Accessing NUS Digital Library subscriptions within Google Scholar

Open Sesame!

To access a subscription-only pdf of paper in a journal which NUS has access to, staff and students simply have to insert the NUS Digital Library proxy ( into the root URL of the paper or site and type enter.

An NUS Digital Library access window appears once per session, requiring your NUS userid and password (which your browser can insert automatically). You are then redirected to the now accessible pdf and this is immediate thereafter.

I share this with the first and second year undergrads, who mostly seem to skip the library services briefing. Big mistake since their academic digital literacy skills are poor. Well, assignments provide motivation to learn, and first years have to cite literature appropriately in their first assignment in the first week of university life.

For its important for them to see how this “Open Sesame!” proxy leads to a treasure trove, and I shared with NUS librarians just how well all this helps me prepare and update lectures.

Enhancing the Google Scholar environment

One night over twitter, NUS Librarian Aaron Tay told me that NUS Digital Library can be accessed from within Google Scholar. Users with a google account can edit settings such that a “Find It! @ NUS Libraries” link appears next to individual papers in search results – then all you have to do is click to read the pdf.

Twitter / aarontay: @sivasothi try google scholar, ...

So, like he says, in Google Scholar, go to Settings > Library Links, search for NUS, add, and save!

Subsequently after a Google Scholar search, a link appears to the right of search results indicating access to the pdf, here available.

Pretty neat, huh?

Adding NUS Digital Library access to Google Scholar
Google Scholar Settings

“Find It! @ NUS Libraries” appears in Google Scholar search results;
click for access within NUS Digital Library

Google Scholar with Find It! @ NUS Libraries

In the absence of results, you may need to flex some muscles – click “More” > “Check Library Holdings” to see if NUS Libraries can reveal more.

Isn’t this wonderful – especially if you’re the sort to hunker down in Google Scholar.

I’m a Visitor, not a Permanent Resident in Google Scholar

Since I use a lot of keyboard shortcuts, I’m not going to be a permanent resident in Google Scholar just yet. I venture there about 10-20% of the time when a topic is hopelessly littered with noise in Google (e.g. when researching cats) or for the odd stubborn paper.

To search with Google, I simply type my search term into the URL bar (which I access with a ctrl-L), so its fast.

Do I find what I need? Well, in the short time of Google Scholar’s existence (2004), most publishers, institutions and authors have realised the need for their material to appear clearly in Google as much as it does in Google Scholar. So results variability has narrowed. Noise within Google has lessened as well, and my searches usually use biological terms, which narrows down results further.

I also rather read abstracts before downloading a paper which takes time (even with fibre). When I’m finally ready to acquire a pdf though, its not tough as I summon the NUS Digital Library proxy using Typinator which converts a shortcut at the root of the URL.

During new topic searches, I find the cross-referencing offered by the mega-publishing sites (which I proxy into) very useful. And then citations within the papers I’ve downloaded leads me to even more useful material.

This new feature is now part of Google Scholar, as it is in my account settings. Its automatically happening wherever I am logged into google, which is wonderful. And this probably fits my students’ search methods very well.

Having time to read

The most important part in all of this, though, is uninterrupted time to read the acquired material. I tell research students that the literature review phase of the project is a meant to be a heavenly period of uninterrupted reading. They will experience a grasp of details, an appreciation of context and eventually, the joy of true understanding.

See comments below by Aaron about an update!

Google Scholar now provides reference citation in search results!

Google has introduced a new feature which has reduced citing from search results to a mere copy and paste!

In the information line which appears below search results, click “More” to reveal and select “Cite”. A window appears with the reference organised in three formats – click once to select the desired format and copy!

Googel Scholar Cite from Search

The APA style is close enough to what I prefer and is going to save a LOT of time during lecture preparations. It has required great determination on my part in the past to extract information to configure the citation in slides.

Oddly enough many journals do not promote citation of their articles and extracting relevant information clumsily tucked away involves a struggle with the mouse just to select relevant text!

And when rushing a presentation, which is every time, this is an agonising part of the process!

Stopping to smell the roses

Mindless copying promotes mimicry, and not scrutiny, in undergraduates.

So I will still require the first and second year students to fit their citations to the style I prefer, which is based on the The Raffles Bulletin of Zoology style which I managed in the 90’s. This forces students to examine and reorder citations, help them acquire a familiarity with the details in the process by having to scrutinise the authors, journals and dates.

For example, students often cite a popular landscape change paper about Singapore because it is well ranked in a typical search they conduct. However, they fail to realise its from the early 90’s and after two decades of changes in Singapore, that paper alone isn’t enough.

Organising the citation could have alerted them to this.

Thanks to Aaron Tay of NUS Libraries who retweeted this alert on twitter.