Tuesday, October 19, 2010

New Database: MasterFILE Premier

Although we encourage our students to use high-quality academic journal literature in most research situations, the fact is that sometimes the content of more popular news and consumer magazines is just what is needed. Perhaps you want to see how news magazines have covered our recent health insurance reform legislation (sometimes pejoratively labeled "Obamacare"). Or perhaps you are a Second Language student hoping to find a few basic readings to look at before tackling the more complex English of scholarly journal literature. Or maybe you want to see PDFs of Consumer Reports because the only other online source for that magazine, LexisNexis Academic, only has HTML, without the photos of the new car models.

For instances like these, we have added a database originally designed for public libraries called MasterFILE Premier. This database contains full text for nearly 1,700 periodicals covering news, general interest, business, health, education, general science and multicultural issues. It also contains full text more than 500 reference books, over 107,000 primary source documents, and an Image Collection of over 510,000 photos, maps & flags.

MasterFILE Premier offers PDF backfiles (as far back as 1975, in the case of Science News) for key publications including Foreign Affairs, History Today, The Nation, National Review, Saturday Evening Post, and many more.

Another feature is the Lexile Rankings, listed at the end of the citation. These are reading levels. Designed to help educators get an estimate of the reading difficulty of the particular article in the results list, it provides an approximate grade level reading ability required for comprehension. Therefore this might be useful for Second Language Learners. (As a reference point, 1100 to 1300 is considered Grade 11 & 12.) This first article that I pulled up in a search for healthcare reform and consumers--see screenshot--is at level 1660, so it should be appropriate for college students of all types.

However, let me emphasize that this database is no substitute for the use of scholarly journal databases, of which we have a great many, including Academic Search Complete, JSTOR, and Sage Journals Online. If a teacher says "academic only," then MasterFILE Premier is not a good option. But if you want some consumer magazines on the best brands of refrigerators or some quick news articles on a current topic, then MasterFILE Premier might do very well for you.

[FIND MasterFILE Premier on the General Resources page of the "Database by Subject" Lists, right below another good popular magazine database called General Reference Center Gold.]

No comments: