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October 31, 2007

Reference Question of the Week

Q: Is there a website we can use to help narrow down research topics?

A: We would encourage you to stop by the library Reference Desk. The librarian will be very happy to talk with you about getting started on your research. Check Dewey Library Reference Desk hours to be sure the desk is staffed when you plan to arrive. Another avenue to pursue is to make an appointment with a Subject Specialist. These are librarians who have expertise about your field of interest, and can sometimes guide you in selecting at topic.

We also have an online guide called Doing Research. The first section on this page, "Research Process," is a detailed overview on ways to choose a topic for your paper.

Don't forget, most professors are also very happy to talk with you about your research topic.

October 29, 2007

Dewey Workshops, Seminars and Tours: Week of 10/29-11/02

Dewey Graduate Library offers short seminars, workshops and tours that can help you become more familiar with the library and help you get started on your research. Sign up in advance, either online, in person at the Reference Desk, or by calling 442-3691.

The following sessions are scheduled this week:

Monday:
3:30 PM: Non-profit Organizations: Information Sources

Friday:
1:00 PM: Conducting Research from Home

October 24, 2007

Cut to the Chase using Database Thesauri

Electronic databases are a fantastic research tool. They allow one to quickly search for and find relevant articles, reviews, studies and other pieces of scholarly information. In many databases, if you are using the first term to pop into your head, or even what you consider to be the standard term(s) for a topic when searching, it’s very likely you’re missing a major piece of the puzzle. This is where a database thesaurus comes in handy.

When we think of thesauri, we usually think of Roget’s Thesaurus, which listed terms and provided their synonyms, antonyms and other related words. A database thesaurus, however, is slightly different. A database thesaurus provides descriptors, which are essentially standardized subject terms that are assigned to the records in the database. Every article covering the same topic, regardless of the various terminology used in the articles, is assigned the same descriptor.

As an example, we’ll look at PsycInfo, a popular database covering psychology and social science issues. When you access PsycInfo, (see the listing in Databases and Indexes), you will notice a “thesaurus��? tab directly above the search box. Before doing a search, it is useful to check your search terms in the thesaurus.

Why is this important? Assume that you are looking for information on substance abuse. Common sense might indicate to use “substance abuse��? in a keyword/subject search. However, when we enter “substance abuse��? into the thesaurus you will see that the descriptor in PsycInfo is actually “drug abuse.��? If you had done a simple keyword search for “substance abuse,��? you probably would have come up with some results. However, if you select “drug abuse��? as a descriptor from the thesaurus, you’ll receive relevant results pertaining to the topic of substance abuse, drug abuse or any other synonyms that may describe the topic.

A database thesaurus may also supply narrower or broader terms, which may help you craft a more effective search. By clicking on the descriptor “drug abuse��? you will notice narrower terms such as “alcohol abuse��? or “drug dependency,��? and broader terms such as “behavior disorders��? or “drug usage.��? Using the database’s terminology for your topic helps you "cut to the chase" in terms of finding comprehensive and relevant results.

Since each database is set up slightly differently, you may wish to look for a “help��? function to assist with using the thesaurus in a particular database. Unfortunately, not every database has a thesaurus, so you may have to try searching for a variety of synonyms to your topic.

If you need further assistance or have any questions about how to use database thesauri, we are happy to help. Drop by the Reference Desk, call us at 442-3691, or send us an e-mail.

Blog post created by Mike Daly

October 22, 2007

Dewey Workshops, Seminars, and Tours: Week of 10/22-10/29

Dewey Graduate Library offers short seminars, workshops and tours that can help you become more familiar with the library and help you get started on your research. Sign up in advance, either online, in person at the Reference Desk, or by calling 442-3691.

The following sessions are scheduled this week:

Wednesday:
11:00 AM: Introduction to Federal Public Policy

Friday:
4:00 PM: Introduction to Research Databases


October 17, 2007

EndNote Consultations Available

The Dewey Library is now offering one-on-one consultations and tutorials to help you more effectively use EndNote, the citation management software. As of this Fall, EndNote was added to all Information Commons computers. Our Gradauate Assistant, Xiaoai Ren will be available on Thursdays from Noon - 2pm. Please stop by the Reference Desk and ask for her, or e-mail her.

October 15, 2007

Dewey Workshops, Seminars and Tours: Week of 10/15-10-19

Dewey Graduate Library offers short seminars, workshops and tours that can help you become more familiar with the library and help you get started on your research. Sign up in advance, either online, in person at the Reference Desk, or by calling 442-3691.

The following sessions are scheduled this week:

Tuesday:
1:00 PM: Introduction to EndNote

Friday:
3:00 PM: Introduction to Federal Public Policy

October 10, 2007

"But Where Do I start...?"

That is the question in the minds of many students when they begin a research project. A great way to get started is the My Research Subject link. Here you'll find easy to use subject guides for Criminal Justice, Information and Library Science, Law, Political Science, Public Administration and Policy, and Social Welfare. While we certainly encourage you to “shop around��? the library website (not to mention the library itself!), using My Research Subject can be a great place to start.

Clicking on the guide to your chosen subject, you’ll find the subheadings 1) Internet Resources, 2) Research Guides and 3) Databases.

Internet resources are free web sites that have been screened by a bibliographer for accuracy, relevancy and authority. These websites contain timely and updated information which can pinpoint current topics and trends in a particular field.

Perhaps the most usable feature of My Research Subject is the Research Guide. This outline provides you with the essential print and electronic sources you'll need to begin research. There is a quick description of each source and to save you time, call numbers and/or web links are included. Becoming familiar with the Research Guide for your discipline will save steps as you search for information on your topic.

Given the number of possibilities offered by the library, choosing which electronic databases to use can often be overwhelming. By using the Database Finder link in My Research Subject, you will be taken directly to a list of the specific electronic databases that will allow you to search most efficiently for your topic.

If you need further assistance or have any questions about how to use My Research Subject, please contact the Dewey Library Reference Desk. Drop by the library, call us at 442-3691, or send us an e-mail.

Blog post created by Mike Daly.

October 8, 2007

Dewey Workshops, Seminars and Tours: Week of 10/8-10/12

Dewey Graduate Library offers short seminars, workshops and tours that can help you become more familiar with the library and help you get started on your research. Sign up in advance, either online, in person at the Reference Desk, or by calling 442-3691.

The following sessions are scheduled this week:

Tuesday:
11:00 AM: Introduction to Westlaw
2:00 PM: Introduction to Research Databases

Wednesday:
1:00 PM: Introduction to Research Databases
3:45 PM: Research From Home

Thursday:
2:00 PM: Introduction to EndNote
4:00 PM: Social Welfare Research Seminar
6:00 PM: Introduction to Information Science Research

October 3, 2007

New Information Studies Resource

Finding information about technology is critical to today’s Information Studies students and faculty. In an effort enhance our offering of technology resources available to the UA community, the University Libraries now subscribe to the ACM (Association for Computing Machinery) Digital Library database. ACM is a widely recognized organization with a mission to advance computing as a science and a profession.

This database is a vast collection of citations and full text from ACM journal and newsletter articles, as well as conference proceedings. Key topics include: computer technology, online education, software engineering, programming, networking, human-computer interaction, artificial intelligence, and information systems, to name a few.

Free registration is required to access personalized services, such as table-of-contents (TOC) alerts and virtual binders. The TOC alert service sends an email when a new issue of an ACM resource has been posted in the digital library. The virtual binder is your own personal bibliography where you can organize and store copies of articles of interest or build your own resource list for future research.

The ACM Digital Library is available from the Libraries’ Databases and Indexes page. As always, if you need help with this or any other library resource drop by the Dewey Library Reference Desk, call us at 442-3691, or submit ani Ask-A-Librarian request online.

October 1, 2007

Dewey Workshops, Seminars and Tours: Week of 10/1 -10/5

Dewey Graduate Library offers short seminars, workshops and tours that can help you become more familiar with the library and help you get started on your research. Sign up in advance, either online, in person at the Reference Desk, or by calling 442-3691.

The following sessions are scheduled this week:

Tuesday:
2:00 PM: Conducting Research from Home
3:30 PM: Introduction to EndNote

Wednesday:
4:30 PM: Social Welfare Research Seminar

Thursday:
2:00 PM: Introduction to Endnote
4:15 PM: Criminal Justice Research Seminar

Friday:
1:00 PM: Introduction to Research Databases