Monday, June 28, 2010

Mergent upgrade - better business searching

Mergent is a database that allows you to look up company information including executive profiles, annual reports, financials, and countless other crucial details. You can also do industry and country research using Mergent. The database has been updated with a new search interface that will make it easier and more intuitive to use.

The blue tabs going across the top work as context menus - each tab gives you access to different search functions while you're searching, and kinds of information when you're viewing reports. If you've ever used Microsoft Office 2007, you're already familiar with the idea. If not, it's pretty intuitive and you'll pick it up quickly.

Click the Help link at the upper right corner of the screen to get a menu of instructions on how to do a Basic Search, Advanced Search, Executive Search (for company executives, that is), search for Reports, search for Government Filings, and more. The instructions are straightforward and step-by-step.

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Monday, June 21, 2010

Save a search in EBSCOhost

Fine-tuning a search in a database can be time-consuming and frustrating, so when you finally get it exactly right, you don't want to lose all your work!

Most databases let you create an individual account (separate from your college account that let you log in in the first place) that lets you store both the search itself and selected search results (articles.) Here's how to do it in an EBSCOhost database:
  1. Log in with your college login and password.
  2. Click the Sign In link in the upper right corner of the EBSCOhost screen.
  3. Click the Create New Account link at the far left of the green menu.
  4. Fill out all the information and click the Submit button. Then click the Continue button. Now you should be back at the search screen.
From now on, you can log into the database with your college login and then sign in with your unique EBSCOhost account. You must be signed in before you start searching in order to use the special features.

To save a search
You're signed in, so start searching as usual. When you get a search that works very well, this is the one you want to save.
  1. At the top, on the right side of the search results list you should see a link that says Alert/Save/Share. Click it.
  2. A box will pop up with a permanent link to this particular search. You can copy and paste it into an e-mail, class discussion group, or wherever you like. Clicking the link will take you right back to your entire list of search results.
  3. In the box is also a link for Create An Alert. You can put in your e-mail address, and from then on, you will get an e-mail whenever there are new results for that search (new articles on your topic in the database.)
  4. The box also has a link for Add Search to Folder. This puts the search (not its results) into your permanent folder so that the next time you log in, you can go right back to searching where you left off. To access your folder, click the little icon that looks like a manilla folder at the top right of the page.

Empire State College Library Research Blog
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Monday, June 14, 2010

RefWorks 2.0 - same product, better interface

Have you started using RefWorks? If you haven't, it's a good time to start because RefWorks is shortly going to be coming out with a new, improved interface that looks brighter and is more intuitive to use. If you've been using RefWorks, you'll be happy to know that it is keeping all the same features and functions, but laying them out in a more pleasing way.

What's RefWorks, you ask? You mean you've been doing your bibliographies and footnotes by hand because you didn't know there was a better option? Ok, from the top: RefWorks is an online service that you can log into with your college username and password. Then you create your own RefWorks account and start saving all your citation information (author, title, publisher, etc.) for all the research materials you're using (books, articles, films, websites, etc.) You download a little plugin that hooks up to Microsoft Word, and then, when you're writing your paper, you just put your mouse where you want a citation, select the information source, and it puts your citation in. RefWorks will format your paper for APA, MLA, Chicago, or CSE citation style and compile your bibliography for you too. What are you waiting for? Go here!

Empire State College Library Research Blog
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Monday, June 7, 2010

The security of your personal information online

Here are some tips for being sensibly paranoid in this age of viruses, phishing, scams, employer surveillance, the PATRIOT Act, and companies selling your data for a buck. You don't have to lock yourself down, but if it makes you feel safer, here's how to do it.

At work
  • Unless you are at your home computer, assume that your browsing is being monitored. Your employer has the right to monitor your work computer and e-mail account. Its contents may be subject to search warrant or subpoena in any legal action involving your employer. And businesses use archiving and discovery software that means they can still access what you've deleted.
  • Do not visit any sites or download anything that could get you in trouble (even if you think you can hide your tracks.)
  • Do not send or receive any e-mails containing personal information from your work account.
  • DO tell your friends and family not to use your work e-mail address or voicemail.
  • Do not use the same password for everything.
  • Do not use real words or names in your passwords, and don't use your birthday, your spouse's birthday, the last four digits of your social security number, or your anniversary as a PIN.
  • Do not give real answers to secret questions like "What street did you grow up on?" or "What is your pet's name?" That information is too easy for someone to find out. Instead, make up false answers that you'll be able to remember.
  • Do not keep passwords in your wallet or desk drawer.
  • DO use a trustworthy service like, or a password card.
Social Networking
  • Do not post any information, messages, or pictures you wouldn't want your spouse, parents, and current and future employers to know about. The privacy controls and terms of service change so often that what's secret today might not be secret later on. Not to mention, there are frequent bugs and leaks.
  • DO follow the advice in 10 Privacy Settings Every Facebook User Should Know.
Shopping and browsing
  • Do not click links in ads for weight loss products, dating sites, "business opportunities," credit repair, home loans or refinancing, student loans, or sexual health products.
  • Do not sign up for discount programs that lock you into subscriptions, or offer limited time free trials after which they deduct a monthly payment from your credit card. They are a rip-off, and also notorious for selling your personal information.
  • DO use PayPal or Google Checkout to pay for purchases whenever possible. These are trustworthy companies, and using them keeps other online merchants from having your credit card info.
  • Do not respond to, open attachments, or click links in e-mails or instant messages unless they come from someone you have already corresponded with. (Even then, if it seems out of character for them, they may have been hacked.)
  • Do not respond to or click links in e-mails that claim to be from your bank or credit card company. Ironically, these phishing messages prey on your fears of being a victim of identity theft. If you are concerned call your bank or credit card company, using the number on the back of your card.
  • DO use a separate e-mail address (a free webmail account is good) for websites that require that you sign up with one.

Empire State College Library Research Blog
Questions? Ask a Librarian