Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Research Resource Review #3 - "Research Solutions" Document Delivery Service

Several months ago I started a series on "Getting Research Done *There* from *Here*" (original post here) in which I provided reviews of some "pay-as-you-go" or subscription services I have used and continue to use in my research.

Previous reviews (and interviews with the proprietors) included:

Review #1 - CivilWarDocs.com (here)
Review #2 - D-Day Militaria (here)

Below is a review of another resource - "Research Solutions," a document delivery service - and as with the other reviews:


When it comes to interlibrary loan or article requests, I get really great service from my local public library (and have thanked them in the Acknowledgments of all my books!), but every now and then an occasion arises when I need something quickly or hard-to-locate, including journal or magazine articles, conference proceedings, etc.

In these instances a "Document Delivery Service" really helps. Some of the larger university libraries have services of their own. An example is ESTIS - a service of the University of Minnesota libraries or the University of Michigan's MARS service. They are helpful, and I have used them myself, but they are generally restricted to materials in their own collections.

Another alternative is a private document delivery service that has access to many institutions - academic and private - and a large number of documents, is timely, and affordable.

In this case, I happily recommend Research Solutions (website here), which I have been using for years now.

I like them because they have an easy-to-follow online ordering system; they offer some flexibility in timing ("Standard" = 2 business days; "Rush" = ASAP); they send updates via e-mail every step of the way (for example, they'll let you know very quickly if they don;t have access to the document); they can deliver a PDF directly via e-mail or a hard copy via post; and they are affordable ($15 for "Standard" requests and $25 for "Rush" requests). The best part is that whenever I need to, I can always talk to or e-mail a "human" and they are very friendly and helpful.

WHENEVER you are ordering documents from a service such as this, please keep several things in mind:

Copyright fees may be required...especially for recent material. Research Solutions will charge the copyright fee to the customer so that it is paid to the rights holder or to the Copyright Clearance Center. They have no control over the copyright fee; however - in the online ordering process - you can place a limit on the fee, and if the fee exceeds that limit they will not arrange for the document delivery until you authorize the higher charge or cancel the request (you can only cancel "Standard" requests).

There are additional page charges for longer documents...but Research Solutions page fees are very fair: the first 30 pages are included in the base charge and extra page are $0.25 per page. (they can even give you color copies at $2/page).

Access to documents...is where I find that Research Solutions excels...they have access to over 100,000,000 publications...I'll be the first to admit that they have sometimes "whiffed" but I can assure that is because - as a writer of history - I often ask for very old and obscure documents. Even then, they have helped me get copies of articles in:

Period (1800s) Medical Journals
"Obscure" Conference Proceedings
Niche/Regional Historical Journals
And Much More!

They state they fill over 90% of their requests and I am sure they have achieved that or better for me.

BEST OF ALL - while most of their requests are for medical, legal, technical, or scientific documents, THEY HAVE A SOFT SPOT IN THEIR HEARTS FOR HISTORIANS:

Research Solutions ...started in the spring of 2002, when [the founders] decided to start a document delivery service. Each had dealt with similar services and inter-library loan during their academic careers, and knew there was an opportunity to provide a better service than what was available. They wanted to create one that would not only retrieve the documents their clients needed, but would do so with great customer service.

They scraped together enough money to rent a cramped one-room office and pay for the internet, and started figuring out how to find clients. At first, they worked day-jobs while doing the leg-work of starting a business in the evenings. The long hours paid off when they received their first order: four articles about French armor. An amateur historian needed the articles for his studies and came across the company in his search. His hand-typed thank-you still hangs on an office wall.

Disclaimer: this was an unsolicted review. I received no compensation for this review or interview. I have been a customer of Research Solutions and happily endorse their service.

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