For professional researchers and scientists, accurate, reliable information is vital to the workflow. But increasingly, habits from day-to-day life are being imported into professional research such as using freely available search engines, expecting immediate information, and relying on the first few results found. This exposes academic and scientific work to all the risks that have made fake news such an important topic. From well-meaning relevancy algorithms that dictate research results, to advertising of low quality articles, to irrelevant results, searching the open web for scientific information has many pitfalls.
However, high quality, relevant information is not difficult to find. Many organisations, including the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET), dedicate time and resources to the classification and discoverability of highly specialised information through the provision of abstracting and indexing (A&I) databases such as Inspec, Chemical Abstracts Service and Web of Science.
This paper examines the growing importance of A&I databases in an open web landscape increasingly dominated by advertising and irrelevant results. Librarians and researchers share their thoughts on how they use search tools for academic research and highlight the differences between curated resources and general search engines. The contrast between these search results demonstrates why A&I services have an important role to play in contemporary research.