Business Questions

May 19th, 2014

Last week, we looked at basic research.  But there are specialized tools for each academic discipline at IU East.  And while the basic searching techniques work in most databases, if you’re majoring in business and economics, you’ll want to use economics-oriented databases.  Fortunately, there are plenty of great sources for business news and research articles, like Business Source Premier or ABI/Inform (all of our business databases can be found here).

So, using what we learned last week, if we had an economic question like “how is Obamacare expected to impact middle-income Americans?”  We would start with a database like Business Source Premier.

ebsco

We might use a search like: (obamacare OR affordable care act OR health care reform) AND (effect OR impact) AND (middle class OR working class)

As we did in general searching, we’re looking for three main concepts, and searching for several synonyms for each of them.  You can see that we’ve also limited the results to just full text articles and just articles published since 2009 (the year President Obama took office).  Searches like this one, in this database and others like it, can very quickly get you most types of information.

But for an economics class, there are several special types of information you may need, as well.

COMPANY INFORMATION

It’s worth noting that publicly traded companies always have extensive information about them available.  But privately held companies are required to disclose much less information, so sometimes detailed financial information for those sorts of companies is simply not available.  Regardless, for financial statements, corporate history, major competitors, and the like, you will do well with Hoover’s Company Records or Datamonitor360.

For example, let’s say we wanted to research Wal-Mart.  From the company information we can easily find out how many current employees they have, how much money they made, what their taxes were, their current cash assets, how much debt they have, and the value of their stock, among many other things.  We can find out who their officers are and who their main competitors are.  We can find out how many stores they operate.  It’s a huge amount of information in one place.

FINANCIAL RATIOS

One special type of data you might be asked to find is financial ratios.  For that, Mergent Online is your best source.  Again, let’s say we’re interested in Wal-Mart.  Click on the company’s name in the result list, then click on the blue ‘Company Financials’ tab and then the ‘Ratios’ sub-tab below it.  Data is included for the last five years.

mergent

You can also use the report builder to compare your company to industry averages.  Click on the blue ‘Report Builder’ tab, then click on the ‘Comparison Reports’ sub-tab.  In section 3 of the Comparison Reporting Selection Screen, make sure you click on each ratio you want and click the > button to add it to your report.

SWOT ANALYSIS

‘SWOT’ means ‘strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats’.  It’s a kind of comprehensive self-evaluation a company makes of itself, looking at how best to maximize its advantages and prepare for any coming crisis or disadvantage it may have.  Occasionally, these types of reports can be available on a company’s web site.  But they can be found much more easily in our databases.  Again, we’ll use Wal-Mart as an example – search in Business Source Premier or Datamonitor 360 to find them.

datamonitor

With these tools, looking for business or economic information can be easy.  But if you need any help, feel free to contact us at iueref@iue.edu!

Starting to Research

May 12th, 2014

Whether you’ve been a student for a long time or are just getting started, knowing how to do good research can be a challenge.  You’re probably great at finding movie times with Google, browsing Wikipedia for quick information, and maybe you even do your shopping or banking online.  So you know that you’re good with a computer.  But what about the next step?  In your classes, you’re often told that you can only use ‘scholarly’ sources, and professors reject web pages.  How do you distinguish what the scholarly sources are, and where to find them?  And how do you use them?

IU East subscribes to a lot of high quality sources that are ideal to use in your academic work.  And they are much different from the largely commercialized or self-published or free tabloid-fodder echo chamber that makes up the bulk of the free internet.  We list them all here.  These databases bring together articles and books written by scholars who rely on research – and in many cases, their work is reviewed by other experts in the field before it is published (something we call ‘peer review’).  This list is the best place to start your research.

However, in order to get better information, you need better tools.  Systems like Google, with their one user-friendly search box, have chosen to sacrifice power for ease of use.  That is sensible for less important things.  But when you want accuracy?  For that, you need a more powerful tool.  These databases are usually more complex to use than Google, but they will get you much better information.

Searching can be affected by the syntax you use, and what types of limits you want to put on it.  Do you only want something from the last five years?  How about something published in a nursing journal?  Restrictions like this are impossible to do in Google’s lonely search window, but having all the extra controls in a database makes what you get back fit your needs better.

And we have a handy video that shows you how to do it.  It may look complicated at first, but try it a few times and searching techniques such as boolean language, nesting, truncation, field codes, and limiters will feel natural to you.  And your research will be great, too!

In the next few weeks, we’ll go further, looking at specific, common topics you might be interested in, and highlight the databases and techniques you would use to answer them.  And if you get stuck, don’t worry – we’re always here to help.  Any questions?  Ask us at iueref@iue.edu.

For the Love of Cities…and Service

May 5th, 2014

 

redbuds along the cardinal greenway

The wait is over and the “One book” selection for Fall 2014 has been announced! It is For the Love of Cities: the love affair between people and their places by Peter Kageyama.  The book examines what makes cities lovable, and what motivates residents to take action to make their community a better place to live. He explains the “continuum of engagement” and how to move from “functional” to “meaningful.”

In chapter seven, Kageyama writes “A recurring thread in this book is the notion that small things, seemingly insignificant, can have disproportionate impacts…In making lovable cities, just as in making loving human relationships, little things matter–a lot.”  He calls them “love notes.”

Right here at IU East we have a myriad of opportunities for you to create love notes…by getting involved in community events. Whether student, faculty or staff we each have the ability to spread the love by giving of our time. Please contact iueastsl@iue.edu to let us know you can help with one of the happenings listed here, as IU East sends a whole lot of love to our community!

service opportunities

Mental Health Awareness Month

April 28th, 2014

 

mind your health

May is Mental Health Awareness Month and the theme this year is ‘Mind Your Health’, a look at how mental health works as a component of overall health.  The mind and the body influence each other, and caring for one benefits the other.  That’s a principle that education has long espoused – physical education classes and athletics programs work side-by-side with courses dedicated to science and math and literature and psychology and foreign language, because nurturing the mind benefits the body, and caring for the body helps cultivate an agile mind.

Your IU East Campus Library has lots of resources to help you learn about these topics – from the new fifth edition of the American Psychological Association’s mental health handbook, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (REF RC455.2.C4 D536 2013) to books like Mental Health: Facing the Challenges, Building Solutions by the World Health Organization, Help Yourself towards Mental Health by Courtenay Young, Learning about Mental Health Practice by Theo Stickley, Introducing Mental Health: A Practical Guide by Caroline Kinsella, or Mental Health Promotion: A Lifespan Approach by Mimi Cattan.

Additionally, the unique needs of students are explored in such books as Students’ Mental Health: Problems and Responses by Nicky Stanley or Mental Health Promotion in Schools by Raymond Waller.  And databases like PsycInfo, ProQuest Psychology, OxRef, and Wiley Online Library offer high quality, vetted articles appropriate both for deep scholarship or more casual personal enrichment.

Are you taking a class on psychology or mental health?  We have Libguides to help you get started on your research, such as P 211: Methods of Experimental Psychology , Behavioral and Social Sciences Senior Seminar, and PSY-P425 Behavior Disorders of Childhood and Adolescence.  Whatever your need, we’ve got something to help you.

Any questions?  Let us know at iueref@iue.edu!

World Book Night

April 21st, 2014

The book I chose this year is Rebecca Lee’s Bobcat and Other StoriesI chose this collection of short stories because I believe that short stories are a wonderful genre to use to get new or not so avid readers interested in literature. Lee creates a variety of interesting characters in her work that present the reader with all kinds of questions on what it means to be human, and I think there is a story in her collection for every reader.

I chose to be involved in World Book Night because I believe that a love of reading is crucial for success in almost every discipline. Reading is a fundamental part of our experience as humans, and an invaluable tool for us to use when trying to make sense of the human experience. So many people claim to hate reading, but how can anyone hate something that has the power to take us to another world, change our way of thinking, and bring so much joy, all at the same time? I hope to give my books out to people who claim to hate reading–hopefully this book will change their minds!

Emily O’Brien

world book night header

Every year, on April 23rd, passionate volunteers from around the world promote literacy by handing out copies of books in their communities.  The authors waive their rights to royalties, and the publishers produce the books for free.  Each year, World Book Night puts half a million books into the hands of people who benefit from them.  IU East has 28 volunteers this year – our second year to participate in spreading literacy through World Book Night.

But it’s more than just handing out free books to people who don’t have them.  These volunteers select books they personally care about and have made a personal connection to, and share them with people in their own community.  It’s sharing a deep love of reading, as much as it is sharing ink and paper, and that’s what makes it so special.

I selected the Walter Dean Myers’ book, Sunrise over Fallujah. When I taught at Richmond High School, Myers’ writing style and content helped my young male students connect with reading. I’ll be distributing the books to English teachers at Richmond High School to help them provide reading material to students who may be unable to pay off their library fines in a timely manner (i.e., quickly enough to be able to check out a book for their Outside Reading assignments).  

Cherie Dolehanty

Maureen and I selected Richmond High School to support high school students who may not have ready access to books for personal reading.  We will be giving the books to the CIS staff so that they can distribute them to students.

Marilyn Watkins

wbn volunteers

In addition to Emily, Cherie, and Marilyn, our volunteers this year include Angela Addison, Frances Addison, Ann Branson-Tobin, Ashlee Brown, Katelyn Brown, Jamie Buffington-Adams, David Chupp, John Dalton, Lori Dilworth, Chase Eversole, Richard Goss, Belynda Grays, Rachel Hughes, Jenie Lahman, Jeffrey Locke, Wazir Mohamed, Dianne Moneypenny, Lisa Morgan, Christine Nemcik, Steven Petersheim, Sharon Stoten, Denice Williams, Frances Yates, Sean Yates, and Kathryn Yohey.

Books they are sharing include The Weird Sisters by Eleanor Brown, After the Funeral by Agatha Christie, The Ruins of Gorlan: The Ranger’s Apprentice, Book 1 by John Flanagan, The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell, The Dog Stars by Peter Heller, Pontoon by Garrison Keillor, Same Difference by Derek Kirk Kim, Bobcat and Other Stories by Rebecca Lee, Young Men and Fire by Norman Maclean, Sunrise Over Fallujah by Walter Dean Myers, The Botany of Desire by Michael Pollan, The Raven’s Warrior by Vincent Pratchett, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs, Cuando Era Puertorriqueña by Esmeralda Santiago, When I was Puerto Rican by Esmeralda Santiago, Where’d You Go, Bernadette (Large Print edition) by Maria Semple, Wild by Cheryl Strayed, Presumed Innocent by Scott Turow, Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein, and This Boy’s Life by Tobias Wolff.

The Library and Center for Service Learning at IU East are grateful to these volunteers for their passion for reading and enthusiasm for serving their community.  Thank you all so much!

Do you have any questions about World Book Night?  Send them to us at iueastsl@iue.edu