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Summon Help: Frequently Asked Questions

Summon FAQ



  • 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 ProQuest, the Summon knowledgebase is combined with content from the University Libraries (such as our catalog) 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 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 in the UL Special Collections and Branches, like music scores and manuscript collections.

  • 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 unknown to the public. Summon is tied closely to the UL's resources and gives priority to recently published items and to journals classified as scholarly (peer-reviewed) journals in 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
    • Conference papers
    • Journal and E-Journal Titles
    • BGSU's digital collections
    • LibGuides
    • And much more

    Although there are some records linking to citations only, a significant number link to quality full-text content. 

  • What publishers and journal titles are available in Summon?

    When you use Summon, you will find content that is indexed or full-text in EBSCO, JSTOR, Wiley-Blackwell, Gale, LexisNexis Academic, Sage, Springer, ProQuest, Taylor & Francis, IEEE, and Project Muse, in addition to societies and university presses. Remember that you can submit a request through your Interlibrary Loan (ILL) account if you need access to an item in a publication that is not full text.

  • How frequently is Summon updated?

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

  • When should I avoid using Summon?

    At 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 opinions 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 sidebar on the right-hand side of the screen that will let you choose another available full text source, link to Interlibrary Loan (Interlibrary Loan (ILL)), or report the problem link to the Library. You can also confirm the UL's access to a particular journal by searching the Journals by 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 appropriate boxes. To confirm the UL's access coverage for a particular journal, search the Journals by Title list.

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

    Use the Content Type limiter and choose Book/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. 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 is 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 and select library location and content type. Include or exclude desired formats.

  • How do the search refinements work?

    After you choose a limiter such as "Full Text Online," your limiter will be applied to any subsequent searches you do until you clear it using the "Clear Filters" link above the limiters on the left side.

    Narrowing results by choosing "Scholarly & 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?

    Click the folder icon next to the title of the search result you want to save. The record will be added to your Saved Items folder at the top of the screen. Click on this folder to view and email citations.

  • Can I search Summon with my mobile phone?

    Absotuely! Use Summon from your phone either from the library's home page or the BGSU Campus App.


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