Looking for a database for kids in junior high school? Junior Edition has about 330 reference, magazine, and newspaper titles appropriate for kids in 6th through 8th grade. The format (when accessed from within the library) is slightly different than many of our other research databases, so check out this post for some insider tips.
Junior Edition is kind of the bridge between Kids Info Bits and Student Edition (check out the blog posts on those databases too), so you’ll still see a colorful, funky (albeit dated) design, but there is more of a shift to the “grown-up” style of a general research database. We no longer have categories with cute images to choose from; instead we are given three options of ways to conduct a search.
The first (and default) option is a Subject Search. If the student happens to choose an acceptable subject term to search with, they will be nicely set up with a variety of information. With the subject search method students will instantly get information about what their results will look like, for instance, how many will be in newspaper vs. periodical form. One of the most useful components of the subject search is the chance to see the topic’s subdivisions. This is really where you can get a clear picture of what this database is going to provide on your topic. Finally, a couple of “See Also” suggestions are often given as well and are useful for expanding or fleshing out a topic.
The keyword search yields more of a hodgepodge of results, with no beneficial statistics beforehand, just a list of articles containing that particular word. Students are likely to get more results with this method, but they may not be as relevant as with the subject search. Although the option to sort results by relevance is there, I have not had luck with this feature. A search with that box checked yields no results at all, even when the opposite is true, so be careful.
The advanced search option will allow you to search a specific field, like date or journal title. You can also use AND, OR, & NOT to further narrow down results. Advanced search also provides the chance to search only for full text results.
Because the advanced search option still only allows for one field to be searched at a time, you might be wondering how you can narrow down your results by, say, date and keyword at the same time. There is one way to do that. Once you have your complete list of results, you can refine your search using the red button on the top center of the page. The options here are to refine results by date and/or journal title. Unfortunately, there does not appear to be a way to narrow by even more characteristics, like type of source, type of article, or date range.
Extras include a built-in Dictionary (make sure your browser does not block pop-up windows) and a “Save List” for favorite articles. One of my favorite parts of the database is a little section called the “Tool Box,” which provides very useful tips on evaluating information and creating footnotes and citations. This is excellent information for beginning researchers.
In conclusion, Junior Edition is kind of a mixed bag. The format is very simple with few options to create a really sophisticated search, but its simplicity also means there is less to confuse young middle school students. There are some disappointing quirks to look out for, such as the fact that searches may falsely report that there are no results and file types are not always clearly labeled (NPR broadcasts are included in lists of results without any indication that they include an audio component). Student Edition is certainly competition for this database, but pre-teens might prefer the simplicity offered by a database like this one, geared particularly toward their age group.