Internet Resources: February 2020 Edition

Selected reviews of digital reference resources from the February issue of Choice.

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Brill Encyclopedia of Early Christianity Online. Brill, 2019. Contact publisher for pricing.

First released in 2018, Brill’s Encyclopedia of Early Christianity Online “offers an in-depth look at the formative years of the Christian religion,” covering “people, issues, writings, and other topics that were pivotal from the first to the sixth century,” wrote Denise Gehring and Lindsey Sinnott for ccAdvisor. Intended for scholarly use, the encyclopedia would be most advantageous for “institutions with programs in theology, religion, history, or biblical studies,” they added. Currently, the encyclopedia contains approximately 340 entries, all available online only, though additional entries will be added until 2022, when a final total of 1,300 entries will be available. Once completed, the full encyclopedia will be published in print as a six-volume set. In the meantime, this resource can be accessed online through the BrillOnline Reference Works platform “and integrates with other Reference Works content that an institution has access to,” wrote Gehring and Sinnott. The search interface is easy to use, navigable either by the primary search box, or by scrolling through the alphabetical listing of encyclopedia entries on the home page. Both basic search and advanced search options are available as well, including the ability to search titles across BrillOnline’s databases. Overall, the available content is more detailed than that provided by similar resources, as evidenced by each entry’s historiography subsection, “containing historical, cultural, and background information,” and detailing how scholarship has developed over time on a particular topic, a feature uncommon in similar products. However, many topics will remain uncovered until the encyclopedia’s completion in 2022. In design, the BrillOnline platform lags behind some of its competitors, making the encyclopedia less sophisticated in appearance. Nevertheless, the Encyclopedia of Early Christianity “is an easy resource for users to navigate, and topics are intuitive to locate,” wrote Gehring and Sinnott. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Lower-division undergraduates through faculty. This review is a summary of a longer review by Denise Gehring and Lindsey Sinnott, Azusa Pacific University, originally published in Copyright © 2019 by The Charleston Company. —Abstracted from, ccAdvisor

Encyclopedia of the Bible and Its Reception Online. Walter de Gruyter GmbH, 2019. Contact publisher for pricing.

“The Encyclopedia of the Bible and Its Reception Online (EBRO) is a fully indexed, digital version of the print, multivolume encyclopedia,” the first volume of which was published in 2009, wrote Lindsey Sinnott for ccAdvisor. “EBRO,” Sinnot noted, “provides an overview of the Bible, its development within the Christian and Jewish canons, and how it has shaped and influenced religions, cultures, and the arts.” To date, 17 volumes have been published and a projected total of 30 are expected on completion (date not given). Entries consider both current scholarship on the development of the Bible, including prominent Biblical figures, places, and themes, and historical perspectives on varying perceptions of the Bible over time. Each entry is supplemented by an “extensive bibliography linked to Google Scholar so users may continue more in-depth research on a particular topic,” with additional cross-references to “other topics [in] the encyclopedia that are relevant to the current entry,” added Sinnott. “As an online version of a print reference set, EBRO competes with its own print version,” as well as other online biblical reference resources by publishers like Oxford and Cambridge, though EBRO sets itself apart as far more exhaustive overall, with expertly detailed information making each entry an exceptional introduction to its given topic.

Dozens of editors and hundreds of authors have contributed to this series, and the online version is updated every quarter. Hosted on the De Gruyter Online platform, which provides an easy-to-use interface, EBRO supports several search functions: simple search, advanced search, and browsing by topic. This resource is best suited for “institutions with graduate or undergraduate programs in religion, biblical studies, or theology,” wrote Sinnott, though interdisciplinary programs could also make use of its content. Summing Up: Essential. Lower-division undergraduates through faculty. This review is a summary of a longer review by Lindsey Sinnott, Azusa Pacific University, originally published in Copyright © 2019 by The Charleston Company. —Abstracted from, ccAdvisor

Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland. Wiley, 2019. Contact publisher for pricing.

With an extensive collection of anthropological archival and manuscript material, the Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland (RAI) has partnered with Wiley to create a digital archive of their content, offering users “approximately 68,000 manuscripts, 119 maps, and 200,000 photographs,” all available in full text, wrote Thomas J. Beck for ccAdvisor. Importantly, “Wiley estimates that well below 5 percent of that content has been digitized or microfilmed elsewhere,” Beck added. Another important factor for potential users to consider is that the database houses a fixed collection, with no plans for future additions. The collection will pertain most to those conducting research in anthropology, sociology, religion, history, and ethnic studies. Using responsive design, the database is easily accessible across a range of devices supported by sharing features, though these may obscure usage statistics.

The search interface itself makes use of both basic and advanced search options, though basic search functionality is unfortunately much less effective. Results can be limited by “authors, bar code, bib ID, document number, [or] document title,” as well as by “content types, date, collections, illustration types, content subtypes, languages, and content sources,” wrote Beck. Users can also search within results to sort by term frequency, enhance photo or map searches, and locate place of publication. Readability may also be an issue, “given the wide date range and variety of the documents in this database,” including many handwritten notes and correspondence. Wiley allows users to view these items as image or text, but the text-conversion process may yield mistakes. “Despite this database’s search and display idiosyncrasies, it is a usable and effective resource that can produce numerous and useful results if properly understood,” concluded Beck. Summing Up: Recommended. Graduate students and faculty. This review is a summary of a longer review by Thomas J. Beck, University of Colorado, Denver, originally published in Copyright © 2019 by The Charleston Company. —Abstracted from, ccAdvisor

SimplyAnalytics. SimplyAnalytics, Inc, 2019. Contact publisher for pricing.

SimplyAnaltyics allows users to map data on different consumer “demographics, psychographics, and people’s behaviors and activities” across US locations, including, for example, variables on “consumer price index, general employment,” “detailed employment,” and “detailed consumer expenditures,” wrote Breezy D. Silver for ccAdvisor. Optional packages with more specialized data reports (e.g., reports on health data) can be purchased “from sources like Simmons, Mediamark Research, and Claritas,” Silver added. When mapping data variables onto a specific location, users have the option of viewing this information as maps, statistics, or tables, and, while viewing the map, can search for or browse through different variables relating to consumer data, which will vary depending on the institution’s particular subscription. With multiple options for viewing data, the interface is complex and may be overwhelming for a first-time user. However, the platform strives to be user friendly, with walk-through help available to get new users set up with how to create maps and an overview of the different viewing methods also available. The database is best viewed when the browser window is maximized on a normal or large desktop, as the display does not adapt well to smaller screens, which may be a hindrance to some users. Though comparable “data is available from competitors,” like DemographicsNow or BusinessDecision, SimplyAnalytics offers more options for displaying and utilizing the data, and its overall search functionality is simpler as well, once users become acclimated to its unique interface, wrote Silver. Nevertheless, “there are still things that could be improved,” as “the site can only display one variable at a time,” impeding users who “may want to combine variables.” This product is most appropriate for students or faculty conducting business research, or entrepreneurs conducting market analyses. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Lower-division undergraduates through faculty; professionals. This review is a summary of a longer review by Breezy D. Silver, Michigan State University, originally published in Copyright © 2019 by The Charleston Company. —Abstracted from, ccAdvisor

Sociology Source Ultimate. EBSCO, 2019. Contact publisher for pricing.

“The latest iteration of SocIndex,” Sociology Source Ultimate from EBSCO offers “the broadest purview of sociological research and related literature,” wrote Jim Millhorn for ccAdvisor, adding that it “stands out from its predecessors in the degree and extent of its full text journal offerings.” Altogether, the database maintains a pool of 1,072 full-text journals for users to search from, representing mostly independent publishers and a smattering of university presses, and including “expansive coverage of international and foreign language journals,” many of which are open access. This comprehensive database also provides full-text access to thousands of monographs, collections, conference papers, and reports, and searches may yield resources dating as far back as 1895. The basic search tool leaves something to be desired, though it is enhanced by advanced search options, which allow users to search by key word(s) while specifying “subject, author, geographic terms, publication source, [or] ISSN,” through a pull-down menu. Additional search filters can further help to sort results according to “date of publication, document or publication type, language, and even … various types of images such as graphs or charts,” wrote Millhorn. Although very similar in design and function to SocIndexSociology Source Ultimate stands out for its more expansive full-text content, its “key selling point,” Millhorn notes, as EBSCO seems to have mined a plethora of full-length texts from other social science databases to populate their content pool. Sociological Abstracts stands out as a possible rival to Sociology Source Ultimate, though the latter’s surfeit of full-text content, including “numerous journals not covered by Sociological Abstracts,” edges it ahead as more favorable, “especially in terms of the inclusion of open access titles from across the globe,” Millhorn concludes. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Lower-division undergraduates through faculty. This review is a summary of a longer review by Jim Millhorn, Northern Illinois University, originally published in Copyright © 2019 by The Charleston Company. —Abstracted from, ccAdvisor

Syndetics Unbound. ProQuest, 2019. Contact publisher for pricing.

First introduced in 2016, Syndetics Unbound (SU) is a “content enrichment platform” that combines two of ProQuest’s existing products, Syndetics Solutions (SS) and LibraryThing for Libraries (LTFL), to enhance “user discovery of library materials” and improve “library circulation,” according to Liza Ismail in ccAdvisor. Compatible with many different discovery systems, SU is intended for all library types, and subscribers can customize the interface according to their library’s specific needs. As an upgrade to SS and LTFLSU integrates “with a library’s existing catalog,” using “16 distinct enrichment elements,” including “summaries,” “professional and reader reviews,” “tags and awards,” and suggested titles, among others, to optimize user searches, Ismail added. Subscribers have access to all 16 elements, but may chose to enable only those they feel best meet their patrons’ needs.

Tags are perhaps the most useful enrichment element, as they “allow users to search for [and] identify items in language that is arguably more relatable.” With “more than 153 million librarian-vetted tags” available through SU, users may also combine and filter tags to better search across genres and subjects. Since SU works with whatever ILS, OPAC, or discovery service is already in place, the look of the catalog will vary according to the subscribing institution, but the features remain relatively the same. SU also offers a dynamic and mobile-friendly interface, provided that subscribing libraries already offer a mobile-friendly platform for optimal results. Obvious competitors would be any other ILS, OPAC, or discovery system vendor, most notably NoveList Select, but subscribing libraries may choose to combine products for an overall richer search experience. Further, libraries that already subscribe to SS or LTFL can upgrade to SU at no additional charge, according to ProQuest, through some may choose not to upgrade. Summing Up: Highly recommended. All levels. This review is a summary of a longer review by Liza Ismail, Limestone College, originally published in Copyright © 2019 by The Charleston Company. —Abstracted from, ccAdvisor