Tuesday, September 21, 2010

New Database Module: Global Forecasting Service

Database platforms change all the time--and often these changes are of questionable benefit to the end-user. One database that changed its interface in the late summer is our Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) file called Country Commerce. Many moons ago, when this was published in paper form by a different publisher, it was called Investing, Licensing and Trading Conditions Abroad, and that old title is still a pretty good summary of the information Country Commerce provides.

Unfortunately, when you go to the new platform for the database, it opens to a general introductory page, that provides several options. See below illustration. You can select a country from a list on the left drop-down window. (And a warning here: Not all countries are covered by EIU products!) You can sign up for a global economy news briefing. You can view a video briefing. Or, the the right-hand drop-down window, you can "Select a Report." That is, you can select Country Commerce and go to its opening page. You will then be presented with a rather unattractive page of country name links. This is how you will get to the current and archived reports, available in both PDF and html.

However, also in opening that right-hand drop-down window, you will also have the option of exploring a new module from EIU. It is called Global Forecasting Service. And this is a useful new offering for those interested in global business issues. According to the publisher, this new module provides:

* A full monthly report providing EIU's detailed central forecast.
* Regional channels that allow you to drill down to those areas most important to you.
* Regularly updated articles on the critical issues that have a bearing on economic prospects.
* In-depth analysis of world trade and exchange rates.
* Overviews and forecasts for 25 hard and soft commodities.
* Frequently revised risk scenario analysis with intensity ratings.

So, do explore this new module when you access Country Commerce.

And one additional note on this EIU product. We have experienced some loading issues with the database in IE8, running the database through our proxy server. So, if you have trouble loading the file, try opening it in your Firefox browser.

[FIND Country Commerce on the Business and Management page of the "Database by Subject" Lists.]

Monday, September 13, 2010

RefShare in RefWorks

RefShare allows users to share their RefWorks database or specific RefWorks folders with other Suffolk community members. Users may post their folders or entire database on a RefWorks Shared Page, and this page is viewable by all Suffolk RefWork users. RefWorks and RefShare instructions are provided within the RefWorks Libguide.

RefShare has many uses, including the following:

-Providing access to citations for researchers who collaborate on a project
-Posting reading lists one a Web page
-Providing a searchable and linkable research database created by faculty members
-Publishing a database of references for sharing within the university community

To Share a Folder or RefWorks Database:

1. Select the Folder/Share Folder or the Tools/Share References drop-down menu on the tool bar

2. From your list of folders, click the Share Folder button or buttons, or click the Share Entire Database

3. From the newly created Shared Folder Options page, a specific URL is generated, and the user may email this URL for the shared folder or database to the intended RefShare recipients

4. Also from this Options page, the user may determine the print, export, and bibliographic options available to RefShare recipients.

5. When the selections have been made, click the "Email URl "button. A new window opens, containing an automated e-mail message. Fill in the email address or addresses of the recipients. Click Send Email button at the bottom.

6. At any point, the user my click the Remove Share button and end sharing

7. The Statistics button shows total hits per database or folder for assigned time frames

8. At the bottom of the page, there are more options - The shared folder/database owner may check the box to Include in (my institution's) Shared Area. He/she may assign the Category for the folder/database in the Shared Area

Importing Citations from RefShared Area to a Personal RefWorks Account:

[In order for reciepients to import citations, they must be RefWork subscribers]

1. Click on the unique folder or database URL

2.Select All on the list

3. Click Export

4. Export directly to your RefWorks account

5. The file will open in the Last Imported Folder

For further instructions for using RefShare, see RefShare vendor tutorials.

[FIND RefWorks on all pages of the "Database by Subject" Lists]

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Database Alert: STAT-USA Shutting Down

We very seldom cancel databases we have consciously selected, but in the case of STAT-USA, a government database providing business-related product, economic and trade information, the database has decided to cancel itself....greatly inconveniencing us and all the rest of its clients.

The database will cease operations at the end of this month, September 30, 2010.

A message from the database director read, in part: "After more than 25 years of operation, STAT-USA is closing its doors. This was not an easy decision, but the world of access to government information has evolved to the point that STAT-USA’s business model, as a fee for service office, is no longer viable. In its early years, STAT-USA was on the progressive edge of government data delivery. Its mandate from Congress, to serve as a central collection and delivery mechanism for economic and trade information from all the federal agencies, was a much-needed innovation. Since then, the Internet and information technology in general have grown and changed at dazzling speed. Information sharing, data tools, and social media have become intrinsic parts of American life. In this new atmosphere, STAT-USA/Internet’s historic role as a straightforward storehouse of static government information releases has become outdated. "

Those of us who have had to use STAT-USA over the years were indeed often frustrated (as the above implies) by the platform's very user-unfriendly interface and the often dated nature of the materials accessed.

Since much of the material from STAT-USA is and always has been available for free, on the web, from the government, you might want to make use of the Google search engine just for government and military websites, called Uncle Sam, when you are looking for government information on anything from olive oil imports to trade with Senegal to the Federal Reserve Bank's "Beige Book." The Uncle Sam results will often be unwieldy and sloppy--but so were the results in STAT-USA! Another good option is to look at the targeted resources cited in our library guides--like Sonia's on International Trade and Connie's on Economics.

If you actually like STAT-USA, do make use of it while it lasts, over the next couple of weeks. And we will continue to keep our eyes out for an affordable alternative database.