide researchers with up-to-date, peer-reviewed, reliable interdisciplinary content to allow researchers to familiarise themselves with a new area, and then go into more specific chapters according to their research requirements.

FreePint’s View: Value

Scientific and technological researchers often face the challenge of working on projects outside their areas of expertise. They can build knowledge browsing the free internet content, but they will always run the risk of compromising their research by using out-of-date or unreliable information.

Elsevier’s products such as ScienceDirect are well known in the scientific world, and are respected in providing access to valuable, trustworthy content.

In the past researchers who had access to ScienceDirect could use Major Reference Works to build foundational knowledge of a target topic. This resource had the drawback of not being regularly updated.

Reference Modules have been introduced recently to mirror, to some extent, traditional sets of reference works/encyclopaedias, but enhanced with continuously updated articles.

There are two modules available at present:

  • The Reference Module for Chemistry, Molecular Sciences, and Chemical Engineering contains more than 4,600 articles from 4,100 contributors and 50,000‑plus images
  • The Reference Module for Earth Systems and Environmental Sciences holds more than 4,200 articles from 4,000 contributors and 9,000‑plus images.

Researchers who navigate Reference Modules can also expand their knowledge by navigating subject hierarchies. Reference Modules are updated by professional Editorial Boards. These boards, made up of subject matter experts, review thousands of articles each year to ensure accurate and current module content. The value of such an information repository is substantial and can save researchers time, improve outcomes and the quality of their research, and support findings.

Users can search and access Reference Modules from the ScienceDirect website. The process is intuitive for experienced users, but new users may find it less simple initially to find their way to a Reference Module homepage. A news or latest release portlet linking to Reference Modules on the ScienceDirect homepage could make access easier.

There is a vast amount of information contained within each Reference Module. Users have options to export references into a reference management system and share titles with colleagues via email. Perhaps some personalisation features, such as the ability to save articles of interest in a personal folder, would be useful to incorporate in future releases.

Overall, Reference Modules are excellent sources of difficult-to-find, reliable information which not only provide researchers with detailed subject knowledge, but allow them to monitor subject development and related disciplines using hierarchy.

Here’s a look at the full review:

Download (PDF, 8.1MB)

Reprinted with the permission of FreePint Ltd.


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