Choice Reviews Online American Library Association; cro3.org
content Choice Reviews Online (CRO), version 3, provides access to the entire database of Choice reviews since September 1988, using the HighWire Press platform. Targeted at “librarians and faculty members who select materials for academic libraries, especially for undergraduate research and teaching,” according to the product’s website, Choice publishes 7,000-plus reviews of books, websites, and other library resources annually. Content also includes bibliographic essays on timely topics, an “Outstanding Academic Titles” list, an annual forthcoming titles feature on a selected subject, and faculty picks of important works. There are also several web-exclusive features: “Editors’ Picks” are compiled by Choice subject editors and highlight a wide-ranging and impressive group of titles from each issue; “Hot Topics” are also compiled by the magazine’s subject editors and feature selected reviews from the Choice database on topics of current interest.
This new version of CRO offers unlimited, user-created custom alerts for both subscribers and nonsubscribers. Past users should note that “Subject Alerts replace the Monthly Reviews in the new version [and] you can have as many alerts as you want delivered to a single email address. Each Alert can be customized by numerous criteria (e.g., Choice subject heading, keyword, readership level, recommendation level).”
Users will also find a browsable archive of past issues back to September 1988, one-stop searching of reviews and editorial features, highlighted search terms, cross-reference linking to prior reviews and within bibliographic essays, DOIs (digital object identifiers) for all content, bookmarking and sharing of content over social media platforms, a moderated “comments” section that allows readers to share opinions, cross-content searching across all 1,700 HighWire Press–hosted publications, institutional administrator accounts, COUNTER-compliant usage reports, and short-term access or pay per article options for nonsubscribers. Reviews are arranged into sections: reference, humanities, science and technology, social and behavioral sciences, and interdisciplinary categories (such as regional and gender studies).
usability The main screen of the CRO site showcases at top screen left the clickable cover of the current issue for easy access. Below this is a button marked “Click Here for User Guide and FAQ,” which clearly tells researchers how to access the material, set up receipt of alerts and monthly reviews, search, and read the user guide and get “Top Tips.” [Note to CRO editors: If “Subject Alerts replace the Monthly Reviews in the new version,” you should change the wording here about “Monthly Reviews.”]
A toolbar links to items such as home, the current issue and past issues, web exclusives, “My Lists,” “My Saved Searches,” and alerts. Just below that is a keywords search box and then a link to advanced search (I had to hunt a bit for this; it’s pretty low-key in size and position).
To the right of the current issue’s cover is a column containing a variety of links: view current issue; outstanding academic titles of 2013; “Choice e-Collection”; and a guide to using the new version of the database. Other links allow users to subscribe, sign up for Choice’s email newsletters, and find forthcoming title lists and information for reviewers and for publishers.
To get started, I clicked on the cover of the current issue (January 2014); it took about six seconds for the table of contents to load, which isn’t bad. There I found a letter from the editor with links for getting a corresponding extract, full text, or full text (PDF). It took 13 seconds to get the extract, one second to get the full text, and four seconds to get a full-color PDF of the letter. After that I pulled up the full text of the feature article “Outstanding Academic Titles 2013”; in two seconds, the “Faculty Picks: 5 Great Books on Animal Studies”; in two seconds, the table of contents of the editors’ picks, and the full text of the review of the first pick in one second. You get the idea: it doesn’t take all that long to load any piece of the content here.
The reviews themselves are good: necessarily brief but signed and with a clear recommendation. There’s nearly as much text in the options at screen right as there is in the review: the DOI for the article, links to switch between extract and full text, the classification of the subject, and services, which include the options to email the article, alert the user when e-letters are published, find similar articles in this journal, find in WorldCat, and more titles from the publisher and by the author in question. These are thoughtful, workmanlike links that will be of use to collection selectors. But there’s more: links to submit a comment about the review, to search Google Scholar for other articles by this reviewer, to access related content in the database, and one to use social bookmarking.
A keyword search of the database for “civil war” returned 4,085 pertinent results in five seconds. That was pretty nifty, but I wanted to see what advanced search could do. There I could search by a number of access points (keyword, author/editor, ISBN, Library of Congress number, publisher, Choice review number, reviewer name, and reviewer affiliation), select format and sorting of results, search all content or only reviews or only features, search by Choice subject headings, stipulate readership and recommendation levels, as well as copyright year, Choice issue, format, and LC classification. Oddly, the interdisciplinary categories are listed near the bottom of the search screen (rather than with the other Choice subject headings), just above the box to click for outstanding academic titles.
It took me only two clicks to find all 936 outstanding academic title books on women’s studies in the database: I simply selected “Women’s and Gender Studies” from the interdisciplinary categories and clicked the checkbox for “Outstanding Academic Title.”
Pricing An annual subscription to CRO costs $530 for public libraries. For academic libraries, the annual cost is $555 for up to 2,500 FTE, $589 for between 2,500 and 9,999 FTE, and $625 where FTE is above 10,000.
Verdict Collection selectors should give this a trial run. You may find yourself using the online and paper versions of the resource together; one to create lists, the other to actually browse and read.
Research MonitorEuromonitor International; euromonitor.com
content Euromonitor International is widely respected for its global market research and analysis reports. The company’s new product, Research Monitor, packages some of its content into a searchable database for library patrons. Users have access to worldwide market data, consumer information, and industry news through Research Monitor reports.
Research Monitor includes industry reports on consumer products (e.g., consumer electronics, eyewear, hot drinks, luxury goods, and toys) and consumer services (e.g., finance, retail, tourism, etc.), as well as business and manufacturing products and services (e.g., machinery, communications, and business services). The coverage is global, with information from 80 countries. Industry reports for individual countries are generally less than a year old, although the site includes business and industry news covering the past ten years. Daily updates are provided; equal attention is paid to developed and developing nations.
Information and reports about countries and their consumers are also here. Country data covers business environments, technology and media, infrastructure, and economy. Consumer information (available by country and region) features reports about income, consumer spending, trends, and population data.
Reports typically have basic descriptive information and analysis of the topic or country, as well as recent changes affecting the business environment. Data relevant to the topic typically shows trends over the past five years.
Usability Research Monitor is a user-friendly database that encourages users to perform guided searches for information related to country and region, while also providing a basic search box. The homepage presents a list of recent articles, demonstrating that information is added to the resource daily. The list is limited to ten items, and there isn’t a way to view additional recent articles, which would be handy.
The search box is available in the upper right-hand corner of all the pages and provides potential search terms as a query is entered. Typing a search for “eye” prompted me with suggestions for “Eyewear,” “Eye care,” “Eye supplements,” and an extended list of country profiles: “Eyewear in Argentina,” “Eyewear in Australia,” etc.
Although the search box is available, users are strongly pushed toward the two primary guided searches offered by the database: searching by subject or searching by country or region. Clicking either results in a list of options for users to select. Subject searches include the categories listed above (consumer products and services, business services, etc.). The country search allows users to select single countries, multiple countries, or entire regions (e.g., Latin America, Eastern Europe, Australasia, Asia Pacific, and more). More than one subject or country can be chosen. After a selection is made, users have the option to add additional concepts. For example, I can select the “Eyewear” category, then click the link to add a geographical filter to locate information about the that industry in Malaysia or Indonesia. Alternatively, I can select the region Australasia and add subjects such as “Eyewear” or look for country reports about infrastructure and technology.
By default, the results list is sorted by relevance, but users can sort by date or alphabetical order as necessary. The additional filtering options are quite useful. I can refine my list by subject or country, select the type of report (e.g., opinion, industry report, article, etc.), and choose the date range for the results (within the past year or older than one year).
Once a report is selected, users can read the full report on screen and take advantage of some built-in tools. Each article has a clickable table of contents and tools to translate the article into Portuguese, Spanish, Russian, Chinese, Korean, or Arabic. (Since I’m monolingual, I cannot comment on the quality of the translations.)
Almost all reports contain small data tables. Unfortunately, tools to manipulate or download this data are not available. Patrons would need to copy and paste the tables (a sloppy procedure at the best of times). Resource Monitor would be improved by adding the ability to download data tables as CSV or XLS files.
Users can view as many reports as they wish online but are limited to printing just 20 pages per session via the built-in printing tools. This policy is spelled out for researchers as they log in, and librarians are granted a special status that lets them print and email up to 20 pages per patron. Fortunately, users can save individual reports to their account for retrieval later on. Reports can be saved to a “Saved Research” folder by clicking a paperclip icon and easily retrieved later from a link in the header. The simplicity of the “Saved Research” feature makes it an effective tool.
pricing Research Monitor costs $5,000 annually for community colleges and colleges/universities with fewer than 3,000 students, with up to 20 percent off for institutions in participating consortia. For larger colleges and universities, the price ranges from $5,000 to $15,000 based on the size of the institution. For public libraries, the database costs $2,950 annually per individual branch, and for systems, from $5,000 to $20,000, based on the number of cardholders.
verdict The Research Monitor Database offers high-quality research information and is easy to use. The material might be beneficial to libraries associated with business schools, especially those with an emphasis on international business. Public libraries that serve patrons looking for international business and marketing data may also find the database helpful.