Thursday, April 26, 2007

New Database: Sage eReference

Not everyone loves electronic versions of "regular" (monograph) books, since many people find reading an entire 200 page book online a less than pleasurable experience. But ebooks have a wonderful flexibility to them. They can be accessed anywhere, 24/7, and they allow for quick searching across hundreds or thousands of books in a matter of seconds.

Electronic reference books have all of the advantages of ebook flexibility and none of the frustrations associated with reading an entire monograph online. In electronic reference works, you are usually searching for short entries that will provide a quick overview or introduction to a topic--a country, a person, a social issue. Such entries are usually only a few pages long, which makes them a good candidate for a quick online read, and also makes them a practical length for printing out for further use.

For these reasons, the Reference Staff at Sawyer Library eagerly seeks out useful online reference collections we can make available to our users. We've just purchased a very valuable one called Sage eReference.

Sage is a major scholarly publisher of journals, reference, and monograph titles. We recently added their journal aggregate called Sage Journals Online. And now we have added a unified collection of 46 of their recent reference titles, too.

Sage eReference has a clean search interface that allows you to search across all 46 encyclopedias quickly and easily. Titles include everything from the Encyclopedia of Public Relations to the Encyclopedia of World Poverty to the Encyclopedia of Industrial and Organizational Psychology to the Encyclopedia of Health Care Management. As you can tell, Sage reference works are especially strong in areas of the social sciences.

Do a quick search on the opening screen and your results will be sorted by relevance. If you get too many "hits," you can always add another term in the search box to the left of your results page that allows you to narrow and focus your results. You can also browse through book titles and descriptions within 20 subject categories. And Advanced Searching (look for the tab) allows you to look for words in specific fields and/or in specific reference titles.

We hope you'll find this new electronic reference shelf as useful as we do!

Monday, April 23, 2007

Link of the Week: The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy

Sometimes, you can get a bit of handy overview information from a general web resource. Everyone is familiar with Wikipedia, for example, which is sometimes a useful tool. However, even though Wikipedia's entries are often dated at the bottom, indicating the last time a particular page was updated, you generally have no idea who wrote a particular entry and know nothing of that person's qualifications or expertise. Therefore, Wikipedia is NOT a valid resource for college-level research on even the most basic level.

Luckily, there are certain other more scholarly web resource projects, edited and written by academics in a particular field. These are, in some cases, a little more reliable....but only for basic overview and NOT for detailed term paper research.

One such academic web source in the field of philosophy is the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy. The IEP says of itself: "The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy was founded in 1995 for the purpose of providing detailed, scholarly information on key topics and philosophers in all areas of philosophy. The IEP is free of charge and available to all internet users world wide. The present staff of 25 editors and approximately 200 authors hold doctorate degrees and are professors at colleges and universities around the world, most notably from the United States, Great Britain, and Australia. The submission and review process of articles is the same as that with printed philosophy journals, books and reference works. The authors are specialists in the areas in which they write, and are frequently leading authorities. Submissions are peer reviewed by specialists according to strict criteria."

Except in the case of preliminary "proto articles" that have the initialism IEP at the end, entries in the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy are signed by the academic researcher who wrote them, and are usually dated with a year copyright date.

So, yes, the IEP is a more reliable resource than most of the materials that you will find on the general web. That is why we have included it in the annotated listings in the Sawyer Library's Philosophy Resource Guide. But along with selected general internet sources, our Guide will also inform you about Sawyer Library databases that provide links to materials like very valuable peer-reviewed journal literature (which is what your professor really wants you to use in writing a paper). And we even have online versions of scholarly subject encyclopedias. These include the second edition (2006) of the respected 10 volume Macmillan Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

So, if you are interested in philosophy, take a look at the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy, which is certainly worth a browse. Spend some time perusing the listings in our Philosophy Resource Guide, as well.

And, as always, if you have any questions about resources available to you at Sawyer Library, please stop in and see us at the Reference Desk!

Thursday, April 19, 2007

InfoTrac and ProQuest (WSJ, NYT) Maintenance

No one likes to see vendors fiddling around with online databases during term paper season, but, alas, it happens.

Therefore, be advised:

InfoTrac (Academic OneFile, etc.) "will be performing network maintenance and upgrades on Saturday April 21st, 2007 between 7:00am - 3:00pm. (Eastern)" This is supposed to effect only their administration systems and not their "online subscriptions." But there are sometimes unexpected impacts from such upgrade work!

And, effecting both the Wall Street Journal database, as well as our historical New York Times database, the next ProQuest® platform enhancement release will be on April 28, 2007. A twelve (12) hour maintenance window will take place to install "new enhancements." The window will begin Saturday, April 28, 2007, at 22:00 EDT to Sunday, April 29, 2007 at 10:00 EDT.

Please plan your research accordingly!

Notable E-Book: American Decades and American Decades Primary Sources

Looking for social, cultural, or political background on a time period in American history? Two sets of e-books from Gale Virtual Reference Library will help you get started on your research.

American Decades is a 10 volume set which covers the time period 1900 through 1999. Each volume is devoted to a decade and provides a chronology of world events for that decade, background essays, and chapters that view the decade through the lens of arts, medicine and health, media, education, world events, religion, government and politics, lifestyles and social trends, law and justice, religion, business and the economy, and sports.

American Decades Primary Sources, a companion 10 volume set also covering each decade from 1900 through 1999, contains full-text or excerpted historical documents such as: oral histories, songs, speeches, advertisements, TV and movie scripts, letters, laws and legal decisions, newspaper articles, cartoons, and recipes .

LEFT: "Willie and Joe" cartoon and caption by Bill Mauldin from his book Up Front. Published in "World War II Cartoons," American Decades Primary Sources, Vol. 5: 1940-1949.

[FIND Gale Virtual Reference in our “Databases by Subject” list in the E-Books category; or search the titles, American Decades or American Decades Primary Sources, in the Suffolk University Online Catalog and click on Gale Virtual Reference Library.]

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Database Use Tip: Finding Industry Ratios

Business students are often required to compare the standing of an individual company with other companies in that industry as a whole. Comparing the financial ratios of an individual company to the aggregate ratios of many companies in that industry is one way to measure that company's standing. The standard resources for this information are the three industry ratio books:

  • Dun & Bradstreet's Industry Norms and Key Business Ratios (REF Desk HF 5681 .R25 I525)

  • Troy's Almanac of Business and Industrial Financial Ratios (REF Desk HF5681 .R25 T861)

  • (The Robert Morris) RMA Annual Statement Studies (REF Desk HF 5681 .B2 R6)

  • The latest edition of each of these titles is kept at the Sawyer Library Reference Desk; older editions, going back approximately 20 years, are in the reference stacks.

    In addition to the above print resources, there are specialized database resources that will also provide industry ratios:

    D&B Key Business Ratios

    The Dun & Bradstreet online version provides 14 key business ratios, covering solvency, efficiency and profitability. Users may calculate industry ratios (choosing an industry, year, and asset range), and then use the 'comparative analysis' function to enter in the figures from an individual company’s financial statement to generate a comparison of the company’s own business ratios with the industry.This is the only Sawyer Library database specifically devoted to industry ratios.

    [FIND D&B Key Business Ratios on our "Databases by Subject" List in the "Business and Management" category.]

    Other Sawyer Library databases may include some financial ratios in their overall discussion of companies and industries:

    Standard and Poor's NetAdvantage: Industry Surveys

    Although Standard and Poor's does not provide industry averages, the Comparative Company Analysis section of each survey does provide profit-, balance sheet-, and equity ratios for specific companies.

    [FIND S&P NetAdvantage on our "Databases by Subject" List in the "Business and Management" category.]

    Value Line Research Center

    In addition to specific company and stock information, Value Line Survey Issues provide a one page Industry Commentary of each industry covered by Value Line. These commentaries frequently include a chart of retrospective and estimated composite statistics, such as the Net Profit Margin. The print version of Value Line is available at the Sawyer Library Reference Desk.

    [FIND Value Line Research Center on our "Databases by Subject" List in the "Business and Management" category.]

    Wednesday, April 11, 2007

    New Database: Sage Journals Online

    Sawyer Library has just added a database that will prove very useful to students and faculty in the social sciences, and to a lesser extent will be quite helpful to those interested in management/business, humanities, and the pure and medical sciences.

    The database is called Sage Journals Online, and the version we have is also called "Sage Premier" (in places like our Full-Text Search Engine listings). This database is an example of what is called a publisher aggregate. That is, it consists of PDF online content to ALL the academic journals published by the scholarly publisher, Sage, back to 1999. This is approximately 450 peer-reviewed journals in far-ranging fields. And for some key titles we have actually purchased backfile that goes back to the 1940s.

    The search interface is fairly straight-forward. You can simply put in your keyword search terms and hit enter or click the red search button. The default search is in "all fields" within "SAGE Content Available to Me." That usually works quite well. If you get too many "hits" you might want to restrict the search to looking in specific fields like Title. You can also adjust the radio button from "SAGE Content Available to Me" to "All SAGE Content" since you will get slightly different results in this search, yet all recent materials will still be accessible.
    When you get a results list, look for the journal cover icon plus the note below. If the note says that the article is "FREE" or "AVAILABLE," you should be able to access the article either on-campus, or off-campus through our proxy server. Simply click "Full Text (PDF)" link below the citation to access the full-text.

    Only in the case of a few much older articles would you ever get a message indicating that the article is not available. See the Library's reference staff for assistance if this occurs.

    Sage Journals Online has a great deal of high quality content in many research areas. The only obvious problem with the database is its hosting platform, which is through HighWire at Stanford University in California. Alas, the HighWire platforms can be painfully slow to operate, especially during peak times like the afternoon. If a page load stalls on you, try refreshing the browser, or backing up and trying again. You might also want to access the database during non-peak hours. (We are also putting pressure on Sage to improve this situation, but patience may be required for now!)

    We hope you will find this new addition a valuable new research tool.

    [FIND Sage Journals Online on our "Databases by Subject" Lists in the "Business and Management," "Social Sciences,""Literature, Arts and Humanities" and "Sciences" categories.]

    Tuesday, April 10, 2007

    Notable E-Book: Oxford Encyclopedia of Latinos and Latinas in the United States

    Part of the Oxford Reference Online Premium, this searchable, 4-volume set provides comprehensive, quality scholarship on historical and contemporary experiences in the United States of Latinos and Latinas from Mexico, Puerto Rico, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Central America, South America, Europe, and elsewhere. It includes over 900 signed articles, arranged alphabetically and offers both topical entries and biographies.

    Read about Indo-Latinos, racial profiling, Bilingual Education Act, murals, tex-mex music, NAFTA, and much more.

    [Find Oxford Encyclopedia of Latinos and Latinas in the United States on our "Databases by Subject" List in the "E-Book" category and within Oxford Reference Online Premium; or search by title in the Suffolk University Online Catalog and click the Oxford Digital Reference link.]