resource evaluation

The University Libraries is currently offering a trial of the database ISI Web of Knowledge (trial expires 12/31/09). Web of Knowledge is a multidisciplinary citation database of over 23,000 journals with more than 700 million cited references. Included in Web of Knowledge is Web of Science, covering thousands of  journals in the sciences, social sciences and arts & humanities, as well as international proceedings coverage for over 120,000 conferences.  Try Web of Knowledge, found on the University Libraries’ Trial Database page.

Please send any questions or comments regarding this database to our Database Evaluation Form.

not_equal1While a number of previous LIBlog entries have emphasized the impact that social-web tools have had on the authority of web-based resources, this blog entry from  “Is Britannica Going Wiki?”  is a good example of why opening a reasource up contributions does not automatically devolve into Wikipedi-mania.

…[T]rend-spotters of the media and blogosphere detect a harmonic convergence between the two antipodes of the encyclopedia world, and they were happy to proclaim, almost as one:  Britannica, Wikipedia, each becoming more like the other.  How perfectly symmetrical. The truth, as usual, was far more complex. 

header-apple-photoUniversity of Washington’s iSchool, has launched Project Information Literacy,  a large-scale research project which “investigates how early adults on different college campuses conduct research for course work and how they conduct ‘everyday research’ for use in their daily lives.”  Their first progress report came out earlier this month. The report analyses 11 discussion groups held on 7 college campuses in Fall of 2008 (Schools enlisted were Harvard University, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Mills College, Diablo Valley Community College, University of Washington, West Valley Community College, and Shoreline Community College).  The initial report, entitled Finding Context: What Today’s College Students Say about Conducting Research in the Digital Age,  indicates:

…that no matter where students are enrolled, no matter what information resources they may have at their disposal, and no matter how much time they have, the abundance of information technology and the proliferation of digital information resources make conducting research uniquely paradoxical: Research seems to be far more difficult to conduct in the digital age than it did in previous times.

A PDF of the 1st progress report and a video of some of the research groups are available on the Project Information Literacy site.


If you are a student or faculty member who is interested in joining this program as part of  St. John’s project effort, please contact Prof. Kathryn Shaughnessy, Instructional Services Librarian.

Thanks to John Garino and our colleagues at WALDO/KOHA  for directing us to this report.
The main library website was revamped as part of the University-wide website upgrade: making the most of some of these improvements will be intuitive (such as search boxes built-in to the main page),  but a big change to the “Browse Resources by Subject” link is worth further explanations.  
Libguides screen

Libguides screen

We now host the Resources by Subject pages in a platform called LibGuides.   This web-2.0-friendly software allows each subject librarian (or pictured Guide) to update their resource page on-the-fly and also allows these librarians to collaborate with faculty to create specialty guides or course-specific resource pages.  Additionally, the search box, tags and cross-referencing features mean that users can find a number of cross-disciplinary resources more quickly when browsing by subject, author or keyword.   The software also allows us to display RSS feeds and embed some videos as well. Many guide boxes are set up to allow users to comment, offer feedback on helpfulness of  a resource (e.g.: 4 out of 5 stars), or suggest a link for inclusion in a guide.  So take a peek and let us know what is helpful!

As always, feel free to contact the Subject Guide librarian or use the AskUs service for more help!

The new LibQual survey is coming out soon. We know from the previous surveys that (1) the library atmosphere needs help (renovations are coming this summer) and (2) students are still relying on Google, Wikipedia and other non-scholarly resources for research more than the teaching and library faculty would like.

shamrocksIn the long battle over using Google or Wikipedia, some faculty say “never use them” others say use them wisely, like you would any tool. For those of you who would be willing to do the latter, but need a little help, I have created the following tutorial — based on a help session, which turned out to be the perfect IL storm. It guides the student through Google, Wikipedia, and the cited source in Wikipedia, Online Catholic Encyclopedia, a resource which is also “good for some things, but not for others” (as it is the digitized version of the 1912 edition of the encyclopedia!

If you ever wanted to demonstrate the benefits and deficiencies of these tools, feel free to add this tutorial to your IL-resources quiver, or contact me if you would be interested in re-creating your own IL-storm!

Craig Silverman’s Regret the error blog tracks the range of errors (and, in some cases, a lack of errata acknowledgements) found in various English-language news sources. Recent entries include a posting on plagiarism in a March 11th NYTimes article regarding New York’s gubernatorial succession process, while another notes a Sun-Sentinel subtitle typo for an “AP story about the hallucinogenic plant salvia divinorum,” they mistakenly ran a subtitle which read “Bill makes possession of Saliva a felony.”

picture of author erasing pencilWhile it could easily be passed over as a “Leno’s Headlines” site, upon closer examination it is a good resource for class discussions on the serious responsibilities writers have towards their reader, including fact-checking, spell-checking, plagiarism and ways to handle errors in online publications, since print, audio, video and online-text versions of a publication often handle error-correction in different ways, whether out of a desire to bury an embarrassing mistake or out of technical necessity. An example of the latter would be the use of strikeout letters to leave original error text in a blog, but to put a line through it, and then add the corrected text – this practice alerts blog readers to post-publication edits.

In addition to providing timely examples of plagiarism, the blog’s 2007 Plagiarism/Fabrication Round-Up entry can provide a good springboard for discussing the different types of plagiarism and the consequences outside of a strictly academic environment. The advent of “digi-born” and multimedia resources, including blogs, wikis, videos, and podcasts requires resource-savvy authors to keep up with protocols for original citations and subsequent corrections. The proliferation of online and social resources can also contribute to making the rules of plagiarism more confusing for some students, while simultaneously making intentional plagiarism both easier to execute and easier to discover for others.

Please note that the Library provides a number of Information Literacy resources to support you in your efforts to helps students understanding the role of information resources in research and scholarship. For more assistance, please contact us at

Picture courtesy of Washington University Writing Center Website, Accessed March 15, 2008,

(Originally posted by Maureen Weicher on February 4, 2008 at 12:20)

A group of researchers based in Spain have developed SCImago Journal and Country Rank portal based on information from the Scopus database. SCIMago has created an indicator called SJR that measures journal prestige based on the Google Page ranking mechanism.They also use h-index as another way of measuring scientific productivity and impact.

It appears SJR produces rankings that are quite different than h-index. For example, JAMA would be #4 for the subject area of medicine using h-index. Using SJR, it sinks to #14. Cell Metabolism has a very low h-index, but is #3 using SJR. It appear that this may be partially because the number of total articles published plays more of a role in the h-index than in SJR.

In a field closer to home, here is the journal ranking for 2006 for Library and Information Science by SJR, h-index, and total cites.


In addition to “spoof editing” (see the Wiki 101 entry), the advent of WikiScanner helps careful researchers to uncover “conflict of interest editing” in Wikipedia . Most recently, AP journalists are suing over the right to find out which government officials have been altering entries on local government programs and officials, but this is the most recent in a number of stories that indicate companies and other organizations are changing their wikipedia entries to make themselves look better. (Click here for WikiScanner FAQs)

Although such entries are in conflict with Wikipedia’s suggested guidelines on neutral point of view, and verifiability, it is difficult to enforce such guidelines.

[Update: Video link and Wikiality entry updated December 18, 2008]


Picture of Colbert delivering Segment on Wikiality, click to view the video

A wiki is a type of webpage that various contributors can quickly update from their respective remote locations. An encyclopedia is a handy reference tool, consulted for an overview of a topic, and for gathering names, places, events and dates as a basis for conducting further research in reliable scholarly sources. Put these tools together and you have a great opportunity to have a timely reference tool…but not all encyclopedic wikis are the same. Stephen Colbert points out — in his “The Word” segment on Wikiality– some of the drawbacks of using Wikipedia as a sole source of information for successful research. There is also an entry for Stephen Colbert in Wikiality, The Truthfulness Encyclopedia.

The collaborative powers that wikis hold are much better harnessed by wiki-sites like Encyclopedia of Earth, developed by a Community of Scholars, where contributors are recognized as experts in their field.

Colbert, S. (2006). Wikiality [Colbert Report segment. The Word: Wikiality] . New York: Comedy Central. Retrieved October 10, 2007, from This image of Stephen Colbert, and the Colbert Report are copyrighted by Comedy Central. They are posted here under the Fair Use clause, for educational purposes. [Update: the video link was updated on December 18, 2008]

Roosevelt at White House, December 8, 1941Ken Burn’s newest PBS documentary called “The War,” reminds us how primary sources can help us to see the past more clearly, and really make history come to life. If you are watching the Burns series, studying the crash of the Stock Exchange or reading the “Triangle” book for class…check out some of the historical newspapers that covered the incidents when they happened. Keep in mind that newspaper reporters had to write the stories and get it to press, so be sure to search the few days after an event to make sure you get the most coverage (for example: President Roosevelt’s Message regarding “…day that will live in infamy speech” was delivered on December 8th, 1941 and printed in the Newspaper on December 09, 1941.

The Brooklyn Daily Eagle covers 1851 to 1902. ProQuest Historical Newspapers [How do I? ] Allows you to search several historical newspapers simultaneously, Including Chicago Defender (1905 to 1975); Christian Science Monitor Historical (1908 to 1993); Hartford Courant (1764 to present); New York Times Historical (1851 to 2001); Wall Street Journal Historical (1889 to 1987); Washington Post Historical (1877 to 1988)

You might also check for audio and video files: Ex: Roosevelt’s “fireside chat” before and after Pearl Harbor. Check out Michigan State University’s Vincent Voice Library

Picture: Franklin D. Roosevelt at The White House, 12/08/1941 Public Domain, courtesy of the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library; The President’s Message. (1941, December 9). New York Times (1857-Current file),1. Retrieved September 25, 2007, from ProQuest Historical Newspapers The New York Times (1851 – 2004) database. (Document ID: 105168402).

Next Page »


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 25 other followers