Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Using Encyclopedia and Reference Sources

Need fast access to a map of France? Searching for a short overview of the Cold War? Looking for the definition of antidisestablishmentarianism? Try Oxford Reference Online, a cross-searchable collection of over 100 subject dictionaries, thesauri, maps, encyclopedias, and almanacs. This database can be accessed via the "dictionary & Encyclopedia Search" link on the left column of the library home page. Oxford Reference Online provides access to reference materials on a wide range of subjects such as art, science, computing, history, law, literature, religion, and many others. You may search by key word or browse by subject. You may even search within a particular e-book or browse an e-book's index.

Ready reference sources like Oxford Reference Online, Gale Virtual Reference, and Credo Reference can be a valuable first stop when beginning your library research. They provide basic, reliable information to help you understand your topic better. They can also help you identify key terms and phrases to use when searching for scholarly articles and books in the library research databases. Entries in these resources often provide links to more information and can get you on your way to find the materials you need.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Find Government Information

When you're in need of a piece of information or data, form or report that you know the U.S. federal government produces, but have no idea how to locate it, follow these tips and resources for help:

1. Search tips:
  • Most federal government sites contain the .gov or .mil (military sites) suffix in the URL - you can often locate a specific department by using the appropriate domain combined with the department abbreviation or name. For example, the Dept. of Justice is: http://www.justice.gov/ and the Army home page is: http://www.army.mil/
  • You can limit a Google search to .gov or .mil pages by placing site:.gov (or site:.mil) at the end of your search string (e.g.: "mercury emissions" site:.gov)
  • If you need a government document that you cannot find online, you can Locate a Federal Depository Library near you and tap the free collections, tools and expert knowledge of the librarians there.
2. Search tools:
There are a number of portal sites that can be used to quickly search or browse through government web pages:
  • usa.gov - official gateway for all government information. Includes sections for data, laws, forms, maps, etc.
  • GPO Access - publishes most official documents produced by all three branches of the government, such as congressional bills, Supreme Court documents and public papers of the President.
  • FedWorld.gov - especially useful for locating scientific and technical documents.
  • Thomas - find bills, laws, congressional reports, anything related to the legislative branch.
  • U.S. Census: American Factfinder - source for current population, economic, and geographic census information.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Using ScienceDirect

Don't be mislead by ScienceDirect's name. While best known as "the world's largest electronic collection of science, technology and medicine...information," ScienceDirect also has strong holdings in the social sciences including psychology, human behavior, sociology, and instructional technology.

Thanks to the cooperative buying power of SUNYConnect library consortia, all of ScienceDirect's 1,800+ full-text journal titles are available for searching. Also consider using ScienceDirect if you need the very latest information on a topic. Many publishers post articles "in press" as corrected proofs.

ScienceDirect offers a "Quick Search" feature at the top of the page to search across the entire collection, or click on the green "Search" button in the horizontal navigation at the top to limit your search to a specific subject area. Click the "Journals" tab to display journals by subject discipline or to search by journal title. In the results, use the "Cited by" option to connect to the fulltext of other articles that are cited in the article's bibliography. This is a great way to explore related readings on your topic.

ScienceDirect home page and search options:

To access ScienceDirect go to the library's home page (http://www.esc.edu/library) and click on the "Resources by Subject (or by title)" links in the left column.