Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion: Databases that help Students Meet the California Community Colleges’ Ethnic Studies Graduation Requirement and More
Gale OneFile Diversity Studies
EBSCO Ethnic Diversity Source
ProQuest Diversity Collection
ABC-CLIO / Bloomsbury The American Mosaic (Academic) series
System-wide implementation of the California Community Colleges’ (CCC) new Ethnic Studies general education requirement for students pursuing an associate degree is just around the corner. Almost in anticipation of this, there are more (or more robust) academic e-resources that broadly support the interdisciplinary and comparative study of race and ethnicity, as well as other identity studies (gender, religion, diversity studies). There has also been an increase over the past few years in the inclusion of topics in other disciplines that are approached through a diversity lens (e.g., STEM, arts, humanities, behavioral sciences, and other social sciences). This review examines four databases that aim to meet CCC libraries’ needs for information sources focusing on the experiences and voices of diverse groups of individuals who have historically been dismissed or ignored because of race, ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual orientation, or other social identities: Gale OneFile Diversity Studies, EBSCO Ethnic Diversity Source, ProQuest Diversity Collection, ABC- CLIO / Bloomsbury The American Mosaic (Academic) series. These products were selected for review for the following reasons:
- The vendors intentionally create (and market) them to cover the perspectives and contributions of diverse communities that are absent or under-represented in other e-resources.
- They are produced by established e-resource vendors that most college librarians already work with.
- Accessibility, privacy, and usability policies and practices appear to be similar.
- All the vendors claim interoperability with library and campus systems used at most CCCs.
- The databases provide a range of price points and coverage options that meet the needs of different colleges.
Except for a few comments about similar features, products are otherwise not compared to each other or ranked. Each is assessed on its own merits to help selectors determine which is appropriate for their institution. The biggest differences reviewers found among the products are the breadth and depth of topics and sources covered, overlap with general databases, and pricing. Also, although some features are similar (for example, the ways in which data collection and accessibility are handled), vendors communicate this information differently, which in turn can impact how the products are used and managed. The review looks at the following areas for each product:
Gale OneFile: Diversity Studies
Composed of over 330 publications, the Diversity Studies (DS) database is described by the vendor as helping users “explore cultural differences, contributions, and influences in the global community.” Its focus is on major topics in the disciplines of gender and women’s studies, anthropology, history, and sociology that highlight issues related to race, ethnicity, and gender, and within that, mostly broadly labeled groups of people are represented. However, there are some journals that have a more specific representation, i.e., Chinese American: History and Perspectives; Afro-Hispanic Review; and Re-shaping; Re-thinking; Re-defining: Feminist Disability Studies. In addition to articles from over 260 journals, magazines, and newspapers, additional content comes from videos, blogs, newswires, and a variety of other sources.
Within DS, 111 of the academic journals, magazines, and newspapers are active, full-text, and most have publication embargoes of 12 months or less (a third have no embargo). Approximately 74% (83) of those titles are peer-reviewed. Given the intuitive, uncluttered search platform and numerous research tools, community college students will likely find it relevant and user-friendly. Additionally, in light of the new Ethnic Studies requirement for CCC students, DS is timely.
Nearly 85% of all active, full-text titles in DS are duplicated in Gale Academic OneFile. By contrast, very little – approximately 20% – is found in EBSCO Academic Search Complete (ASC).
The annual cost of a standalone subscription is based on college FTES, and is reasonably priced for most mid- to large-sized colleges. The database is free for Gale AOF subscribers, which makes sense since most of the content in DS overlaps with the vendor’s larger, multidisciplinary product. Furthermore, given full-text, current academic coverage, the cost of a standalone DS subscription provides a good return on investment for any community college library looking to support their gender and ethnic studies programs. Although the title list includes several open-access journals, most of the journals provide quality content relevant to diversity, equity, and inclusion issues and aren’t likely available in other databases (except AOF) held by a CCC library.
After receiving basic search instruction, community college students will likely find the DS platform to be user-friendly. In addition to a basic search option, advanced searching supports numerous search fields like keyword, subject, author, document title, and numerous others. The topic finder encourages topic exploration through subject visualization, a useful tool for visual learners. Users can also filter results by resource type (academic journals, books, magazines, and news), publication date, subject, and publication title. Students can use Google and Microsoft credentials to conveniently create personal accounts to save search results and directly upload articles into Google Drive or OneDrive. Other tools useful for community college students include a text highlighting tool, citation generator (MLA 9, APA 7, and more), document DOIs, and permalinks to individual articles. Users can also email themselves articles and download the Gale Access My Library app to search DS on mobile devices. The app allows users to mark articles and ebooks for later use. Finally, a translation feature allows users to access articles in numerous other languages, including Spanish and traditional and modified Chinese.
Gale provides an easy-to-find “Support” page on its website that houses contact information for technical, customer, and marketing support. A “Connect with Us” page provides users with quick access to four common support areas: Customer Success Manager, Customer Support, Find Your Rep, and Technical Support. Technical support for U.S.-based customers is available 24/7 by email and a toll-free telephone number. Gale also offers free customer access to technical documents and a Technical FAQ page where users can find solutions to numerous issues, including remote authentication.
Gale’s Learning Tools Interoperability (LTI) facilitates the integration of Gale products into several learning management systems (LMS), including Canvas. DS is certified to work within an LMS that supports LTI 1.0 integrations and is available as an electronic collection for activation in Alma for display in Primo.
DS complies with Section 508 of the US Rehabilitation Act (Sec. 508) and Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Title 3. The vendor’s Accessibility Conformance Report (VPAT), last updated July 2022, is available on the Technical Support webpage and indicates full or partial conformance with Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 and 2.1 levels A and AA. Gale also provides regular product accessibility updates.
Users can watch a video tutorial for assistance with accessibility and support tools. The platform’s “Listen” feature allows articles to be read aloud, and users can change font size and color. As stated in the July 2022 VPAT, select accessibility issues include third-party hosted audio and video content that does not guarantee captions, some third-party content does not have properly tagged headers, and the topic finder and “Highlights and Notes” tools do not properly work with all assistive technology.
Gale provides subscribers access to COUNTER 5 reports.
EBSCO Ethnic Diversity Source
Ethnic Diversity Source (EbDS) is EBSCO’s contribution to the growing number of comparative ethnic studies databases focused on topics of race, religion, ethnicity, and/or cultures in the United States. It includes content on other issues that are addressed and filtered through a diversity lens (e.g., healthcare, education, economics, etc.), multidisciplinary studies that focus on racism, diversity, and inclusivity, and content produced by and for individuals of the groups covered.
Released in 2021, the vendor describes EbDS as focusing on the “culture, traditions, social treatment and lived experiences” of, specifically, “African Americans, Arab Americans, Asian Americans, European Americans, Jewish Americans, Latinx Americans, Native Americans, and Multiracial Americans.” It also provides some coverage of people not highlighted in the marketing materials, for example, Pacific Islanders, Armenian Americans, and Muslim Americans (and many more). Gender, sexual orientation, age, and abilities are also covered as topics on their own and within discussions of race, religion, and ethnicity.
EbDS contains over 700 titles, including more than 450 active, full-text academic journals, magazines, and newspapers (75% peer-reviewed). Most of those have a publisher embargo of 12 or fewer months, with half under no embargo. The remainder of the database comprises hundreds of indexed-only periodicals, ebooks, government documents, speeches, interviews, news videos, and “Research Starters” – vendor-produced overviews by professional writers that synthesize complex topics such as “Race, Ethnicity, and Law Enforcement,” “Biology & Culture,” “Cross-Cultural Perspectives on Gender” and more. Similar to topic overviews in Gale In Context databases and CQ Researcher, they offer students relatively easy-to-comprehend introductions to complex topics. However, they should be used cautiously, since they include viewpoints of authors whose credentials to authoritatively address these issues aren’t always obvious and may cite dated sources on fast-moving topics even though more recent information can be found elsewhere in EbDS. For example, in “Race, Ethnicity, and Law Enforcement” no background on the author is provided, and only two of the 20 sources cited are less than 7 years old even though EbDS contains more current relevant scholarly articles on the topic.
Nonetheless, the aggregation of a significant amount of current content on a broad range of DEI topics – including some core interests and research publications -- broadly supports comparative and introductory courses that meet the ES graduation requirements and student research in other fields. The availability of this content in the EBSCO search platform makes this a comfortable user experience for most CCC students. Nearly 200 active full-text peer-reviewed journals – almost half of those in EbDS – appear in EBSCO Academic Search Complete (ASC), though there is still a notable amount of unique and relevant content in EbDS. Approximately 36 active full-text titles appear in both EbDS and Gale Diversity Source.
The annual subscription cost is the same flat rate for all CCL member libraries. The price is comparable to the standalone price of Gale’s DS for mid-sized institutions, though EbDS offers significantly more content (even the amount of unique content from EbDS not duplicated in EBSCO ASC is greater than the total equivalent content in DS). EbDS is a cost-effective way for any institution with multiple race, ethnic, gender, or cultural studies programs to add to its information holdings in these areas.
EbDS’ availability in the familiar EBSCO database platform – an interface known to most, if not all, CCC students – facilitates students’ efforts to successfully use it.
As with other EBSCO products, library staff and students can obtain 24/7 search and technical support from the vendor using numerous live-person (vendor) or self-help tools. Colleges that participate in LibChat can integrate live support for students and instructors from librarians who know them best (as is the case for the other databases in this review).
EBSCO’s LTI facilitates the integration of EbDS results into LMS that are LTI v1.3 compliant, including Canvas. EbDS is available as an electronic collection for activation in Alma for display in Primo.
EbDS complies with Sec. 508 and ADA Title 3. A copy of the VPAT is available to customers by request only. However, a public Accessibility Statement summarizing product accessibility conformance and configurations is openly available on the web, where the vendor states that EBSCOhost databases, including EbDS, are substantially conformant with WCAG standards overall, and partially conformant with WCAG 2.1 level AA, as of 2022. It also acknowledges that “most known [accessibility] issues relate to third-party publisher-supplied content,” and that “over the course of 2022-23 EBSCO will be replacing the user interface for EBSCO Discovery Services and EBSCOhost with a refreshed, more modern platform with enhanced accessibility. All known conformance issues outside of third-party content will be resolved with this platform.” Searchers can readily get to Help screens while using the database, including navigational guidance for use with screen readers and browsers.
EBSCO provides subscribers access to COUNTER5 reports.
ProQuest Diversity Collection
ProQuest’s Diversity Collection (DC) offers a variety of titles, ranging from topics that include feminist studies to African American hair and beauty. The content includes newspapers, magazines, scholarly Journals, blogs, and websites. DC comprises three existing ProQuest databases: GenderWatch, Alt-NewsWatch, and Ethnic NewsWatch. The inclusion of Ethnic NewsWatch is a huge bonus for this database package. This includes articles from smaller, more diverse publishers and also news distributors that include minority presses. However, ProQuest’s choice to limit the acronym LGBTQIA to LGBT is troubling and does not present itself to be as inclusive of the community as it claims to be. (CCL-EAR Committee asked about this decision, but the vendor representative’s explanation was unsatisfactory.)
Relevance to the CCCs
Although the title list is large with over 1200 titles, roughly half of them are no longer active in the database. For journals that are active in the collection, a large percentage of them are indexed only, not full-text. The variety of topics covered satisfies most disciplines where the collection could be useful, but increasing the number of current, full-text academic journals would help make this database a ‘must have; for CCCs.
Pricing for this database is based on FTES, and may be unaffordable even for many large colleges or those with some funds to spare, particularly considering the dearth of current full-text academic coverage. Nonetheless, the inclusion of unique and timeless content could be valuable for many programs in the discipline areas covered. Librarians interested in the full collection should speak with their ProQuest account representative to confirm the price for their libraries and explore additional subscription options.
For students, instructors, or librarians who have used other ProQuest databases on the same platform, the interface is easy to use. For new searchers, the user experience can be overwhelming – though this applies to most databases in this review and is not specific to DC. For users searching the database on a tablet, phone, or other smart devices, the experience is similar to using it on a desktop web browser. The actual page layout varies with the size of the device, but all of the links remain the same. The page resizes well and offers additional menus (printing, sharing, citing, etc.) via a persistent link at the bottom of a search.
For users, two links are provided on each screen when logged in to the databases. One is via a “question mark” at the top of the page, and another via the “Contact Us” link in the footer of each screen. Both seem to launch complicated decision trees that lead to self-help documentation and options for live help. Below the decision trees, there is another section to initiate a live chat, voice call, or connect to an asynchronous request form (“case”). The chat option, once again, requires the user to navigate to the correct section before receiving help from an actual person, which is a lot of steps to get help.
The ProQuest platform is certified to meet LTI v1.3 for many LMS, including Canvas. ProQuest may have an advantage when it comes to the interoperability of their products, including DC, with the LSP (Ex Libris) used by most, since both are owned by the same parent company, Clarivate. However, as with most of the other products in this review, DC and the individual databases it comprises are available as electronic collections for activation in Alma for display in Primo.
ProQuest Platform complies with Sec. 508 and ADA Title 3. The vendor’s Accessibility Conformance Report contains the product VPAT, last updated Feb. 2022, and is linked in the footer of all public-facing vendor web pages. It indicates full or partial conformance with WCAG 2.0 and 2.1 levels A and AA. The vendor Support site provides a form for subscribers to request help, and “Accessibility” is one of the “case types'' listed.
Within articles retrieved through searching the database, images have basic alt tagging, and tables appear to be inaccessible in HTML format, but are readable in PDF format.
ProQuest provides COUNTER5 statistics.
ABC-CLIO / Bloomsbury
Offerings for The American Mosaic (AM) series include The American Indian Experience (AIE), The African American Experience (AfAE), The Asian American Experience (AsAE), and The Latino American Experience (LAE). CCC libraries may subscribe to any or all of the databases. In December 2021, Bloomsbury Publishing purchased ABC-CLIO, and according to a Bloomsbury spokesperson in March 2022, the company would not start the integration of ABC-CLIO onto the Bloomsbury platform until at least six months after the acquisition. As of the publication of this review, the integration had not yet happened and some of the information discussed here is subject to change.
All four databases structure content in similar ways, and it is possible to search across multiple databases to which a college subscribes. One section in each, Time Periods, contains a few dozen articles on major historical events about each community that cover events as recent as the year 2020.
An archival collection is also offered in each database on one historical event or period related to that community:
- WPA Narrative Collection on Removal to Oklahoma (AIE),
- WPA Slave Narrative Collection (AfAE),
- Japanese Incarceration: WRA Camp Experiences (AsAE)
- Bracero Program Collection (LAE).
In exploring AIE database to test the platform, a few things stood out. In a keyword search, a few articles containing dated information were recently updated such as on tribal sovereignty, the Indian Child Welfare Act, and missing and murdered indigenous women. In another search, many of the articles about individual American Indian tribes are drawn from a single book, written in the past tense, and coverage of some of the tribes discussed ends in the 1800s. This limitation might be less of a problem for libraries with access to EBSCO Academic Search, Credo Reference, or Proquest Ethnic NewsWatch, which may include more current information and sources on certain topics.
The newest database in the series, AsAE, has an additional ‘Subject’ section in which users can browse for articles from categories that include political, social, literary, and recreational topics. This is a useful feature for students doing background research, and it would be beneficial if the vendor added this feature to the other databases.
The archival collection area could be useful for instructors teaching the use of primary documents. The information they provide is limited to the topic of the collection. Articles in the “Time Periods” sections, and those found by site searching, are useful for the early stages of background research at the community college level, similar to a subject encyclopedia or other reference tools.
The Consortium price for members is a flat rate for each individual database, with a small discount if members subscribe to two or more. Each product individually is low cost, and all four purchased together are likely affordable for most CCC libraries. The price makes sense considering the narrow scope of each product.
After receiving basic search instructions, community college students will find the ABC-CLIO platform to be user-friendly. Users can filter results by resource type, Time Period, and, in AIE database, by state, geographic region, and selected tribes. Tools include a citation generator/exporter for APA, MLA, and Chicago, and the ability to save, email, listen to or get a translation of the articles.
ABC-CLIO provides an easy-to-find support page with phone and email-based methods for seeking help.
The vendor website states that their database products are compatible with most LMS, including Canvas and Blackboard, and support the following authentication methods: IP, referring URL, username and password, LTI key and secret, common cartridge, and custom links with an embedded IDS. All but AsAE were found as an electronic collection for activation (under the individual titles, not series name) in Alma for display in Primo.
ABC-CLIO does not openly make their VPAT available (dated May 2021, based on VPAT 2.4) -- though some libraries have posted those online -- but it is provided upon request. It states that they aim to adhere as strictly as possible to WCAG 2.1 at the AA level. The statement also describes optional accessibility features that are offered by a subscription website overlay service called accessiBe. In the report, the vendor states that the evaluation methods [used to complete the report] was “Automated accessibility testing for WCAG 2.1 compliance by AccessiBe, manual keyboard-only testing in version 90 of Chrome Edge version 90 and version 88 of Firefox.” It appears that the ABC-CLIO copied and pasted the template provided by accessiBe for their own VPAT, and is not clear what testing ABC-CLIO may have done on their own with or without the overlay.
An April 2022 blog post from the University of Minnesota University Relations describes ways in which accessibility overlays are problematic and can actually hinder accessibility. For CCC libraries in particular, it seems like it would be better to have accessibility designed directly into databases, rather than relying on a third-party overlay to provide this. Although this may change under Bloomsbury ownership, for now, it appears the practices outlined for the ABC-CLIO platform are still in place.
ABC CLIO provides COUNTER5 statistics.
The unique characteristics of each database examined in this review vary enough to make comparisons difficult. However, since all the products present content that is intentionally framed (or reframed) through a DEI lens -- something that has been lacking in most databases until recently -- reviewers have determined they can all contribute to CCC students’ education in ethnic and diversity studies and knowledge of other disciplines. While none of the databases provides college libraries with a comprehensive range of sources and subjects on their own, they fill some information gaps.
Both Gale Diversity Studies and EBSCO Ethnic Diversity Source appear to serve similar needs of libraries for additional current, multidisciplinary, academic full-text coverage. Institutions that already have a subscription to Gale Academic OneFile, or those with fewer resources or programs to justify the purchase of multiple DEI-focused databases, should see a substantial return on investment with Gale Diversity Studies, whether bundled with AOF or acquired as a standalone subscription. The current, full-text scholarly articles and other relevant academic content relevant to diversity studies provide students with information that is applicable to many other disciplines as well.
EBSCO’s Ethnic Diversity Source also provides broad coverage of topics and sources comprising diversity studies but includes significantly more content than Gale DS, and focuses on more groups of people. At the flat rate charged for all CCL members, it, too, is an affordable option, particularly for mid-to-large-sized colleges seeking to enhance their holdings and meet students’ demands for this content. Even though roughly half the titles in EbDS are also in EBSCO Academic Search Complete (available to CCC libraries at no charge), there is enough unique content to fill additional holdings gaps for libraries that can afford it.
ProQuest’s Diversity Collection brings together what have been, until recently, three of the few established databases available to community colleges that cover topics with DEI lenses and voices. As a package, however, DC may not fully meet the needs of libraries looking for a “core” DEI product. The overall age of the titles and limited availability of full-text scholarly material does not fully justify the high price for community college libraries, particularly if an additional product(s) must be purchased to fill coverage gaps. Nonetheless, the unique content contained within each individual database continues to meet students’ needs in ways other databases may not (e.g., Ethnic NewsWatch has a significant amount of publications produced for and by the communities represented), so libraries may want to consider separate – and more affordable – subscriptions to any one of the individual databases from the collection.
The four individual databases in Bloomsbury’s (formerly ABC-CLIO) The American Mosaic series are very affordable, individually or bundled together, for most CCC colleges. Nonetheless, the content seems best suited for preliminary background research and may not provide enough coverage on topics or groups of people to fully satisfy more advanced student research in these areas.
As readers can see, a definitive answer on which database would work best depends heavily on the budgets of each library, and programs offered at each college (and thus the information needs of students). This review highlights the increasing availability of databases that aim to support DEI-related coursework and student research. As vendors respond to libraries’ growing demand for this content, the reviewers look forward to the ongoing improvements and expansion of these resources.
If you have any experience with this product, please leave a comment and rate its appropriateness for use in a community college environment.
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For access contact Amy Beadle, Library Consortium Director, 916.800.2175.
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