Beyond Citation is a pilot research platform that gathers information about academic databases and other digital research collections to enable scholars, librarians, and research enthusiasts to get a better sense of their contents, structure and search mechanisms. The website has titles lists, provenance information, tips from publishers and critical perspectives from scholars about these collections. The information included in Beyond Citation exceeds the information that database publishers include on their product pages, and that libraries post on their electronic resources pages.

Why Beyond Citation?

Even though researchers use academic databases and other digital collections every day, it’s difficult to learn how the databases work and what is in them. Beyond Citation gathers information about databases into a single space to make them more transparent and to help researchers to use digital resources in an informed way. Ultimately, as Beyond Citation grows as a research platform, we want to provide a space for critical analysis and conversation about the way these resources impact scholarship.

Who is Beyond Citation for?

Scholars, librarians, research enthusiasts or anyone who:

  • Uses academic databases and wants to learn more about what is in them
  • Is frustrated with academic databases and wants tips about how to more effectively search them
  • Wants to share their knowledge or experiences of digital research with others

How do I use Beyond Citation?

The Explore Databases pages contain the central information about digital collections. The Reviews and Conversations tabs on these pages provide links to articles and blog posts with critical perspectives on each database.

If you’re looking for search tips, read the Overview for the entry about the particular database or digital collection that you are interested in, or click the Info from Publisher tab.

The History/Provenance tab has information about the source materials used to create the digital collection and may include articles about the way it was constructed.

To learn about the contents of a database, click the Facts tab for links to titles lists.

If the database is available by subscription only, the Access tab will have a link to indicate what library in your geographic area has access. If the database has an alternate means of access for individuals, through, for example, a scholarly society, that will also be noted in the Access tab.

To contribute your knowledge about a particular database or to make a general suggestion or request, please contact us at BeyondCitation [at] gmail [dot] com) or on Twitter @beyondcitation.

How do I contribute to Beyond Citation?

  • Propose an article or blog post that you would like to write.
  • Offer to write an entire entry for a new database.
  • Request that we include a particular digital collection on the site.

For Beyond Citation to have an impact, it is crucial that scholars participate in discussions about digital research contribute their own information. Please let us know what you think about Beyond Citation and what you would like to see covered on the website. Reach us at BeyondCitation [at] gmail [dot] com or on Twitter: @beyondcitation


Beyond Citation was created by a team of students in the Digital Praxis Seminar at the CUNY Graduate Center. A site refresh was completed in August 2015, including a new visual identity by Amy Papaelias, in consultation with Eileen Clancy. The concept for the project originated from Clancy’s encounter with a blog post by Caleb McDaniel about historians’ research practices suggesting the creation of an online repository of information about proprietary databases. Reading blog posts by Ben Schmidt and Fred Gibbs and Trevor Owens further piqued her interest and enriched her ideas about the use of information as digitized data in the humanities.

Clancy’s thoughts about research by scholars in databases were deeply informed by the writing of historians Jo Guldi and James Mussell. Jo Guldi’s writing on digital humanities, databases and text analysis is indispensable to the study of digital historiography. (See this piece on technology and archives and this article about the techniques of the Digital Turn applied to the history of walking in London.) James Mussell’s work bridges the concerns of traditional humanists and digital practitioners instantiating a theory of digital history methods in the shift from documents to data. (See his book chapter on history as digital practice.)

CUNY Graduate Center librarians Jill Cirasella and Alycia Sellie; Hunter College librarian Steven Zweibel; and Rebecca Federman, librarian at the New York Public Library, made thoughtful comments on the nascent project idea. Micki Kaufman, Digital Fellow at the Graduate Center, graciously made suggestions about how the project might be useful to scholars. The encouragement, incisive comments and overarching guidance about the set of practices called digital humanities received from Digital Praxis Seminar professors Matthew K. Gold and Stephen Brier have been instrumental to conceptualizing Beyond Citation.