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Review about InfoTrac PROMT

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Alternate/previous data source names: predicast’s overview of Markets and Technology, Gale PROMT

Service/portal name: Accessed through InfoTrac on the Web for review (http://infotrac.galegroup.com) but also available through Dialog dial-up and Web versions (http://www.dialog.com)

Source description: PROMT is a full-text database of international trade and business journals, industry newsletters, and newspapers, plus summaries from investment and brokerage firm reports.

This resource is owned by the Gale Group, which is in turn owned by the Thomson Corporation. Using PROMT through Dialog requires knowledge of search expressions and should not pose a problem for experienced Dialog searchers.

If you are not experienced in using Dialog, I recommend accessing PROMT through InforTrac instead.

PROMT is best used for general research when you need to gather articles on a company, industry, or topic.

Although a researcher with advanced knowledge of search terminology will be able to use this resource most effectively, beginning researchers with a minimum of training can also find data fairly easily.

Pricing: $3.45 per full-text article retrieved from the database, plus connection fees.

Source content: The full PROMT database includes roughly 3.5 million full-text articles, updated daily, from over 850 separate sources.

The InfoTrac Web version provides data for the current year plus a rolling three-year backfile, and the Dialog version goes back a number of years, depending on the specific publication.

The majority of the sources in PROMT are business and trade publications, and there are also quite a number of local newspapers and business journals.

Most of the content consists of full-text articles or abstracts formatted for online viewing or downloading. In some cases, the full-text article can be downloaded as a PDF file.

From a list of search results, the full text of a number of marked articles can be printed, saved as a complete file, or e-mailed.

The best use of this resource will be for general information research on a company, industry, or topic and in cases where the researcher wants to see a good overview of recent press coverage on a topic.

For historical coverage beyond the past three years, the researcher will want to use PROMT through Dialog, as the InfoTrac version only includes the current and previous three years.

The sources are not limited tocoverage, so this resource can also be used to find international news.

Sources similar to PROMT include both ProQuest and Factiva, but each has some unique content and search abilities.

Whereas Factiva provides more complex search strategies through the browser interface, PROMT requires an understanding of the search terminology and codes in order to get the most use out of the product.

The coverage in PROMT is deeper than that available in ProQuest, and the search functionality is also more robust.

In the PROMT search interface, there are four basic choices for the type of search that can be conducted.

The Subject Guide, Relevance Search, and Keyword Search options are all fairly basic and offer the simplest search mechanism.

Researchers who want to take full advantage of the search functionality of PROMT through InfoTrac Web will want to familiarize themselves with the Advanced Search interface.

The advanced options include the ability to use the built-in PROMT search codes familiar to users of the product through Dialog.

A few of the more interesting functions include the ability to search by journal name, product or event code, or subject list. A full list of the searchable fields and codes would be useful to have handy when you first start using the product.

The search results in PROMT are provided in a basic citation list, which includes the article title, source name, date of publication, and word count. There does not appear to be an option for presenting more information in the result list.

The title of each article is linked to the full text, and you can mark each desired article in the result list or from the full text of the article itself. The exporting options (calle “retrieval options”) include printing from the Web browser in HTML or as a PDF, or e-mailing the articles to yourself.

Source evaluation: Many researchers find PROMT to be a useful resource through Dialog. Taking advantage of the full search functionality available through the InfoTrac Web version involves a bit of a learning curve.

If your research needs are primarily in the area of current awareness using trade publication coverage, then PROMT is a great source to use.

The coverage is excellent and quite thorough, with hundreds of the top publications in dozens of industry areas. Although primarily focused on U.S. news, PROMT can also be used for international news, as it includes a number of key sources.

Researchers looking for very specific industry-related material may be less likely to use PROMT, not for any shortcoming of this resource but because there are other, more appropriate databases to use.

In PROMT, for example, I cannot specify that I want to search only in health-care-related publications or trade journals covering the technology industry.

I can certainly use Subject or Product codes, and I can search on one or more specific publications, but I may choose to use a different industry-specific database for material other than general busines coverage.

For example, health-care researchers may opt for the Adis newsletters or clinical trial databases, and technology researchers may need the details available through IEEE publications, neither of which is included in PROMT.

For general business information and top-line current awareness coverage, however, PROMT is a good source and can be used by both beginner and advanced researchers alike.

PROMT is updated daily, and its source lists, downloadable in HTML, PDF, Word, or Excel format, do a good job of describing when each specific source begins full-text coverage.

If you need to find results from any one specific trade publication or business journal, be sure to check the title list to find out when coverage strats in that source.

I found actual searching in PROMT to be a little frustrating at times, and I had to refer to the help files numerous times to check my search syntax.

Although there is a clear link to the Help file from the left-side menu and there is an index to the Help section, there does not appear to be any downloadable Help file or guide, and the Help section itself could be a bit more organized and could use more examples.

A concise printable guide would be helpful, as I found myself having to click through to the Help files numerous times throughout the search process.

I found the support staff at Gale to be very helpful answering any questions I had about for additional information.

They are more that happy to walk you through the product over the phone, and depending on your organization’s specific needs, an in-house training session can also be arranged.

Source value rating: All of the data source reviewers were asked to rate each source on the basis of the following eight categories, using “10” as the highest rating and “1” as the lowest (“80” being a perfect score):

1. Relative cost-to-value:   8
2. Relative timeliness of data:   10
3. Relative comprehensiveness of data:  7
4. Ease of use:     7
5. Search options available:   7
6. Level of support services:   6
7. Level of training offered:   6
8. Amount/kinds of special services offered: 7
Total Rating:     58

Useful tips
• Use Event Codes to find articles about specific business topics, such as Mergers & Acquisitions.
• Use the Advanced Search screen to create a more precise search strategy.
• Check the title list to make sure the publications of interest to you are included.

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