Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Re-discover Academic Journals with BrowZine

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In this age of straight-forward Google searches and online shopping, we often forget the power of browsing. 

Companies, streaming services and, yes, even libraries are struggling to replicate browsing experiences in the virtual world to reveal their products and content. Within academia in particular, the evermore digital nature of scholarly communication, causes the unfortunate side-effect that we seldom 'browse' the library shelves or flip through complete journals anymore. This is where the BrowZine, a mobile and web-based application, comes in. 

BrowZine, is a "journal engagement platform" by library technology company Third Iron that provides the simple service of enabling library users to 'browse' journal content that the libraries subscribes to.

You can download the free apps for several types of mobile platforms or you can access a web-based version on a desktop or laptop. After quickly creating an account with your university email account you can start to fill your virtual shelves with the journals relevant to your field. You can browse by subject matter or input names of specific journals. As journals update content overtime, the BrowZine app notifies you. You can then skim the titles of the articles and save any you wish to read later.

BrowZine also takes you directly to the article PDF version (if the publisher provides one) so you can read it within the app, essentially recreating the 'flipping through a journal' experience. BrowZine will be of most use to faculty and grad students trying to keep up with research publications in specific fields of study. 

Browzine In Action

A snapshot of my BrowZine shelf for
Communication journals.
As grad student embarking on my first major literature review process for my research, I tested BrowZine for a few weeks to see if it might help with the discovery research within my area of interest.  I took a moment and investigated in the Journal Citation Reports JCR database, which journals in my field of study were the most cited or had the highest impact factor and added these journals to my 'shelf' in BrowZine.

Over the course of several weeks, whenever I had a free moment,  I skimmed through my journals in BrowZine.

In a two-week period, I found:

  • 8 research articles that I will be including in my literature review, 
  • 4 articles using relatable research methods,
  • and several others that I passed on to other fellow grad students. 

I also have a long list of interesting articles unrelated to my research that I want to return to when time permits.

My little trial of BrowZine has proven to me that browsing really does expose you to new ideas and avenues of research you never considered. BrowZine also keeps you abreast of the bigger picture of what is happening in your field by revealing the full contents of specific journal issues, allowing you to see trends in a broader sense.

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