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Help with Summon!: Frequently Asked Questions

Summon FAQ

Summon Frequently Asked Questions

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  • What is Summon?

    Summon is a search engine that provides a single starting point to find and access the majority of the University Libraries' resources — including books, ebooks, scholarly journals and articles, newspaper articles, dissertations and theses, videos, maps, manuscripts, music scores, digitized items, and more. A hosted service from Serials Solutions, the Summon knowledge base is combined with content from the University Libraries into one unified index.

    Enter your keywords into the single search box to begin finding resources. Use the options on the left sidebar to refine your search. For more specific information, see the tabs in this guide for Summon Features, Search Tips, and Ways to Use Summon.

  • How is Summon different from the BGSU Catalog?

    The BGSU Catalog is the main inventory of books, journal titles (print and online), media, and other documents held in the BGSU Libraries. Summon is a search engine that searches all of the records in the BGSU Catalog as well as articles from our e-journals and databases and items from our digital collections, including images, music files, and video recordings.

    Summon excels at finding a multitude of resources on a topic when you search using keywords, like Google. When you need to find a specific item, such as a book or journal title, you can use Summon but it may be better to use the BGSU Catalog and search by specific fields (i.e. author, title, call number, etc.). You should also use the BGSU Catalog when you are searching for items, like music scores and manuscript collections, in the UL Special Collections and Branches.

  • How is Summon different from Google Scholar?

    Summon and Google Scholar are both search engines that let you quickly search across a massive index of scholarly information. While the two search engines provide access to overlapping content, some content that is findable in one is not findable in the other. Both allow you to cast a wide net and explore potential sources of information and rank results based on proprietary algorithms, which neither has shared with the public. Summon is tied closely to the UL's resources and gives priority to recently published items and to scholarly, peer-reviewed journals (according to Ulrich's). The information provided in About Google Scholar indicates that Google Scholar ranks results by "weighing the full text of each document, where it was published, who it was written by, as well as how often and how recently it has been cited in other scholarly literature."

    If you want to conduct a comprehensive search, you need to use Summon in conjunction with other UL tools, like our research databases.

  • What resources are available in Summon?

    You can find approximately 80% of the UL's collection through Summon. The range of material includes:

    • BGSU Catalog
    • Journal and newspaper articles, and conference papers
    • Journal and E-Journal Titles
    • BGSU's Digital Resource Commons (DRC)
    • LibGuides
    • And much more

    Although there are some records linking to citations only, a significant number link to quality full-text content. At this time, items only in the OhioLINK Central Catalog are not included, although we are working on including them.

  • What publishers and journal titles are available in Summon?

    To date, Summon content comes from more than 6,800 publishers and 94,000 journal and periodical titles. Sample content providers and aggregators include Blackwell, Gale, LexisNexis Academic, Sage, Springer, Emerald, ProQuest, Taylor & Francis, IEEE, and Project Muse, in addition to societies and university presses. Remember that if you search beyong the UL's resources, you can submit a request through your ILLiad account if you need access to an item in a publication to which the UL does not subscribe.

  • How frequently is Summon updated?

    Summon is constantly changing. Enhancements are released every two weeks.

  • When should I avoid using Summon?

    Summon content is updated frequenltyAt this point, we know you should not use Summon in the following circumstances:

    • when you want to search items in the OhioLINK Catalog;
    • when you need to use highly controlled vocabulary or search terms;
    • when you are looking for table of contents information included in the BGSU Catalog;
    • when you are searching for historical newspaper articles;
    • when you are looking for country, company and industry reports, typically found in business databases; and
    • when you are looking for legal research, specifically legal journal titles, case reports and legislation.


  • I couldn't find any relevant resources. What should I do?

    If you aren't finding what you are looking for in Summon, you may need to search one of the discipline-specific databases to identify relevant resources. See the Ways to Use Summon tab in this guide for more information on the range of tools available for your particular needs.

    If you are unable to locate relevant resources, or would just like some assistance in searching, visit the Research & Information Desk in the Library, or Ask a Librarian for more help.

  • The record for an article/ebook said it was Full Text Online but I received an error message when I clicked on it. What should I do?

    If you are off campus, make sure you have authenticated by clicking on the bar that says “Off Campus? Log in to access full text and more content” at the top of the Summon result screen. If you have clicked on a result in Summon that took you to one of our research databases, look for the bar that says “Missing item? Check Find it! at BGSU” to display other available full text sources or link to Interlibrary Loan (ILLiad). You can also confirm the UL's access to a particular journal by searching the E-Journal Title List. You can also always feel free to visit the Research & Information Desk in the Library, or Ask a Librarian for more help.

  • Will limiting to full text retrieve online (digital) images, sound recordings, or video?

    You will retrieve only a small number of these items available to you online. This limit is primarily for text-based resources, not for online images, sound recordings, or videos

  • How do I locate a journal title I want to browse?

    Use Summon's Advanced Search function to browse by keyword in a particular journal. Simply enter your search terms and the name of the journal in the the appropriate boxes. To confirm the UL's access coverage for a particular journal, search the E-Journal Title List.

  • All I want to find is books. How can I do this?

    There are two options for limiting to books only. To limit the search results to hard-copy books, simply scroll down to Library Location and select your location (eg. Main Library, Curriculum Resource Center)—limiting by location will exclude electronic material including ebooks from your results. Alternately, use the Content Type option and choose Book and eBook.

  • How do I search the special collections (CRC, Music, Pop Culture and Archives) in Summon?

    To limit the search results to a special collection, simply scroll down to Library Location and select your location (eg. CRC or Music Library) - limiting by location will exclude electronic material including ebooks from your results. Alternately, use the Content Type option and choose Book and eBook or your choice of preferred format. Many of the UL's special collections have available from their home page Summon search boxes customized for their own collections. In many cases, it will be better to use the BGSU Catalog for items in the special collections.

    To find special collection non-print items in Summon, enter your search term(s) in the main search box, select library location, and content type. Include or exclude desired formats.

  • How do the search refinements work?

    The radio button under the search box is "new search." This means that the search refinements will be discarded, whether you run the same search or change the statement in the box. To keep the search refinements you need to click the appropriate Keep Search Refinements radio button. 

    Narrowing results by choosing to "Limit to articles from scholarly publications, including peer-review" will still require evaluation of the results by the searcher. Not all scholarly publications undergo peer review, although most peer-reviewed publications are scholarly. Within even scholarly journals, though, may be letters to the editor or book reviews, which are not subject to review by peers and are not generally considered appropriate sources for academic work. Be sure to check with your instructor if you are unsure if a particular source is acceptable for your assignment.
  • How long do the saved items stay in the folder?

    Any saved items will be available for the duration of your search session. If you would like to save your items beyond the session, you can copy/paste, email, print, or export your list to bibliographic management software (RefWorks or EndNote).

  • What citation styles does the citation formatter support?

    Items saved in your folder can be formatted in the following styles:

    • MLA (Modern Languages Association)
    • APA (American Psychological Association)
    • AMA (American Medical Association)
    • Chicago/Turabian
    • Uniform (Medicine)
    • Harvard

    You can copy the formatted citations and paste them into your document, e-mail or save them.At the bottom of the saved items screen you will see the following note: "Always check your references for accuracy. Click here for more information." Follow the link to display a page with important notes regarding the supported citation formats and links to the current style.

  • I sometimes see Recommendations at the top of my search results. What do they mean?

    Based on keywords you have entered in the search box, Summon may recommend specialized databases in which you can find more information on your subject area.  Visit these resources by clicking on the database name at the top of the page when available, or explore additional resources by visiting LibGuides created for your subject area or class.

  • How can I email or export records from Summon?

    Mouse over the top right hand side of the records in your search results, and click the folder icon. The record will be added to your Saved Items folder at the bottom of the screen. Click on this folder to view and email citations. See the Features tab for more details.

  • Can I search Summon with my mobile phone?

    Simply direct your phone's browser to the UL's page about mobile access and click on Summon. From there, enter your search in the Summon search box to display relevant results.