reference databases

reference databases

One People One Sky

One People One Sky

April is Global Astronomy Month, sponsored by Astronomers Without Borders, a group dedicated to strengthening the bonds between nations by looking outward together. Their motto is “One People, One Sky”, and they focus on practical astronomy that you can participate with in your back yard over more esoteric theories. Astronomy is one of the most viscerally compelling of the sciences, because any child can understand its scope and grandeur just by looking up at the night sky; of getting excited at being able to identify a constellation like the Big Dipper. Perhaps you were inspired by Neil deGrasse Tyson, Maria Mitchell, or Stephen Hawking. Perhaps you took an astronomy class thinking it would be an easy grade, and were unexpectedly … Continued
Pi for All

Pi for All

Today is Pi Day, a math holiday started in 1988 honoring the irrational number and mathematical constant at the core of understanding circles. March 14th was selected because of the first three digits of π – but mathematicians, of course, can develop even more finely tuned numeric symmetry. Most casual observers of π Day treat themselves to a piece of their favorite pie and discuss mathematics with their friends. But you’re undoubtedly reading this because you care about research. And the library is eager to help. You might not think of using the library for math studies. After all, if you’re just doing equations and using formulae, what else would you need? But mathematics education benefits from research and scholarly … Continued
Wilier Than a Coyote

Wilier Than a Coyote

Wile E. Coyote gave many of us inadvertent lessons in science in his endless quest to dine on delicious roadrunner. The hazards of poorly understood physics (what goes up must come down), where you should stand during an experiment, and humorous cautions on not using proper safety precautions were all hallmarks of his schemes. Professors even occasionally use his misadventures in class, to illustrate their points. But when it comes to your research, you probably want something a little more… rigorous (and less prone to catastrophic failure and personal injury). Fortunately, the worst you risk in the library is an occasional paper cut. We have lots of high-quality databases for science (listed here) that can supply you with the current … Continued
Biography Sources

Biography Sources

There are lots of types of things to research, but often we seem to focus on issues or abstract concepts. Are people better off if they do A over B? What does the experiment show? How do we decide a difficult policy question? But those issues and events are put into motion by people, whose lives and ideas shape the ideas. We turn to biographies when we want to learn about people’s lives. But sometimes, even if it seems like you’re dealing with an abstract issue or policy question, your work will be deepened by an understanding of the people behind it. Who they are, and why they formed the ideas they did. Literature has long embraced this – as … Continued
Peer Review and How to Find It

Peer Review and How to Find It

As a scholar, you will likely be asked to find a lot of very specialized information for your assignments, papers, and projects. Some of this is the type of material – use a certain number of books, articles, and websites. Sometimes you’ll be looking for primary sources – those created by the participants themselves. Other times it will be multimedia, like documentaries, interviews, or television news broadcasts. And other times it will be for peer reviewed material. Peer review isn’t complicated – it is a work of scholarship, usually a journal article, which other experts in the field read before it is published, and who attest to its veracity or academic value. A journal that is peer reviewed is generally … Continued