"SOSIG does for the Internet what a first class social science librarian might do for you at the reference desk: it selects the best resources available in particular subject areas, describes them to you and delivers them to your desktop at the click of a mouse." This is an official "publicizing" phrase from the Social Science Information Gateway (SOSIG)'s Web site! Curious about the site? Read on.
SOSIG is an Internet gateway providing access to high quality Web resources in the areas of social sciences, business and law. It is freely available and is part of the UK Resource Discovery Network. SOSIG reaches out to students, academics, researchers and practitioners via its "Internet Catalogue," "Social Science Search Engine," "Social Science Grapevine" and a "My Account" customizing facility. In addition, it also provides training materials and support for users of these products.
The main page of SOSIG shows the "Internet Catalogue," which provides a search and browse facility for social sciences resources that have been selected by subject experts. This catalog looks very much like a Yahoo! Subject categories listing. The subject areas available for browsing are Business, Economics, Education, Environmental Sciences and Issues, Ethnology, Ethnography and Anthropology, European Studies, Geography, Government and Public Administration, Law, Philosophy, Politics, Psychology, Social Science General, Social Welfare, Sociology, Statistics, and Women's Studies. Each of these provides access to thousands of resources on the Internet.
An advanced search option searches the SOSIG Catalogue and offers controlled vocabulary searching through the thesauri. The advanced mode for searching allows options for limiting the search in a particular subject area or specific field (such as title, author, keyword, URL). The user can also limit by different types of resources (such as reports, articles, journals, newsgroups, datasets, books, government documents, etc). Furthermore, truncation of search terms is available, and search results are ranked in ascending order according to documents that have the most number of occurrences of the search term.
SOSIG offers three different thesauri to aid in searching. The "General Social Science Thesaurus" is developed from the Humanities And Social Sciences Electronic Thesaurus (HASSET) of the Data Archive at University of Essex; the "Government, Politics and Anthropology Thesaurus" is built from the list of subject descriptors developed by the International Bibliography of the Social Sciences (IBSS); and the "Social Work and Welfare Thesaurus" is derived from Caredata from the National Institute for Social Work (NISW). These thesauri help users to execute more accurate searches.
SOSIG's "Social Science Search Engine" indexes more than 50,000 Web pages collected by Web-crawler software. Researchers will locate more resources through the "Social Science Search Engine" but the quality of the resources is less reliable and SOSIG does not provide written descriptions for the listed sites. The simple search option offers keyword searching, which also can be limited to the title or description fields or both.
"Social Science Grapevine" is the "people oriented" segment of SOSIG. Users can browse and search listings of university social science departments, resumes, CVs, profiles of scholars and professors and they can check information about conferences, courses and more. "Grapevine" is a tool for networking with fellow social science researchers.
The "My Account" feature lets you personalize SOSIG resources. It helps with current awareness, career development and publicity of conferences and events. For example, users can post announcements and new conferences, workshops or seminars that are of mutual interest to social science colleagues.
SOSIG is an extraordinary Web site that has successfully brought together vast resources available on the Internet in a very creative, coherent and efficient way, allowing students and scholars access to a cornucopia of social science information.
Rutgers University Libraries