Saturday, January 24, 2009

Notable E-book: Encyclopedia of Ocean Sciences

Sawyer Library is happy to add another valuable electronic encyclopedia to our online reference options. It is the newly available internet version of Academic Press/Elsevier's Encyclopedia of Ocean Sciences. The equivalent of a six volume set, this encyclopedia provides a solid, academic overview of many topics related to ocean studies.

The content includes, according to the publisher, 402 original articles covering all the physical, chemical and biological aspects of ocean science. Those articles present "classic scientific theories" as well as the "the newest discoveries, technologies, and applications." Entry authors are "the world's leading researchers" working under "a prestigious editorial board." And the six volumes also feature more than 1900 figures and full color illustrations.

The review that greeted the original paper publication in Choice : Publication of the Association of College and Research Libraries offered a more impartial but equally enthusiastic response. It said, in part: "Destined to become a classic in oceanographic studies, this work achieves its intention to be the most comprehensive, current work in its field. The signed articles, by leading experts in the field, are extensive, well written, and highly informative. Topics covered range from the study of atmospheric input of pollution to the effects of waves on beaches. Many of the articles will not be found in briefer general encyclopedias on this topic. Entries are well indexed and cross-referenced; many list additional citations for further reading. The volumes are well illustrated with graphs, charts, formulas, drawings, and pictures. This will be an extremely useful reference tool for students, educators, or researchers looking for information in oceanographic studies."

When you open the ScienceDirect electronic version, you will see that the entries are delivered in both HTML and PDF form. You may browse through entries alphabetically or by author name. You may also consult the Subject Index--see the link to the left. An even easier approach is to use the quick search in the upper frame to search the content of this particular title.

If I search for Cephalopods, I get a wide variety of entries ranging from a solid overview specifically of the Cephalopoda class to entries on everything from Bioluminescence to Deep-sea Fishes to Ocean Gyre Ecosystems.

Although this encyclopedia is no substitute for the kind of primary research articles you would find in databases like BioOne and Wiley Interscience, it provides useful scholarly introductions to a great many ocean science topics. And unlike our paper reference books, this content would be available to Suffolk students and faculty 24/7, even "Downeast" at the Friedman Field Station!

[FIND the Encyclopedia of Ocean Sciences by searching the title in our Online Catalog or through the link in Databases by Subject, E-Books category.]

Monday, January 12, 2009

New Database: Morningstar Investment Research Center

After surviving the financial crash (aka "recession") of 2008, many people are trying to figure what investments, outside of stashing dollar bills in mattresses, make the most sense. One tool that might help Sawyer Library users interested in equities, funds and etfs (exchange-traded funds) is our new database, the Morningstar Investment Research Center.

Anyone who has done general web research into mutual funds has probably seen the basic Morningstar snapshot report with its (1 to 5) star rating system. The short snapshot is freely available--if you don't mind obscuring pop-up boxes and relentless video ads--on the free web version of Morningstar. However, our higher-quality "Library Version" of the resource is much more extensive and much less frustrating.

First of all, our subscription version makes available all of those value-added supplementary reports that Morningstar produces. This content includes the mutual fund Analyst Reports and Stewardship Grades that the free version teases you with, but refuses to show you. The stock evaluation is equally detailed with Analyst Research, the Data Interpreter (Snapshot equivalent), as well as nice presentations of valuation and key ratios. And like many of our financial databases (like S & P NetAdvantage and MergentOnline), Morningstar also provides easy access to company financials and SEC filings.

Morningstar also features (stock-oriented) reports on selected industries, as well as a handy-dandy tool called Portfolio X-Ray that helps you discover how diversified you really are by exposing how much stock and sector overlap you have in your various mutual funds. One downside of tools like Portfolio X-Ray is that you might want to store your information in a personal "account" or folder so that you don't have to re-enter all your funds every time you want to check on your portfolio. That personalization is not yet available, unfortunately. But when Sawyer Library was pricing out the product, I pointed out to the company that this was an important and needed enhancement and they told me that they understood this need and were actually working on developing personalized functionality for their Library Version of the product.

In the meantime, Morningstar Investment Research Center has plenty to offer. And when combined with the the stock and mutual fund reports available through our Value Line Research Center, Suffolk SBS/CAS students and faculty can easily get good quality investment information from well-known and respected sources.

....Unfortunately, good research does not make the stock market go up. More's the pity!

Added Note: Because financial databases are so expensive, we have a limited contract (in terms of "simultaneous users") for most of these resources. So please, don't simply close your browser when you finish using a database like MergentOnline, Corporate Affiliations, or Morningstar. Look instead for the link, usually in or near the upper border, that allows you to "Log Out" or "End Session." This will make it more likely that the next user gets into the database easily.

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