Stanford collaborates on new database search tool

April 1, 2010, 1:00 a.m.

Student and faculty researchers looking for a better way to search through academic journals now have a new option in xSearch, developed in collaboration between Stanford Libraries and Deep Web Technologies. With its powerful search capability, xSearch allows users to search up to 28 sources at a time.

While researchers can use existing search engines such as Google, JSTOR and Stanford’s Socrates library catalog search to find article titles within journals, xSearch has the additional capability to search within academic articles. xSearch also returns results in real time, allowing users to access the latest additions to the databases with each new search.

Grace Baysinger, the head librarian of Stanford’s Swain Library of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering, worked with Deep Web Technologies to adapt the search engine to Stanford’s needs. She and other librarians worked to select the 28 resources through which xSearch searches.

xSearch is meant to be used as an interdisciplinary search engine, despite the apparent scientific bent of the journals involved.

“It’s slightly weighted a little more on the sci-tech end, but despite the names of some of the resources, they are broad in scope.” Baysinger said. “One of them, for example, is the Web of Science, and it actually includes a science citation index, social science citation index and arts and humanities index. It cuts across all the subject areas.”

This initial xSearch launch also includes patent citations, conference proceedings, e-books and a grant fund directory, in addition to links to journal articles. More online resources may be added in the future, Baysinger said.

When the search is run, xSearch returns between 100 and 200 items retrieved from each of the 28 sources and merges the results into one relevancy-ranked list, allowing users to avoid searching individual sources separately. The search also only returns the most relevant of results, as opposed to the entire list of matches.

“It should not be considered a replacement for a comprehensive search or an in-depth search of one individual source,” Baysinger said. “So you can think of it as kind of a starting place to find some good citations.”

One unique feature of xSearch is that it allows users to create a set of favorite databases, as well as alerts for new publications from their favorite journals.

Due to the licensing agreements of the resources being searched, use of xSearch is limited to Stanford users with SUNet IDs.

xSearch can be accessed at

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