Monday, February 27, 2012

Using Web of Science Assignment

For this weeks online assignment, you'll need to access Web of Science (also called Web of Knowledge) from the library homepage. Starting from, search for it under the Databases tab or see if it's listed under the Top 10 databases. Explore the search options, quick reference guides, and FAQs to become familiar with how to use it.

In addition to answering the questions below in your one-page write up, you may also write about your experience using this database. What is or isn't Web of Knowledge useful for?

Using Web of Science.  The Google algorithm — that links between web resources are an indicator of value — is based on an old idea from the Science Citation Index of the mid 20th century.  Today the Science Citation Index is online as "Web of Science."  Find your professors from this semester and last semester in Web of Science and trace their publications.  Who cites them?  What is their "influence" as measured by the web of citations?  Who was your most influential professor?  Your least?  Does this citation assessment match up with your assessment of them from your classroom experience?


  1. During this whole assignment, I did not feel like I was searching correctly, but I could not find a “FAQ” section. I basically clicked around and hoped to get some results. I did not find it helpful and probably would not use it again unless I was asked to do so. It may be helpful to use the Web of Knowledge in class sometime to get a better grasp of it and really learn how to use it for my benefit. Maybe it would be better appreciated and easy to understand.

  2. Kate, I understand your frustration. Sometimes these online assignments that I will give to the class are very clear and obvious, and the goal is for you to come up with some sort of insight that gives greater depth to what seems very simple on the surface. Other times, these online assignments are meant to be, frankly, difficult and frustrating and somewhat challenging. (The readings, you'll notice, follow the same back-and-forth structure -- some very obvious, others requiring lost of work to figure out.) Although each student is obliged to create their own write-up of the assignment results, I would be fine with students consulting their peers in their groups for advice or assistance -- after all, aren't these wonderful online tools meant to help bring the "wisdom of crowds" to bear on difficult problems? Or, alternatively, you might go straight to a library expert to get help with a resource that the UW pays for and supports -- the reference librarians in College Library or Memorial Library are always more than happy to help students out. Finally, if you find that any of the many tools that we will try out in this course are frustrating -- and I guarantee that you will -- that can be a moment of insight and learning too, especially if someone else chimes in with a useful suggestion to help. Kate, I'm glad you've written about that in your comment above; I hope other students will follow your lead.


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