Internet Resources: January 2022 Edition

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

virus Research Database. ProQuest, 2021.

Coronavirus Research Database. ProQuest, 2021. Contact publisher for pricing.

“[F]reely available to existing ProQuest customers,” Coronavirus Research Database (CRD) “is an authoritative source of information on the Coronavirus Disease pandemic (Covid-19) and past coronavirus epidemics such as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS),” wrote Marcia Salmon for ccAdvisor. “It has a robust search engine and a clean user interface,” she added, and “has become a reputable and reliable source for coronavirus research and the virus’s impact on public health.” The database “contains a curated collection of journal articles, preprints, conference proceedings, dissertations, and resources related to COVID-19, as well as other related infectious diseases,” Salmon added.

CRD’s interface has basic and advanced search functions, both of which allow users to conduct keyword searches with Boolean operators, with the option to limit results for peer reviewed publications, though advanced search also incorporates Boolean proximity operators such as NEAR and PRE. “The database uses both Medical Subject Headings (MeSH) and an internally created controlled vocabulary for subject access,” Salmon noted, and it “also has a Command line search option” that “allows sophisticated searching by the specific field and using Boolean operators (AND, OR, and NOT)[,] proximity operators (NEAR and PRE), and operators (=, >, <, =>, >=) to connect multiple search terms.”

Though CRD is an authoritative database on coronavirus research, “includ[ing] grey literature such as conference proceedings, preprints, and dissertations, a weakness is the lack of government documents on coronavirus diseases,” Salmon asserted. Still, it maintains a clean, intuitive, user-friendly interface and impressive searching capabilities. Moreover, while some databases “cover various aspects of the same content such as PubMed[,] PubMed Central,” and Disaster LitCRD is ultimately unparalleled. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Lower-division undergraduates through faculty.

This review is a summary of a longer review by Marcia Salmon, York University, originally published in Copyright © 2021 by The Charleston Company. —Abstracted from, ccAdvisor

Google Books. Google, 2021. Contact publisher for pricing.

Begun in 2004, Google Books (GB) “features full-text search of more than 40 million publisher-supplied, self-published, and author-supplied books,” in addition to “select magazines and newspapers,” as Jody Fagan wrote for ccAdvisor. The site is ostensibly free, offering full-text access to publications in the public domain and limited previews of “copyrighted materials[,] unless explicitly prohibited.” GB “offers significant value for libraries and their patrons,” Fagan continued, though “inaccuracies in the collection and its metadata make” it difficult to recommend with confidence. Still, “the high quality of some of [the] primary source and public domain images may be a gold mine for historical and genealogy researchers,” Fagan added.

To navigate the holdings, users will employ the Main Search and can limit their results by language (GB recognizes 46 languages) and date range, or, using free-text limit boxes, by title, author, publisher, subject, or ISBN and ISSN. Once a title is selected, clicking on its preview button (if available) displays a preview of the text, including a drop-down menu to navigate the chapters; “a ‘Search in this book’ box; zoom and page layout tools; and a … menu with links to Share, Embed, Buy this book, [or] Find in a library,” among other functions. Some drawbacks include discrepancies between repeated searches and the poor results produced by the zip code library lookup.

Alternatives to GB are the Internet Archive and HathiTrust, both of which have digitized millions of books (though far less than GB). Notably, both sites also offer clear information about the scope and coverage of their collections, while GB “actively prevent[s] bibliometric research into the searchability of its primary user interface,” a serious flaw, as Fagan contended. Summing Up: Highly recommended. All levels.

This review is a summary of a longer review by Jody Fagan, James Madison University, originally published in ccAdvisor.orgCopyright © 2021 by The Charleston Company. —Abstracted from, ccAdvisor

Google Books Ngram Viewer. Google, 2021. Contact publisher for pricing.

“The Google Books Ngram Viewer is a [freely available] data mining tool that searches datasets derived from Google Books to generate frequency charts of language usage from the dawn of print until the present time,” wrote Anna L. Shparberg for ccAdvisor. “With a database of more than 2 trillion words,” Shparberg added, “it is the largest corpus of linguistics information in existence” and will be “a valuable resource for researching long-term cultural trends,” particularly in computational linguistics, as well as for research in fields such as literature, medicine and public health, economics, history, and political science.

Ngram Viewer has a simple, intuitive user interface” with a search box at the top of the page, into which “users input comma-separated n-grams,” or contiguous sequences of ‘n’ words, “and select the necessary [language] corpus.” Available languages include English, French, German, Hebrew, Italian, Spanish, Chinese, and Russian. Notable advanced search options include inflection search, which “includes grammatical variations of a word by adding _INF to an n-gram,” and part-of-speech tags, which “[allow] users to separate the occurrence of identical lexemes with different syntactic functions, such as gauge (noun) and gauge (verb).” As Shparberg elaborated further, “users can [also] download … datasets for more in-depth analysis.”

The sheer amount of data and the easy-to-use interface are undeniable strengths. However, one major criticism of Ngram Viewer is “its potential to produce skewed results by relying on inaccurate metadata and overemphasizing certain genres, such as scientific literature,” as Shparberg pointed out. Some “smaller but better balanced and curated datasets” include the English Corpora website (, COHA (Corpus of Historical American English), and the open source version of Early English Books Online (EEBO). Summing Up: Highly recommended. All levels.

This review is a summary of a longer review by Anna L. Shparberg, Fondren Library, Rice University, originally published in ccAdvisor.orgCopyright © 2021 by The Charleston Company. —Abstracted from, ccAdvisor

SAGE Campus. SAGE Publishing, 2021. Contact publisher for pricing.

SAGE Campus provides 18 courses that students, staff, and faculty can take to learn more about topics such as critical thinking, research skills, programming in R and Python, data science, how to present your research, and how to get published,” as Joseph R. Kraus wrote for ccAdvisor. It is best suited for graduate students in the social sciences, though “undergraduate and graduate students of all disciplines may find courses that are worthwhile to investigate,” and in fact “many librarians and teaching faculty may recommend that students take these courses to supplement their education,” Kraus added.

“Self-paced and led by experts and authors in their fields,” the courses “contain a mix of video presentations, textual explanations, interactive elements, and short quizzes for learners to check their understanding of the content.” It can be difficult to tell when a module is completed, but otherwise the interface is relatively clean and easy to use, and the vast majority of the videos are high quality and have closed captions. As Kraus maintained, “teaching faculty may [wish to] assign these courses [to] students who need remediation, or [to] students who wish to supplement their education,” and they “can keep track of student progress on the faculty portal.”

“There are many other places where people can take online courses in some or all of these topics,” including “LinkedIn Learning (formerly, Learn without LimitsedXKhan Academy, and Codecademy,” as Kraus noted. “However, the courses on these other platforms may not have the same focus on academic research in the social sciences, and they will not have the instructors and authors found in SAGE,” Kraus concluded. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Lower-division undergraduates through faculty.

This review is a summary of a longer review by Joseph R. Kraus, Colorado School of Mines, originally published in ccAdvisor.orgCopyright © 2021 by The Charleston Company.—Abstracted from, ccAdvisor