You want to use a reliable source to find facts on autism, Al Sharpton, or the Eiffel Tower? Then try Fast Facts from CNN. These updated briefings contain numerical, narrative, or biographical information on the subject being examined. There are over 900 entries on this site; there isn’t a browse mechanism, so you need to scroll to find subjects of interest. But trust to the rules of serendipity!
Archive for Research Tips
The CRS has just updated its Cybersecurity: Authoritative Reports and Resources containing a wealth of information from government and private sources. A previous blog entry examines an earlier version of this report in greater detail.
If you need to find book reviews on all subjects, ranging from anthropology to zoology with side trips into science fiction and mystery, then by all means stop at the Sunday Book Review from The New York Times. Containing thousands of reviews since 1981, this section does indeed give one access to critically reasoned evaluations of currently produced work. In addition, another special feature is podcasts with authors, editors, and critics on new books, bestsellers, and the literary scene. The famous best seller lists are also accessible on this site as is By the Book, an ongoing series of interviews with prominent authors. And let’s not forget the section’s profiles of hundreds of authors both past and present.
For some time, The New York Times had erected a paywall around some of its features, including the video library. Now, with underwriting from corporate sponsors, this valuable learning tool is once again free. Covering the world, arts, science, business and other topics, these films can act as useful adjuncts for current events research.
If you are looking for peer reviewed articles or meta studies from medical journals such as the Autism Research and Treatment or bioethical writings from such titles as Journal of Medical Ethics, then PubMedCentral is a place to start. As of this writing, 2.7 million articles are available for free from this component of the National Library of Medicine. Simple and advanced searches are offered as well as a “limits” feature that allows an even more specific search strategy. Articles are in pdf format, and when you click on an article, a suggested list of related articles is also displayed for your perusal. A valuable tool. In addition, HighWire from Stanford University offers access to hundreds of titles in the medical sciences along with many other fields.
Accompanying the 2013 Economic Report of the President are dozens of tables tracking economic development over the past decades. From “corporate profits by industry, 1964-2012″ to “new housing starts, 1967-2012″ to “national income by type of income, 1964-2012,” these compilations provide the researcher with authoritative numbers from various governmental departments such as the Census Bureau, the Department of Labor, and the Federal Reserve. And they can all be found in one publication! In addition, economic reports back to 1947 are accessible online; they, too, offer a glance at the past. For example, the 1947 report carries economic data dating to 1929. For a years-long snapshot of the U.S. economy along many axes, this would be a great place to start.
The good folks at the Congressional Research Service recently issued Cybersecurity: Authoritative Reports and Resources that can act as a vade mecum for research in this crucial area. They have examined online sites ranging from Congressional hearings to private industry reports to compile a basic starting point. Topics in this 55-page guide range from critical infrastructure to cybercrime and national security to cloud computing. All references have links attached to them with the exceptions of Congressional legislation and hearings. However, those deficiencies are easily rectified. Legislation can be tracked through THOMAS - the online guide to Congressional legislation. Simply input the bill number that the CRS report lists and THOMAS will retrieve the pertinent information on this bill: summary, full text, sponsors, and all the Congressional actions that have been taken. The Congressional Hearings site allows access to published hearings; you can search by Congress as well as by committee. For those who wish to watch the hearings, please go to the wonderful C-SPAN Video Library-Congressional Chronicle for full-length recordings of hearings along with related resources and transcripts. In addition, this CRS report shows you the way to further research. This document came out in April 2012 so obviously the information is frozen in time as of its issuance; however, you can use it as a springboard. Many GAO reports are listed; go to the GAO site and see if more recent reports have been generated by this body. (It has produced more.) The same methodology applies to hearings and legislation as well as other sources highlighted.
More than 400 hundred universities from 23 European countries have banded together to provide free access to over 300,000 research theses through Dart-Europe. You can limit your search by language, year, university, or collection. One of our interests is naval or maritime history; inputting these search terms yielded doctoral dissertations from the universities of Glasgow, Leicester, and Birmingham. Theses are continually added (you can see new ones pop up on the home page as they are added) and another feature lists the most frequently downloaded works in the last seven days. The oldest one we can find dates from 1602 out of Uppsala University; the most recent are hundreds from 2012. For those wanting free access to non-U.S. research dissertations, this should be a consideration.
Global Go To Think Tanks contains hundreds of these institutions broken down by various categories: top in the world, top regional think tanks, think tanks arranged by research area, and think tanks recognized for special achievement. When doing research on policy questions, this compendium would provide a great starting place to identify major players in your field of endeavor be it security, or health policy, or international economics.
The Royal Society has announced that it has made its entire article archives open to the public. This allows researchers to review the Philosophical Transactions, the world’s first peer-reviewed journal, back to 1665. In addition, the Society’s Proceedings, as well as its other titles, are now freely available. You can read articles by Fred Hoyle, Joseph Banks, Charles Darwin, Isaac Newton, Paul Dirac, Crick and Watson to name a few. Over 60,000 articles are available providing an historical glimpse into the development of science in the Western world. The search screen is found here. Enjoy!
JSTOR has released 500,000 articles that have passed out from under copyright restrictions (in the United States, that means pre-1923, and for other parts of the world, it is pre-1870). What this means, especially for those in the humanities, is that you have access to both primary and secondary sources. For example, you can read Benjamin Franklin’s article on an “electrical kite” or “Of the Tides in the South Seas” by Captain James Cook or one of the first mentions of climate change in “An Attempt to Account for the Change of Climate, Which Has Been Observed in the Middle Colonies in North-America” from 1770. This “Early Journal Content” is accessible from here. Also included in this section are selected recent articles residing on external sites.
SAGE, in a press release, has announced that it is allowing free access to the top three most downloaded articles from 39 separate disciplines for the years 2009-2010. In addition, it is offering free access to the top downloaded articles from its backfiles in these disciplines. So researchers will have access to the most recent top research as well as to those articles that have stood the test of time. For example, from the 2009-2010 batch, one may read: Islam, Women and Violence from Feminist Theology, Defining Dyslexia from The Journal of Learning Disabilities, or Geographies of brands and branding from Progress in Human Geography while the backfile contains such works as Symbolic Power from the Critique of Anthropology, Leininger’s Theory of Nursing from Nursing Science Quarterly, or Doing Gender from Gender & Society. In total, more than 200 heavily downloaded articles are available; the 2009-2010 batch is here, and the backfiles are here.
Besides asking your librarians who are veritable repositories of knowledge from the mundane to the esoteric, we suggest you try Times Topics from The New York Times. Arranged alphabetically are literally thousands of research topics ranging from “Abdullah, King of Saudi Arabia” to “Zoloft (Drug).” Each entry allows you access for free to articles published in paper from 1981 to the present. And many entries provide you with so much more. For example, the entry on Libya gives you not only hundreds of newspaper articles, but it also contains an essay replete with links, slideshows, timelines, a blog on Libya, articles from newspapers from around the world, and links to outside authoritative sources such as the CIA and the BBC. The same is true with the biographical entries; the one on Mubarak, Hosni has extensive features including a lengthy, updated profile, timeline, transcript of speeches, videos, and external links to additional information. If you need something on capital punishment or same sex marriage or global warming or terrorism or offshore drilling or thousands of other subjects, Times Topics is a good place to start. A subset of this is called Science Topics where the focus is strictly on scientific features such as air pollution or genetic engineering. And for medical news, please go to the Times Health Guides where you can find 3000+ topics ranging from autism to zinc in diet; all the topics are reviewed by medical specialists. Other places to consult, while not as extensive, include: BBC-Special Reports, CNN: Special Coverage and Hot Topics, Washington Post: Special Reports, and The Economist: Special Reports. For a more local flavor, try The Star-Ledger: Special Projects and Asbury Park Press: Investigative Special Reports
Almost 300 scholarly titles from Cambridge University Press can be freely accessed until August 30, 2011; all the issues from 2009 and 2010 are available for perusal. All you have to do is register for free. We are positively salivating at the thought of unlimited access to the history journals this press publishes!
PQDT OPEN is a free service provided by ProQuest, the aggregator of the fee-based ProQuest Dissertations & Theses. Open access (definition here) dissertations and theses, the vast majority dating from 2007 forward, can be freely read online from hundreds of institutions; New York University has over 500 dissertations/theses available alone. You can search by keyword, title, year, adviser, institution; the results can be sorted by relevancy or date. If only an abstract is present, clicking on the work’s title will tell you when it will become available online. Looking up one of our ancestry groups revealed 49 titles using the term “Iroquois.” The default relevancy ranking gave us dissertations from UC Davis, and SUNY Albany, Buffalo, and Stony Brook. While nowhere as extensive as the ProQuest Dissertations & Theses database, this new accessible repository is worth a look.
Having undertaken the digitization of books, Google has now turned its attention to magazines. At the moment, full text archives, mostly ending in the late 1990s, can be accessed for New York Magazine, Popular Science, Jet, Ebony, and the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. Google promises hundreds more titles in the near future. To search just for magazine articles, go the advanced book search screen and check off the “magazines” button. Update as of 12/12: Here is a list of more magazines scanned and indexed.
Need research help at midnight and don’t know where to turn? QandA NJ is the place for you! Available 24/7 New Jersey’s online chat reference service can help you find what you’re looking for. To learn how to use the service, attend a demo next week.
A student demo will be held on Thursday, November 6 from 4-4:30.
A faculty demo will be held on Thursday, November 6 from 12-12:30.
If you can’t make these times but would like to learn about it, just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll be happy to set up an online demo for you!
With elections and bailouts taking up so much news time, you frequently come across such mysterious entities as the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation or the Federal Election Commission. What are these organizations and where can you find reliable information on them? What the heck is the Presidio Trust? Look no further than the United States Government Organization Manual, the authoritative handbook of the legislative, executive, and judicial branches of the government. Names of officials, tables of organization, phone numbers, addresses, web sites, enabling legislation, and activities are all enumerated in this tome. Also included are quasi-official agencies such as the Smithsonian Institution; selected multilateral and bilateral organizations to which the United States belongs; independent establishments; and government corporations. Previous editions can also be accessed here. This important resource and others will be found on the Library’s homepage in the “Government and Politics” category of the “Web Sites by Subject” section.
Did you ever wish you didn’t have to go to so many databases to find the articles you need? Your wish has come true!
With EZ search you can now search up to 50 databases in one search. How can you do this, you ask?
From this page enter your search terms and select databases which seem appropriate to your topic. Don’t select too many or your search will be overwhelming. The default search will look for your keywords in the title. If you need to expand your search change it to keyword using the pull down menu.
Why is this useful?
EZ SEARCH is particularly useful for searches that cross disciplinary boundaries. For instance, if you’re searching for articles about school bullying, you would want to search in the Education databases (Academic Search Premier, Education Full Text, ProQuest Education Journals) but you might also want to add some Psychology journals to your search (PsycArticles, PsycINFO, ProQuest Psychology Journals). And then you might also want to add a couple of Social Science databases (ProQuest Social Science and Wilson Omni-File).
EZ Search allows to search in databases that cover several different fields, which makes it a very powerful search option. Try and let us know if you have questions.
Every day students come to the library looking for peer-reviewed articles. Sometimes they say the articles have to be refereed or juried, other times they say it has to be scholarly or professional. Whatever the term, we understand what they’re looking for, but I often wish students had a better grasp of what peer review is and why it’s important, even as this hallmark of scholarly communication comes increasingly into question.
Wikipedia, often at the center of controversy in questions of authority, actually has a pretty good entry on peer review. Pay close attention to the section on the weaknesses and failures of peer review. For more authoritative coverage of the topic, see Nature’s Peer Review Debate.
If you’re reading this because you just want to know how to find peer reviewed sources in the library databases, stop by the reference desk at any time the library is open and we’ll show you how. (You can also call us at 201-200-3033.)