If some professionals in science and academia tend to associate the Web of Science exclusively with large, research-intensive universities and institutions, the perception is understandable. It may be due to the database’s origins as the world’s first science citation index over a half-century ago, or to the stature resulting from comprehensively covering more than a century of the world’s most important scientific and scholarly literature.
In reality, the Web of Science has proven itself to be an essential tool at smaller, undergraduate colleges. One example in the United States is Berry College, a private, liberal-arts school in Rome, Georgia, located 75 miles northwest of Atlanta. Founded in 1902, and home to approximately 2,000 undergraduates, Berry provides its students with uncommon preparation for their post-graduation endeavors – and for nearly half the students enrolled in science programs at Berry, the next stop is graduate school.
Memorial Library has strong collections in the sciences, including electronic access to the complete journal lists of major science publishers. But the discovery tools to fully expose that journal literature to students and faculty were not available.”
– Sherre Harrington, Library Director, Liaison to School of Math & Natural Science, Berry College
A central tenet at Berry is the availability of hands-on participation for students who are exploring their career options. Students who choose to participate are actually guaranteed a paid job in line with their interests. For example, someone interested in the life sciences (nearly a third of Berry students are pursuing a major in the School of Mathematics & Natural Sciences) might secure a job in a lab, working alongside faculty in carrying out original research.
In such fields as biology, chemistry, physics, animal science, and mathematics, this student participation results in a considerable amount of undergraduate-published research. Meanwhile, similarly, students pursuing information science find extensive experience in the library.
In creating these policies, Berry’s administrators also grasped that, aside from participation, a key element for training students to pursue research, or any career, is access to the best available information and – equally important – to the proper resource for exploring that information.
Learn how Web of Science can support the needs of non-research-intensive institutions with testimonials from Berry College Provost, Dr. Mary Boyd and Director of the Library, Sherre Harrington (2 minutes).
Although Berry had invested in a number of bibliographic resources to provide full-text access to scientific journals from major publishers, students and faculty were not using full text to its potential. Consequently, the library was seeking a comprehensive tool for information retrieval across multiple scientific fields.
These challenges led Berry, as part of a consortium formed with two other colleges, to acquire the Web of Science.
Our partnership with Clarivate Analytics is really essential to us, because it allows us to provide access for our students and faculty to the same resources – all the publishing vendors – that students and faculty at large institutions would have.”
– Mary Boyd, Provost, Berry College
As Berry’s provost, Dr. Mary Boyd, explains, reliance on peer-reviewed literature is a constant throughout a student’s career – from preparing freshman essays, to specifying the scientific context and background of their research projects, and even to looking at life beyond Berry.
Learn how undergraduate students use Web of Science to discover literature and prepare for grad school (9 minutes).
“For our students to be competitive in applying to graduate school or professional school and for some different forms of employment in industry and business, students need to have access to scholarly resources,” says Boyd. “All the way through a student’s undergraduate career at Berry College, we want them to be really engaged in the library and able to use professional tools so they can compete upon graduation and be as successful as students who come from a larger, research-intensive institution. Our partnership with Clarivate Analytics is really essential to us, because it allows us to provide access for our students and faculty to the same resources – all the publishing vendors – that students and faculty at large institutions would have.”
To learn more about Berry College and the Web of Science, please view the videos above or read the full case study here.