One of the issues which causes confusion for library users is the seemingly large number of databases. We receive questions such as, ‘Why are there so many different places to search? or ‘Why can’t I just search in a single place like Google?’ These are important questions and the answers can help our users understand why the library works a certain way and what is expected of our course participants.

First of all, we don’t try to make things difficult! With our new website and some new functionality the IMI Library is trying to make things as easy as possible. The idea behind the tabbed search box on our homepage is to present you with a choice depending on the type of material you need and the information you have. For example, if you know only the title of a journal - type the title of the journal into ‘Journals by Title’ and it will return a link to the database containing the journal. If you know you want a brief summary overview of a management topic or model such as ‘motivation’ or ‘giving feedback’ - select the tab titled ‘Management Guides’ and enter your search.

This begs the question: why aren’t all the journals in one database? This is largely down to the fact that different publishers own different journals. These publishers then sell the electronic access rights to the database provider who is willing to pay the most. ProQuest and EBSCO are the two major contributors in the business/management journal space. This creates a system whereby EBSCO holds the rights to Harvard Business Review while ProQuest holds the rights MIT Sloan Management Review. The library knows our users need both journals and as such, we have no choice but to subscribe to both databases.

A simple analogy is the fact that some television stations are only available from one cable provider and not on others. This is because of exclusivity in licensing - the library faces the same challenges with journals. Essentially, we have to subscribe to all of the appropriate ‘providers’ or databases otherwise we risk not having the ‘channels’ or journals our users need.

To compound matters, some publishers have to this point refused to sell their electronic rights to any database provider and have instead created their own online platform. Thankfully the publishers have provided limited information to EBSCO and ProQuest so they can be found when searching, but not the full-text articles. In this case the IMI Library uses ‘LinkSource’ in EBSCO which will provide a direct link to the publisher’s page with the full-text our users expect.

In time I believe exclusivity will break down as the web hopefully becomes more open. Until then however our users are left to navigate the sometimes murky waters of multiple databases with varying content. Don’t worry though. All is not lost. The Library staff are available to answer any of your questions. Click here to ask a question or to schedule a one-on-one training session.