Web Magazine for Information Professionals

Planet SOSIG

Anne Dimond and Angela Joyce send further news from the planet of social sciences.

Social Science Online - National Seminars on Internet Information

It is becoming increasingly hard to keep up with the ever-changing world of online information resources, and yet these resources have a vital role to play in higher and further education teaching and research. The JISC Resource Guide for Social Sciences and SOSIG, in collaboration with LTSNs (Learning and Teaching Support Network), are providing a series of one-day events for all those involved in teaching and researching in Higher and Further Education in the social sciences. The seminars will present participants with an overview of the major nationally funded Internet resources and services, focusing on five different subject disciplines:

In addition to listening to speakers from some of the key national services and data providers, participants will have the opportunity to explore these resources in practical ‘hands-on’ sessions. There will also be ideas and inspiration for using the services in teaching, learning and research, including materials to take away and use with students and staff.

Further details, costs and an online booking form can be found at


or by e-mailing


Editor’s Choice - a New Improved Service

At the top of most subject sections on the SOSIG catalogue, users will see a highlighted section called Editor’s Choice. This is not a new service, but recently the SOSIG team have developed a more refined system for selecting these sites.

What is it?

Editor’s Choice is a small selection of key Web sites chosen by SOSIG Section Editors for that subject. For example, the Editor’s Choice for the Macroeconomics section of SOSIG currently lists five sites:

The selections are not static: sometimes a single report may be listed, but will be returned to the ranks of ordinary sites once it is superseded by a newer report. Sometimes a site can change or become less important and it may be removed from Editor’s Choice.

Why have Editor’s Choice? At nine years old, SOSIG has reached a “mature” stage as a hub, having over 25,000 records in the catalogue. It can be daunting for new users, be they students, lecturers or researchers, to be faced with a long list of Web sites. Editor’s Choice provides a possible starting point for users, rather like a “Recommended” selection in a library. It could be especially useful for students who are less familiar with social science Web sites, introducing them to the most important organisations, journals, reports or news services. Using these can lead them on to other links and materials.

Editor’s Choice is controlled by Section Editors, who know their subjects well and frequently consult experts such as lecturers or researchers at their institutions. With so many Web sites to choose from, the selection can never be considered definitive, and the old saying “one man’s meat is another man’s poison” could even spring to mind. SOSIG is always receptive to suggestions from its users and they are welcome to email us comments on our subject coverage at sosig-info@bristol.ac.uk.

A Social Science Gateway in a Shifting Digital World

What could be the future direction for SOSIG and other digital libraries? This was the question explored in a paper given at a digital libraries conference in Espoo, Finland on 9 September by Angela Joyce. The conference was called Toward a User-Centred Approach to Digital Libraries and aimed to explore how users are acting in the new digital information environments. Angela Joyce and Dr Lesly Huxley of ILRT at Bristol University, co-wrote the paper. They identify two key challenges for SOSIG: the sustainability of a labour-intensive service and the innovation and evaluation needed to keep pace with users’ needs. As a large, “mature” subject gateway, SOSIG is well known and has much good content. It is also very large in terms of catalogue records, (over 25,000 and growing), but the nature of the Internet means that change is constant and it is vital to be aware of user behaviour and competition from other services. The paper summarises the history of SOSIG and its collaboration with many other services, not least the Resource Discovery Network. We consider our methods of user evaluation and the findings. Finally we present possible future scenarios (which must of course be viewed in the context of our funders JISC and ESRC and their policies) - including portalisation, increasing exchange of records with other services, more embedding in Virtual Learning Environments and the durability of the SOSIG identity.

The pre-conference versions of the paper and presentation are available at


Conference information available at


Author Details

Anne Dimond
Resource Guide Adviser
8-10 Berkeley Square
Bristol BS8 1HH

Email: Anne.Dimond@bristol.ac.uk
Website: http://www.jisc.ac.uk/index.cfm?name=resguides
Angela Joyce
SOSIG Research Officer
8-10 Berkeley Square
Bristol BS8 1HH

Email: Angela.Joyce@bristol.ac.uk
Web site: http://www.sosig.ac.uk/

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Article Title: “Planet SOSIG”
Author: Author’s name
Publication Date: 30-October-2003
Publication: Ariadne Issue 37
Originating URL: http://www.ariadne.ac.uk/issue37/planet-sosig/