Tuesday, February 21, 2017

How to research: If you can’t get in by the front door, then use the side door

On February 20 at her Speechwriter-Ghostwriter blog Jane Genova whined that Drudge Report’s curating includes articles behind paywalls – how disappointing. She said:

"For news junkies in a hurry, the Drudge Report used to be the go-to place. It had tons of curated content, continually brought up-to-date.

However, a problem has developed. That's because so many media outlets are putting up paywalls.

Click on, for example, today's headline on Drudge about Wal-Mart's growing troubles. The text is faded. Up pops a way to subscribe to The Wall Street Journal. How disappointing. And time-consuming.

To get access to that information we can key in on a search engine "Wal-Mart's troubles." That will bring up posts we can click on. Some might be behind a paywall. Others might not. We resent those extra steps.

So, for those whose mission is to always be up on the news Drudge may no longer be the first stop. Not if they want it fast.”

In Jane’s bad example she didn’t bother with a link to the Wall Street Journal article. There's also no link at her other version of the post.  As I said in a post about her back on June 19, 2016:

“Jane’s post is as interesting for what it leaves out as for what it says.”

But when you Google the likely title, Wal-Mart’s Big Box of Trouble, you will find another article with that same title and author. That’s because the source really was Dow Jones News, and the Wall Street Journal (also owned by Dow Jones) just was the consumer outlet.  

What else can you do to get past paywalls? Just remember that you are a member of a powerful statewide group known as Taxpayers who have already paid for database access. On July 30, 2016 I had blogged about Going around pesky periodical paywalls by using databases from your friendly local public library. That’s a side door you can easily use.

For example, Jane has said she lives in Austintown, Ohio. She’s served by the Mahoning County Public Library, and state databases come via OWL (the Ohio Web Library). The county library web site lists a powerful collection of EBSCO databases that can be searched either individually or by a single federated search (via EBSCOhost). I have access to a similar collection at the Ada County Library here in Idaho. (The Wall Street Journal is not in there, but lots of other publications like the Harvard Business Review are). A good EBSCO selection to search is:

Academic Search Premier

Business Source Premier

MasterFile Premier

Newspaper Source

I find it’s best to use the Advanced Search screen, and change from the defaults to display Date Newest rather than by Relevance, and limit the search results to Full Text articles rather than also including those just abstracted.   

An image of the Finnish Stockmann department store came from Wikimedia Commons, as did an image of the old State of Ohio seal.  

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