The Canadian Research Index (Tip of the Week)

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By Ken Fox

The Canadian Research Index (CRI) is a door into research publications by all levels of Canadian government. Featured subjects include arts, business, health, science, current affairs, and many more. Full-text articles are uncommon here, so be prepared to gather citation info and seek alternate sources for the articles themselves.

To access the CRI from Regina, begin at the e-resources page, then click on Canada or use the alphabetical list.

In Saskatoon, go to the research page, then click on the Subject tab and find Government & Law, or click on the A-Z tab, and the ABCD group in the left panel.

For regional libraries systems, begin at your e-resources page – I included links in a previous post. There doesn’t seem to be a general rule about which subject grouping within e-resources includes the Canadian Research Index, so best bet is to click on Arrange Alphabetically by Title, then find the Cs – or just click around the various subjects until you find it, and discover any number of other interesting databases that you didn’t know you had access to.

The CRI is a ProQuest database, and thus can be searched in combination with other ProQuest databases such as Canadian Business and Current Affairs (CBCA) and Canadian Newsstand.

There is a ProQuest “Search Tips” page that is accessible from the entry search page, and from the Advanced Search page. The words AND & OR serve for those operations, quotations marks indicate a phrase, and the asterisk (*) works for truncation. There are many other operations, but those are the main ones I tend to use.

Today I am searching for articles on access to justice – so I try that phrase wrapped in quote marks, and get 87 hits (without quotes it returns 1209 hits). The results can be sorted by Relevance, Oldest First, or Newest First.

The left-hand pane breaks down the results by a number of subdivisions. All 87 documents are “citation, abstract, or indexing only” – meaning no full text articles. There are a list of applicable subject headings, many of them with geographic tags, such as Legal Aid Saskatchewan (5), Law Reform Saskatchewan (3), and Legal Services Saskatchewan (3).

ProQuest has easily the best date filter I have come across. Rather than entering the beginning and ending dates of a range (in many systems you need to enter an exact date, even to specify a range in years), ProQuest displays a bar graph showing the number of search results by year, with two sliding markers to indicate the date range – it’s quite slick and easy. The bar graph shows an increase in government articles about access to justice in 2007 (8 articles), and a gradual increase for the years following. The oldest records are from the late 1980s.

The vast majority of results in this search, and other searches of the CRI, are government reports. Although they are not full text reports, you can opt to display a “Preview” which opens up a summary of the article, with some clickable subject headings, company headings, and others, depending on how the particular article is indexed. The company headings seem to refer to the corporate author of the report (since there is otherwise no “author” data).

Just to give you an idea of what I found, my first three hits by relevance are: Expanding Horizons, Rethinking Access to Justice in Canada: Proceedings of a National Symposium (2000); Access to Justice in Both Official Languages, English and French Before Federal Courts : Final Report (2004); and Improved Access to Justice for Women and Children a Priority (2008). So if I was doing real research on access to justice, I would find these 87 hits quite usable by applying various filters and sorting.

But today I am just looking for a quick read, so I click on the “Change Databases” link at the top of the screen, which brings me to a ProQuest page where I can select from various databases offered to Saskatchewan public library users through the Multitype Database Licensing Program (MDLP). The other databases all seem potentially rewarding, so I select all of them and proceed with the exact same search.

I now have 4,615 Results, 3931 of which are available in full text from Canadian Newstand and Canadian Business and Current Affairs, which I will talk about in a future post.

(Databases provided by public libraries in Saskatchewan #5. Read the rest of this series: #1 | #2 | #3 | #4)

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