Monday, December 28, 2009

Job Hunting? Look at the Career Resources Subject Guide

With unemployment and underemployment constantly in the news, many people's #1 New Years Resolution is either "get a job" or "get a better job." Even if you're happy where you are, professional development, continuing education, and social networking are vital to your wellbeing and advancement in the workplace.

Like all of our subject guides, the Career Resources Subject Guide is organized by labeled blue tabs going across the top. Under each tab are boxes containing links to information sources that will put you on the path to a healthy paycheck and personal fulfillment through your chosen work. First, look at the advice about choosing and modifying your career path. Then try some of the tips for improving your resume and coverletter and making a great impression in an interview. There are Resources By Field to guide you to job leads in your area. Under Find a Position, you can explore job openings in a variety of online employment classified services.

The Career Resources Subject Guide also features the Vocational and Careers Collection and Ferguson Career Guidance Center, two exceptional resources paid for and made available to Empire State College students for free. Just click on the Search Career Databases tab, click on the database name, and log in with your College login and password.

The Empire State College Library does not offer career advice, placement services, or resume editing. You may be interested in the Empire State College Alumni Career Services page.

Questions? Ask a Librarian

Monday, December 21, 2009

Featured Database: Conference Board Business Knowledge Research

Conference Board Business Knowledge Research is a subscription (college login only) database. The Conference Board is a not-for-profit, non-partisan organization of experts from a variety of industries. They gather data and produce reports and forecasts on business and the economy. Their information is so reliably high-quality that it is widely quoted in major newspapers and used in decision-making by government agencies.

In addition to information about markets and the economy, the Conference Board is a resource for researching business ethics, human resources issues, corporate governance, and more. The reports found in this database are a valuable supplement to the scholarly and industry magazine articles you will find in other databases like Business Source Complete.

You can search for your topic by keyword (top option) or browse (bottom option).

Questions? Ask a Librarian

Monday, December 14, 2009

Shop Smart! Take advantage of Consumer Reports.

Between holiday shopping and shopping the post-holiday sales, this is a time of year when many people make major purchases. It's always a good idea to do some research on a product before you lay down money for it. Does it do everything you need it to? Are you just paying money for features you won't use? Will it last? Is it safe? Is it the best deal?

What you may not know is that the Library can help you answer these questions. We have a subscription to Consumer Reports, a leading publication on product reviews and consumer protection. To access it, simply click this link. You can also find it by going to the Library website, clicking the link for Full-text Journal Finder, and searching for "consumer reports." Then click the link to access it. You will need to log in with your College login and password.

Once you're in, simply search for the name of the product in quotes. You can search by the brand name or the kind of product. For example, "digital camera" is a valid search, and so is "Canon Powershot."

So if you're concerned about toy recalls, the safest car, the highest hi-def TV, or the best bang for your buck laptop, Consumer Reports is the place to go.
Questions? Ask a Librarian

Monday, December 7, 2009

Full-text Journal Finder

We get a lot of questions about whether we have a certain journal in our collections, but there's a faster way for you to find out. It's called Full-text Journal Finder.

If you go to the library website ( you'll see the link for it in the leftmost column. Another way to get to it is type into the address bar of your browser.

You'll see a simple search box.

Just type in the title of the journal you're looking for. What comes up may be:
  • "0 records retrieved for the search" - means we don't have it
  • one search result - that's your journal
  • an alphabetized list - pick your journal from the list
Next to your result will be information about where you can access the journal.

The links are links to the databases that have the article. The black text to the left of the links tells you what years (volumes and issues) of that journal are available in the database.

So click the link fore a database that contains the journal in the year you're looking for. You'll need to log in if you're not already.

That will take you to the journal inside of the database. From this point you can either browse (click on links to the individual volumes and issues of the journal in order to look for the article you want) or search (keyword search for a title, author, or topic within the journal.)
Questions? Ask a Librarian

Monday, November 30, 2009

Finding a particular article when you remember (almost) nothing about it

You saw an article the other day that had the PERFECT quote to use in your paper. Now if only you could remember where you saw it. Or the journal it was in, or who wrote it. Gina somebody? Maybe Gerry? Ack!

There's a good tool for finding that article based on whatever fragmentary information you have, and that's Google Scholar.

I was reading something about Frederick Douglass and it contained a really memorable phrase. Something about "rhetorical somersaults."

So I go to Google Scholar on the Library's website ( That way I log in to use it, so that my search results are linked to full-text in the Library's databases. Then I search Google Scholar for

+"frederick douglass" +"rhetorical somersaults"

... And I get exactly one search result: "Violence as an Instrument for Social Change: The Views of Frederick Douglass (1817-1895)" by Leslie Friedman Goldstein. That's my article!

And because I searched Google Scholar with the Empire State College login, there's a full-text link right next to the search result, and it takes me right to the article in one of the library's databases.

Let's try this again. There was an article about John Adams that I like, but I can't remember the title right. It was something like "The Founding Fathers: A Reform Project in Action." Or was it "A Reform Convention." Or maybe "Revision Convention?" "Revolutionary"? Something. I try searching all the variations in the databases and it's taking forever. But in Google Scholar, I just type in the title as I think I remember it, without quotes. In this case, I typed in

The Founding Fathers: A Revolutionary Convention in Action

It turns out I had the title all wrong. It was "The Founding Fathers: A Reform Caucus in Action." But Google Scholar found it anyway!

Google has such a powerful search engine that it makes sense to use it whenever you are unsure how to word your search, or can't remember all the critical details. Just remember to access Google Scholar through the Empire State College Library at so you have fast and easy access to the full-text through our databases.
Questions? Ask a Librarian

Monday, November 23, 2009

Keyword tips

Databases are set up to do keyword searches. What is a keyword? Technically speaking, it's any string of letters that you type into the search box, which the database then attempts to find anywhere in any of its records. The database can't understand English, so it just matches strings of letters. There are specific "operators" you can use to make keyword searching more effective.

Say I want to search for swine flu. If I just type that in, I will get all the results that mention swine one place in the article, and flu some other place in the article. Not all of them will be relevant. The solution for that is to put quotes around phrases so that they are searched as a unit and not separately:
"swine flu"

Another thing is that if I'm looking for articles about swine flu and type that in, I will not get any results that call it H1N1 instead. The solution is to think up as many synonyms for your concept as possible. Join all the synonyms for a concept with OR, and put them inside a pair of parentheses.
("swine flu" OR H1N1)

Say I want to research the correlation between people getting swine flu/H1N1 and having respiratory complications. Those are two separate concepts, each with their own keywords. Put each concept in parentheses like before and then join the two concepts with AND.
("swine flu" OR H1N1) AND ("respiratory complications" OR pneumonia)

Say I did the search above, but was only interested in results in Mexico. I could add a third concept (Mexico OR Mexican OR Mexicans) but there's an easier way. Just put an asterisk (*) in place of the word ending that changes to include all the possibilities.
("swine flu" OR H1N1) AND ("respiratory complications" OR pneumonia) AND (Mexic*)

And finally, say I wanted was interested in results anywhere but Mexico. For that, I would use NOT to exclude articles that contained that keyword.
("swine flu" OR H1N1) AND ("respiratory complications" OR pneumonia) NOT (Mexic*)

Questions? Ask a Librarian

Monday, November 16, 2009

Primary Sources

When doing research, you have to differentiate between primary, secondary, and tertiary sources. What makes a source primary, secondary, or tertiary is partly the source itself and partly how you use it.

Primary sources are the foundation for research. They're direct evidence of what you're researching. In psychology, a primary source could be a diary or an interview with a subject. In the sciences, they could be the readouts from equipment and spreadsheets of data gathered from observations. Kinds of primary sources include:
  • diaries, journals, letters, interviews, memoirs, autobiographies (not ghost-written ones!)
  • photographs, audio and audio-visual recordings of events
  • sketches and written accounts of events by witnesses
  • equipment readouts, tables of data, logs of observations
  • documents and artifacts produced by an event or phenomenon
Secondary sources are other people talking/writing about primary sources. For example, scholarly articles and monographs are secondary sources. They analyze, interpret, and formulate opinions. Secondary sources contain someone's original thoughts and interpretations of the primary sources. Kinds of secondary sources include:
  • monographs (scholarly non-fiction books)
  • scholarly articles
  • many non-scholarly non-fiction works
  • documentaries
Tertiary sources are not used in scholarly research. They're used strictly for teaching and learning - textbooks to introduce a person to a subject and reference books to provide background information and answer questions about the subject. The information they contain may be correct, reliable, and even advanced, but what makes them non-scholarly is that they're not original thoughts. Kinds of tertiary resources include:
  • textbooks and accompanying materials
  • many educational videos
  • reference books
  • many websites
It gets a little more complicated in the humanities. In literature, history, and cultural studies especially, things that were originally written as secondary and tertiary sources can become primary sources! For example, a 19th century science textbook for children was originally a tertiary source, but in the hands of a person studying the history of science education, it's direct evidence of past science pedagogy. Or a medieval treatise on theology might have been intended as a secondary source, but a modern Women's Studies scholar might use it as a primary source on medieval beliefs about sex and gender.
Questions? Ask a Librarian

Monday, November 9, 2009

Medical Research in the Library

Whether you are in the Nursing Program, writing a paper on a health and wellness topic, or curious about something going on in your own life, the Empire State College Library can provide you with sound information on human biology, medicine, and the medical industry, including reference materials, e-books, and scholarly articles.

The first place to start looking is the Health and Biology Subject Guide. You can get to it by clicking this link, or by going to the Library website. Click the Resources By Subject link in the left column, and then click the Health and Biology link in the yellow box.

Like all subject guides, Health and Biology is organized under the blue tabs running across the top. The first tab contains basic introductory and health information. The second covers news and new research - the latest articles from various resources delivered right to that page. Reference tools has links to various medical and health dictionaries, encyclopedias, and other reference resources. Journals & Articles has links to the databases that will help you find scholarly articles on your health, medicine, medical industry, or human biology topic. Books lets you search the E-Book Catalog for books on your topic, or go directly to a collection of Biology e-books. Statistics & Websites contains links to websites that the librarians and faculty have selected for their scholarly-quality information. And Multimedia has links to audio and audiovideo resources that you may find useful.

Some databases you might want to look at are listed below:
  • Medline - This is the premier database of peer reviewed medical research. Go here to find the latest articles that report on the results of scientific studies.
  • CINAHL - This is the database to go to for articles in the field of nursing (and allied professional fields.)
  • ProQuest Health Management - This database has technical and scholarly articles about the health industry - hospital administration, health insurance and health maintenance organizations, the pharmaceuticals industry, and so forth.
  • Health & Wellness Resource Center - This is a database of articles intended for a general audience (and some peer reviewed) about various help topics. Information on alternative and complementary therapies is included. This is a good place to start if you have a health concern of your own.
Questions? Ask a Librarian

Monday, November 2, 2009

Election Day resources

Tuesday, November 3 is Election Day. This is an off-year; most elections are for local officials. Mayors, local judges, city council members, members of the schoolboard, and other municipal officials make decisions about taxation and how your tax dollars will be put to work. Local elections may not get much press coverage, but their outcomes definitely affect our lives in important ways.

The League of Women Voters provides a service called It has information like how to find out if you are registered to vote, your polling location, what elections are being held, laws regarding getting time off to vote, and more. You can also search for your state's Board of Elections website.

Politics is a case study in how crucial it is to identify the sources of bias. Here are some other resources for informing yourself about the issues:
  • Gale Opposing Viewpoints Resource Center - a library database that contains articles, opinion pieces, and primary sources from all points of view about various "hot topics"
  • Congressional Quarterly Electronic Library - a library database containing federal government policy documents and analysis.
  • - a website run by the Annenberg Public Policy Center. It doesn't accept funding from corporations, lobbyists, labor unions, or political parties. "We monitor the factual accuracy of what is said by major U.S. political players in the form of TV ads, debates, speeches, interviews and news releases."
  • PolitiFact - a service of the St. Petersburg Times and The Congressional Quarterly. It features the Truth-O-Meter, which rates the statements of public figures all the way from bald-faced lies to 100% true and verifiable. There's also the Obameter, which tracks the President's progress (and lack thereof) in fulfilling campaign promises, and the Flipometer, which tracks politicians who change their minds and votes about the issues.
  • is a non-partisan non-profit organization whose service lets you track campaign contributions and lobbying in state and local politics. And similarly lets you track donations and lobbying in national politics.
So look over these resources today, and get out and vote tomorrow!
Questions? Ask a Librarian

Monday, October 26, 2009

Urban Legends: A Case Study in Critical Thinking

Halloween is this Saturday, and it seems that this time of year is especially rife with urban legends - stories that most people have heard and many people "know" are true, but aren't. Here are some Halloween urban legends (and one or two that are actually true.)

Urban legends are passed as anecdotes among friends and e-mail chain letters. Sometimes they show up on websites and TV. Once they're widely accepted, they can appear in reputable books, the evening news, and classrooms (like the "we only use 10% of our brains" myth.)

We believe them for 3 main reasons:
1. we read/hear them so often
2. they're passed on by people we trust - a cousin, an author, a TV anchor, somebody who says they work for Microsoft
3. they fit in with our pre-existing hopes and insecurities about the world

Snopes ( is a fantastic site to check out any sensational "news" you read or hear of a computer virus, get rich quick scheme, conspiracy theory, or "scare." Here's what they say about themselves:
We don't expect anyone to accept us as the ultimate authority on any topic. Unlike the plethora of anonymous individuals who create and send the unsigned, unsourced e-mail messages that are forwarded all over the Internet, we show our work. The research materials we've used in the preparation of any particular page are listed in the bibliography displayed at the bottom of that page so that readers who wish to verify the validity of our information may check those sources for themselves.
You can trust them - provisionally - because they show the sources of their information so you can go back and decide for yourself.

The TV show MythBusters has a fan site full of articles and interactive features here:
MythBusters is entertaining but it's also educational - it demonstrates how to apply basic scientific method to determine whether or not to believe something that's commonly "known." In other words, form a hypothesis and design an experiment to prove or disprove it. In real life, this is often as easy as looking it up in a reliable reference book to see what others have already discovered.

Questions? Ask a Librarian

Monday, October 19, 2009

Chaining: A research technique

When you're searching in a Library database, whether it's JSTOR, Academic Search Complete, or Science Direct, sometimes you'll find only one or two articles that are exactly what you're looking for. But you need more than that. Chaining is a technique that helps you find "more of the same."

Chaining means you go into the footnotes and bibliography of the article that's right on topic, and note down what sources the author cited. The idea is that the author is only going to cite sources that provided information relevant to their article topic, so those sources are probably relevant to your topic too.

Then go back to the database and search for those articles. Remember to search for the article title (not the journal title) and to enclose the whole title in quotation marks.
Questions? Ask a Librarian

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Sign up for an @Home Library Workshop

The next @Home Library Workshop, Introduction to Searching, will take place next Tuesday, October 20, from 6:00 to 7:30 pm. Please go here to sign up.

Participate in an @Home Library Workshop from your own computer. You don't have to install any software but you do need a highspeed Internet connection, speakers, and a microphone hooked up to your computer.

@Home Library Workshops are 90 minute live, interactive sessions with a librarian and your fellow students. Introduction to Searching covers how to:
  • Create a search strategy from a research topic
  • Use the Resources by Subject guide
  • Search Journal & Newspaper Articles
  • Use powerful search results page options
  • Search E-Books
If you are new to library research, or would like a refresher, please sign up to join us this coming Tuesday!
Questions? Ask a Librarian

Monday, October 12, 2009

Columbus Day

"In fourteen hundred and ninety-two, Columbus sailed the ocean blue." It was a significant accomplishment. With the technology available to Renaissance Europeans, crossing any wide stretch of water was incredibly risky.

It's funny though, that we say Columbus "discovered" the Americas when there were already tens of millions of people living there. That's not to diminish the accomplishment. We should acknowledge and even celebrate the flourishing of discovery and innovation that took place in Europe at that time, and the immense courage and talent it took to explore the unknown.

But while we commemorate the achievement of a great European explorer and his crew, we have to break our silence about the achievements of the civilizations and cultures that had already existed on the American continents for thousands of years. Not to mention the history of war, exploitation, resettlement, disenfranchisement, forced assimilation, and discrimination.

Sometimes people get angry if they hear anything good about the bad guy, or anything bad about the good guy. But if history is motivated by a contemporary agenda, whether a conservative or a radical one, it's compromised. History is simply about learning from the past. It's up to us to apply the lessons in the light of reason and human decency.
Questions? Ask a Librarian

Monday, October 5, 2009

Finding GOOD information on the web

You may do most of your research on websites, or you may have the opinion that the Internet can't be trusted as a source of information. The truth is between the two extremes. There is a lot of valuable information on the Web, some of which can't be found anywhere else. But that valuable information is the proverbial needle in a haystack. What you need is a magnet!

There are a number of sites that can be considered powerful magnets for finding that needle. They have people who find the best resources in every topic and then list, categorize, and describe them for you.
  • Open Directory Project - the largest human-reviewed directory on the web. Its human reviewers are volunteers, so not all of them are information professionals or subject experts.
  • Librarians' Internet Index - the human reviewers are information professionals but not subject experts. Selection criteria are stricter, and the site is smaller.
  • Internet Scout Project - information professionals and content specialists work together to select sites that are included here. This site is the smallest and has the strictest selection criteria.
The next time you need web resources on your topic, don't just dig through the whole mess with a search engine. First look in these places, to see if someone else has already done all the digging!

Bear in mind that the people who selected the resources on these sites may have standards for reliability and usefulness that differ from your own. Always use critical thinking to evaluate resources and the information they contain. More on that can be found here: Evaluating Websites
Questions? Ask a Librarian

Monday, September 28, 2009

What makes scholarly sources scholarly?

Often, you will be asked to use scholarly sources for your papers and projects. Many of the Library's databases consist entirely of scholarly articles, for instance, JSTOR, ScienceDirect, PsycArticles, SocIndex, and Medline. Nearly all the other databases have an option on the search screen to limit your search to all scholarly (all peer reviewed) results.

But what is it about a book or an article that makes it scholarly?

"Scholarly research" boils down to a system for verifying facts and logic. It's a set of checks and balances to prevent errors, nonsense, and lies, from being passed off as good information. A scholarly researcher first learns the ideas and findings of others in the field. The researcher then develops a hypothesis and designs and implements a methodology to prove or disprove that hypothesis.

Scholarly also means "by scholars and intended to be read by other scholars." Popular sources have articles that are intended to be interesting and comprehensible for as many people as possible. They have to leave out some details and simplify others. Scholarly sources have more detailed, advanced, sophisticated information. And it's closer to the source, not translated for you by another non-expert.

In the peer review process, an article being considered for publication is inspected by two or more other subject area experts. They question whether the author did enough background research, used a solid methodology, collected data properly, and interpreted statistics accurately. They look for logic flaws, signs of bias or agenda, outdated or discredited information, and more. The article may be rejected; if it is accepted, the author must fix all the problems before it can be published. Scholarly books (also called monographs) are not peer reviewed, but subject expert editors perform the same function.

Questions? Ask a Librarian

Monday, September 21, 2009

In honor of Eid, some Muslim history, religion, and culture resources.

Eid ul-Fitr (the Celebration of Breaking the Fast) is the Muslim celebration at the end of Ramadan.

According to Muslim belief, the prophet Muhammad spent the lunar month of Ramadan praying and fasting in the wilderness, and was given the Quran. During Ramadan, Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset and work on the virtues of purity, self-control, compassion, and generosity. Part of the Ramadan observance is contributing an extra donation to the needy above and beyond monthly alms. At the end of Ramadan, Eid ul-Fitr is celebrated with feasting, family gatherings and visiting, and special prayers that ask for forgiveness, mercy, and help for all living beings.

This year Ramadan lasted from August 22 until September 20, and Eid ul-Fitr is today.

Web Resources:
Library Resources:
Questions? Ask a Librarian

In honor of the Jewish holidays, some Jewish history, religion, and culture resources

Rosh Hashanah (the Day of Judgment, also called the Jewish New Year) began this past Friday at sundown. At sundown on Sunday the 27th, Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement) begins. These are the two holiest holidays in the Hebrew calendar. The period between them is a time for prayer, introspection, and making amends for past wrongdoing. On both Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, observant Jews abstain from work and attend religious services. In addition, on Yom Kippur, they must fast.

Web Resources:
Library Resources:
Questions? Ask a Librarian

Monday, September 14, 2009

Use RefWorks as storage for documents, images, etc.

The library provides RefWorks (, an online tool for gathering and organizing bibliographic information. It inserts into your paper in perfectly formatted footnotes (or endnotes or in-text citations) in whatever citation style you like - APA, MLA, Chicago, etc.

What's less well known is how RefWorks can function as online storage and organization for your files. This includes documents, spreadsheets, images, and audiovideo files. For example, you might store a draft of the paper you're writing, some maps and graphs that you'll include in the paper, and a recorded interview that you're using as a primary source. Any kind of file at all can be attached to a record and stored in a folder.* RefWorks' system of folders lets you keep your research materials organized by course or project.

If you are going to use RefWorks for content storage, first you should learn how to create a RefWorks record and put it in a folder. You will find these tutorials helpful:

You can attach files to a record for an actual research resource, or you can create a dummy record like, "Maps for my American History Paper." Select the desired record, and click the "View" link next to it. Click the "Edit" button at the top left of the page. The "Attachments" option will become visible. Click the "Browse" button next to it, and find the file you wish to attach on your computer. Double-click that item, and click the "Add Attachment" button. You can add as many attachments as you like to a record.

Files that you store this way will not be lost if you have a power surge that harms your computer, lose your thumb drive, or simply forget to bring it. You can access them from any computer that has an Internet connection. You can use RefWorks to keep them safe and accessible, and also insert them into your documents as needed.

* It's legal to have a copy of a copyrighted work for personal educational use, but it's illegal to put it where someone might access it. Never share RefWorks folders that include attached copyrighted files.
Questions? Ask a Librarian

Monday, September 7, 2009

In honor of Labor Day, some labor studies resources

Labor Day has been celebrated in the United States since the 1880s. Traditionally, it was a day of parades, speeches, and picnics to show the strength and solidarity of the workers' movement. The Labor Movement in the United States has been responsible for a number of things that many of us now take for granted: weekends, 8 hour days, paid sick time and vacations, pensions, health insurance, and safe workplaces.

The Labor Studies Subject Guide is your starting place for research on the labor movement and labor history, past and present. It will direct you to e-books, journal article databases, and selected web sites. You can access it through the link above, or by going to the Online Library website at Click "Research By Subject" and then scroll down and click "Labor Studies." You can navigate the subject guide with the blue tabs going across the top.

Questions? Ask a Librarian

Monday, August 31, 2009

Wolfram|Alpha - a search engine for facts and figures

Wolfram|Alpha's FAQ says it's not a search engine, but a "computational knowledge engine." What's important is what it can do. It provides fast answers to your facts and figures questions.

For an idea of what kinds of questions Wolfram|Alpha can answer, and an introduction to how to use it, check out this 13 minute video from its creator: Introduction to Wolfram|Alpha.

Wolfram Alpha is located at When you get there, you will see a standard search box up at the top. For simple requests just type into the box and click the orange = button. For even greater precision, you can choose the subject area/kind of question from a list beneath the search box on the front page. Wolfram|Alpha does a decent job of handling natural language queries like "distance from sun to pluto" or "average blood pressure of a 50 year old woman." It will ask "Did you mean...," and you can click the wording that it offers.

To get started, why not try out some of the example searches here:

Questions? Ask a Librarian

Monday, August 24, 2009

Company Research in Mergent

Mergent is a premier business research database. It's the best place to begin for company research.

You can access Mergent by going to the library homepage at Click All Databases By Title, and then scroll down and click Mergent. Log in with your college login and password.

To look up a company by name, go to the Identifier box on the left and click Company Name. Then type in the company's name and click search. If you don't know the company's full official name, a keyword will bring up a list. You can look up a publicly traded company by its stock market Ticker Symbol, and a private company by its DUNS number - remember to click the "Include private companies" option!

Once you have search results, click on the name of the company to view information about it.

The first page of the report is the Synopsis, which provides an overview of the company. Be sure to click each of the options in the green bar across the top. These provide detailed information in these categories: Highlights, History, Joint Ventures, Business, Property, Subsidiaries, Long Term Debt, Executives, and Capital Stock.

In the lower left, you can click the "EDGAR" link for a publicly traded company's SEC filing, annual report, and other information. (Annual reports for private companies can sometimes be found online by Googling +"company name" +"annual report".)
Questions? Ask a Librarian

Monday, July 13, 2009

What is EBSCO Quick Search?

Have you noticed the "EBSCO Quick Search" box on the right side of the library home page? If you are using it or plan to, you should know what it is you are searching, right? This quick search box searches two multidisciplinary EBSCOHost databases at the same time: Academic Search Complete and Business Source Complete.

Be aware that this search can be useful to get you started on most topics, but you may need to search more specialized databases to get more information. Use the Resources by Subject tool to find databases that more closely match your needs.

Questions? Ask a Librarian

Monday, June 15, 2009

RefWorks now available for free

Library Introduces RefWorks, a Web-Hosted Reference Manager

Following positive feedback from a recent trial, the Empire State College library has added RefWorks, a reference management tool similar to EndNote, to its collection of online resources. It is freely available for use by all current Empire State College students, faculty and staff (college login req'd).

RefWorks can help you quickly format citations in most any style, including APA and MLA, as well as assist in capturing and organizing references from the library's databases.

Like EndNote*, RefWorks integrates with Microsoft Word and Open Office to help you document your sources as you write. RefWorks is designed to make the research and writing process easier.

First-time users need to create an individual account in order to use RefWorks.

To Access RefWorks:

1. On the library’s home page, under “Cite Your Sources,” click on the “RefWorks” link
2. or go directly to:
3. Click on the “RefWorks login” link
4. Enter your college login and password

To Create an Individual Account (after entering your college login):

1. Click on “Sign Up for an Individual Account” link (see screen capture below)
2. Enter the appropriate information on the form and click on “Register”

Getting Started:

The Quick Start Guide outlines what a new user needs to know to start using RefWorks.

In addition, there is a series of RefWorks tutorials available within the program itself. You can view all of the tutorials in the series in less than an hour. Viewing the tutorials (or using the option to print them) will save you time and effort and is recommended. To view the tutorials, just click on the “Tutorial” link located at the top of each page, or go directly to:

For Help:

If you have questions about using RefWorks, please contact the RefWorks help desk at or call: 775-327-4105.

If you have comments or feedback about RefWorks, contact the librarians at Ask-a-Librarian.

*Note for EndNote Users:

Although the college will no longer support EndNote by providing new versions as they are released, you can continue to use your current software. If you wish to move your Endnote citations to RefWorks, you will find links to comprehensive instructions at
Questions? Ask a Librarian

Friday, May 22, 2009

New EBSCOHost databases now available

Thanks to SUNYConnect, a wealth of new and upgraded EBSCOHost journal, newspaper and reference content is now available.

Access to these resources and many more can be found via the library Resources by Subject or the All Databases by Title pages (college login req'd):
Questions? Ask a Librarian

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Ask-a-Librarian closed Memorial Day weekend

The Ask-a-Librarian reference service will be closed this Sunday and Monday due to the Memorial Day holiday. Regular hours will resume on Tuesday.

Have a great 3 day weekend!
Questions? Ask a Librarian

Friday, April 24, 2009

Pre-formatted (APA, MLA, etc) Citations for Journal Articles

If you've ever done a college-level research paper, you probably know that the process of properly citing your sources and formatting them to fit a specific citation style such as APA or MLA can be time-consuming and frustrating.

Luckily, when you do your research through the online library, you have several very useful tools available to you that can help with this. First and foremost, you can find links to citation style details and sample papers right on the library home page (in the middle column).

Second, you can now also use tools, within some of the library databases, to help you do the citation style formatting! Just find the tool and copy-paste the already formatted citation right into your list of references or bibliography (example below is from Academic Search Premier):

WARNING: these citation tools are not foolproof and can and do sometimes get the formatting or information incorrect. Do not just copy and paste without evaluating. Whenever possible, always double-check your citations for proper formatting against an up-to-date citation style guide.

The following major databases have such an option, look for it on any results page (see items highlighted in red on screen shots below):

Academic Search Premier, Business Source Premier & more (EBSCOHost):

ProQuest (ABI/INFORM, etc.):

Academic OneFile, Opposing Viewpoints Resource Center, etc. (Gale):

Questions? Ask a Librarian

Monday, April 13, 2009

New library home page launched!

The library has launched its new and improved home page next. We've streamlined the design, emphasizing the most-used research tools, and decreased the number of links displayed.

Note: only the home page layout is changing. Other pages within the library site will remain as they are.

If you'd like to leave us some feedback or comments on this change (or any other library service), please fill out a Feedback form.

Questions? Ask a Librarian

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

How to Search by Author

If you need to find an article or book by a specific author, and you don't have any title or journal information, or don't know what library database to look in, there are a couple ways to proceed:

For books
there are 3 options:
    • Go to our E-Book Catalog and type in the author's name (e.g. Fyodor Dostoyevsky) and switch the "Field to Search" to Author.
    • If the title is not in our collection, use WorldCat and type the author name in the Author search box provided. This will tell you if there is a library near you that has the book on it's shelves.
    • Use the Advanced Google Book Search to search by author name.
For articles you have multiple options too:
    • Multi-Database Search: click on the "Advanced Search" tab, type in the author name, select Author from the drop-down menu and select one or more Subjects or Databases to search.
    • Search multiple EBSCO, ProQuest or Gale Group databases at once. Each of these vendors provides several very extensive databases covering all fields of study and the ability to search all the databases within each at the same time. This can be helpful if the author name is a common one and you might want to limit the results with keywords or dates.
    • Use Google Scholar and click on the "Advanced Scholar Search" link to the right of the search box and use the Author search box there.

Library on Twitter

Are you a twitterer? If so, check out the library's twitter feed here:

Through our twitter feed you can keep up with the latest and greatest research tips and library resources, and share your questions and feedback with the librarians and your fellow students.

Spread the word!

To find out more about Twitter (what it is & how it's used):
Twitter in Plain English (by Common Craft):

Questions? Ask a Librarian

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Wikipedia: Beneath the Surface

Wikipedia: Beneath the Surface is an even-handed, six minute video tutorial from the North Carolina State University Libraries, discussing how Wikipedia works, where the information in it comes from, and how to properly evaluate information contained within it.

If you've ever used Wikipedia as a starting point in doing research, or just for finding out about something of personal interest, you should spend a couple minutes finding out where that information comes from - you'll be a more informed person for it:

Wikipedia: Beneath the Surface
Questions? Ask a Librarian

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Take a library workshop from home!

Want to:
  • save time and effort on doing research assignments?
  • search the library more effectively and efficiently?
  • get a leg up on doing superior research using scholarly resources?
  • learn how to search the online library from the comfort of your own home?
If so, you may be interested in the Library's new @Home workshop: Introduction to Searching

A one hour, hands-on, class. It takes place entirely on the web. This means you can take the workshop from home using a computer with Internet access (technical requirements apply: see details on linked page below).

Topics Covered:
  • Where to Get Help
  • Search Tips
  • Using the Resources by Subject guides
  • Searching for Journal & Newspaper Articles
  • Searching for E-Books
For requirements, schedule and registration details view the @Home Library Workshop page.

Here is an annotated screen shot of the online classroom:

Questions? Ask a Librarian

Monday, February 9, 2009

Darwin Day Celebration

February 12th is Darwin Day (Darwin's 200th birthday anniversary), a global day to celebrate science, reason and humanity. Here are links to some relevant library and web resources on Charles Darwin, the man, and the science and controversies that grew out of his theories:

Darwin & Darwinism Resources:
Web Sites:
Questions? Ask a Librarian

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Ebrary Improvements

If you've used our e-book collection recently, you may have noticed some changes. Ebrary, the company that provides many of our e-books, has made some technical improvements.

You can now read an e-book in your browser window, using Ebrary QuickView. You no longer need to download the plug-in and disable your pop-up blocker. QuickView works on the iPhone and is also compatible with text readers.

When you are in the E-Book Catalog and click on the "view e-book" link, it will automatically take you to QuickView.

You can still use the Ebrary Reader if you want. You can get to it by clicking the large blue button in the upper right corner of QuickView.
Questions? Ask a Librarian

Monday, January 12, 2009

How do I find scholarly or peer-reviewed articles?

What are "scholarly" or "peer-reviewed" articles?
  • Author is usually an expert in the field/discipline
  • Content has been critically evaluated by other experts
  • Information sources used by the author are cited (in-text citations, works cited/references)
How do I find "scholarly" or "peer-reviewed" articles?
  • Some of the library's research databases include all scholarly material, such as JSTOR and Sage Journals Online. For these, all results will be scholarly.
  • Many of the other databases (e.g. EBSCOHost, ProQuest, etc.) have an option to limit your search to only scholarly/peer-reviewed articles. Scan the database's search or results page for this limit option (highlighted in red below in Academic Search Premier):

For more information: Distinguishing Scholarly Journals from Other Periodicals
Questions? Ask a Librarian