Wednesday, January 20, 2016

What's your topic? Put your thoughts into words.

It seems like the hardest part of doing research is just getting started.  Finding a good topic and then narrowing it down or focusing it, and then actually putting  into words what  you want your research to discover or prove or provoke isn't as easy as it sounds.  Then, once you have your research question or thesis statement, what do you do with it?  You need search terms, not sentences to do academic research.

Search terms, not sentences for academic research

Here is a really good tool to help nail all of that down. Print it out.  Check off the search terms from the concept lists as you use them so that you don't end up doing the same work twice.
For help with finding synonyms, mine keywords from class readings or background resources you've already looked at. Look especially for words that uniquely describe the topic.  As you begin to find articles, look at the subject descriptors and abstracts for more key words, and check the bibliographies for sources cited.  

Good luck with your research!

Thursday, October 15, 2015

The 2015 Harry Potter Conference

The 4th Annual Harry Potter Conference and Festival weekend is here!  Stop by Logue Library and see our growing Harry Potter Collection.  You can also "browse" the collection here

Wednesday, October 07, 2015

What should replace the microfiche?

Last month we posted about the enormous amount of unused microfilm and microfiche in the library.
There are great recyclers out there but we had a few hundred pounds and the fees add up.  Using North American Plastic Recycling Network’s list of every plastic dealer in Pennsylvania, we found Accurate Recovery Systems right in Montgomery County. They offered to waive their pickup fee.

150,000 pieces of fiche needed to come out of the envelopes. Librarians took fiche home to our housemates and relatives (thank you Mrs. Consorto, Sister Regina, and John). Our service learning students separated piles of fiche.  Students invented the best methods of unspooling film.  Amanda discovered the “pencil through reel and spin” trick. Ryan found how to pop one side open and empty the entire reel in one swirl.
Stacks of empty spools were scooped up by crafty people.  In the end the fiche filled 4 drums and the film filled 10 bags.  Thanks the great recycling people it has gone to be reused as film or made into new plastic.

We found again that:
 any time we are stuck, a little more research in the right places can find an answer;
 that networking is valuable;
 that our students are the brightest ever.

What equipment or spaces should be in the library?  Instead of sitting at a microfilm reader like your grandparents may have done, what do you need for your courses and projects?

Thursday, September 24, 2015


We can’t remember when the microfilm and microfiche was last used in Logue Library.  

One corner of the first floor stacks stores a microfilm/fiche reader and 15 cabinets.  For those who have never touched microfiche here is a description . The documents on the film are available elsewhere.  Film does not last in a building without temperature and humidity control. Our reader does not print

Monday, August 03, 2015

Don't Believe Every Scientific Study You See

Scholarly research is always "livened up a bit" by adding the latest  news on the topic.

Peer review takes time. By the time a peer reviewed article is published, much more might be happening on that subject.  Adding the latest to your paper shows that you are staying up-to-date on the known information.

But there is a reason peer review takes time.  Sources must be checked out, facts verified, studies scrutinized and compared with others.

Without peer review, the reported findings could be just plain bad science.
Our job is to give a heads-up to the latest in  misleading "research."  Recently, NPR shared a story about a bogus research study that was published in a Pay-to-Publish "open access" journal, complete with a press-release about the "new research," which news outlets picked up on and reported as fact. (This isn't the first time someone has done this to prove that this problem exists. A quick Google Search reveals dozens of examples.)

The NPR program, called On the Media, posted the podcast here.  It should be required listening for any communications student, as well as any student gathering scientific information for a research paper.  Check it out, and if you teach a course, consider it for a PDE requirement.

Is it any wonder the general public constantly moves from one fad diet and miracle cure to another?
We are not the general public.  A student researcher's role is to sift through the mountains of information, find the legitimate and discard the junk.

It isn't always easy.  Using a scholarly database like SocIndex and PsycArticles from EBSCOhost, and being certain that the information you find in an Internet search comes from a reputable journal -- whether open-access or published traditionally-- will provide far more credible results than an open Internet search.

Having confidence that sources are legitimate leaves more of the researcher's time for ensuring that the type of study and the perspective of the study's analysis in well-founded journal articles match the point you are trying to defend in your research.

Thankfully, there is a list of predatory publishers that are known to publish anything for a fee. It probably needs to be updated, but it's a start.  If an article found in an Internet search comes from a journal published by one of these companies, it is not worthy of scholarly attention. It takes a little research to discover the publisher of some open access journals. Click the About link on a journal's the web page and find the information there.

Ask a librarian if you need help with this, or any other aspect of your research.

Hone your Critical Thinking skills by using a chart like this, which is also available with the On The Media podcast:
Click the image to enlarge.

Unfortunately junk "science" gets into the press and fuels important problems like climate change denial and bogus medical trends. Make sure your research is thoroughly on the up -and-up.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

How Important is Your Phone? A Cautionary Tale

I used to say, "If my phone ever falls into the toilet, my life will be total chaos. My calendar is on there." 

Seriously, how ridiculous is that??

So, when my phone broke and I miraculously still had access to the calendar, I quickly transferred everything to Google Calendars, something I was too lazy to do before it was a crisis. 

Speaking of Crisis, a couple of students were in the other night. One was working the PC while the other worked her phone.

Overheard on the phone: She could lock it all down and delete everything from here, but she doesn't want to lose the photos. 

And then, tearfully, at the PC: I can't believe I don't have my cell phone! Why would someone pick up something that doesn't belong to them??!  This drama, over a phone. Is this (potentially) you?

Do you store things that are important to you on your phone?

If you can relate to this, if your phone is so important to you that you would be devastated at its loss, it's time to make some changes.  When you take photos and share them on social media, you no longer need your phone to store them. Better yet, open a Dropbox account or store your pictures and other files on Google Drive.  Now you can access all of it from anywhere, on any device.  Think about it. 

Your phone is here now, but could be gone in an instant! 

Dropped and run over by a trash truck (my husband);  Dropped just from my desk to the floor, face down (that time, with the Calendar Issue); Marinated in a leaky zip lock bag in a kayak (my son).  Cracked beyond use on a rocky trail hike while taking one of those precious photos (um, me again). Or possibly stolen, if you can even believe that.

Seriously, how long has any one of your phones lasted? Have you ever actually made it to the end of a contract?  I know I never did. (I now buy or accept donations off-contract. Used. Cheap.)

Maybe I am just more accident-prone than most, but I no longer keep anything of importance on my mobile phone. If it's truly important, multiple copies (including hard copies) are a good idea. You never know how long that Cloud will be around, either.

Unmodified photos courtesy of the Creative Commons. New Phone ©John Watson and The Eye Phone ©Lee Morley

Friday, June 12, 2015

New HVAC Arrives on Hottest Day of the Year (So Far)

An exciting morning for Logue Library!  Without A/C since the warm weather began, today a crane arrived, removed the old unit and hoisted a new one in its place.  The new HVAC was placed on the roof in two pieces.

The first of two pieces,  in place ...

And then, the second one ...

We took video!


Riveting footage, to be sure! (Hey, this is exciting stuff!)


All done with walkie-talkies.  The crane operator did not have a visual of the project. Amazing!

And done by 10am!  The Library is working on reduced hours today and tomorrow, and is closed on Sunday due to the extreme heat, but we are hoping to have the A/C running by early next week!