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FAQs

  • The Classic Catalog is the main inventory of books, journal titles (print and online), media, and other documents held in the Syracuse University Libraries' (SUL) collections. It contains over 3.2 million records.

    Summon is a search engine that searches every record in the Classic Catalog, plus scholarly and newspaper articles from many of our subscription databases such as ProQuest, plus SUL's digital collections, plus many other sources.

    Summon excels at quick keyword searches (what does the library have on this topic?) and lookups ("does the library own this?"), and at providing a comprehensive view of all types of information that are accessible to you.

    The Classic Catalog provides more control over which field you are searching, allowing you to search by author, title, call number, location, etc., alone or in combination with each other, and to browse by subject headings (e.g., "United States -- Politics and government -- Twentieth century").

  • Summon searches books, scholarly journal articles, newspaper articles, theses and dissertations, conference proceedings, and numerous academic databases, along with SUL-specific content such as digital SUL collections, resource guides created by SUL staff, and the scholarly output of SU faculty and staff. Summon also searches the full text of SUL's e-books and Google books, and even some non-SU resources, if the owning institution has made them accessible.

    Summon may index some or all of the articles in databases and journals you already use. Some databases and journals have full-text indexing, others are indexed just by citation information (e.g., title, author, abstract, etc.).

    For more information about what is covered by Summon, see the following lists:

  • Summon doesn't actually index databases, it directly indexes publications (specific journals, newspapers and other serials), using data which may come directly from the publisher, or from an intermediary dataset.  For that reason, it is impossible to know exactly what the overlap is between Summon's content and the content found in specialized research databases such as JSTOR or Web of Science.  In some cases it might be close to 100%, in others, 50-75%.

    If you don't get the results you want or expect from Summon, you can visit the Databases A-Z page which lists all databases to which SU subscribes, and search any of our databases directly.

  • Summon doesn't actually index databases, it directly indexes publications (specific journals, newspapers and other serials), using data which may come directly from the publisher, or from an intermediary dataset. For that reason, it is impossible to know exactly what the overlap is between Summon's content and the content found in specialized research databases such as JSTOR or Web of Science. In some cases it might be close to 100%, in others, 50-75%.

    If you don't get the results you want or expect from Summon, you can visit the Databases A-Z page which lists all databases to which SU subscribes, and search any of our databases directly.

  • Try the following:

    • Try phrase searching by wrapping a phrase in quotation marks. For example:
    green building => finds all records that have the word green OR the word building
    "green building" => finds only records that have the exact phrase "green building"
    • Refine your search using facets - Down the left-hand side you will see a number of facets, such as "Content type" and "Subject terms." Click on one or more of the check-boxes to limit your results to items matching that facet -- for example, click on "Content type: Books/e-Books" to limit your results to books and e-books. Click again to remove that limit.
    • Exclude certain categories of items - The facets can also be used to exclude matching items. In any facet, click on "more…" to open a list of all the options in that facet. Click one or more checkboxes under "Include" or "Exclude."
  • Just like Google and other search engines, Summon performs relevance ranking to try to give you the most useful results first.

  • Relevance ranking in Summon occurs according to a proprietary algorithm built on a foundation of two building blocks: dynamic rank and static rank. Summon overlays this foundation with a regimen of judgments to ensure that overall relevance remains strong as individual pieces of the system are improved.

    In Dynamic Rank: items retrieved by the user's query terms are analyzed according to:

    • Term frequency: how many times the term(s) appear in the search results
    • Field weighting: which fields (author, title, subject, publisher, etc.) are most important
    • Term stemming: takes into account the root of the word, e.g., the root sustainab* would retrieve sustainable, sustainability
    • Stop-word processing: removes common words (a, an, the, etc.)

    For example: terms are matched to metadata fields within Summon records and analysis is done on how many times the terms match and how close the terms are to each other.

    Static Rank: For full-text items in Summon, the full text is searched along with the other metadata fields.  A match based on full text has a lower relevancy weight than a match based on most indexed metadata fields. Static ranking includes:

    • Content type
    • Publication date
    • Scholarly/Peer Review
    • Highlight local collections
    • Citation counts

    For example: content types of matching results are analyzed (journals, books, newspaper articles, dates of publication, etc.), rewarding records that are more recent, or published in a scholarly or peer-reviewed journal. In addition, the location of each item is analyzed, increasing the relevance of items in a library's institutional catalog or other local collections.

  • To display information from the library catalog, Summon connects to the catalog in real time, however there is a 35-second time limit. When the system reaches this limit, Summon displays a "Check availability" link for everything it was not able to retrieve before the timeout. Clicking the "Check availability" link will display the catalog record with the complete information.

  • Since Summon also searches the full text of e-books, including novels, you may get some results that seem out of place or irrelevant. Often, enclosing your search phrase in quotation marks is sufficient to remove these sorts of results. Limiting by date using either the Date slider or the Time Period facet can also be helpful. You can also specifically Exclude items from different facets, including Author.

  • Try the following:

    • Limit your results to "Content Type: Book/e-Book"
    • Do an Advanced search in Summon to search for specific information about the book – for example by using the field “With these words in the title” for the book title, "Written/created by” for the author, etc.
    • Do a "Title" search directly in the Classic Catalog
  • Try the following:

    • Under "Refine your search" (the first facet), limit your results to scholarly publications, or peer-reviewed articles.
    • Use an "exact phrase" search on the article title (i.e., surround the title in quotation marks) to narrow your results.
    • Look up the journal title and determine if the SU Libraries subscribe to the journal. Then browse by year/issue to find the right article.
    • See the next two FAQs for more information.
  • There are many different reasons why you may not be able to click through to the full text of an article:

    • There was an error in the citation.
    • Not all publishers can parse out Year, Volume, Issue and Starting page number from a citation
    • There is no full-text version of the item available online.
    • SUL does not have a subscription to the online version of the journal in question.
    • In the case of a very recent article, the text may not yet be loaded on the publisher's website.

    If this happens, try accessing the journal through the Journal Locator and accessing the e-journal directly; from there you can manually enter the Year, Volume, Issue and Starting page into the e-journal dialog, search by title or author, or go to the relevant issue and browse the list of articles. If SU does not have a subscription to the journal, you can request a copy of the article through ILL.

  • There are many different reasons why you may not be able to click through to the full text of an article:

    • There was an error in the citation.
    • Not all publishers can parse out Year, Volume, Issue and Starting page number from a citation
    • There is no full-text version of the item available online.
    • SUL does not have a subscription to the online version of the journal in question.
    • In the case of a very recent article, the text may not yet be loaded on the publisher's website.

    If this happens, try accessing the journal through the Journal Locator and accessing the e-journal directly; from there you can manually enter the Year, Volume, Issue and Starting page into the e-journal dialog, search by title or author, or go to the relevant issue and browse the list of articles. If SU does not have a subscription to the journal, you can request a copy of the article through ILL.

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