Thursday, February 22, 2007

Database Alert: Sociological Abstracts and Other CSA Databases

We received the following notice from CSA, the database vendor who provides us with Sociological Abstracts, Criminal Justice Abstracts, Communication Abstracts, several Sage Full-Text Collections, and the Ulrichsweb online periodical directory: "Due to infrastructure upgrades to our primary data center, service for [some of our] products will be temporarily interrupted, starting at 6:00PM EST, Friday, February 23."

During Friday evening and early Saturday morning, databases like Soc. Abs. and Comm. Abs. "will still be available; however, response times may be slower than normal during this upgrade....Full service should be restored by 2:00PM EST, Saturday, February 24."

Since these upgrades sometimes take longer than expected, the time-frame may not be firm. Please plan your research in CSA databases accordingly.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Link of the Week: Population Reference Bureau

There are many useful sources of demographic information and data that you will find on our Demography and Population Resource Guide. One that I have always found interesting, is the Population Reference Bureau.

The PRB publishes a wide variety of articles and reports. Some, like The Feminization of Migration: Obstacles to Good Health Care, are quite specific. Others, like their wide-ranging Population Handbook try to provide the big picture.

Here's how they describe their mission: "The Population Reference Bureau informs people around the world about population, health, and the environment, and empowers them to use that information to advance the well-being of current and future generations. Read more

PRB's Core Themes and Strategic Approaches

We focus our work around four "core themes": Reproductive Health and Fertility; Children and Families; Population and the Environment; and Population Futures—Aging, Inequality and Poverty, Migration and Urbanization, and Gender. We also emphasize two Strategic Approaches: Building Coalitions and Mobilizing Civil Society.

Reproductive Health and Fertility
Children & Families
Population and the Environment
Population Futures
Strategic Approaches

PRB's work is funded by private foundations, government agencies, and individual donors, and we frequently collaborate with other nonprofit organizations and universities."

Especially useful is their DataFinder option, which allows you to search for specific types of data on specific countries and regions. "DataFinder contains data on 136 population, health, and environment variables for more than 220 countries, 28 world regions and sub-regions, and the world as a whole." By selecting a country and then selecting "all variables" in the different categories, you can build a tabular report of the PRB's available demography data on that nation.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Database Use Tip: Non-English Language Newspapers in LexisNexis Academic

In addition to full-text coverage of major U.S. domestic and international (English language) newspapers, LexisNexis Academic also includes non-english language news sources for Dutch, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, and Spanish. Titles include: Le Figaro (1997 - present); Le Monde (2006 - present); Der Spiegel (1999 - present); Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (1993 - present); Die Welt (2003 - present); El Pais (Spain, 1996 - present); El Universal (Mexico, 2002 - present); and La Nacion (Argentina, 2002 - present).

Go to the Guided News Search, choose 'Non-English Language News,' and then select from the list of languages. Click on 'Source List' to see a list of included titles for each language. When searching, ignore all accents marks and diacritics, with the exception of German, which requires the addition of an "e" to vowels with umlauts.

[FIND LexisNexis Academic on the "Databases by Subject" List, under Business and Management, Social Sciences, and General Resources. Lexis is the first option on the General Resources list.]

Database Alert: WSJ/NYT and InfoTrac Maintenance

We received the following message from one of our database vendors: "ProQuest will be taking a maintenance window to install infrastructure upgrades ensuring continued reliable performance. The 12-hour maintenance window will begin on Saturday February 17, 2007 at 22:00 EST (03:00 UTC/GMT) and run until Sunday February 18, 2007 10:00 EST (15:00 UTC/GMT). "

This will effect our Wall Street Journal and New York Times Historical Databases.

And this seems to be the time of year for this sort of thing! We also received this message about work being done NEXT weekend by Thomson Gale, the people who produce Expanded Academic, General BusinessFile, and other InfoTrac databases:

"We will be performing network maintenance and upgrades on Sunday February 25th, 2007 between 5:00am - 11:00am. (Eastern) During this window you may experience intermittent disruptions in accessing your online subscriptions. We are not anticipating a system outage for the duration of this maintenance."

If you are expecting to do research in these resources over the next two weekends, please plan accordingly.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Link of the Week: Intute

There's a reason college faculty warn their students to "avoid the internet." It is full of out-of-date, inaccurate, unsubstantiated, and sometimes just plain crazy content. Yet there are some materials out on the web that are appropriate for college level research. How do you find them? Our Sawyer Library "Research Guides" can help. And there are also some general web portals that have been constructed and maintained by academics specifically to provide links to materials worthy of perusal.

Here at the Reference Desk, several of us were fans of SOSIG, which was a European-based gateway to Social Science materials on the web. Well, a while back SOSIG was absorbed into another web portal called Intute.

Intute is "a consortium of seven universities working with a whole host of partners, bringing together the expertise of people and processes through which we can evaluate web resources and provide a structured approach to help people find and use them. Intute originates from the Resource Discovery Network."

The database further describes itself this way: "Intute is a free online service providing access to the very best web resources for education and research. All material is evaluated and selected by a network of subject specialists to create the Intute database....Issues of trust, quality, and search skills are very real and significant concerns - particularly in a learning context. Academics, teachers, students and researchers are faced with a complex environment, with different routes into numerous different resources, different user interfaces, search mechanisms and authentication processes. The Intute database makes it possible to discover the best and most relevant resources in one easily accessible place. You can explore and discover trusted information, assured that it has been evaluated by specialists for its quality and relevance. "

While the old SOSIG covered only the Social Sciences, Intute includes sections on Science and Technology, Arts and Humanities, Social Sciences, and the Health and Life Sciences. The opening page allows you to search for a particular key word concept across one or more of these subject areas, and annotated results help you choose the websites you really want to visit and explore. A browse feature and an advanced search option are also available.

This is a very well-designed web resource, and because it comes from "a network of UK universities and partners" it is not as Americacentric as many U.S. websites are. That expands your options and viewpoints.

To state the obvious, as valuable and worthwhile as this web portal is, it is NOT a substitute for doing library research in our high-quality databases that provide subject indexing (and often fulltext) to peer-reviewed journal literature. Still, if you are looking to expand your research by looking into available general web resources, this portal can definitely help you identify some of the rare quality materials out on the world wide web.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Notable E-Book: Grzimek's Animal Life Encyclopedia

Grzimek's Animal Life Encyclopedia. Michael Hutchins, Dennis A. Thoney, and Melissa C. McDade, Eds. 2nd ed. Detroit: Gale, 2004. 9609 pp. 17 vols

Grzimek's is a 17-volume e-book that is a major authoritative source of animal-related information.The original 13-vol. set was published in Germany in the late 1960s and was renowned for its scholarly presentation. Thomson Gale has tried to maintain the original title's intent by enlisting expert scientists, professors, and professionals in writing each article in this new edition.

Chapters include classification, family overview, species accounts, and resources and offers over 12,000 color graphics. The user can browse by volume (all 17) or search the entire set. Each volume provides life cycles, predators, food systems, and overall ecology.

View anatomy of a lobster.

Or, discover the habitat of the red panda.

This e-book will efficiently and productively serve the basic research needs of the biology or environmental science student, and it is fun to use.

[FIND Gale Virtual Reference in our “Databases by Subject” List in the E-Books category; or, search the title, Grzimek's Animal Life Encyclopedia, in the Suffolk University Online Catalog and click on Gale Virtual Reference Library.]

Monday, February 5, 2007

Database Use Tip: NBER Working Papers. National Bureau of Economic Research

Founded in 1920, the National Bureau of Economic Research is a private, nonprofit, nonpartisan research organization dedicated to advancing an understanding of how the economy works. The goal of the NBER is to create and distribute unbiased economic research among public policymakers, professionals, and the academic community. The website proudly states that "sixteen of the 31 American Nobel Prize winners in Economics and six of the past Chairmen of the President's Council of Economic Advisers have been researchers at the NBER." NBER researchers are leaders in their fields.

Each NBER Working Paper is listed under one or more programs. These programs are:
Asset Pricing
Corporate Finance
Development of the American Economy
Economics of Education
Economic Fluctuations and Growth
Health Care
Industrial Organization
International Finance and Macroeconomics
International Trade and Investment
Labor Studies
Law and Economics
Monetary Economics
Political Economy
Stocks, Bonds, and Foreign Currency/Asset Pricing
Taxation/Public Economics/Government Spending
Technical Working Papers

In addition, the user may view a listing of the most recent Working Papers by date; see the Top 25 requested; or, search for full-text Working Papers by keywords (author, title, abstract, number). This is a valuable resource for economics, political science, sociology, and business majors.

[Find NBER Working Papers on our "Databases by Subject" List in two categories: "Business and Management" and "Social Sciences."]

Saturday, February 3, 2007

Link of the Week: Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change

Everyone has heard the news and read the headlines over the last week or so. "Scientists Agree Man is to Blame for the World's Climate Change" they have proclaimed.

Well, you may be asking yourself who are these scientists, and where (and how) are they coming to agreement about global warming? Find out for yourself, by visiting the website of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Founded by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) in 1988, the IPCC describes its role and methodology in this way: "The Panel’s role is to assess on a comprehensive, objective, open and transparent basis the best available scientific, technical and socio- economic information on climate change from around the world. The assessments are based on information contained in peer-reviewed literature and, where appropriately documented, in industry literature and traditional practices. They draw on the work of hundreds of experts from all regions of the world."

Not all of the reports from the recent (late January and early February) meetings in Paris have been posted, but you can look at many other recent reports here, as well as find out more about the principles and procedures of this group. Most interesting is the recently loaded Summary For Policymakers, which provides a good basic overview of the IPCC's latest findings.

There is a User Guide to the IPCC Website that details how to "find information about climate change" by linking you to specific publications. However, most of this information is currently from their 2001 reports, so stay tuned for the release of their latest findings.

Anyone interested in the topic of global climate changes will find the website of this in-the-news group worth perusing.