Impact Factors: Some getting started information

While conducting scholarly research you’ve probably seen mentions of ‘impact factors’. We’ll use today’s post to provide a little more information and to link you out to some great resources to learn more.

Generally speaking, impact factors are measures (using varying metrics but often citation counts) that suggest the ‘importance’ or ‘significance’ of either an author, article, or journal. Various stakeholders like to use these impact factors as proof that either their work or their journal or their institution, etc. is valuable to the research community.

There are many types of impact factors and each is calculated differently. There are measures for authors which use formulas based on how many articles they’ve published and how many times each of those articles have been cited. There are other measures for journals which might look at how often a typical article in that publication is cited each year, and so on.

A couple common author-level impact measures include:

  • H-Index: An author-level metric used to calculate an individual scholar’s research impact.  Check out this guide from Boston College to learn more.
  • Altmetric: As described on the Altmetric website, “Altmetrics are metrics and qualitative data that are complementary to traditional, citation-based metrics. They can include (but are not limited to) peer reviews on Faculty of 1000, citations on Wikipedia and in public policy documents, discussions on research blogs, mainstream media coverage, bookmarks on reference managers like Mendeley, and mentions on social networks such as Twitter.”  Check out our blog post about Altmetrics for more info.

What gets a little complex, of course, is whether these formulas/calculations are accurate measures of something like ‘impact’. Some of the formulas will include self-citations which can skew results. Others have argued that citation counts do not reflect the full ‘impact’ of a work. There is a recent movement in ‘altmetrics’ to track impact in other spaces such as social media, as mentioned above, to give a more complete picture of how a work is being used and discussed.

Some tools, like Google Scholar’s author profiles, will include a list of author-level citation metrics. You can view this data on an author’s profile page and if you hover over the name of the metric you can reveal a definition of how it was calculated:

Screenshot of author profile

There can be a TON to know about impact factors and citation metrics and some of it can get quite complicated. UC Irvine  has a wonderful LibGuide which provides a lot of this information is easily digestible chunks: http://guides.lib.uci.edu/c.php?g=334451&p=2249950.

The University of Illinois also has a great guide which covers journal impact factor in particular: http://researchguides.uic.edu/if/impact. Lastly, Elsevier has put together a nice list of various impact measures and their formulas: https://www.elsevier.com/authors/journal-authors/measuring-a-journals-impact.

Next time you see a journal advertising its impact factor, or you’re trying to understand the influence of a scholar’s research in their field, consider drawing on some of these tools to gain better insight into what those impact factors and influences might mean.

Happy Searching!

Free Resource Highlight: The American Presidency Project

What with election day right around the corner, your friendly librarians wanted to highlight an excellent, free resource related to all things presidential: The American Presidency Project.

presidents matchbooks3

Image by Jimmie. CC license here.

The American Presidency Project (APP) is a collection of over 100,000 documents hosted by the University of Santa Barbara.  As explained on their website, the APP is the only online resource “that has consolidated, coded, and organized into a single searchable database” this plethora of documentation.

What sorts of things are included?

  • Messages and papers of the Presidents
  • Party platforms
  • Speeches (Inaugural addresses, State of the Union addresses, and more)
  • Public Papers
  • And even election data dating back to 1789!

You can search for, select, or browse the collections therein to find exactly what you’re looking for or to discover something new.

That’s certainly not an exhaustive list; just a sampling of the many types of items you will find archived here. They even provide an audio/video archive for those wanting to listen to one of FDR’s Fireside Chats or view Gerald Ford’s remarks on pardoning Richard Nixon.

Not much of a history buff?  You can even view campaign speeches, press releases, and statements from the current candidates here. Or check out the homepage to see newspaper endorsements of the current candidates and how they stack up to previous elections/candidates.

Whether you’re in the thick of a serious research project or just need a distraction as you bite your nails while the results pour in tomorrow, we hope you’ll enjoy this wonderful resource.

Happy Searching!

TBT: This Donut Might Be Good For You and more!

UPDATE: Last fall we brought you this post about a wonderful little tool from Altmetrics that lets you see how an article is being talked about in social media.  Since then, many of our library resources have integrated Altmetric data into their records making it easier than ever to know what other researchers think of a work in real time.

You can check out the original post below to see how to download the special ‘Bookmarklet’ tool, but we’ll also show you where this data is hiding in Fielding’s library under the ‘Library Updates’ section of the page.

Library Updates:

The easiest place to see Altmetric data in our library is on the FASTsearch results page.  Once you find a result you like, just click on the ‘Preview’ button and you’ll find the Altmetric data (when available) at the end of the preview:

Screenshot of Fastsearch result.

Click image to enlarge.

Just click on ‘See more details’ to look at the expanded view which is described in detail below.

Most of the ProQuest databases now also include the Altmetric donut.  ProQuest records include the donut in the bottom, right-hand corner of the ‘Abstract/Details’ page.  Now on to the original post…

Original Post:

Mmmmmm….who doesn’t love a deliciously bad for you donut?!

Donuts

Image by Dave Crosby. CC license here.

Wouldn’t it be nice if there were another kind of donut entirely?  Something with the visual appeal of a donut, but which would feed you interesting information about academic articles?  Sounds like gibberish, but it’s not.  Enter: Altmetric.

altmetric donut

Image from Altmetric.

Now that we’re hooked and hungry, what exactly is Altmetric?  In the most general sense, it’s a tool meant to bolster or complement citation-based metrics by including data from alternative sources such as social media outlets.

Many of you savvy students know there can be power in analyzing how many times an article has been cited (i.e. looking at citation counts); BUT, how do we begin to consider the ways an article is being cited by or mentioned in non-traditional sources?

We all know that, today, researchers, professionals and the public alike take to Twitter, blogs, Facebook, newspapers, and other media outlets to express thoughts and opinions on every topic under the Sun.

So wouldn’t it be nice to see if an article has been mentioned, for example, on Twitter?  Not only that; wouldn’t it be nice to see how many times an article has been mentioned on Twitter, by whom, and in what context?

Altmetric can track this type of information and presents it as a nice color-coded donut, displaying how many times and through which outlet a work was mentioned. Their simple bookmarklet tool, discussed below, can be used to this end and is completely free.  Each donut will look a bit different depending on the number and types of sources which mention the article (light blue = Twitter; yellow = blogs; etc.).

Pretty cool, right?!

For those who respond ‘heck yeah!’ jump on down to the ‘Altmetric Bookmarklet’ section.  For those who say ‘but why?!’, read on!

But Why….

This is a good question. First, we can probably agree that any article metric, even a citation count, is not necessarily a measure of the article’s impact or quality.  However, we generally accept that it can be a nice way to know which articles seem to be talked about frequently in their field.

The problem? The scholarly publishing cycle is not the fastest mechanism in the world.  You may read an article, cite it in an article you write, then have your work published 2 years later.  But, you may also read the same article, take to your blog or Twitter with ease, and comment on it within an hour of reading it.

Social Media apps

Image by Jason Howie. CC license here.

It’s these latter mentions–the way a work is being immediately engaged with via social media–that can be hard to measure but offer interesting information on the way a paper, idea, or research is being used.  Altmetric is attempting to fill this gap by tracking how articles are mentioned in these harder-to-measure spaces.

Altmetric Bookmarklet

*Disclaimer: Fielding does not have an institutional Altmetric subscription; however, the Altmetric Bookmarklet lets you take advantage of much of their data for free!

The ‘bookmarklet’ is basically a little button you add to your browser’s bookmarks bar, like so:

altmetric toolbar

Click image to enlarge.

Altmetric has a webpage which explains everything you need to know about adding the bookmarklet to your browser and using it: http://www.altmetric.com/bookmarklet.php  Or the visual learner may appreciate watching their 45-second getting started video below:

Once you’ve got the button in your toolbar, you can simply click on it (while viewing the webpage for an article) to see if they’ve collected any data:

altmetric example

Click image to enlarge.

Alright, so the Twitter count is kind of interesting, but is that it?  No way!  Click the spot which says ‘click for more details’ to get to the good stuff.

The top of the details page will provide you with some summary information, and, more importantly, the option to sign up to receive alerts any time this article receives additional mentions!

altmetric top detail

Click image to enlarge.

The middle and bottom portions of the detail page allow you to see the demographic breakdown of mentions by type (*note, a ‘twitter demographics’ section, a ‘mendeley readers’ section, etc.).  Particularly interesting is that you can see a geographic breakdown of where these users were, but also a breakdown of whether the ‘tweeter’ was a practitioner, scientist, etc.:

altmetric demographics

Click image to enlarge.

Now, your librarian’s favorite part of all this, seeing these mentions in context!  Back at the top of the screen, you will see that we landed on the ‘Summary’ page.  But, in this example, you will also see a ‘Twitter’ tab.  If this article had other types of mentions, you would also see tabs for things such as ‘Blogs’, ‘News’, and so on.  Clicking on the tab for a particular source will display the actual mention in context:

altmetric twitter

The top of the page will explain the number of tweets, number of users, and potential number of followers who viewed those tweets.  Below, you can see the tweet itself and the way in which the article was mentioned: were they singing praises? Retweeting someone else’s posts? Taking issue with the work?  The details are right there.

A Few Things to Know…

This tool is pretty awesome, but there is always fine print.  You will see on the Altmetric site that they do have a few caveats regarding the bookmarklet, as is the case with any tool.

For one, the tool only works on pages/articles which contain certain types of information, such as a DOI number. This means it functions best with more recent works.

Also, it only works on articles which use certain types of metadata.  This explanation could get tedious and boring, suffice to say that it works well with some stuff and not others.

For library users, it may be worth noting that Altmetric seems to work best on the actual webpage for an article. From your librarian’s tests, it works well on database pages created by the publisher (such as: SAGE, Springer, Taylor & Francis, etc.).  However, it is not the best at reading pages within vendor databases (such as: ProQuest or EBSCO).  If you really want Altmetric data for an article here, it may be best to find the article through the publisher’s website and use the toolbar there.

Bottom Line: There will certainly not be altmetric data available for everything.  In fact, chances are there will be a great number of articles for which there is no data.  Not necessarily because the toolbar doesn’t work, but because not all works are mentioned in social media, the article was published too long ago, etc.

More Examples

It might be interesting to see a few screenshots of other donut examples to give you a sense of how they change.  Enjoy these images below!

This article includes Twitter and Facebook mentions:

donut with facebook and twitter

Click image to enlarge.

This article, from Nature, shows a lovely donut representing mentions via various formats like news outlets, blogs, Twitter, Google +, and more!

donut with many mention types

Click image to enlarge.

We hope you enjoy exploring this new tool!  Happy Searching!

Datasearch from Elsevier

To put it plainly: it can be a pain to find open source data.  It can feel like a rather slow-going, tedious process to endlessly skim through articles and databases just trying to locate one table or data-set….

4 Easy Ways to Speed Up Your PC

Image by li kelly. CC license here.

So what do you do when you want to get your hands and eyes on the data quickly?

Lucky for us, the good folks at Elsevier are working on a new tool: Elsevier Datasearch.  As they explain on their FAQs page: “We are interested in exploring what a search engine for research data would look like (as opposed to a web search engine or a document search engine), and are talking with users and data providers about their needs and interests.”  You can also view the FAQs page to learn more about what type of content is indexed and from which sources.

Now, let’s get some of the fine print out of the way: this tool is being actively developed, it’s in the Beta stage, so this may not be the final product.  However, it is available now and Elsevier would love your feedback if you use it.

Sooo0….how does it work?

When you connect to DataSearch, you will find a familiar search engine-like interface:

ds_home

Next, just as you would another search engine, input some keywords related to your research interest(s). Note that, even though the tool is created by Elsevier, content across domains and subjects is indexed here. For example, I tried searching for data related to “income disparity”:

ds_search

Let’s break down the different features available on the results page (woohoo!):

ds_results

  • ‘Types’: This first filter allows you to refine your search by, of course, the type of data available.  This is useful if you are specifically looking for raw data files, or an image to help you represent a claim, and so on.
  • ‘Sources’: This filter allows you to refine by the actual data source.  While you may want use this as a refinement, this filter also just provides a nice snapshot of where the majority of your results come from.
  • ‘Date’: Like any good search tool, DataSearch also lets you filter results by date.  This is particularly useful for researchers needing data that reflects a given time period.

In addition to those filters, there are a few other things to be aware of on the results page.  First, your total number of results is listed just below the main search box.  Second, the types of data associated with each record are listed just below the description.  This is a helpful way to quickly see if the record will provide the data in the format you are seeking.

Now, let’s dive deeper and look at an individual record (oohs and aahs):

ds_record

In this case, I chose a record which had ‘Tabular Data’ available.  Once I click on the record, an expanded menu becomes available to me.  From here, I can use the options on the left side of the record to look through the data (e.g.: Description, Tables 1, 2, 3, and A1).

When I select a table I am then able to view all of the associated data.  I can also select to ‘Go to data source’ at the bottom of the record to learn more about the article in which this data was originally published.

**NOTE: DataSearch is still in development and is not integrated with Fielding’s library resources.  If you follow the ‘Go to data source’ button, you will be redirected to the source on the open web.  Remember to use your stellar search abilities to check for access within our library.**

Keep in mind:

  • Each record will look a bit different depending on the types of data available
  • This resource is in development so there will certainly be minor errors or glitches. Be sure to use the options to provide feedback to Elsevier so they can make improvements.

Happy Searching!

 

Zotero, Word, and subtitles…

While I wish that were the beginning of a good joke, it’s just the literal meaning of today’s post.  I often receive great feedback from Zotero users about how easily it captures references and full-text articles.  However, the less-than-enthusiastic feedback often has to do with its abilities to generate citations.

citation needed

Image by Dan4th Nicholas. CC license here.

In all fairness, no tool that generates citations automatically seems to get it right 100% of the time, so it’s important to take an editing eye to any quickly generated citation or bibliography.

That said, there are a couple tips which you can employ while collecting references which will reduce the time you spend editing the bibliographies you have Zotero auto-generate in your word processor.

Transform Text

You may have noticed that Zotero sometimes grabs references in ‘Title Case’, meaning that the first letter of every word in the title is capitalized.  While this works for some styles, APA style only capitalizes: the first letter of the first word, the first letter of the first word following a colon, and (of course) proper nouns.  What to do?

Luckily, there’s an easy fix to this quandary.

Step 1: Open your Zotero library.

Step 2: Identify an article title which is not in line with APA convention.

Step 3: In the ‘Info’ section of your Zotero library, right-click on the ‘Title’ field.  This will reveal a small gray box labeled ‘Transform Text’:

zoterotitle

Step 4: Hover over ‘Transform Text’ to reveal a sub-menu which offers these two options: Title Case or Sentence Case:

zoterocase

Step 5: Select ‘Sentence case’ and Zotero will automatically change the title so that only the first letter of the first word is capitalized:

zoterosentencecase

Optional, Step 6: If a subtitle is present, the first letter of the first word in the subtitle must also be capitalized. You can simply double-click the ‘Title’ field to manually capitalize this letter:

zoteroedit

Download a Plug-In to do some work for you

Although Zotero does not currently have a fix in place to automatically capitalize the letter after a colon, you can download a plug-in created by a 3rd party that will help perform this function automatically in your word processor.

Step 1: Click here to open the list of Zotero’s Word Processor plug-ins in a new window.

Step 2: From that list, select the one labeled ‘Zotero Uppercase Subtitles’ as shown here:

zoteroplugin

Click image to enlarge.

Step 3: Following that link will take you to the developer’s site.  On this new page, select ‘Propachi Upper’ and follow the instructions to download/enable the plug-in for Zotero:

propachi

Now you’re cookin’!  While those are the only steps involved in downloading the plug-in, you do need some additional information to ensure that it works properly.

Important Information re the plug-in:

In order for this plug-in to work properly, the ‘Title’ field AND the ‘Short Title’ field located in the ‘Info’ section of your Zotero library must contain information.  The ‘Title’ field should contain the complete title of the work including the subtitle.  The ‘Short Title’ field should contain the section of the title which appears before the colon:

zoterotitle2

In case you’re starting to panic, I found that many of my Zotero entries were automatically filled in this way, so my hope is that you will not have to labor over each record.  However, I have learned that it is essential these fields be filled out properly for this plug-in to do its job.

Remember, this plug-in is for your word processor.  While you will not see automatic changes take effect to the record within your Zotero library, when you use Zotero to generate a citation for the work in Word it will be formatted properly:

zoteroword

While not everyone may want to deal with the plug-in, I suspect it will be incredibly useful for articles/dissertations in which you cite a high quantity of references. At the very least, it’s another tool to be aware of and a potential way to reduce editing time after you’ve generated your bibliography.

Zotero Forums to the rescue

For inquiring minds, one of Zotero’s greatest resources is its ‘Forums’ page: https://forums.zotero.org/categories/.  Not only can you often find an answer to your question posted here, but Zotero users can also post questions to be answered by Zotero experts.  Even your librarian had to seek out help while learning to use the subtitle plug-in:

zoteroforum

Happy searching, saving, and citing!

**Disclaimer: I cannot claim to be a Zotero expert, though I am an enthusiast! If you’ve discovered other tips or tricks please share them in the comments section so we can all benefit!

Throwback Thursday: WorldCat at your service

Cat and Mouse Games of the Caribbean

Image by John Jay Glenn. CC license here.

No…that’s not what I mean by WorldCat.

WorldCat, short for ‘world catalog’, is a service which allows library users to look up articles, books, DVDs, and more to see which libraries in their area own a copy.  Thousands of libraries, not only in the United States, but around the world participate in this service and more content is being added every day.

In a distributed learning environment with a digital library, sometimes we forget about the physical materials available in our own communities.  But WorldCat gives us a way to quickly search those local holdings without even leaving the house.  Yes!

I am so excited to wear my new snowflake pajamas that I can't sleep! I just want to research all night. Sigh it's 4am - why am I always awake at this hour? Gahhh

Image by Hi Tricia. CC license here.

So, how does it work?

Simple! Once you connect to www.worldcat.org you will immediately see a search box:

worldcat

Select the proper tab at the top or select ‘advanced search’ if you’d like a little more search control.  Then input the title of the work you’re looking for and press search.

The next page will show you a list of potential matches:

worldcatresults

If you don’t see a match on the screen, try using the filters on the left to narrow down the results.  If you do see the title you’re interested in, just click on it to be taken to a new screen where you can determine which libraries in your area own the work.

On the new page, scroll down about half-way to a section labeled ‘Find a copy in the library’.  Here, you can input a city or zip-code to determine local holdings (click on the image to enlarge it):

worldcatlocation

Click image to enlarge.

I know what you might be thinking…”that’s great, but those results are for academic institutions that I don’t attend.”  True, but most public universities allow members of the community to come in and use their resources within the library.  Permissions to check out materials will vary by location, but WorldCat makes it easy to get in touch with a librarian so you can determine your access privileges.

And don’t forget about your good ol’ public library!  Even if they don’t own a work, most public libraries participate in loan agreements (many with academic libraries!) so they can get a hold of what you need.  Since Fielding’s interlibrary loan service is limited to articles and book chapters, your public library might be just the place to snag a copy of a book without having to purchase it!

I Love My Library - Scotts Valley

Image by Santa Cruz Public Libraries. CC license here.

Will WorldCat always find the work you need in your area?  Unfortunately, no; it’s not a 100% guarantee.  But the more tools you have at your disposal, the better chance you have of freely accessing the information you need.

You can always contact you Fielding librarians for additional help and suggestions in locating resources.  Happy hunting!

This constitutes a useful resource!

For this week’s blog post, we’ve decided to take you around the world….in constitutions!  Government and research nerds rejoice!

Nerd Crossing

Image by Jon Parise. CC license here.

All jokes aside, we are referring to a wonderful and freely available reference website: www.constituteproject.org. Initially funded with a grant from Google Ideas, “Constitute offers access to the world’s constitutions that users can systematically compare them across a broad set of topics — using an inviting, clean interface” (from the ‘About’ page).

If you’ve ever wondered about the gender equality laws in Tunisia, wished to compare France and Norway’s constitutions, or wanted to see a list of all of the constitutions in the world which grant judicial independence, this is the tool for you!  Read on to learn more about what content is included and how to navigate this resource.

What exactly is available…?

Unsurprisingly, most of the world’s constitutions are available to read/download on the Constitute Project’s website.  In addition to being able to read and search these documents, you can also compare constitutions and explore them by topic.

As noted on their ‘About’ page, “Currently Constitute includes the constitution that was in force in September of 2013 for nearly every independent state in the world, but we continue to update these texts as they are amended or replaced.”

How can I use this awesome tool?

In its most basic form, you can use this site to read and search the world’s constitutions.  The initial search page will list all countries alphabetically and offer a search box on the left side of the screen to let you look for something specific:

constitute1

Click image to enlarge.

While that functionality alone is quite useful, there’s a lot more you can do.

For instance, let’s say that you are doing some research about definitions or protections for indigenous groups in various countries.  You could use the ‘Topic’ links to navigate to ‘culture and identity’ –> ‘indigenous groups’ –> ‘citizenship of indigenous groups’ (or one of the other indigenous rights-related topics):

constitute2

Click image to enlarge.

Upon making this selection, you will see a list of all of the constitutions which include a piece about the citizenship of indigenous groups.  You could then select to read them individually, or you may choose a few to compare, like so:

constitute3

Click image to enlarge.

On the ‘compare’ screen, the relevant sections of each constitution will be highlighted so you can quickly and easily review them:

constitute4

Click image to enlarge.

For more detailed navigating information, check out their YouTube tutorial series:

Happy Searching!

Throwback Thursday: Free Samples!

This Thursday, we look back to a post from last year with guidance on how to find sample survey instruments, interview questions, and more. Enjoy!!

Free hugs

Image by Matthew G. CC license here.

Okay, you caught me…the library is not giving out free hugs (although after how busy Summer Session was perhaps it’s not a bad idea).

This ‘free samples’ post actually refers to finding sample survey instruments, interview questions, questionnaires, and so on.  A post we did not too long ago, Test It Out, covered some of the key steps in finding studies which employed certain tests or measures (hooray!).  But today’s post focuses on a way to find actual survey and interview questions…which can be a bit tricky.

As you probably know, scholarly articles do not typically publish appendices revealing the survey/interview questions used in obtaining results.  So what do you do when your advisor directs you to “find some sample questions” other academics have used?

Laptop on fire

Image by Chris Pawluk. CC license here.

First, you resist the urge to set fire to your laptop.  Second, you cruise on over to the Fielding library website and connect to the ProQuest Dissertations and Theses Global database (by following the ‘databases’ link on the main library website).

While most scholarly articles do not include the full-text of their survey instruments, dissertations and theses do!  That’s right, as you are well aware, graduate and doctoral students must meticulously account for how and why they achieved the results of their studies. Lucky for you, this means the appendices of these documents are a gold-mine of sample measures.  Let’s head on over to the database to take a look at how this works.

ProQuest Dissertations and Theses Global

When you connect to the database, you will land on the familiar blank advanced search screen.  If you’ve connected to this database with the intention of finding sample questions–or just sample studies which employ a certain method (i.e. phenomenology, case study, etc.)–the best way to accomplish this goal is to search using a term or two describing your topic and a term describing the type of measure/study you hope to find.

Let’s imagine I’m doing some research into organizational cultures and need to find some sample interview questions.  I may build my search like so:

dissinterviews

Click image to enlarge.

Though quite basic, I’ve asked the database to look for the phrase “organizational culture” and the keyword ‘interviews’ anywhere except for in the full-text of the document.  Since the dissertation’s abstract will include a piece about the methodology used, this is a fairly reliable method to employ to find the samples you need.  Here are the first few results this search retrieved (**note, I blacked out the author/institution names since I could not ask for permission to display them):

sample results page

Click image to enlarge.

As you can see underlined in red, each of these works’ abstracts has a portion which explains interviews were used (at least in some capacity) to obtain some data.  From here, I could preview abstracts, select a relevant document, then open the PDF to view the appendix which would contain a copy of the questions employed.

Your particular research topic is likely more specific that just ‘organizational culture’ so remember you can use multiple terms to refine your search.  Let’s do one slightly more refined sample search together for good ‘measure’ (pun intended).

In this case, let’s imagine my research focuses on the use of social media by teenagers and I plan to conduct a case study. I might build my search like so:

screenshot of case study search

Click image to enlarge

Not sure about all that fancy syntax?  Make sure to check out the search tip handout on the ‘Quick Tip Docs’ page for explanations.

In essence, that search asks the database to find the phrase “social media”, to find any one of those terms describing teens or youth or adolescent, and to find the phrase “case study”.  This yielded 17 results total, here’s a sampling:

sample of results page

Click image to enlarge.

And there you have it.  Just another trick to have up your sleeve as you work on your own research.  Hopefully this means that next time you’re asked to find some samples you’ll react like this…

man crossing finish line

Image by meridican. CC license here.

Happy searching!  And remember you can always contact the library with questions (library@fielding.edu).

Write right

As is the case with many tasks asked of you at the graduate level, the writing process can sometimes feel a bit…nebulous.

nebulous

Original image by ok, Shawna. CC license.

What to do during those dark times when you need guidance (or those light times when you feel motivated and ready to learn)?

The Fielding library has subscription access to a number of resources which can aid you in the scholarly writing process.

In fact, we just recently created a ‘Writing Resources Guide’ which highlights many of these resources and makes them find-able by subject (i.e. Dissertation writing; business writing; psychology; proposals/funding, and more!).  You can cruise right on over to the ‘Quick Tip Docs‘ page of this blog to download a copy–available in either Word or PDF formats.  Once you’re on the page just scroll down to the bottom of the ‘quick reference guides’ section to find the links.

If that’s not enough to tickle your fancy, you’ll find several appendices at the end of the guide with refreshers on how to navigate and locate this content in our collection!

Let’s look at a sampling of some of the titles to give you a better sense of what’s available.

First up, Finish Your Dissertation, Don’t Let It Finish You by Joanne Sumerson

dissertationtitle

Image from Amazon.com.

As explained by the publisher, this work “presents comprehensive coverage of the entire dissertation process, from selecting a committee and choosing a research topic to conducting the research and writing and defending your dissertation.”

Another great option, Publishing Journal Articles by Lucinda Becker and Pam Denicolo

publishingtitle

Image from Amazon.com

This work is advertised as an “accessible, informative and entertaining book [that] provides practical strategies to help maximize the chances of success in getting your work published in the journal of your choice.”

One more to consider, Stylish Academic Writing by Helen Sword

stylishtitle

Image from Amazon.com

Harvard University Press describes this work as follows: “Elegant data and ideas deserve elegant expression, argues Helen Sword in this lively guide to academic writing. For scholars frustrated with disciplinary conventions, and for specialists who want to write for a larger audience but are unsure where to begin, here are imaginative, practical, witty pointers that show how to make articles and books a pleasure to read—and to write.”

Be sure to check out these works as well as the many other books and book chapters noted in the writing resources guide!

Happy Searching!

Dead URLs — let’s go wayback

Does this scenario sound familiar? You read an interesting article. You’re perusing the list of references to discover further reading suggestions. You find an awesome prospect with a ‘retrieved from’ URL.  You follow the URL only to be presented with that persnickety message….“The page cannot be found”.  

Noooooooooooooooooooooooooo!

What to do? Turn that frown upside down and head over to the ‘Wayback Machine’, a tool brought to you by the Internet Archive.

The Wayback Machine “is a service that allows people to visit archived versions of Web sites.” Your friends at the Internet Archive have been diligently archiving webpage content for decades which makes it possible for you to view, browse, and surf older versions of URLs.

Why is this good news for you?  This tool can allow you to follow that great ‘retrieved from’ URL so you can actually see the content instead of the irritating ‘page not found’ message.  Hooray for no dead ends!

 

How does it work?

Step 1: Connect to the Wayback Machine at this URL: https://archive.org/web/

Step 2: Copy and paste the dead URL into the search box at the top of the page, like so:

Screenshot of wayback webapge.

Click image to enlarge.

Step 3: Press ‘Browse History’.  When you do so, the results screen will indicate any dates on which the contents of this specific URL were saved by the archive.  You can use the graph at the top of the screen to select a particular year, then click on an individual date to actually see what the page looked like at the time:

waybackcalendar

Click image to enlarge.

Step 4: Explore the archived site.  If you went to a very specific URL (like in this example) you may only be able to view one page.  If you followed a general URL (see our older post about the Wayback Machine to see it used on Fielding’s own website) you will be able to click on links and ‘surf’ the site.

Here’s a screenshot of what you see following the example above:

waybackresult

Click image to enlarge.

Notice with delight that this allows you to read the full article that used to be posted at this URL!

Even though the URL currently leads to a dead-end, the Wayback Machine allows you to see what used to be there.

Next time you run into a dead-end scenario, try plugging the URL in here to see if you can still access the past content.  While the Internet Archive, of course, cannot index every webpage ever created, it does store A TON of content.

Happy Searching!