Finding Information Gold

By Linda Goff, Head of Instruction Services

There is a powerful new search option on the Library home page and we call it PROSPECTOR. It may require a little digging, but we think you and your students will find information gold.

This new tool expands your searching options and allows you to do a Cross Search to find results across a wide variety of electronic resources. If you have ever used a metasearch engine such as Dogpile.com or Vivisimo.com which combine and display highest ranking hits from other web search engines, then you have an idea what PROSPECTOR can do for you. With it you can type in a single search and get combined results from selected databases, library catalogs and other digital resources.

While the appearance of PROSPECTOR is very different from what you and your students may have used to access articles in databases, the functionality is similar but enhanced. You can now perform simultaneous searches across multiple resources in a single search. This is called federated searching or metasearching. PROSPECTOR also gives you a personal search space where you can customize and save a list of your favorite resources which you will be frequently using.

PROSPECTOR still allows you to link to the librarian’s Research Guides and to search the same databases that were previously available on the Database and Periodical Indexes(DPI) page. You can go directly to those same resources by using the links to Article Databases and Research Guides shown at the bottom of the Welcome to PROPECTOR screen shown above.

For first time users, we recommend Quick Search. It provides a simple search window that doesn’t require you to be an expert. It is not intended for in-depth research. For faculty and graduate students that have very specific research needs, we recommend investing the time needed to create your own lists of favorite journals, databases or other resources using the My Research module of PROSPECTOR

If you are using PROSPECTOR on campus the Guest mode does allow you full access, however, to take advantage of the full functionality of the tool you should get in the habit of logging in so you can create your own personalized search tool using My Research. Those using Guest mode off campus are restricted to EUREKA and other free resources, so you should always login using your SacLink account if you are off campus.

You should use PROSPECTOR if:

The primary drawback in using PROSPECTOR is that it does a “lowest common denominator” search, often using keywords rather than specialized controlled vocabulary. That is because there is no standardized subject headings used by all the resources searchable within it. If you want to focus and narrow your search, you should exit PROSPECTOR and search in an individual resource.

EXPLORING PROSPECTOR drop-in workshops are scheduled weekly. Go to http://library.csus.edu/content2.asp?pageID=202 for times and dates. You can also contact Linda J. Goff, Head of Instructional Services, for an individual research appointment or to bring your classes to the Library for instruction on this and other research tools.

1/10/2006