Thursday, April 21, 2011

Notable E-Book: Wiley Encyclopedia of Operations Research and Management Science

Good quality reference books on the operational aspects of business organizations are surprisingly difficult to find. But we recently added one that we hope will prove very useful. The Wiley Encyclopedia of Operations Research and Management Science (EORMS) is the first multi-volume encyclopedia devoted to advancing the areas of operations research and management science. We bought the online version to make it easier for distance users to make use of the content. And this resource, the equivalent of eight volumes, is available 24/7.

The publisher claims that their "unparalleled undertaking....has been designed for academic researchers and advanced students as well as professionals looking for timely and authoritative review-type information in this field. The encyclopedia features contributions from diverse and international contributors from academia, industry, business, government and the military."

The contributors truly are from a global community and wide-ranging expertise. And the way the information is presented is also diverse. There are Introductory Articles that provide a broad and moderately technical treatment of core topics. While Advanced Articles review key areas of research in a citation-rich format similar to that of leading review journals. Technical Articles provide more detailed discussions of key concepts addressed in related articles. And Case Studies/Historical Interludes present successful and/or interesting examples of operations research and management science methodology in practical or historical contexts.

Topics cover anything from Linear Programming (LP) and Nonlinear Programming (NLP) and Global Optimization (GO) to Decision and Risk Analysis and Game Theory to Data Mining and Forecasting. One section details specific applications and their histories. These include Retail and Service Applications, Supply Chain Management, Applications with Societal Impact (like Anti-Terrorism and Homeland Security) and Industrial Applications (like High-Tech Industries). All told, there are over 600 articles (on over 6400 pages) with contributions from over 1,000 authors from around the world.

The publisher's promotional page can be found here. And a quick overview of the table of contents can be found here. And here is a sample article on Operations Research to Improve Disaster Supply Chain Management. However, to explore the entire content of the Encyclopedia, you'll want to use our proxyized link, either through the online catalog (OPAC) or as provided here.

Once you click on the link to the set in the OPAC, there are two ways to easily explore the content. In the left frame, you can look "For Articles" by Title or by Topic. (See arrows above.) When you click one of those links, the display in the middle of the screen changes and you can browse and then select appropriate items. There is also a search box to the right. But DON'T just put keywords in the search box and hit enter unless you want to search the entire Wiley Online Library, which is mostly journals. Instead, as circled above, click on the link to "Search in This Book." When you click that link, search boxes just for this encyclopedia will open up mid-screen.

Take advantage of this very sophisticated encyclopedia when you are looking for basic background information on a wide variety of topics related to operations research and management science theory, methodology, and applications.

Monday, April 11, 2011

New Database Module: JSTOR Arts & Sciences IX

A lot of people believe that databases are static collections of information sources. Nothing could be further from the truth! Not only are databases always loading new issues of existing periodicals, but new editions of ebooks often replace older ones, too. On the downside, sometimes a database loses contracted access to a particular source, so occasionally things disappear when you don't want them to. (And an individual client library like ours has no real say in the matter.) But on the brighter side, many databases are modular. If a library can find the budget to add new segments, a particular database can get stronger and stronger.

JSTOR is just such a database. They usually add at least one new journal module a year, and as long as a client Library can afford the new initial and yearly renewal costs, the users of that Library will have access to the the swell "new stuff."

Here at Sawyer Library, we do feel that JSTOR (which stands for "journal storage" and which is the most varied academic journal database with the deepest backfile) is a very valuable resource. And we work hard to find the money to keep it as up-to-date as possible. Towards this end, we have just contracted to add Arts & Sciences IX--just as we added the previous A&S segments.

JSTOR operates in an unusual way. Although they promise 150 journals to be added by the end of next year, not even close to that amount of journals have yet been added. Here is the current title list. When you take a look, you see many subject areas and publishers and even multiple languages. That is the an important strength of this database.

A few things to remember about JSTOR:

1--Generally speaking, it is a retrospective database, with older issues, usually back to volume one, and sometimes going back to the 1700s. But most journals have an embargo of two to five years, so it is NOT the best source for new topics or coverage.

2--Because it is all about the stored images, it does not have the same kind of subject term indexing as you'll usually find in other databases like our EBSCOhost files. Therefore, getting precise searching can be tricky. Try clicking a few "Narrow by Discipline" categories below the search boxes. Or narrow to just "Articles" in another check box. The relevancy ranking of search algorithms in JSTOR work pretty well, but you can also experiment with looking for a key term in the title of the article and not just in the complete full-text. (Although looking in the abstract can be handy in many databases, many of the JSTOR journals are so old that they do not feature abstracts--the types of summaries at the start of almost all recent academic journals. So this technique is less useful here.)

Want to get more tips on searching in JSTOR? They have a video tutorial. (We always advise using the Advanced Search, which is why we start with the Advanced page.)

3--Although you CAN access JSTOR via the general web, you always want to hit the database through one of our proxyized links from our database lists or guides. That way you don't have to worry about blocked access to articles at every turn.

4--If you find an article you want, do not try to print from the first page of digital image. This will only get you a chopped up copy of the first page. Look for the PDF link, accept the license agreement, and then read or print or save the entire article.

Remember, although JSTOR doesn't have great currency, it has incredible depth and breadth, and is very oriented towards high-quality articles. So, if a teacher wants you to use "scholarly" journal articles, this database is usually a good one to consult.

[Find JSTOR in all of subject databases lists (except for eBooks), as well as in the A-Z list.]