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Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Database of the Week - Xreferplus


This week we will look at Xreferplus, a digital reference library, which contains the types of reference books that you would expect to see in a library: dictionaries, encyclopedias, thesauri, and books of quotations, not to mention a host of subject-specific titles covering: art, bilinguals, biography, business, conversions, dictionaries, encyclopedias, food, geography, history, language law, literature, medicine, music, philosophy & psychology, quotations, religion, science, social sciences, technology.

Xreferplus provides three ways to search: Concept mapping, Browse topics, and Advanced Search.

The most unique search method in Xreferplus is the Concept Map. Enter your search term and the Concept Map generates a visual map of how search terms and topics in Xreferplus are interconnected.

Book titles in Xreferplus are grouped by topic and you can Browse Topics, by selecting “Browse topics” on the main page, or by selecting a topic at the top of the page.

Selecting a topic, for example selecting “Technology” from the Browse topics screen will give you a list of all the books grouped under that topic. From there you can do a search within the selected topic, or select a book title. If you select a book title you can browse by alphabetic entry (same as you would use a print encyclopedia) or search within that title using the search box.

There is an “Advanced search” screen with multiple search fields, options to sort results, and the ability specify which topics you want to search in, ranging from all topics to selecting just one or two topics.

What makes Xreferplus note-worthy, in my opinion, is the use of xreferences. Xreferences are links that connect related entries to one another, cross-referencing entries from all the titles, publishers, and format (text, audio, and image files) included in Xreferplus. This allows you to collect information on a topic from a variety of reference sources. In addition, the Concept Map provides a visual representation of how search terms and topics are interconnected. For example, the more connected the terms are the closer together they are in the concept map.

Xreferplus is a good tool to when beginning research to learn about more about your research topic.

Laura Wright


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