???Almost synonymous with being a student is drinking, living off no money and reading though large amounts of old textbooks, but it is the last of these that ForeMind’s latest app for the iPhone is hoping to ease.
The ArticleSearch iPhone App essentially allows you perform simultaneous searches for academic articles across a range of sources, which not only saves you the time of having to search on a range of different engines, but also the irritating hassle of having to type all your criteria in every time.
The concept is fairly simple: you start by filling out one field (or a form for a more advanced search) and tap search which will prompt the app to gather results from the libraries, search-engines and databases that you have selected. It then displays the number of results in a nice little ‘test-tube’ graphic so you can easily see where the bulk of the results lie; to then access the specific content – which really is what you want to do – you just tap the relevant tube and the built-in web browser let’s you look at the results list and then on selection the raw text.
So the premise is promising: you can quickly search across a whole range of academic sources whenever and wherever you like, but there are a few other nice little features that make the app well worthwhile. For starters sharing the articles that you find through the search couldn’t be easier with simple buttons to both add it to favourites and send it to your friends/class mates through SMS or email. Also for those who like a nice visual touch the app has an accelerometer feature which means that when you shake the phone previous searches are cleared and the coloured test tubes empty.
So not only does this help students by making articles dead easy to find but it is also very easy on the pocket: the basic ad-free version which allows you to search on two standard and one premium search engines at a time is completely free. However if you are likely to be doing a lot of specialist searches it may be worth investing in the upgraded versions which allows you to access 3, 7 or an unlimited number (i.e. whatever your phone can cope with) of ‘premium’ libraries at a time.
Having only been released at the end of January the current source list isn’t all that expansive (there’s just over 40 different premium libraries) and boasts an odd mix of specialist and general engines – like ‘Google Scholar’ and ‘Astrophysics Data System’ – so you may want to check to see if the selection is useful for you. If it is then you are in luck and you will probably have found your next best friend when it comes to researching writing essays, theses and dissertations, but don’t be too disheartened if not as future updates with greatly increased numbers of libraries are promised for the future.
Admittedly the ArticleSearch iPhone App is fairly niche – you are unlikely to ever use this unless you happen to be studying in the subject that the search engines cover – but for those that do fall within that small group it could quickly end up being an invaluable tool, especially for those last minute additions on the bus!