Jon writes, "Web search has now become the de-facto starting point for most researchers, and premium databases and verticals are increasingly used as fall-through."
I have to disagree with Jon. Of course, web search services from Yahoo and others are IMPORTANT and ESSENTIAL tools for the type of researcher that attends WSU. However, saying that web search is the de-facto starting point for "most researchers" is a bit of a stretch. Knowing where to start is often a challenge but in many cases the place to begin is with a premium database and "vertical" on the open web.
I think these types of tools are growing in importance as the searcher realizes that one search tool can't answer evey query. We've been seeing a growing interest in the vertical or "specialized" search tool business.
Actually, even if a general web engine can provide an answer, how long is it taking the searcher to find it with a general web database? Many presentations at WSU talked about using the right tool at the right time. It's been my experience that a reason people don't begin the search process with a vertical and/or premium resources (and waste time looking elsewhere) is because the searcher is unaware of their existence or believe these types of tools are difficult to use.
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