FASTsearch–now with saved searches!

We are delighted to announce that you can now save searches run in FASTsearch to a Google account.  This functionality will work with your Fielding student email, or with any other Google account. Learn a few easy steps to take advantage of this new feature below.

How to permanently save a search in FASTsearch

  1. Run a search in FASTsearch and apply any filters you wish to use.
  2. When you are ready to save the search (including applied filters) click on the small star symbol inside the search box at the top of the screen:Screenshot of FASTsearch results page
  3. A pop-up window will appear giving you two options: A) sign in to Google to permanently save your search or B) press save to  temporarily save the search.  We highly recommend permanently saving, otherwise you will lose the search at the end of your session.Screenshot of pop up window prompted sign in
  4. After selecting ‘Sign in with Google’ a new window will appear.  From here you can choose a Google account if you’re already signed in, or you can sign into an account of your choosing.Screenshot of sign in prompt
  5. After you sign in, you’ll be taken back to the original pop-up window.  Now you can press ‘save’ to permanently save the search.
  6. After you’ve saved your search you’ll return to the results page.  Now that you’ve signed in you can either:
    • Run new searches and use the small star symbol to save those
    • Click on the large star symbol to the right of the search box to view previously saved searches.
    • Use the ‘sign out of Google’ link along the top of page to un-link your Google account.

Screenshot of FASTsearch page after signing in

There you have it.  Whenever you want to access and view your saved searches, you need to do so directly in FASTsearch.  Just connect to the results page and click on one of the star symbols to log into your account.

When viewing saved searches, you can click on the search terms to run the search again in FASTsearch.  You can also rename the search if you want to use a designation other than the search terms themselves:

Screenshot of how to interact with saved searches


We hope you will enjoy this new feature!  Remember you can always contact the library with questions or comments.

Happy Searching!

Impact Factors: Some getting started information

While conducting scholarly research you’ve probably seen mentions of ‘impact factors’. We’ll use today’s post to provide a little more information and to link you out to some great resources to learn more.

Generally speaking, impact factors are measures (using varying metrics but often citation counts) that suggest the ‘importance’ or ‘significance’ of either an author, article, or journal. Various stakeholders like to use these impact factors as proof that either their work or their journal or their institution, etc. is valuable to the research community.

There are many types of impact factors and each is calculated differently. There are measures for authors which use formulas based on how many articles they’ve published and how many times each of those articles have been cited. There are other measures for journals which might look at how often a typical article in that publication is cited each year, and so on.

A couple common author-level impact measures include:

  • H-Index: An author-level metric used to calculate an individual scholar’s research impact.  Check out this guide from Boston College to learn more.
  • Altmetric: As described on the Altmetric website, “Altmetrics are metrics and qualitative data that are complementary to traditional, citation-based metrics. They can include (but are not limited to) peer reviews on Faculty of 1000, citations on Wikipedia and in public policy documents, discussions on research blogs, mainstream media coverage, bookmarks on reference managers like Mendeley, and mentions on social networks such as Twitter.”  Check out our blog post about Altmetrics for more info.

What gets a little complex, of course, is whether these formulas/calculations are accurate measures of something like ‘impact’. Some of the formulas will include self-citations which can skew results. Others have argued that citation counts do not reflect the full ‘impact’ of a work. There is a recent movement in ‘altmetrics’ to track impact in other spaces such as social media, as mentioned above, to give a more complete picture of how a work is being used and discussed.

Some tools, like Google Scholar’s author profiles, will include a list of author-level citation metrics. You can view this data on an author’s profile page and if you hover over the name of the metric you can reveal a definition of how it was calculated:

Screenshot of author profile

There can be a TON to know about impact factors and citation metrics and some of it can get quite complicated. UC Irvine  has a wonderful LibGuide which provides a lot of this information is easily digestible chunks:

The University of Illinois also has a great guide which covers journal impact factor in particular: Lastly, Elsevier has put together a nice list of various impact measures and their formulas:

Next time you see a journal advertising its impact factor, or you’re trying to understand the influence of a scholar’s research in their field, consider drawing on some of these tools to gain better insight into what those impact factors and influences might mean.

Happy Searching!

PsycTESTS — a great portal to full-text tests, measures, and scales

The PsycTESTS database is a great resource for researchers looking for full-text tests and measures and more information about them. While ‘Psyc’ might be in the name, this an excellent tool for students from all programs, offering access to tests/measurements/scales related to everything from political attitudes to racial bias to career aspirations.

In this post, we’ll cover the basics of searching in PsycTESTs and try to answer the dreaded ‘what if full text is unavailable?’ question.

My Nielsen Questionnaire

Photo by Joe Gratz. CC license.

Basic Searching

You can connect to PsycTESTS from the ‘Databases’ link on the library homepage.  As with most databases, you can search for tests/measures containing certain keywords by entering a term or two into the search box. *Note: you can choose how you would like your results sorted on the search page:

Screenshot of search page


You can then choose to scroll through results or use the filters on the left side of the screen to refine the search further.  If a record includes a copy of the instrument itself you will see a ‘Test’ link accompanied by a PDF icon.  Click on ‘Test’ to open the PDF copy:

Screenshot of 'test' icon

No ‘Test’ Link Available?

Many researchers feel a sense of dread when there is no full-text link available for the measurement they seek.  However, PsycTESTS includes information that can often easily lead you to the measurement you need.  We’ll outline some simple steps to follow.

For this example, let’s imagine you want to access the ‘Political Ideology Measure’ from the screenshot above. The first step is to click on the name of the test itself so you can view the full record in the database.

Next, scroll down to a section labeled ‘Test Development Record’:

Screenshot of test development record

Just below the ‘Test Development Record’ you will see the heading ‘Reported In’.  This is a citation for the work in which the test/measure was originally reported.  Even though PsycTESTS doesn’t have a full copy of the test, you can consult the original article for a copy (assuming they included it).

**Note: You can click on the ‘Test Development Record’ to bring up a full list of information about the test including reliability/validity, author contact information, whether it is commercially licensed, and more:

Once you know the original reporting article, the savvy researcher might connect to Google Scholar through the library to quickly determine whether we have full-text access to the work:

Screenshot of Google Scholar check

In the event you get this far and can’t find a full-text copy of the original article, remember you can always submit an interlibrary loan request for a copy by following the ‘Order An Article’ link on the library homepage.

Happy Searching!

View on Reviews

As you may know, there are many types of reviews in academic literature. Systematic reviews, meta-analyses, scoping reviews, literature reviews, and more! With such nuanced differences it can sometimes be hard to know what type of review would be most helpful in your research, or what type of review you’d like to write.

In this post, we’d like to link out to some great guides and resources which can help you better understand these differences.  We’ll also include a couple of sample searches illustrating how to best locate reviews in Fielding’s library.

Web Resources

  • Types of Reviews Chart — This comprehensive chart is posted to a LibGuide created by Duke University’s Medical library.  It does a great job of breaking down and defining many review types.
  • Literature Review Guide with E-Lectures — Created by Harvard’s Graduate School of Education’s Gutman library, this outstanding guide walks through the literature review process and is accompanied by short e-lectures.  This is a highly recommended starting point to learn more about conducting literature reviews.
  • Scoping Reviews Wiki  — Created by a group of health librarians in Canada, this wiki page contains excellent information about scoping reviews (as do their many other pages on various topics)!

Resources in the Library

Don’t forget that you can also find great information about how to do reviews, or sample reviews, in Fielding’s library collection.

The best place to locate materials which offer definitions and guidance on conducting reviews is our Sage Research Methods Online database.

Once you connect via our ‘databases’ list you can simply search for a review type to find related materials:

Screenshot of lit review search

This will often produce a concise definition along with a number of related results. Remember, you can always click on the ‘ See more in Methods Map’ link when available to see how your search term relates to other methods and ideas:

Tips on locating sample reviews

While some databases include a ‘document type’ or ‘methodology’ filter which allows you to limit your results to reviews, by and large one of the most effective strategies is to include search terms related to the review type of interest in your search.

Here are a few examples/results utilizing different search tools and topics.


A sample search for systematic reviews related to autism in young children:

If it’s too small to see on your device, the search would look like this on a single line:

autism AND (toddlers OR “young children”) AND “systematic review”

Here’s a screenshot of the results.  Remember, FASTsearch often returns large quantities of results so you can always use the filters on the left side of the screen to better target what you need:


Google Scholar

A sample Google Scholar search for literature reviews or meta-analyses related to organizational leadership:

And a screenshot of the results produced. (Pro Tip: connect to Google Scholar through the library to see our ‘Full-Text @ Fielding’ links):

ProQuest Databases

A sample search for literature reviews related to PTSD and veterans in ProQuest’s psychology database:

On a single line: veterans AND PTSD AND “literature review”

Some of the possible results:

We hope these tips will help you up your review game!

Happy Searching!

Datasearch from Elsevier

To put it plainly: it can be a pain to find open source data.  It can feel like a rather slow-going, tedious process to endlessly skim through articles and databases just trying to locate one table or data-set….

4 Easy Ways to Speed Up Your PC

Image by li kelly. CC license here.

So what do you do when you want to get your hands and eyes on the data quickly?

Lucky for us, the good folks at Elsevier are working on a new tool: Elsevier Datasearch.  As they explain on their FAQs page: “We are interested in exploring what a search engine for research data would look like (as opposed to a web search engine or a document search engine), and are talking with users and data providers about their needs and interests.”  You can also view the FAQs page to learn more about what type of content is indexed and from which sources.

Now, let’s get some of the fine print out of the way: this tool is being actively developed, it’s in the Beta stage, so this may not be the final product.  However, it is available now and Elsevier would love your feedback if you use it.

Sooo0….how does it work?

When you connect to DataSearch, you will find a familiar search engine-like interface:


Next, just as you would another search engine, input some keywords related to your research interest(s). Note that, even though the tool is created by Elsevier, content across domains and subjects is indexed here. For example, I tried searching for data related to “income disparity”:


Let’s break down the different features available on the results page (woohoo!):


  • ‘Types’: This first filter allows you to refine your search by, of course, the type of data available.  This is useful if you are specifically looking for raw data files, or an image to help you represent a claim, and so on.
  • ‘Sources’: This filter allows you to refine by the actual data source.  While you may want use this as a refinement, this filter also just provides a nice snapshot of where the majority of your results come from.
  • ‘Date’: Like any good search tool, DataSearch also lets you filter results by date.  This is particularly useful for researchers needing data that reflects a given time period.

In addition to those filters, there are a few other things to be aware of on the results page.  First, your total number of results is listed just below the main search box.  Second, the types of data associated with each record are listed just below the description.  This is a helpful way to quickly see if the record will provide the data in the format you are seeking.

Now, let’s dive deeper and look at an individual record (oohs and aahs):


In this case, I chose a record which had ‘Tabular Data’ available.  Once I click on the record, an expanded menu becomes available to me.  From here, I can use the options on the left side of the record to look through the data (e.g.: Description, Tables 1, 2, 3, and A1).

When I select a table I am then able to view all of the associated data.  I can also select to ‘Go to data source’ at the bottom of the record to learn more about the article in which this data was originally published.

**NOTE: DataSearch is still in development and is not integrated with Fielding’s library resources.  If you follow the ‘Go to data source’ button, you will be redirected to the source on the open web.  Remember to use your stellar search abilities to check for access within our library.**

Keep in mind:

  • Each record will look a bit different depending on the types of data available
  • This resource is in development so there will certainly be minor errors or glitches. Be sure to use the options to provide feedback to Elsevier so they can make improvements.

Happy Searching!


Get close…but not too close…

As we’ve mentioned in other help resources, there’s a little trick called ‘phrase searching’ which allows you to find multiple search terms together in a specific order by enclosing them in quotation marks.  While that’s a great strategy, what do you do when you need to find your terms close together but not in any particular order? Well, as you might have guessed, there’s a trick for that too: proximity searching. (Yaaaaay!)


Image by ebbmart. CC license here.

(Now that that’s out of the way….) This is a particularly useful strategy when you’re searching for a concept that can be expressed in a number of ways.

For example, let’s say you’re looking for sample dissertations in which the author developed their own testing instrument. You hop on over to the dissertation database, highlight the search box, and then….wait…how do you search for this?

Searching for the phrase “instrument development” is too specific and relies too heavily on other researchers using the same phrase as you.  But searching for ‘development’ AND ‘instrument’ is too broad and you know you’ll be inundated with results to sift through.  This is the perfect situation for the proximity search!

So, how do you do it?

Proximity searching will require using some particularly strange syntax.  Essentially, you need to use a symbol (typically the letter ‘N’) to tell the database you want to find your search terms ‘near’ each other. And you also need to include a number which represents how many terms apart you want to find your search terms.

The syntax, then, ends up looking something like: ‘Search term 1’ N/# ‘Search term 2’

What?  I know, it sounds strange, so let’s go a bit farther with our example. When you think about it, there are several ways a researcher might describe developing an instrument:

“the development of an instrument”

“for this study an instrument was developed”

“the process of developing the instrument”

I can see that the terms ‘development’ and ‘instrument’ are usually no more than 2 or 3 terms apart. Also, I have noticed that it’s likely people will use different endings of the word ‘develop’. So in the ProQuest Dissertations database I would build my proximity search like so:

instrument N/3 develop* (forgot what the asterisk does? Check out our post on truncation here.)


Some snippets of results returned from this search include:

  • “the purpose of this study was to develop an instrument for the assessment of”
  • “the instrument developed consists of behavioral descriptors”
  • “I developed an instrument to assess whether”

Prefer to see this tip in action?  Check out our quick tip proximity searching video:

The fine print…as per usual…is that different databases may use different syntax/symbols for a proximity search.  I showed the ‘N/#’ example as this is used by all ProQuest databases.  Should you ever try to run a proximity search and find it does not work as you expected, consult the help guide for the tool you’re using to see their preferred syntax.

Happy Searching!

Library Hack — emailing links from FASTsearch

For today’s post, I wanted to show you a useful library ‘hack’ to help you better access items you’ve emailed yourself from FASTsearch.

As you’ve likely seen, when you email yourself a list of citations from the temporary save folder in FASTsearch, all you really get is a bare-bones citation and a link:

Fastsearch email screenshot

Click image to enlarge.

While it’s great to have the citation, sometimes following the links to get back to full-text can cause a bit of frustration…


Image by Quinn Dombrowski. CC license here.

Okay, hopefully they don’t lead to a broken computer, but you may have noticed that sometimes you follow a link only to be greeted with our proxy server’s error message:

Screenshot of proxy error message

Click image to enlarge

Why is this happening?

Well, our proxy server needs to know that you’re someone who is authorized to access our resources before it will let you do so.  When you follow a saved/bookmarked URL from an email (or wherever), the proxy server has no idea who you are, so instead of redirecting you to the page in the link it displays the error message.

What can you do?

While I haven’t found a perfect fix, I can share the most reliable work-around I’ve found so far.  (Of course, other than this work-around, you can always re-find the item in FASTsearch, use Google Scholar through the library, or connect to the larger publication via the ‘Journal and Book Title’ look-up.)

Caveat: It’s important to remember that this is just a hack/work-around so there is no way to guarantee it will work in every instance, with every computer, or with every browser.  There are many variables at play–but this is something worth trying.

Alright, step one, connect to the library homepage:



Step two: copy and paste the URL from your emailed FASTsearch result into the address bar, on top of the library’s URL:



And that’s it.  Ideally, when you input it this way it will take you straight to the article in its database:


Click image to enlarge.

Just remember to connect first to the library homepage, copy the link, and paste it on top of the homepage URL. As Emeril would say, ‘Bam!’

Other Details

I’ve tested this method out in a few different scenarios.  While I find that it tends to work with both the Firefox and Chrome browsers, I haven’t had as much success with it using Internet Explorer. Also, I should note that I operate on a PC, so I would love to hear Mac users’ experiences to find out if it works the same, or if it works with Safari.

Happy searching, and copying/pasting!

Throwback Thursday: WorldCat at your service

Cat and Mouse Games of the Caribbean

Image by John Jay Glenn. CC license here.

No…that’s not what I mean by WorldCat.

WorldCat, short for ‘world catalog’, is a service which allows library users to look up articles, books, DVDs, and more to see which libraries in their area own a copy.  Thousands of libraries, not only in the United States, but around the world participate in this service and more content is being added every day.

In a distributed learning environment with a digital library, sometimes we forget about the physical materials available in our own communities.  But WorldCat gives us a way to quickly search those local holdings without even leaving the house.  Yes!

I am so excited to wear my new snowflake pajamas that I can't sleep! I just want to research all night. Sigh it's 4am - why am I always awake at this hour? Gahhh

Image by Hi Tricia. CC license here.

So, how does it work?

Simple! Once you connect to you will immediately see a search box:


Select the proper tab at the top or select ‘advanced search’ if you’d like a little more search control.  Then input the title of the work you’re looking for and press search.

The next page will show you a list of potential matches:


If you don’t see a match on the screen, try using the filters on the left to narrow down the results.  If you do see the title you’re interested in, just click on it to be taken to a new screen where you can determine which libraries in your area own the work.

On the new page, scroll down about half-way to a section labeled ‘Find a copy in the library’.  Here, you can input a city or zip-code to determine local holdings (click on the image to enlarge it):


Click image to enlarge.

I know what you might be thinking…”that’s great, but those results are for academic institutions that I don’t attend.”  True, but most public universities allow members of the community to come in and use their resources within the library.  Permissions to check out materials will vary by location, but WorldCat makes it easy to get in touch with a librarian so you can determine your access privileges.

And don’t forget about your good ol’ public library!  Even if they don’t own a work, most public libraries participate in loan agreements (many with academic libraries!) so they can get a hold of what you need.  Since Fielding’s interlibrary loan service is limited to articles and book chapters, your public library might be just the place to snag a copy of a book without having to purchase it!

I Love My Library - Scotts Valley

Image by Santa Cruz Public Libraries. CC license here.

Will WorldCat always find the work you need in your area?  Unfortunately, no; it’s not a 100% guarantee.  But the more tools you have at your disposal, the better chance you have of freely accessing the information you need.

You can always contact you Fielding librarians for additional help and suggestions in locating resources.  Happy hunting!

Throwback Thursday: Free Samples!

This Thursday, we look back to a post from last year with guidance on how to find sample survey instruments, interview questions, and more. Enjoy!!

Free hugs

Image by Matthew G. CC license here.

Okay, you caught me…the library is not giving out free hugs (although after how busy Summer Session was perhaps it’s not a bad idea).

This ‘free samples’ post actually refers to finding sample survey instruments, interview questions, questionnaires, and so on.  A post we did not too long ago, Test It Out, covered some of the key steps in finding studies which employed certain tests or measures (hooray!).  But today’s post focuses on a way to find actual survey and interview questions…which can be a bit tricky.

As you probably know, scholarly articles do not typically publish appendices revealing the survey/interview questions used in obtaining results.  So what do you do when your advisor directs you to “find some sample questions” other academics have used?

Laptop on fire

Image by Chris Pawluk. CC license here.

First, you resist the urge to set fire to your laptop.  Second, you cruise on over to the Fielding library website and connect to the ProQuest Dissertations and Theses Global database (by following the ‘databases’ link on the main library website).

While most scholarly articles do not include the full-text of their survey instruments, dissertations and theses do!  That’s right, as you are well aware, graduate and doctoral students must meticulously account for how and why they achieved the results of their studies. Lucky for you, this means the appendices of these documents are a gold-mine of sample measures.  Let’s head on over to the database to take a look at how this works.

ProQuest Dissertations and Theses Global

When you connect to the database, you will land on the familiar blank advanced search screen.  If you’ve connected to this database with the intention of finding sample questions–or just sample studies which employ a certain method (i.e. phenomenology, case study, etc.)–the best way to accomplish this goal is to search using a term or two describing your topic and a term describing the type of measure/study you hope to find.

Let’s imagine I’m doing some research into organizational cultures and need to find some sample interview questions.  I may build my search like so:


Click image to enlarge.

Though quite basic, I’ve asked the database to look for the phrase “organizational culture” and the keyword ‘interviews’ anywhere except for in the full-text of the document.  Since the dissertation’s abstract will include a piece about the methodology used, this is a fairly reliable method to employ to find the samples you need.  Here are the first few results this search retrieved (**note, I blacked out the author/institution names since I could not ask for permission to display them):

sample results page

Click image to enlarge.

As you can see underlined in red, each of these works’ abstracts has a portion which explains interviews were used (at least in some capacity) to obtain some data.  From here, I could preview abstracts, select a relevant document, then open the PDF to view the appendix which would contain a copy of the questions employed.

Your particular research topic is likely more specific that just ‘organizational culture’ so remember you can use multiple terms to refine your search.  Let’s do one slightly more refined sample search together for good ‘measure’ (pun intended).

In this case, let’s imagine my research focuses on the use of social media by teenagers and I plan to conduct a case study. I might build my search like so:

screenshot of case study search

Click image to enlarge

Not sure about all that fancy syntax?  Make sure to check out the search tip handout on the ‘Quick Tip Docs’ page for explanations.

In essence, that search asks the database to find the phrase “social media”, to find any one of those terms describing teens or youth or adolescent, and to find the phrase “case study”.  This yielded 17 results total, here’s a sampling:

sample of results page

Click image to enlarge.

And there you have it.  Just another trick to have up your sleeve as you work on your own research.  Hopefully this means that next time you’re asked to find some samples you’ll react like this…

man crossing finish line

Image by meridican. CC license here.

Happy searching!  And remember you can always contact the library with questions (

Dead URLs — let’s go wayback

Does this scenario sound familiar? You read an interesting article. You’re perusing the list of references to discover further reading suggestions. You find an awesome prospect with a ‘retrieved from’ URL.  You follow the URL only to be presented with that persnickety message….“The page cannot be found”.  


What to do? Turn that frown upside down and head over to the ‘Wayback Machine’, a tool brought to you by the Internet Archive.

The Wayback Machine “is a service that allows people to visit archived versions of Web sites.” Your friends at the Internet Archive have been diligently archiving webpage content for decades which makes it possible for you to view, browse, and surf older versions of URLs.

Why is this good news for you?  This tool can allow you to follow that great ‘retrieved from’ URL so you can actually see the content instead of the irritating ‘page not found’ message.  Hooray for no dead ends!


How does it work?

Step 1: Connect to the Wayback Machine at this URL:

Step 2: Copy and paste the dead URL into the search box at the top of the page, like so:

Screenshot of wayback webapge.

Click image to enlarge.

Step 3: Press ‘Browse History’.  When you do so, the results screen will indicate any dates on which the contents of this specific URL were saved by the archive.  You can use the graph at the top of the screen to select a particular year, then click on an individual date to actually see what the page looked like at the time:


Click image to enlarge.

Step 4: Explore the archived site.  If you went to a very specific URL (like in this example) you may only be able to view one page.  If you followed a general URL (see our older post about the Wayback Machine to see it used on Fielding’s own website) you will be able to click on links and ‘surf’ the site.

Here’s a screenshot of what you see following the example above:


Click image to enlarge.

Notice with delight that this allows you to read the full article that used to be posted at this URL!

Even though the URL currently leads to a dead-end, the Wayback Machine allows you to see what used to be there.

Next time you run into a dead-end scenario, try plugging the URL in here to see if you can still access the past content.  While the Internet Archive, of course, cannot index every webpage ever created, it does store A TON of content.

Happy Searching!