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CHOICE Recommends New Reference Module in Biomedical Sciences

By: , Posted on: June 1, 2015

NEW Biomedical Sciences Reference Modules LogoCHOICE, 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 in Biomedical Sciences. Reference Modules combine thousands of related reference work articles into one source of trustworthy information that is continuously updated by experts. Other modules currently available to researchers include Chemistry, Molecular Sciences and Chemical Engineering and Earth Systems and Environmental Sciences. New Reference Modules in Food Science and in Materials Science and Materials Engineering will be available to users in late 2015.

Here’s the CHOICE reviewer’s take on the new product:


Reference Module in Biomedical Sciences. Elsevier. Contact publisher for pricing. Internet Resource.

[Visited Mar’15] This newest component (released in late 2014) in Elsevier’s “Reference Modules” series complements and expands the content of Reference Module in Chemistry, Molecular Sciences, and Chemical Engineering (CH, Aug’14, 51-6506) and Reference Module in Earth Systems and Environmental Sciences (CH, Mar’14, 51-3585). Operating on Elsevier’s ScienceDirect platform (CH, Sep’06, 44-0034), pricing for each is dependent on institutional size, with discounts for institutions owning the static reference works in perpetuity. Covering the broad range of biomedical sciences, the resource serves as a reliable starting point for research by offering more refined and subject-focused results than general search engines. The module currently includes some 5,000 articles, and the publisher expresses a commitment to update articles on a regular basis; numbers of entries did increase slightly in the weeks that this reviewer examined it. Publication dates and update status are clearly displayed (e.g., “current as of 14 February 2015” for an entry on “Glial Steroid Metabolism”), with a footnoted star symbol linking the titles of some articles to a pop-up box revealing the details of its change history. Some content is written expressly for the module, but most articles are drawn from peer-reviewed journals and nearly 20 major reference books that Elsevier publishes separately, such as the Encyclopedia of Neuroscience, International Encyclopedia of Public Health, or Encyclopedia of Toxicology, 3rd ed (CH, Oct’15, 52-0597).

The database contents are helpfully designated as introductory or advanced in level; either (or both) can easily be chosen for display, with results presented in date or relevance order. Each item in the results list provides an abstract with keywords, and can be displayed in full-text HTML or PDF format; for nonsubscribers the abstract and keywords are available, but these links display the purchase price for single items. A Digital Object Identifier (DOI) and the source work’s full bibliographic elements, with page numbers, facilitate citation. Each item displayed as HTML provides valuable links in the right pane that point to related book content, and recommended and citing articles. The left pane reveals a Subject Browse tab, showing at a glance how the article fits into the hierarchy of biomedical science subjects; further exploration of subjects can proceed using this device. The Article Outline tab links to an article’s sections, figures, tables, and further readings. The cited references link further to records in Elsevier’s Scopus database (CH, Jan’15, 52-2504) or to citing articles, conveniently delivering additional material, some available in full text. Export options include standard file formats as well as direct links to Mendeley and RefWorks bibliographic management tools. Although limited to the publisher’s own content, the resource offers an easily navigated model for discovering and delivering biomedical information, suitable for students and advanced researchers.

Summing Up: Recommended. Upper-level undergraduates through professionals/practitioners.

–F. G. Shrode, Utah State University

Reprinted with permission from CHOICE, copyright by the American Library Association.

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