Monday, November 20, 2006

Ask-a-Librarian Available Evenings and Saturdays

Beginning Tuesday, November 28, the "Ask a Librarian" reference service will be available evenings and Saturdays, in addition to the regular 9am - 5pm hours during the week. Students, faculty and staff will be able to speak with an Empire State College librarian or send an e-mail to get answers to their questions and help using the library's online resources.

Ask-a-Librarian Hours of Operation:
  • Monday: 9 am - 5 pm
  • Tuesday - Friday: 9 am - 9 pm
  • Saturday: 9 am - 5 pm

To reach the "Ask A Librarian" service:
  • Phone: 1-800 847-3000 x2222
  • Complete a request form
  • E-mail your question to

Wednesday, November 1, 2006

Identify Keywords that Describe Your Topic

Finding information on a topic for a research assignment can sometimes be frustrating and time consuming. A crucial step in successfully and efficiently locating relevant information to help answer your research question or thesis, is to extract key words from that question/thesis. A simple way to find keywords is to use a "concept chart." This is a visual tool to analyze the concepts of your research question so that keywords can be identified. Try using a thesaurus, dictionary and or specialized encyclopedia for locating alternate terminology. Then insert them into a chart as below and use the AND search operator between each set of concepts to create a search. OR is used to combine synonyms, and parentheses are used to group them.

Example research paper topic:

Compare "Contingency Management" and "Theory Z" styles in the United States.

Break this question down into it's main topics and find alternate terminology:
Compare "Contingency Management" / and "Theory Z" / styles / in the United States.

Concept 1: "contingency management"
AND Concept 2: "theory Z"
AND Concept 3: "United States" OR America

Possible search query: "contingency management" and "theory z" and ("United States" or America)

Tips for creating a search query:

  • Use double quotes around two or more words to search for an exact phrase.
  • Try mixing and matching your keywords to create the right search for the resource you are using.
  • Look for options to limit the search to scholarly or peer-reviewed journals.
  • Look at a relevant article or book list of references to find related resources.
For More Information: Selecting Keywords and Using Boolean Operators (AND, OR, NOT) (print version) and Additional Search Techniques]

Search News and Newspaper Articles

If you need newspaper articles on a topic or issue, the library's News and Current Events Subject Guide is a good place to begin. We subscribe to several database collections that exclusively index newspapers and there are links to current major newspaper content such as the New York Times and Wall Street Journal:
  • ProQuest Newspapers: access to 30+ titles covering the 1980's to the present
  • New York Times Historical Collection: 1851 to three years ago.
  • Gale Group includes three collections: Custom Newspapers (150+ national and international titles), New York Newspapers (10 state papers, including the New York Times) and National Newspaper Index (1977 - present coverage of five major newspapers).
  • Regional Business News (EBSCO): includes access for 75 business-oriented news publications.
Looking for a specific newspaper article, for example from the New York Times or Wall Street Journal? Simply "Ask FReD!" FReD is a tool to help determine if a newspaper or other periodical is available in full-text through the Empire State College library. FReD will tell you if we have the newspaper or journal, the dates available, and provide a link directly to that newspaper.

Finally, we have also gathered together a select list of Internet Resources in Current Events and News. This page contains links to the public web sites of many state, national and international newspapers and news magazines, as well as to broadcast and wire news sites


If you plan to take any studies dealing with history, the arts or art history, culture, religion, anthropology, area studies, architecture, or even just have an interest in examining some classic works of art and can't get to a museum, ArtSTOR is for you. ArtSTOR is a searchable, digital collection of 300,000 visual images covering all the periods of history and areas of the world. Example collections include objects from the Museum of Modern Art in New York, archives of Asian and Native American art and other subjects, and old master European prints from the 15th to 19th centuries.

You may search the entire ArtSTOR library or within these specific collections. Each image can be examined in magnified detail and is displayed with details about the creator, title, location, style/period, and other available catalog information. Search results can also be saved into personal folders for future study and reference.

This resource is available via the "All Research Databases" link on the left side of the Empire State College Library home page (under the Images section). To learn more about this resource, see the ArtSTOR Quick Start Tutorial

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Ian Hertz Joins the Library Team

Ian Hertz joins the Center for Learning and Technology as an Information Resources Coordinator supporting the online library. Ian will also provide part-time support for the college's Help Desk. This past May, he received his MLS from Long Island University, where he was also previously employed as an Admissions Coordinator. He interned at the SUNY Purchase Library with the Systems Librarian. He also has a Computer and Information Science degree from Iona College.

Thursday, October 5, 2006

Sarah Morehouse Joins the Library Team

Sarah Morehouse joins the Center for Learning and Technology as an Information Resources Coordinator. This past May, she received her MLS from the University at Albany. She is currently working on her thesis on masculinity in the writings of prominent African American abolitionists for her history. She has staffed the Information & Technology Services helpdesk at Siena College, been a teaching asssistant in the U. Albany history department, and has worked as reference graduate assistant at the University at Albany Library, and interned at the New York State Library in local history collection development.

Monday, October 2, 2006

E-Book Catalog Now Available

With the launch of Empire State College's first integrated online library book catalog, students, faculty and staff can now search or browse seven full-text electronic book collections at once. No longer do you have to search multiple databases using different search screens to locate academic-quality electronic books within the library's collection.

The E-Book Catalog uses a modified version of the Ex-Libris Aleph library system which has been launched SUNY-wide. It allows you to simultaneously search or browse the citations of books and other materials in the following collections:
  • ebrary (30,000+ books)
  • netlibrary (13,000 books)
  • PsycBOOKS (500+ behavioral science books)
  • Gale Virtual Reference Library (60+ subject encyclopedias)
  • Oxford reference Online (150+ general and subject dictionaries and reference works)
  • SUNY Press Collection (460+ books)
  • Project Gutenberg (13,000+ public domain titles)
The catalog allows you to search or browse by title, author, subject or all fields. Advanced options let you limit the search to a specific collection. You can also limit by date and or language. You can then "mark" those items you want to look at and view that list of saved results later as long as you do this during the same browser session. You can also view and combine your previous searches. If you have any questions about using this resource, there are links at the top of every page to access the Help documentation or you can contact a librarian using the "Ask a Librarian" link next to it.

To Search the Library Catalog:
Go to the library's home page (
  • Click on the "E-Book Catalog" link under the "Books" section.
  • Search or browse by title, author, subject or all fields.
  • The catalog can also be accessed by typing this URL into your browser's address bar:
  • Sunday, October 1, 2006

    Where to Start your Research

    It's the most common problem a student faces when doing research in today's information-soaked world: where do I start? Where do I find "peer-reviewed" journal articles? Books? Newspaper articles? How can I get the full-text? The solution to all these questions can be summed up in 3 brief steps you should take the time to follow:
    • Take a couple minutes to visit the online Library Resources Orientation (linked also from the library home page under the Research Tutorials link on the right). Not only will doing this save you a ton of time later on when you have looming deadlines, but it will make the process of finding information in the library much less stressful.
    • When in doubt, click on the "All Research Databases" link in the upper left of the home page. This leads to a listing of all the research resources available in the library, organized by type of publication (journal articles, books, newspapers, reference, and images). Each journal article database in the list is also accompanied by a subject heading and a brief description.
    • Contact a librarian! We are here to help you - it's our job and it's what we love to do. Click on the Ask a Librarian link in the upper right of the home page for hours of operation and phone and e-mail contact information.

    Creating Citations and Bibliographies

    A vital component of any research paper is proper identification of the sources you've used to support your work. To do this you'll need to prepare a bibliography (a list of the works cited in your research document) and in-text citations using the guidelines of a particular format or style. The citations in your bibliography will contain information describing each resource (author, title, publisher, date, etc.) so that the reader can locate the original information you used.

    Citations should be included for any material you've referenced in your work: newspaper and journal articles, books, and even resources like web sites, interviews, and television shows. There are several major citation styles for formatting citations and you may be asked by your mentor or instructor to use a specific one in your work. Common styles include the APA, MLA, and Chicago Manual of Style. You can see information on these and other citation styles by going to the library home page and using the "Bibliography/Citations" link on the right side under the "Help Doing Research" section.
    Help Doing Research section of library home pageProper documentation of sources is important not only to give credit to the original author of an idea, but to let your readers see that you have effectively covered the scope of your research topic. Not to mention that doing so is an important part of your responsibilities at the college in maintaining academic integrity. To learn more about documentation and citation styles, visit the Empire State College Writing Resource Center.

    E-Book Catalog

    With the launch of Empire State College's first integrated online library book catalog, students, faculty and staff can now search or browse seven full-text electronic book collections at once. No longer do you have to search multiple databases using different search screens to locate academic-quality electronic books within the library's collection.

    The e-Book Catalog uses a modified version of the Ex-Libris Aleph library system which has been launched SUNY-wide. It allows you to simultaneously search or browse the citations of books and other materials in the following collections:
    • ebrary (30,000+ books)
    • netlibrary (13,000 books)
    • PsycBOOKS (500+ behavioral science books)
    • Gale Virtual Reference Library (60+ subject encyclopedias)
    • Oxford reference Online (150+ general and subject dictionaries and reference works)
    • SUNY Press Collection (460+ books)
    • Project Gutenberg (13,000+ public domain titles)
    E-Book Catalog Basic Search:
    E-Book Catalog
    The catalog allows you to search or browse by title, author, subject or search all fields at once. In addition, the advanced search includes options for searching only a specific collection, or limiting the search by date or language. You can "mark" those items you want to look at and then look at that list of saved results later as long as you do this during the same browser session. If you have any questions about using this resource, there are links at the top of every page to access the Help documentation or contact a librarian using the "Ask a Librarian" link next to it.

    To Search the Library Catalog:
    • Go to the library's home page (
    • Click on the "E-Book Catalog" link near the top left, under the "Books" section.
    • Search or browse by title, author, subject or all fields.
    • The catalog can also be accessed by typing this web address into your browser's address bar:

    Routledge Reference Resources

    These recent purchases now provide a massive amount of reference and background information on religions and philosophy. There are 2 reference tools now available through Routledge:
    • Religion Resource - 14,000 pages of content covering: history, philosophy and sociology of religion, new religious movements, indigenous religions, Eastern religions, paganism, magic and alchemy; the origins and spread of Islam; Protestant and Catholic missionaries; the history of the papacy; and more.
    • Encyclopedia of Philosophy - Search the 2000+ articles in this multi-volume encyclopedia. It covers the philosophical canon, as well as philosophy from all continents and all periods.
    If you have a topic that touches upon religion or philosophy. this is a great place to start. These reference tools can be accessed via the Reference section of the "All Research Databases" link from the home page.

    New Research Resources for Fall 2006

    The library has added several new research databases to its extensive resources. Details are in the Library News or you can access the resources directly from the complete list of library databases at

    Friday, September 1, 2006

    Ask FReD about Finding Full-text Journals

    Have a specific article citation or journal title you need for your research? Want to browse a list of available full-text journals, magazine and bulletins dealing with a specific subject? If so, then you need pay a visit to our resident journals guru, FReD. FReD (Fulltext Retrieval Database for E-journals) is actually an online tool that allows you to easily and accurately search or browse the entire collection of full-text journals available within the Empire State College library collection. Currently, this consists of more than 25,700+ unique journal, magazine and newspaper titles.

    You can read more about using this tool in our FReD Tutorial.

    FReD can be accessed through the library homepage - it is listed in the upper left column, under "Research Databases and Articles."

    Use OR to Expand your Search

    If you find that your search strategy is not finding enough relevant results or that you are searching for a topic that can be described by multiple keywords, one of the easiest ways to remedy these situations and expand your list of results is through the use of the search operator OR. Think for a second about how we use OR in everyday usage. "Do you want pizza or a sub for dinner?", "Should I wear the green, yellow or blue tie with this outfit?" OR is used to search on ANY of the keywords it connects. However, in crafting a search (and unlike the second example above which uses a comma), you need to remember to put OR between every word or phrase. OR, in the world of searching, is referred to as a "Boolean operator," the same as AND.

    • teenager or adolescent or child
    • "child abuse" or "domestic violence"
    In the first example, the search will return any result that contains any or all of the terms used: teenager, adolescent, child. In the second example, it will return anything containing either or both of the phrases enclosed in double quotes.The best part is that OR (and AND) are nearly universally accepted in searching. This means this strategy can be used in almost all of our research databases.

    Congressional Quarterly Researcher

    To find comprehensive information about a current or past political, social or public policy issue, try looking in the Congressional Quarterly (CQ) Researcher database. Here you will find in-depth, unbiased coverage of the important issues of the times.

    Search menu options:
    CQ Researcher search menuYou can browse the database by
    • date,
    • broad topic
    • specific issue (Issue Tracker)
    • hierarchical index
    • or search for specific keywords (Quick Search or Advanced Search)
    Each report includes background, chronology, current situation and outlook, pro and con arguments, and a bibliography for more information.

    CQ Researcher Sample Report:
    CQ Research sample reportTo access this resource, go to the Library home page ( and click on the "All Research Databases" link in the left column of the page. You will need to type in your college login and password.

    New Library Resources

    The library has added several new research databases to its extensive resources:
    • APA PsycINFO: 2.3 million citations and summaries of scholarly journal articles from the American Psychological Association, via EBSCO.
    • Book Index with Reviews: indexing of 3.8 million book titles and access to full-text, searchable reviews for many.
    • Columbia International Affairs Online (CIAO): see article above.
    • Education Research Complete: a new EBSCO resource, it features the world’s largest and most complete collection of full text education journals.
    • PolicyFile: from ProQuest, 1995 to present coverage of US policy research.
    • Routledge Reference Resources: includes the searchable Encyclopedia of Philosophy and the dozens more volumes in the Religion Resource.
    • Coming soon!: A single-search e-Book Catalog. Search 7 collections of e-Books at once, including ebrary and netlibrary.
    Read more about these new resources in Library News or access them directly from the complete list of library databases at

    Saturday, July 1, 2006

    Find Statistical Information

    Have you ever needed to find what you thought would be an easy fact or statistic such as the current population of any country, state or city, how the number and size of pharmaceutical companies has changed over the last decade, or the annual funds spent by your government on education or the military? If so, you may have found out that such data isn't as easy to locate as it first seemed. Don't fret! By using some select search strategies and specific resources you'll have pinpoint access to literally tons of data and statistics covering a wide range of subjects.

    Subscription databases (to access, click on the "All Research Databases" link on the library home page):
    • ProQuest: On the default search interface, click the "More Search Options" link and then use the Document Type field to limit the search to "Statistics."
    • Opposing Viewpoints Resource Center - the search contains a "content type" limit option for statistics.
    • ebrary eBook Collection: use the Advanced search option and combine your keywords with the subject "statistics."
    • EBSCO: use ERIC for education statistics, MEDLINE for health stats, PsycARTICLES for the behavioral sciences, SocINDEX Full Text for the social sciences more generally, Business Source Premier for business, management and economic data and Academic Search Premier for just about any topic. Other possibilities include the Gender Studies Database, and the Military and Government Collection.
    • ABC-CLIO: try the America History and Life and Historical Abstracts databases for help locating historical stats.
    • In general: if there isn't a specific mechanism to limit a search to statistical data, try combining your keyword(s) with the term "statistics." E.g., "endangered species" and statistics
    Web Resources:
    • American FactFinder - complete access to population, housing, economic, and geographic data from the U.S. Census Bureau.
    • FedStats - search or browse the vast array of stats produced by our federal government.
    • InfoNation (U.N.) - compare and contrast population, health, economic, environment or technology statistics for up to 6 countries.
    • OffStats: Official Statistics on the Web - compare and contract country data on an extensive list of subjects from armaments, children or climate, through religion, taxation or wages.
    • Statistical Resources on the Web - annotated directory of factual resources, compiled by librarians at the University of Michigan.

    Use Synonyms to Expand your Keyword List

    When you're searching a library resource, an internet search engine, or even a book index, it's smart to consider additional or alternative search terms in addition to the ones you've selected. This will help you get more accurate results and expand your search if needed. By locating and using synonyms for your key search terms, you may retrieve results that address your topic that you wouldn't have encountered otherwise. For example, a search for:

    children AND drugs

    in a library research database may retrieve several relevant articles. However, an author or indexer may have chosen different words for those terms and until you consider synonyms you may not find other valuable material. For example, in addition to "children," you might consider "adolescent," "youth," "infant," "teenager," etc. depending on your research scope. Expand "drugs" to either include names of specific drugs, like "cocaine," or if you are referring to medicinal drugs, consider "pharmaceuticals" or "medicine." Not only will this expand your search to include additional results but may contribute to your research in ways that you hadn't originally expected, such as additional related topics, key people, or studies that you hadn't been aware of.

    You can find synonyms using either a print thesaurus, if you have one handy, or try one of these online versions:
    You might also try looking at the text and assigned subject terms of an article you have already found - different authors often use different terminology to describe similar things.

    Gender Studies Database

    As part of our EBSCO suite of research databases, the Gender Studies Database combines the popular Women's Studies International and Men's Studies databases with the coverage of sexual diversity issues. It includes journal articles, conference papers, books and book chapters, government reports, dissertations, discussion and working papers, theses and dissertations and other sources. This database includes almost 700,000 records with coverage from 1972 to the present.

    The searches can be limited by full text, publication date, and publication title, among other options. Results can be sorted by date, author, publication or relevance and to the left of each results page is a list of subject terms related to your search that can be used to expand or narrow your search as needed.

    Gender Studies Database results pageThe Gender Studies database can be accessed by going to the library home page ( and clicking on the "All Research Databases" link in the upper left. Gender Studies is listed within the EBSCO databases.

    ebrary eBook Collection

    Did you know that you can access a library of 30,000 full-text electronic books from your computer? Check out ebrary, an on-line database of books, reports, and maps. To access, use the direct link here or go to the library home page and click on the "ebrary" link under the Books section. Use your MyESC login and password to search and browse through the collection, which covers all the major disciplines such as history, science, technology, business, fine arts, literature, the social and behavioral sciences and education.

    Ebrary's Simple (default) Search:

    ebrary search optionsDownload the free ebrary reader to view or search through the full-text of any book in the collection. If you choose to create a personalized ebrary bookshelf you can save books you'd like to return to later. ebrary's reader even allows you to take electronic notes on, highlight words and phrases, and bookmark pages. Any notations you make will be saved into your personal bookshelf. You might be surprised to find that a wide variety of information is available in ebrary -- anything from a map of Moscow, and Washington Irving's The Legend of Sleepy Hollow and Bill Clinton's My Life and the Network Security Bible and Research Methods on the Social Sciences.

    Sample ebrary results page:ebrary results page

    New EBSCO Resources

    The library has added several new research databases to its EBSCO resources:
    • Academic Search Premier - a massive multidisciplinary resource with full-text for more than 4,600 journals, including 3,600 peer-reviewed titles.
    • Business Source Premier - comprehensive business resource that includes 9,200+ full-text journals
    • CINAHL Plus w/Full-text, CINAHL Select - nursing and allied health articles
    • ERIC - 2,200+ digests and citations and abstracts from 1,000+ education-related journals and literature
    • MEDLINE - premier medical and health bibliographic information source
    • Military and Government Collection - current news pertaining to all branches of the military and government
    • Regional Business News - coverage of 75 U.S. business journals, newspapers and newswires from a variety of metro and rural areas
    Read more about these new resources in Library News or access them directly from the complete list of library databases at

    Thursday, June 1, 2006

    Find Book Reviews

    First, a short definition: a book review is an essay or article that gives a critical evaluation of a book. Review length can range from one paragraph to many pages, and the content can take almost any form, such as literary criticism, plot summary, personal recommendations and reflections, etc. And the qualifications of the reviewer can be just as varied, although most peer-reviewed journals try to use subject experts whenever possible.
    Since different journal article databases have different designs, the ways to search for book reviews vary. The information below provides some tips for locating this kind of article.

    In the EBSCO and ProQuest research databases, you can limit your search by "Document Type." In ProQuest, for example, you can find "Document Type" by clicking on the grey "More Search Options" tab at the bottom of the search screen; whereas in EBSCO, it is on the Advanced Search screen where you can limit the "Document Type." In JSTOR, click the "review" box on the Advanced Search screen.

    Document Type option in EBSCOhost database:
    EBSCOhost document type option showing Book Review selectionIn other databases, if a "Document Type" option is not available, book reviews can often be retrieved by keyword search using the exact phrase "book review" in combination with your other search terms, such as author name.

    Locate Public Policy Resources

    Need to find quality resources relating to public policy? Want to search for journal articles in social, economic, environmental or labor policy? Having a hard time navigating the complex and often overlapping government information system? Here are some resources that contain policy-related information that may help:

    Where to start:
    Multidisciplinary Policy Research Resources:
    Social Policy:
    Business, Labor and Economic Policy:
    Foreign Policy:
    Policy History:
    Also remember to check out the list of references usually located at the end of any scholarly journal article or book. This is an excellent way to locate more relevant resources pertaining to your topic.

    New York Times Archive

    The New York Times Archive is an excellent resource for historical research. This searchable database, which includes images of every article published in the New York Times since its inception in 1851, offers an amazing wealth of information. The Archive contains news, editorials, letters to the editor, obituaries, birth and marriage announcements, and even advertisements. You may access the New York Times Archive directly by selecting it from the complete list of library databases at

    The search screen for this database is very user-friendly, with several search tools to help you find what you need. You may limit by author, date, and even document type (front page, obituary, editorial, classified ad, etc.).

    Screen capture of the New York Times Archive search screen:

    New York Times Archive search pageOnce you've found some articles that fit your topic, you may view them in several ways. Articles are available as PDF files, either as a single clipping or as an entire page that shows the article in its original placement on the newspaper page. You may also choose to view the article in a "page map," which is a hyperlinked version of the entire newspaper page where each article can be shown on its own simply by clicking on it. Both articles and entire pages may be saved and/or printed from their PDF format.

    Image of sample article display - entire page map as well as extracted clipping from the New York Times Archive:Sample page from NY Times article

    Career Resources Center

    Let's face it - one of the primary reasons college students make the effort to get a degree (beyond the love of learning) is to get or improve their employability. And we all, at one time or another, find ourselves in the position of having to decide what direction we want our career to take, or how to locate and apply for a job. We all know how stressful and time-consuming this process can be. Just locating suitable job openings can be a full-time job in itself! And then there are the subtle skills of writing resumes and cover letters, going to interviews and negotiating salary and benefits. What if we told you that quality information designed to guide you through all these processes, geared specifically to students at Empire State College, was only a mouse click away? It's true.

    Career Resources Center home page:Career Resource Center main page
    The Career Resources Center is linked from the library home page, listed in the middle column under "Learning Resources." In this searchable web site you will find loads of documents, forms, practice exercises and links for help in all aspects of the career process: assessing your options, locating opportunities, resume writing, succeeding in the interview process, as well as marketing yourself for professional development and advancement once you've landed that dream job.

    New Library Resources for June 2006

    The library has added three new research databases to its collection of resources:
    • New York Times Archive (1851-2003), a searchable database of the full image of articles published in the New York Times from its first issue in 1851
    • Gender Studies Database, a database combining Women's Studies International and Men's Studies to provide comprehensive coverage of sexual diversity issues
    • PolicyFile, an index of research papers and publications from organizations that influence public policy.
    Read more about these new resources in Library News or access them directly from the complete list of library databases at

    Monday, May 1, 2006

    Find Articles by Subject

    Are your search words not finding enough journal articles, or finding too many? Want a more precise way to search a database? Try using the "Subject" or "Topic" feature offered on the multidisciplinary databases ProQuest (Topic Guide), Gale's InfoTrac and Expanded Academic (Subject Guide), and EBSCOhost (Subjects).

    In most research databases, each article is assigned specific subject terms from a limited, controlled vocabulary, based on its content. If you know the term used in that database, it is the most accurate way to locate information. For example, if you were searching for articles on "education for the learning disabled" would you search on handicapped education, learning disabled education, learning disabilities and education, or special education? The answer may depend on the specific database you are using. That is why it is so useful to utilize the subject term feature. If you know the specific term used for that concept, you are assured of getting all relevant results.

    Mergent Online

    Are you researching a particular company? Not sure where to locate the most recent annual report, or 10-K ? Need an SEC filing from 1999? This information and more is now available to you through Mergent Online.

    Mergent Online is a treasure trove of corporate and financial information on over 35,000 U.S and global public companies. It's also a terrific source for information on defunct companies. Mergent Online includes profiles, financial statements, stock and bond performance data, institutional investor holdings, and company news.

    Part of the Mergent Online search page:
    Mergent Online search pageYou can find information by company name, stock ticker symbol or by industry groupings using North American Industry Classification (NAIC) codes. You can also search and retrieve company data to generate customized reports, such as company profiles and comparisons, by downloading financial and text data into Word, Excel and PDF formats.
    Reluctant to jump right in? You can view a tutorial on how to use this resource. Just locate your Student Technology Resources CD ROM which was sent to you last fall. If you're ready to explore Mergent Online right now, go to the library's home page at and click on "All Research Databases" or follow the link for "Business Management and Economics" in the listing of "Database Subject Guides."

    Gale Virtual Reference Library

    Before beginning any academic research it is helpful to obtain a good overview of your topic to help you identify key terms, names, and dates as well as give you a solid grasp on your subject matter. A great resource for this initial pre-research is an encyclopedia. The Empire State College online library includes several encyclopedias in its collection, such as Oxford Reference Online, Encyclopedia Brittannica and Gale Virtual Reference Library.

    The Gale Virtual Reference Library is a searchable electronic book collection of almost 60 subject encyclopedias, handbooks and guides, covering many subject disciplines in the humanities, social sciences, and science and technology. Articles in subject encyclopedias are usually written by experts in that particular field and often include useful bibliographies that can lead you to additional sources on the topic. The Gale Virtual Reference Library includes subject encyclopedias covering topics such as:
    • Business (e.g. Business Plans Handbook, Business Information Handbook, Encyclopedia of Small Business)
    • Culture (e.g. Encyclopedia of Food and Culture, Countries and Their Cultures, St. James Encyclopedia of Popular Culture)
    • Health Issues (e.g. Macmillan Encyclopedia of Death and Dying, Encyclopedia of Public Health, Gale Encyclopedia of Cancer)
    • Religion (e.g. Encyclopedia of American Religions, New Catholic Encyclopedia, Encyclopedia of Islam and the Muslim World)

    Saturday, April 1, 2006

    What is an Annotated Bibliography?

    An annotated bibliography is an organized list of citations (sources such as books, articles, and other materials) relating to a specific topic where each citation is followed with a brief descriptive note or "annotation." The citations are formatted in a specific citation style, such as MLA, APA, or Chicago (your instructor should indicate the style they want you to use). The annotations in your bibliography can:
    • describe the book or article's content
    • demonstrate the book or article's relevance to your research
    • discuss the reliability or validity of the book or article's content
    • present your reactions to the book or article's content
    Several excellent online tutorials are available to help you arrange, write and format your annotated bibliography:

    -The Annotated Bibliography (Empire State College GVC Writing Center)
    -How to Prepare an Annotated Bibliography (Cornell University Library)
    -Annotated Bibliographies (University of Wisconsin-Madison Writing Center)

    You may also want to ask the Empire State College writing tutor for help if you need assistance.

    SUNY Open Access Policy

    Inevitably in the course of doing your research, you will encounter a piece of information, whether it's a book, article, audiovisual material, etc. - that is simply not available online. Fortunately, when you encounter this situation, you still have options. The most important is to make use of the print materials at a library located near you. Through the State University of New York (SUNY) Open Access program, all current Empire State College students have access to the libraries of the State University of New York's two and four-year colleges and universities, including community colleges. For students who live in New York City, a similar arrangement is in place with the City University of New York (CUNY) library system.

    To check out materials from these libraries, you will need to present your Empire State College photo ID with a valid expiration date and Empire State College ID number. This is the only proof of enrollment or affiliation that will be accepted at these libraries. This photo ID card can be obtained at your orientation session or from the nearest Empire State College center. Note however that most SUNY libraries restrict access to online resources and interlibrary loan services to their own residents. However, you may want to check your local public library - it may offer some form of inter-library loan service.

    Before visiting any library, be sure to contact them directly to get their hours of operation as well as confirm their access policies.

    Online Mathematics Library

    Need help brushing up on your math skills for an economics or social science study? What's the difference between "mean," "median" and "mode"? Visit the Empire State College Online Mathematics Library at (it is also linked from the library home page in the middle column under "Learning Resources.") Here you will find a wide variety of math resources and tutorials geared to the adult learner. Browse by math topics ranging from everyday math to algebra, geometry, calculus and statistics, or find a site that explains a particular concept by using the keyword search feature. All resources have brief descriptions and icons indicating their content (practice exercises, multimedia, readings, reference materials or calculators) so you can select the tool that best meets your information need and learning style.

    Part of the Online Mathematics Library home page:part of the Online Math Library main page

    Info-Sci Online

    Info-Sci Online is a full-text resource that provides access to the latest research literature in the fields of information science, information technology and management, distance learning, e-commerce and much more.

    Info-Sci Online search page
    This database includes over 7,500 documents consisting of journal articles, book chapters, case studies and conference proceedings. You can search by keyword, author, title and other fields, or browse by topic. Sample Info-Sci Online search results page:You can access this resource by going to the library home page and clicking on the "All Research Databases" link in the upper left. Then scroll down the list of journal article databases until you see "Info-Sci Online."

    Wednesday, February 1, 2006

    What Does "Peer-Reviewed" Mean?

    If you've been asked to use peer-reviewed journals or articles in your research this means that you need material that has been critically assessed by experts or scholars in the author's field or specialty. Publishers of peer-reviewed (sometimes called refereed or scholarly) journals have a process where expert reviewers evaluate drafts of submitted articles before they are selected to be published. This ensures that the content of peer-reviewed articles is as valid and reliable as possible.

    Peer-reviewed journals can often be identified by searching our library research databases. Many of those databases allow you to limit your search results to those journals that are peer-reviewed or scholarly. Another way is by looking at the journal's web site or within the journal itself. Some journals will identify themselves as peer-reviewed. You may also want to look at the editorial statements or instructions to contributors: within this information you will usually discover if a journal uses a peer-review process. For more details: Distinguishing Scholarly Journals from Other Periodicals

    Why Google should not be your first (or second) choice for academic-level research

    While Google may be the first tool that pops into many students' heads when they need to find something, we're here to tell you that in regard to academic-level research, Google just doesn't cut it. Sure it's easy to use, but how accurate is it? How reliable and "scholarly" are the results you get, which often number in the thousands? The vast majority of "peer-reviewed" information is simply not available through Google. And while the use of Google does have a time and place for doing some research, that use should be as limited as possible. The following are reasons why Google (and Google Scholar to a lesser extent*) is not the answer, as well as suggestions for academic-quality library resources that you can use instead.

    3 Reasons Google should not be used for your academic research:
    • Accuracy: there is no peer-review process for the vast majority of pages on the web. As a result, it is almost impossible to determine their accuracy, quality or purpose.
    • Authority: since anyone can publish a website and there is usually no control over it's content, it is often hard to determine who authored the page, what their qualifications are, or even that the page isn't deliberately deceitful.
    • Quantity: Google indexes billions of web pages and does not distinguish between academic information and the ravings of a madman. As a result, most searches in Google result in thousands or tens of thousands of results with very few relevant and "scholarly" sites.
    *What about Google Scholar?
    • Better option than Google, but not as good as our library research databases; a subset of Google.
    • Indexes publicly-available papers, theses, and books; it is compiled by what a machine guesses is scholarly.
    • Results can't be sorted by date or publication, nor limited to peer-reviewed material.
    • The vast majority of results are not accessible in full-text at present.

    Library Resources that should be your primary research tools**:

    **Note: all of the resources above are also linked from the library home page:

    Gale PowerSearch

    Gale, which provides access to a wide variety of full-text resources, such as InfoTrac OneFile, Expanded Academic ASAP, Gale Virtual Reference, Custom Newspapers and many others, has implemented a new cross-database search interface called PowerSearch. You can now search across multiple Gale collections at the same time using a single interface. This includes thousands of journal, newspaper and encyclopedia titles.

    This article is just an overview of some of the changes and features available. For more details go into the Gale databases and see for yourself! There is also a "? Help" icon in the upper right side of every page in the database.
    PowerSearch is now the default search interface for all compatible collections and can also be used to search multiple collections at the same time. To do this:
    1. From the "All Research Databases" page, scroll down to "Gale Group" and click on "View/Select All" and login (college login and password required).
    2. The first page will show you which Gale collections are currently available for "PowerSearching" (this list will grow in the future). By default, all collections are selected, but you can click in a check box to select or deselect any. Also note that those "additional databases" that are not available for these features can still be accessed by scrolling to the bottom of the page.

    3. Click "Submit" at the top to get to the search page.

    4. ProQuest Powersearch databases
    5. The default search option is "Basic," but you can switch to other options, such as Subject Guide or Advanced Search by using the links in the light blue menu bar just above the search boxes.

    6. Note that you have several options within the Basic Search, such as where to search (subject, keyword, or full-text of articles), and limiting your search to peer-reviewed journals and or articles available in full-text within Gale.
    7. Gale Powr Search box
    8. The results page has also been improved in Gale. It now includes several very useful features:
    • Publication Type tabs: the default is to show magazine and journal results by date, but you can use these tabs just above the results display to view, if available, reference or news articles or multimedia files. Note that to see the limit options, click on the "More Search Options" link below the search box.

    • Subject Guide: to the left of the results, you will see a list of suggested subject terms deemed closest to the first keyword you entered in your search. Subject terms are assigned to each article based on their content and eliminate having to think of alternate terminology or synonyms, so using them is actually a much more precise way to search. Just click on a subject from the list to do a search of the subject field using that term.

    • Article Details: For each result, a citation is displayed containing title, author and publication information. Click on the title to access the record (if no full-text is available it will show you the abstract).
    • Article Shortcuts: the icons just below each citation give you a visual clue to the content. The little paper and or red Adobe icons indicate if full-text is available. Just click on an icon to go directly to that full-text. The pointing hand icon allows you to generate a properly formatted citation using either APA or MLA style. In addition, you can format it for plain text as well. There is also an option to format and export the citation(s) to bibliographic software, such as EndNote.
    Powersearch results page

    You can access the Gale collections by following the steps at the top of this article or going directly to the Gale Group login.

    Opposing Viewpoints Resource Center

    Addressing the complex issues that are part of today's current events can be challenging; especially if you are trying to critically evaluate and understand both sides of an issue in your research. Gale's Opposing Viewpoints Resource Center is a helpful tool for examining an issue from many perspectives. It presents facts about hundreds of controversial issues as well as the arguments of each topic's proponents and detractors. This database includes a wide variety of topics such as bioethics; drugs and athletes; genetic engineering; gun control; health care reform; nuclear weapons; right to privacy; and stem cell research.

    Opposing Viwpoints Resource Center main pag The Opposing Viewpoints database is an easy-to-search online resource that provides viewpoint essays, full-text newspaper and magazine articles, statistics, primary documents, and web links on dozens of controversial issues to help you do your research. Opposing Viewpoints even includes a "Social Issues Research Guide" to help guide you through your research and writing. You can search by key word, author, title, and headline or simply select from a list of issues. You can access this database from the library home page ( and clicking on the link for "All Research Databases." Opposing Viewpoints is included in the "Gale" collection of databases. You'll need your MyESC username and password for access.

    Sunday, January 1, 2006

    What research database(s) should I use?

    It is a common question posed by college students when faced with a research project: why are there so many article databases to choose from and how do I know which ones best fit my needs? The library offers three very useful and easy-to-use tools, accessible from the upper left of the library home page, to help you make these choices:

    • All Research Databases - this is an A-Z list of article databases, e-Book and newspaper collections, and images. Each entry in this list includes subject headings, description and where available, a link to a tutorial and or icon indicating full-text content.
    • Database Subject Guides - pick an area of study that matches your topic and view a list of databases with descriptions that contain content related to that topic.
    • FReD - use this to determine if a specific journal is available in full-text online or browse lists of available journals by subject. You can also use this tool to search within a specific journal title.
    • Having trouble locating relevant keywords that describe your topic? Try the helpful Identify Keywords chart.
    • If you are unsure what topic or subject to look for, try selecting a database from the "All" list above that is displayed in bold. These databases usually have some coverage for all major disciplines and in most cases also include full-text content.
    • Not sure how to cite an article from a research database? Try the Make a Citation tool from the SUNY Institute of Technology or consult the Citations and Bibliographies help page.

    Get background information on your research topic

    Need to find out what people mean by the term "global warming"? Need to find the federal definition of "poverty level"? A great place to begin research for any paper or essay is a subject encyclopedia or specialized dictionary. The library subscribes to three collections that can help you get background information on your paper topic, the Gale Virtual Reference Library, Oxford Reference Online and Encyclopedia Britannica. Each covers numerous subject disciplines and is searchable across dozens of resources at the same time.

    To access the Gale and Oxford online reference collections, go to the library home page ( and click on the links under the "Facts and Background Information" section on the left side. Click on the "More..." link to access Britannica and other reference resources. You will need your college login and password in order to access these services.


    ProQuest is a multidisciplinary database of full-text articles and article citations. This resource, one of the many research databases available through the online library, provides access to thousands of current and past periodicals and newspapers covering a wide range of topics.

    It also has a user-friendly search interface, with up-front search options to help you limit your search to only full-text documents or peer-reviewed journals.

    ProQuest search page

    ProQuest helps make searching easier by suggesting additional or related topics to your search terms. For instance, a search in the screen capture above produced this list of "suggested topics." Clicking on any of these topic links will begin a new search for these exact terms.

    ProQuest suggested topics
    ProQuest also provides a list of "suggested publications" that relate to the terms you've searched for, such as this list of journals that relate to a search on diabetes.

    ProQuest suggested publications
    To help you refine your search results, ProQuest can help you group and sort your search results. The image below shows the tabs that allow you to view only results of a specific document type (i.e., scholarly journals, magazines, newspapers, etc.) and sort your results by date or title, or display only items available in full-text.

    ProQuest results sort tabs
    Comprehensive online help is available by clicking on the "help" link at the top right corner of every page, or you can ask a librarian for personalized assistance.
    To begin searching the ProQuest database go the library home page and click on the "All Research Databases" link. You can select ProQuest from the list of library resources on that page. The library staff has created a ProQuest tutorial to help you get started, as well. Don't forget: you'll need your College login and password to access ProQuest and other library databases.


    If you need to locate the full-text of a scholarly article published five years ago or more, the JSTORarchive may be a good place to start looking. JSTOR is a unique collection because it offers the complete archives of a core group of 350 academic journals from the arts, cultural studies, languages, literature, social sciences and the history of science, starting with the first published issues, some of which date to the 19th century.

    You can search JSTOR by going to the Library home page ( and clicking on the link for "All Research Databases" in the upper left part of that page. You will need to type in your college login and password to access.

    You have the option of either browsing the journal titles by subject or alphabetical listing or searching directly for articles using keywords, author or title words, etc. The screen capture below shows the default Basic Search page.

    JSTOR search pageDirect links to JSTOR full-text articles have also been activated in many of the library's research databases, such as Historical Abstracts, the MLA International Bibliography in Gale's Literature Resource Center, and in all of the research databases that display the "Article Linker" icon in the citation.

    You can view a step-by-step tutorial for accessing and searching JSTOR in the Research Tutorials section of the library home page.