This short book was written and developed for a course on personal knowledge management taught at the University of Kentucky's School of Information Science.
Most sections of this book will be accompanied by a video demonstrating the practices described in those sections. Try to read through the text first, and then watch the video. Revisit the text to help cement the ideas in place.
There are two markups that I want to bring to your attention:
Text that looks like code blocks indicate some kind of command that you should test for yourself. For example, I demonstrate search queries in the sections that follow. When I demonstrate a Google search, for example, the search query will appear in a standalone box with a basic font and a different color background (depending on the theme you're using).
I occasionally insert some asides into the text. These asides generally contain notes or extra comments about the main content. Asides look like this:
This is an aside. Asides will contain extra information, notes, or comments.
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Copyright (C) 2022 C. Sean Burns
Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.3 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, no Front-Cover Texts, and no Back-Cover Texts. A copy of the license is included in the section entitled "GNU Free Documentation License".
What is personal knowledge management (PKM)? Well, I'd hazard a guess that most of us depend largely on two main sources to search for, locate, and retrieve information, either on a daily basis or for more extensive work. These two sources are the people we know and the search engines, like Google, that we use on a daily basis. Relying on these two kinds of sources may get us by for most things, but there are times when we will require more rigorous sources because the task at hand stipulates better information or the risks involved in making a decision are weighty enough to require more certainty. Good, thorough information can reduce our uncertainty or enable us to measure levels of uncertainty, and this is helpful when making decisions, writing papers, completing projects, and so forth. In this book, therefore, our first learning goal is focused on information sources, and specifically, to:
- become aware of the variety of information sources that exist,
- learn how to search those sources for relevant information, and
- learn how to evaluate found information.
This only covers part of what we mean by personal knowledge management. In addition to being able to search for, locate, and retrieve good information, it is also important to manage that information and to develop good work flows that help with that. What I mean is that, it may be great that we know that UK Libraries exists and that we can use it to locate good information, but if we don't ever use the library or other great resources because we're not in the habit of doing so, then what's the point?
Personally, I want to live in a good information age rather than merely the information age. Therefore, our second learning goal is focused on the tools and technologies that will help us build personalized information and knowledge work flows. As stated above, often the point of acquiring good information is to perform some task or to make a decision. A good work flow is good if it fits our style, or our way of getting things done, because that makes the work flow more likely to be followed. A good work flow also maximizes our use of good sources of information as well as helps us to produce desired outcomes, like a paper for a class, a project for a boss, or a decision that involves some uncertainty. Our second learning goal is, therefore, focused on personal knowledge work flows, and specifically, to:
- become aware of the tools and technologies designed to manage personal knowledge work flows,
- learn how to use these tools and technologies, and
- incorporate these tools and technologies into our personal knowledge work flows
Our final learning goal focuses on outcomes and builds off the first two goals. Specifically, our final goal is to habitually use the tools and technologies that incorporate a variety of good sources of information in order to accomplish a task or make a decision. That is, not only may we want to take advantage of the many kinds of information sources that exist, and not only may we want to make it a habit of using those information sources in a habitual, personalized, effective way, but we may also, as suggested earlier, want to accomplish some task. It could be that we may simply want to satisfy our curiosity about a topic and learn more, which is great! But there are times in our lives when we need to get things done (e.g., write a paper or create a software program) or make a decision that involves some risk (e.g., buy a house or choose a healthcare procedure). In those cases, having a personal knowledge work flow that incorporates high quality sources of information will facilitate accomplishing such tasks or making such decisions.
In order to accomplish the three goals above, this book covers the differences between information sources and resources, how to find new kinds of information sources and resources, how to use reference management software, how to search the web and databases, and how to evaluate information sources.
This book is also project based. We will use the material and tools covered here to produce content for a Wikipedia article that you have selected.
I start this book by covering two basic topics: email management and back ups. Although these topics do not necessarily fit within the work flow model that frames this book, I discuss them because they are basic personal knowledge management skills, and it's good to not overlook the basics.
- Duffy, J. (2019). 11 Tips for Managing Email More Efficiently. Retrieved 19 July 2022, from PC Mag
- Haupt, A. (2021). Overwhelmed by email? Here’s how to get that inbox under control. The Washington Post. Retrieved from Washington Post
- Tips and Tools for Managing Email. (2021). Retrieved from Colorado College
- Create rules to filter your emails. Retrieved from Using Rules - Gmail
- Create labels to organize Gmail. Retrieved from Create Labels - Google
- Group emails into conversations. Retrieved from Group emails - Google
- Search in Gmail. Retrieved from Search - Gmail
- Create & manage Tasks in Google Calendar. Retrieved from Create & manage Tasks
Many people today use a variety of social media and text messaging platforms to communicate with each other, and this is on top of, or in spite of, the existence and use of email, which still reigns as the dominant mode of communication across a variety of industries. We can refer to this experience of the abundance of communication platforms and the abundance of messaging on these platforms as communication overload. This concept basically means that there are too many messages coming at us from too many platforms.
Unfortunately, it's beyond the scope of this lecture to address strategies for managing communication from across multiple platforms, but since email reigns supreme as a form of communication across industry, it's important to learn some strategies for managing our emails and avoiding inboxes with hundreds or thousands of unread email.
The first set of readings listed above focus on overall strategies for managing our email inboxes. The readings suggest a number of strategies, but the two main strategies focus on
- organizing our email and
- searching for email.
Some of the specific suggestions they make to implement those strategies will depend upon whether we use email in the web browser, via a desktop application, or a phone app. Thus it may take some exploration to figure out how to apply these lessons based on what you use.
Each email service we use (e.g., Outlook, Gmail, etc.) offers similar but different ways to organize our email. Here are some ways to organize your emails for two of the most common services, but keep in mind that the underlying principals apply elsewhere:
We can create folders (Outlook) or labels (Gmail), and then archive or group email into the respective folders or by the respective labels.
We can create rules to filter email to specific folders or by labels.
For example, I have several folders in Outlook. I have a folder titled 'university email' and a rule that sends all email from UK officials and UK mailings lists to that account. I have another folder titled 'Canvas email', where all email from my courses are routed to. And so on. Most of these emails are not time-sensitive (e.g., mailing list email) or it's simply helpful to group email by category (e.g., Canvas student email). Using them thus helps keep email organized. As a student, you might want to create folders for specific courses, specific majors/minors, administrative functions (registration related emails, for example) and like.
Gmail doesn't use the terms rules or folders, per say, but instead uses the concept of filters and labels. Gmail will automatically assign labels to your email, but you can apply more personalized labels, and then you can set up filters that automatically assigns labels that match the logic you set up with the filters.
All email services provide some kind of search, even if implemented in different ways. And like regular search engines, Outlook and Gmail both offer advanced searching abilities.
In Outlook, you can search:
- in specific folders
- by whom an email is From
- by whom you sent an email To
- by a CC (carbon copy) address or person
- by Subject line
- by Keywords (that may appear in the email message),
- within specific dates,
- and you can limit results to specific dates
In Gmail, you can do most of same kinds of things, but you can also:
- search by email size
- and exclude emails that do not include certain terms
Searches are very similar to filters, and in fact, in both Outlook and Gmail, you can save a search as a filter if you find that your search query can be re-used.
Searching not only helps you find specific emails on specific topics and within specific time frames, it's also a good way to mass delete old and unnecessary email.
The PC Mag and The Washington Post articles suggest that we turn off notifications. The point is that if we receive a lot of emails, then email becomes too distracting. Instead, The Washington Post suggests that we simply check our email only a few times per day (but probably at most twice a day is sufficient). The aim here is to be intentional about using email (and this applies to any other communication technology) rather than mindless and distracted by it.
The Washington Post article also suggests applying the four Ds to your emails: "do, delete, delegate or defer. It's up to you how to implement these ideas, but the main goal is to get rid of unnecessary email fast. Don't let it accumulate. The more emails that sit in our inbox, the more overwhelming it becomes afterward. In fact, you can unsubscribe to everything that is not important.
Another good idea is to keep personal and work email separate. In fact, have more than one personal email account. Use one personal as a throwaway account for signing up to random websites. Use your main personal account for personal communication, banking, important social media accounts, and like. Use your work account or your school account for work or school related tasks only. Be mindful that your work or school account does not belong to you and that you will lose that account when you leave a job or graduate from school. In fact, the University of Kentucky has a help page about your various UK accounts that you should read now.
As your lives become increasingly busy, if they're not already, using good Calendar and Task apps can help keep our days organized and our to-do lists manageable. Both Outlook and Gmail integrate Tasks and Calendars. The readings above link to help pages on how to use these functions. These are super time-saving functions for me.
In addition to managing our personal knowledge, one of the main points of this class is to become adept at using the various technologies that are available to us. If we're only passive users of technology, then that technology can easily overwhelm us. Active and intentional use of technology and of the specific functions that the technologies provide can actually help improve our lives and our personal knowledge management work flows.
In this lesson, we learned how to think strategically about email services. The two main strategies involve how to:
- organize our email, and how to
- search our email.
- Velazco, C. (2022). Help desk quick fix: How to back up your phone before you lose it. The Washington Post. Retrieved from Washington Post
- Back up your Mac. Apple. Retrieved from Apple
- Backup and Restore in Windows. Retrieved from Microsoft
Many of us nowadays have multiple devices, like laptops and smartphones, and as we use those devices, they become full with important files, photos, settings, texts, and so forth that we probably don't want to lose. As a result, it's a good idea to back up these devices to help insure that we can restore our data if something happens to the device.
Unfortunately, methods to back up our data vary depending on the smartphone maker (Android, iPhone) and operating system (Windows, macOS, iOS). We also have a variety of storage options, and the two biggest options are the cloud, like iCloud, Dropbox, Google Drive, and extra storage devices, like external disk drives or large data capacity USB drive.
In this lecture, I cover how to back up your phones and laptops/desktops for long term storage.
A good backup strategy to follow is to first backup your phone, either to the cloud or to your computer, and then back up your computer. This is because we sometimes will want to use our computers as backups for our phones.
To get started, The Washington Post has a couple of helpful videos on how to back up your iPhone or Android smartphones.
For instructions on backing up your Mac, you should follow Apple's instructions, which shows you how to back up your device using Time Machine or iCloud. The instructions also show you how to restore your Mac from a backup, how to check your storage capacity, how to free up storage, and more.
If you select to backup with Time Machine, you can select a backup disk, like an external hard drive or large data capacity USB drive.
For instructions on backing up your Windows computer, you should likewise start with Microsoft's instructions. The instructions at the link show how to backup for either Windows 10 or Windows 11. As with Macs, if you can elect to backup your files using an external disk or a cloud solution. Microsoft's instructions also cover how to restore your data if necessary.
External hard drives are a great solution for backing up your system. Today's drives are relatively inexpensive. A 2TB external hard drive may cost as little as $60. The advantage of using an external hard drive is that you pay a one-time cost (the cost of the drive).
External hard drives require some setup because different operating systems use different file system formats. If you are using a macOS computer, you will want to format your drive using Disk Utility. macOS uses the Apple File System (APFS) by default. If you are using a Windows computer, you can use File Explorer, and you will most likely want to format your drive using the New Technology File System (NTFS), However, if you want to be able to access your external drive from an Apple computer, you should format the drive using the exFAT file system.
One of the disadvantages of an external hard drive is that because it's portable, it can be lost or misplaced. Therefore, when you format your disk, you may want to set up encryption so that the drive is protected.
You setup encryption on macOS when you format the drive. Apple provides instructions on its page on Encrypt and protect a storage device with a password using Disk Utility on Mac. Microsoft also provides instructions for encrypting on Windows 10/11. Be sure to use a strong password, and be sure to keep that password safe. Be aware that if you lose the password, or forget it, then you lose access to the drive.
It's usually a good idea to keep your external drive in a separate location from the device that you're backing up. This is in case your main device gets stolen or is destroyed by fire, flooding, etc. However, the downside is that this makes it less likely that you backup regularly, and it's important to keep regular backups of your data. Therefore, one option is to purchase a smaller drive that you use to backup the most sensitive data (e.g., medical information, financial information, etc) and store that off-site and encrypted, and use an additional drive that you keep on hand (and encrypted) for daily or regular backups.
An additional backup option is to use a cloud solution. For macOS users, you can use iCloud to back up the files on all of your devices, as described above.
Regardless of what operating system you use, some of the big name backup options include:
The main advantage of a cloud solution is that you can set it and forget it. The main disadvantage is that the amount of data you may want to backup may require paying a monthly fee.
When choosing a cloud backup solution, you may want to consider if the service meets the following criteria:
- storage size options
- disk recovery options
- backup and syncing speeds
- web access
- ease of use
- multiple devices (smartphones and/or laptops/desktops)
- version history
All storage devices fail eventually, or may get damaged, lost, stolen, etc., and it really hurts to lose important files, like photos of loved ones or homework and projects, etc. Backing up your devices is how we prevent or reduce losing that data.
In this section, we covered various methods to backup your data. Unfortunately, every solution requires some cost, and so you have to weigh that cost with your sense of risk and with what you might lose if you don't backup.
Note that if you are really risk averse, an additional option is to use both external storage devices and cloud solutions (I do!). You can backup your entire disk using a cloud solution, or just select folders, and then backup your entire disk to an external drive.
Whatever option you choose, be sure to back up regularly.
Please visit the links in this section as you read through it.
It's true that just about anything can be a source of information, but we generally think of information sources in a more scholarly way. In that light, you likely already know about the differences between primary, secondary, and tertiary sources. Simply put, primary sources are more direct sources of information. They are things that we might study for their own sake because of their direct connection to some event, person, place, or thing. A 17th century painting is a good example of a primary source, but so is a scientific article that creates knowledge.
Secondary sources reflect on or refer to primary sources. A commentary on a 17th century painting or a review of the scientific literature are examples of secondary sources. Despite these examples, it's helpful to think of the difference between primary and secondary sources more contextually. This is because a secondary source might be treated as a primary source. For example, a researcher studying the history of art might treat published art reviews as primary sources, even if those reviews might traditionally be considered secondary sources at the time they were created.
Tertiary sources are basically reference works. These are things like dictionaries, general encyclopedias, handbooks, and like.
It can be helpful to know about the differences between primary, secondary, and tertiary sources at times because it's important, when dealing with an information source, to understand what we're looking at or reading. That is, primary, secondary, and tertiary sources say something about the kind of evidence in those respective sources. But another way to think about the differences between sources is to think about the type of sources they are. For example, if I do a library search, I have the option to narrow my search by Resource Type. Example resource types in UK's catalog include:
- Newspaper articles
- Book chapters
- Reference entries
- Conference proceedings
- Government documents
- and more.
A resource is really a thing that supplies a thing, whatever that thing is. For our purposes, we can think of information resources as providers of information sources, like those listed above. One of the more important resources we can use are databases because databases are great resources for locating sources of information. The term database itself is a bit problematic because it has multiple meanings, and I think it will help if we start this section by clarifying what we mean in this course by the term database.
According to the Dictionary of Information Science and Technology, the term database can be defined as:
a collection of files containing related information. Database consists of files and each file consists of records. Furthermore, each record consists of fields, which can be used to store the raw facts or data (p. 246).
This definition is not wrong, per se, but it is rather broad and therefore not entirely useful. For example, the definition entails that if I have a folder on my desktop, and if that folder contains only Excel spreadsheets on related content, and since those spreadsheets contain only records (i.e., rows) and fields (i.e., cells), then that folder on my desktop is a database. Although I suppose that's kind of true, I don't think that's really what the dictionary authors have in mind, and thus it's not an accurate enough nor a very useful definition.
A more specific and applicable definition is provided by the Online Dictionary of Library and Information Science, which defines a database as:
A large, regularly updated file of digitized information (bibliographic records, abstracts, full-text documents, directory entries, images, statistics, etc.) related to a specific subject or field, consisting of records of uniform format organized for ease and speed of search and retrieval and managed with the aid of database management system (DBMS) software. Content is created by the database producer (for example, the American Psychological Association), which usually publishes a print version (Psychological Abstracts) and leases the content to one or more database vendors (EBSCO, OCLC, etc.) that provide electronic access to the data after it has been converted to machine-readable form (PsycINFO), usually on CD-ROM or online via the Internet, using proprietary search software.
Most databases used in libraries are catalogs, periodical indexes, abstracting services, and full-text reference resources leased annually under licensing agreements that limit access to registered borrowers and library staff. Abbreviated db. Compare with data bank. See also: archival database, bibliographic database, embedded database, metadatabase, and niche database.
The above definition is more helpful because it provides examples of content type (e.g., bibliographic records, abstracts, full-text documents, etc) and how to access that content (e.g., library catalogs, periodical indexes), because it partitions out the components of a database (records, search, retrieval), and because it distinguishes a database proper from a database management system (DBMS), which is what the prior definition was attempting to define. The ODLIS definition also highlights the role of database producers in producing databases (e.g., the American Psychological Association), which tells us something about the subject matter of a database (e.g., psychology).
The ODLIS definition provides some leads to this question. The definition tells us that example databases include "digitized information containing bibliographic records, abstracts, full-text documents, directory entries, images, and statistics" that are "related to a specific field or subject," and that these can be accessed through library "catalogs, periodical indexes, abstracting services, and full-text reference resources." Given that, let's look at some examples.
We'll start with the most general example, and that's the library catalog. Traditionally, library catalogs were databases that primarily provided information about where we could find content on a library's shelves (i.e., print content). However, given that more content is available online, nowadays these catalogs are more often referred to as discovery services. In this expanded role, not only can they tell us where to find a book on a shelf, but they can also provide full text access to online content in other databases.
We can access the University of Kentucky's library catalog/discovery service at their main website at:
Please visit the link and test your own searches.
In the center of UK Libraries' homepage, we find several links of interest: the InfoKat (Books and More) link, the Database link, and the Journals link.
InfoKat searches bibliographic records. It does not provide full text access. Instead, they provide access by telling us where to locate the content. For example, if that content is a print item someplace on the library's shelves, InfoKat might tell us it's located on the 5th floor of WT Young and has the call number Z674.82.159 S42 1996, or something like that. However, if that content is online, then InfoKat should give us a direct link to it. It could also be that the InfoKat has records for information sources but not the actual sources themselves. In those cases, the bibliographic records should provide a link to request the item through interlibrary loan (ILL).
Google and other search engines function in much the same way. If I do a search for the term databases in Google, the search engine will return results to sites that are relevant to that term, like a Wikipedia article on databases. Google itself does not store the full text content and only provides access (i.e., links) to content based on its own indexing of where things are on the web. Unlike the library's catalog, if Google returns results for pages it cannot access or that don't exist anymore, there is no ILL service offered, and we're left to our own devices to find access to that information.
InfoKat returns a wide variety of bibliographic records that describe and provide access to books, ebooks, book chapters, maps, scholarly articles, news articles, images, and more. InfoKat is therefore great as a discovery service because it functions as a kind of catchall for all the types of works that a library can provide access to, as just listed. However, there will be times when we will want to focus our search to a more limited subset of records, such as those that produced by periodicals.
Periodicals are nothing more than magazines and journals. This kind of genre produces issues at regular (or even at irregular) intervals, such as weekly, bimonthly, monthly, or quarterly issues, with no pre-determined end. Periodicals focus on different audiences, such as the general public (e.g., Time magazine), parts of the general public (e.g., WIRED, Elle, Better Homes and Gardens), the general scholarly community (e.g., Nature, Science), or to specific scholarly communities (e.g, Journal of Information Technology, Journal of Synchrotron Radiation, Journal of Sociology). Scholarly journals are generally (but not always) peer-reviewed journals, which means that when authors submit their manuscripts to these journals, the manuscripts are sent out to two to three peers in the scholarly community who read the manuscripts and write recommendations to the editors for improving the manuscript, or who recommend that the journal editor reject the manuscript. Different journals and different scholarly disciplines have different criteria for making judgments on quality.
There are two broad ways to locate sources in periodicals. At the UK Libraries homepage, we can select the Journals link or the Databases link. The Journals link lets us search for specific journal titles and, if desired, within disciplinary/subject categories (e.g., Health & Biological Sciences, Law, Politics & Government, Language & Literature, or Social Sciences, Journalism & Communications, and more). Once we locate a journal of interest, we can visit the link and then search within that journal or peruse the table of contents for specific issues.
The Databases link lets us expand our search of records to broader categories or subject areas of periodicals. Here we find databases like Academic Search Complete, which will let us search thousands of periodicals, including magazines and scholarly journals, across a range of subject categories. JSTOR is another database that indexes a broad subject range of periodicals but with greater emphasis on peer-reviewed material. Databases may also have a specific focus. For example, the African American Communities database provides access to archival and historical papers, oral histories, essays, letters, pamphlets, and newspapers on African American communities and is geographically focused on Atlanta, Chicago, New York, and parts of North Carolina. Then we also have access to databases like the Kentucky Building Code, which is a database that links to residential and commercial regulatory information on building, plumbing, design in Kentucky.
Many of the resources listed above, as well as the hundreds that UK Libraries offers and that I have not described, provide access to full-text content. But this isn't necessarily so. All that a periodical index must offer to be classified as such are records that contain basic information, such as article titles, author names, publication names, publication date information, and often subject terms. Abstracting services provide the same information but also provide abstracts of journal articles, which are searchable. Since abstracts provide summary information of the main articles, this is helpful in locating information sources.
Since periodical indexes and abstracting services do not necessarily provide direct full text access, you might wonder what the point is if you can't get the full text of some source that the library tells you exists. The point is that even if the library doesn't have immediate access to a source, if it can tell you that it exists, then a librarian can likely get the source through interlibrary loan (which is fast!) or some other means. So if the stakes are high (e.g., you are a cancer researcher) and you really need or just want information (e.g., about a cancer therapy), then periodical indexes and abstracting services are great resources even if they do not provide immediate full text access.
That said, in addition to a variety of periodical indexes and abstracting services, UK Libraries provides quite a few full text databases. Visit the A-Z Databases page to see all of your choices. A full-text database may also be an abstracting service, if it provides the basic information listed above (title, author name, etc) about periodical content. It becomes a full-text abstracting database if it also provides access to the full-text source. Other non-periodical database, like the African American Communities database, also provides full text access to its sources, and may even be thought of as a digital library and not just a database.
In the next few paragraphs below, I will focus on a few general purpose full-text databases that you may find helpful as you work towards your degree. Although these databases provide full-text sources, they may not provide full-text to everything they have records for, though.
Academic Search Complete (ASC) is a database of databases. It can search over 60 different databases and indexes, each including hundreds of journal titles, including:
- Communication and Mass Media Complete
- Sociological Collection
- Music Index
- eBook K-8 Collection,
- and more.
In ASC, we can search all 60 plus databases at one time, or we can select one or more of them, which might make better sense. For example, if we were interested health related information, we might want to search the following ASC databases at once:
- Consumer Health Reference eBook Collection
- Health and Psychosocial Instruments
- APA PsycInfo
Like ASC, ProQuest provides access to many subject based databases, and also, many of the database topics overlap. ProQuest uses this to highlight database collections. For example, the SciTech Premium Collection includes three databases that can be searched at once. These include the:
- Natural Science Collection
- Science Database
- Technology Collection
ProQuest's Social Science Premium Collection includes databases on criminology, education, library and information science, politics, sociology, and more.
ProQuest also provides database access to magazines and news content, including The Vogue Archive and various current and historical newspapers, such as an archive of The New York Times or current issues of The Courier-Journal (Louisville, KY).
JSTOR is another multi-disciplinary database. JSTOR covers subjects such as:
- Business & Economics
- Medicine & Allied Health
- Science & Mathematics
- Security studies
- Social Sciences, and more.
Each of these subject areas includes access to many journal titles, and therefore, many journal articles. JSTOR has long focused on back issues of journals, but in recent years has made moves to include current literature and open access content (this content that is freely available). JSTOR also includes ARTSTOR, a database of images, video, and other multimedia content, much of which is also available as open access.
Note: Open access (OA) content is content that is freely available to access. That does not, however, mean that the content is free of copyright protections. There are different types of OA copyright licenses and each will stipulate how we can use that content. CreativeCommons.org provides a list of some of the more popular licenses and what the mean for us. In all cases, though, if you use OA content, be sure to attribute it with source information.
Remember, one of the main ideas of this course is that there are many sources of information that are not easily available via Google or some other search engine. Even when we do use Google or Bing or Yahoo or something else, there are certain advanced tricks we can use to leverage them to find better information. And if we apply what we'll learn in this class, we'll become that much more accomlished.
In short, we are going to learn a bit more about what's hidden from most users and from the common view. To do that, we needed to understand the difference between information sources and information resources. Remember that an information source is the main item we often aim to acquire. They are generally things like articles, newspaper articles, books, book chapters, maps that some things, unfortunately, refer to as resource types. An information resource is a tool that provides or supplies access to information sources. In this section, some examples of information resources are the library discovery service, a search engine, and a database like JSTOR, ASC, or ProQuest.
Please visit the links in this section as you read through it, and read through the Zotero Documentation, especially after watching the accompanying software demonstration.
Now that I have introduced you to some of the different resources for information sources that exist (and we will learn about more), our next personal knowledge management challenge involves managing the information sources that we locate and want to use.
Imagine, for example, that we need to locate and use three academic sources for a class paper assignment. We could, like probably many do, search for information on the fly, locate some journal articles, figure out how to cite the articles, and manually add the citations to our Word documents. Perhaps if we're a little more advanced, we could download the papers to a folder on our computer for later reference (perhaps we have a folder dedicated to the class paper and even a subfolder dedicated to any readings that we download). Although that might be a bit more organized, it is the 21st century, and we have these computers that can do so much more for us than act as simple file cabinets. Basically, if we want to be more efficient, to save time, and to do a good job, then this is not the way.
Instead, we can use a reference manager (RM) (also called a citation manager). A RM is a piece of software that can help us manage this process of saving, collecting, and using information sources. Although generally aimed at academic users, RMs can also be used to bookmark, save, and collect all sorts of web and print information sources and for all sorts of outcomes, whether those outcomes are class papers, engineering projects, musical composition projects, biology experiments, and so on. Basically, if we use the web to collect and then use information, then this is the way.
You are required to use a RM in this course, and I will focus on the Zotero RM. However, you are free to choose other options, even if I don't cover them, and there are many. Wikipedia has a page that lists around 20 RM options.
There are a few reasons I will focus on Zotero, though. First, I use it, and I know it fairly well, although I'm always learning new things about it. But most importantly, it's free (and open source software), it's consistently maintained and updated, it provides all the major functions that a RM should provide and more, and it's available on Windows and macOS desktop and laptop computers. For iOS (i.e., mobile) users, there is an app for the iPhone and iPad, but Android users can access their Zotero library using their phone's web browsers, which is just as good as the dedicated app.
If you elect to use an alternate RM, be aware that they are not all created equal. The two most popular, functional, and well-supported alternatives are Mendeley and EndNote. Both of these are are more academic-centric, while Zotero is more agnostic about source information and usage.
Mendeley and EndNote are more academically oriented because they are owned by companies involved with academic publishing and academic databases. Mendeley is owned by the company Elsevier, which provides the Scopus database, a bibliographic, abstract, and citation database, and publishes multiple journal titles. EndNote is owned by Clarivate, a research analytics company, which provides the Web of Science and ProQuest databases. Web of Science is a citation database like Scopus.
Gilmour & Cobus-Kuo (2011) identify eight functions that a RM should provide, and Zotero performs all of these functions. These functions include:
- Import citations from bibliographic databases and websites
- Gather metadata from PDF files
- Allow organization of citations w/in the reference manager database
- Allow annotations of citations
- Allow sharing of the reference management database
- Allow data interchange with other reference manager products through standard metadata formats
- Produce formatted citations in a variety of styles
- Work with word processing software to facilitate in-text citation (Gilmour & Cobus-Kuo, 2011, Introduction section).
Regardless of which RM we use, we want to pick one that performs most if not all of the above functions because these functions help us identify a useful app. Fortunately, the Zotero Quick Start Guide provides a nice overview of the basic functions and how to use those functions, and the additional documentation describes how to do more. Fortunately, Zotero satisfies the requirements listed above.
Specifically, the Zotero Quick Start Guide shows us how to:
- Install and open the Zotero desktop/laptop application
- Install and use the Zotero browser plugin
- The download page provides links for using Zotero with:
- The download page provides links for using Zotero with:
- How to collect items (e.g., books, articles, images, etc.)
- What we can do with those items
- How to create collections to organize items by topic, project, etc
- How to use tags to add additional organizational layers
- How to search, and save your searches, your Zotero library
- How to import or add attachments (like PDF copies of your items)
- How to add notes to your items
- How to cite items in your papers, etc.
- How to use Zotero with Microsoft Word, Google Docs, or other word processors
- The word processor plugin provides links for using Zotero with Microsoft Word, LibreOffice Writer, and Google Docs
- How to create bibliographies
- How to use Zotero and access your Zotero library on multiple devices
- How to collaborate on research projects using Zotero
Note: If you choose Zotero, as I suggest and recommend, you should create a free account (use your personal email to sign up). As you add material to your Zotero collection, you collection will be synced with and backed up to Zotero's servers. Zotero registration: https://www.zotero.org/user/register/
In the next video, I will show you how to complete the above steps so that you may get started using Zotero. Again, you may use an alternate RM, but throughout this course, I will demonstrate Zotero.
Your task this week is to download and start using Zotero, or some alternate RM. Please follow the demo video to complete the process.
- Reference (or citation) managers (RM) provide more sophisticated tools to manage information sources than simple files systems provide.
- There is a slew of RM applications available to use, but we want to be sure we pick one that provides as many functions as possible and that is available on as many devices and operating systems as possible and can be integrated with a variety of word processing applications.
- Although you are welcome to use an alternate RM, in this course we focus on the Zotero RM.
Gilmour, R., & Cobus-Kuo, L. (2011). Reference Management Software: A Comparative Analysis of Four Products. Issues in Science and Technology Librarianship, 66(Summer 2011). https://doi.org/10.5062/F4Z60KZF
Please visit links in this section and review the following search tips pages for Google Search, DuckDuckGo search, and Bing search.
- Refine web searches—Google Search Help. (n.d.). Retrieved August 3, 2022, from Google
- DuckDuckGo. (n.d.). DuckDuckGo Search Syntax. DuckDuckGo Help Pages. Retrieved August 3, 2022, from DuckDuckGo
- Advanced search options. (n.d.). Retrieved August 3, 2022, from Microsoft
Whether we want to search the web, a bibliographic database, or our Zotero library, it's helpful to know a bit how information retrieval works in order to become good at search.
In this lesson, we'll cover specific search techniques that you can use to get better, but there are three principles that we need to consider when advancing our search skills.
First, we should understand that the basic information retrieval model centers on documents. Anything indexed in a database or on the web is treated as a document. Documents include text, sound, images, video, etc.
Second, we should understand that documents do not exist independently of other documents. Let's call this the corpus. For the web, the corpus is organized like a file system, much like the file system on your personal computers. In a bibliographic database, the corpus is organized by predefined fields, such author names, title names, subject terms, etc.
Third, our queries are not divorced from the documents nor the corpus nor the organization of the corpus. These things are all intertwined. Each time we search, search engines and databases compare documents in the corpus to each other and to how they are organized based on our query constructions, and then rank order (in some way) those documents by way of that comparison. Hence, when we construct queries, it's useful to think about the content (corpus) that we are searching.
To rehash, a search engine or database uses our queries, matches them against how they have indexed the corpus, and then rank orders the results based on the query and the corpus.
In order to illustrate the above concepts, I'll primarily focus on searching the web in this section, but these techniques work across the databases that we use in a library.
When we use Google or another search engine to search, we are often looking for documents in a corpus that contain specific text that match our query. This has some implications:
- Text has primacy, even for multimedia, which is often described using text.
- Our queries are matched against the text that appears in documents on the web or that describes documents on the web.
- The better our queries match the documents, the better (or more precise) our search results will be. (This assumes we can construct good queries.)
- The more ambiguous our queries are, the more work the search engine has to do to find relevant results.
- The challenge with search is that we do not always know what text a document contains even if that document covers the topic or concept that we think is relevant.
- For example, consider synonyms. We might want web pages that contain terms that are synonymous with our query term but do not actually contain our query term. But this can get complicated. If I search for star, could I also mean principal, lead, hero, celebrity, stellar, or sun?
- What if a document only uses terms like principal, lead, hero, celebrity, stellar, or sun? Might it still be useful if I was interested in documents (i.e., web pages) about star? Probably not since some of those words, although synonymous with star, are not synonymous with each other (cf, principal and celebrity)
- Other wordy issues include things like homonyms, which are words that are pronounced or spelled the same but mean different things. Thus, by bark, do I mean the bark on a tree or the word we use to signal the sound a dog makes?
- Phrases are also important, with respect to term adjacency and word order. If I search for forest fire, search engines are more likely to return results where those two terms appear next to each other and in that order. This will mean that documents that contain text about someone having a camp fire in a forest will be less likely to appear at the top of my results than a document that contains the phrase the forest is on fire. Or documents where the terms are in order but spaced far apart will also rank lower. E.g., if the term forest appears in the first paragraph on a web page and the term fire appears on the last paragraph of a web page, this web page will rank lower than a page that contains the terms near or adjacent to each other.
I mentioned above that the web is like a file system, the kind that you'd find on your own computer. By this I mean that the web is organized, even though it may not appear so. If we know a bit about its organization, we can take good advantage of that when we search. For instance, we can narrow our searches to parts of the web. So the questions are: how is it organized? And how can we use that in search?
- The web is organized like a tree. This tree like structure originally contained a few main branches, called top level domains (TLDs). Example TLDs are .com, .edu, .org, .gov, .mil, and .net. All domains then branched off of those main branches.
- The tree has grown over the years and now contains about 1500 of these main branches (TLDs). Newer TLDs include .apple, .attorney, .camera, .green, .joy .mobile, .office, .science, .space, and many more.
- Included in those are ccTLDs, or country code top level domains. For
- .kr for South Korea
- .ae for the United Arab Emirates
- .fr for France
- .us for United States
- Each of the big branches contains smaller branches, called second level
domains. For example:
- Under .com is google for google.com
- Under .edu is uky for uky.edu.
- Under .org is wikipedia for wikipedia.org,
- Under .gov is usa for usa.gov,
- Under .apple is newsroom for newsroom.apple,
- and so on.
- Those branches (second level domains) contain even smaller branches that are
called third level domains or subdomains. Examples include:
- maps for maps.google.com
- calendar for calendar.uky.edu
- en for en.wikipedia.org
- analytics for analytics.usa.gov
- www for www.uky.edu
- ci for ci.uky.edu
We can take advantage of this organization
by limiting (or focusing) queries to results
within smaller sections of the web. In Google, this would entail using
what is called the
We use this in combination with our search queries.
For example, let's say I do a search for the term
I notice that most of the results
that I'm interested in are from
and most of the results I am less interested in
To focus on the gov domains,
I add the site operator to my query.
This is the Google query I could use to search
for the topic flu only on .gov sites:
Then perhaps I find these results too general still. For example, let's say I live in Kentucky but Google keeps showing me .gov sites from other states. We can focus on just a smaller branch of the tree. E.g., if I wanted to focus only on results from Kentucky, then:
Or I can specify a part of Kentucky's government, like the Cabinet for Health and Family Services or the Kentucky Department of Education with these queries:
flu site:chfs.ky.gov flu site:education.ky.gov
There are all sorts of other tips and tricks we can apply to revise and make our queries more precise.
Use quotes around our search terms
With a search like
Google provided us with snippets of text
that highlighted where the term flu appears
in the web pages that are retrieved.
For example, we see terms like these in the search results:
- flu symptoms
- flu activity,
- flu vaccines, and
- flu season.
This tells us important information about how Google sees the text on web pages, and we can use this information to revise our search. For example, let's say I'm interested in web pages that contain info about flu vaccines and less interested in pages that contain information on flu activity or flu season. If that's the case, then I can add the additional term to my query and enclose the whole query in quotation marks. That will force Google to rank pages with the literal term "flu vaccines" much higher than pages with those other terms or phrases, or exclude those other pages altogether. So our query will now look like this (note: only the query terms, and not the site operator, are quoted):
"flu vaccines" site:gov
Get more recent pages
If I'm really interested only in recent pages, I can click on the Tools button and select Any time, Past hour, Past 24 hours, Past week, or etc, to limit results to certain time periods.
Exclude results with the minus sign
Let's take a look at our flu vaccine search. Instead of enclosing "flu vaccines" in quotes to return only pages with that phrase and to reduce pages retrieved with other phrases, I could exclude the other phrases altogether (i.e., activity and season) by excluding them with a minus sign. To exclude the terms activity and season from our search results, this is how our search would look:
flu -activity -season site:gov
I can also exclude specific domains or specific websites:
flu vaccines -site:com flu vaccines -site:webmd.com
Term order matters
Results will be different depending on the order of the query terms. Google has gotten good over the years about natural language (how we talk in real life), and so the suggestion is to use natural language in your query. For example, it's generally better to use the search terms flu vaccine instead of vaccine flu, since the former is how we'd phrase the terms in English. This will of course vary by language. In many Romance languages, but also others, it's common (but varies) for the modifier to come after the word being modified. For example, in Spanish, we would say shirt red:
Thus, a Spanish speaker
would want to search for
camisa roja and not
This of course is regardless of the country of origin,
but note that Google has separate landing pages for
Google.com depending on the country you're located in.
For example, for those residing in Mexico, google.com
directs to google.com.mx,
where mx is the ccTLD for Mexico:
Google Search - Mexico.
For those residing in Canada, it's google.ca.
Although term order can determine meaning or reflect natural language, we can pair some terms together as lists, without any impact on meaning or natural language. How we pair them might change the results retrieved, though, which becomes noticable as we scan the search results lists. For example, consider the following two searches:
The above two search queries are semantically equivalent (they mean the same thing) and their order is arbitrary in our list, but search engines implicitly place a priority on term order. The first term in the query is prioritized over the second term. So if you search Google using the above two queries, the first page of results might be mostly the same, but as you page through them, you might see more pages on Google than on Bing, for the first search, and vice versa for the second search.
One OR the other OR both
When we search using multiple terms,
we can use the
OR operator to tell Google to return pages
with either of the terms or both of the terms.
Consider the following two searches:
"google" "bing" google OR bing
The first search will return pages with both the terms included in the results because the quotes enforce that.
The second search will return pages with either the term google in the results, the term bing in the results, or both the terms in the results. Note also, based on my personal experience, that if I test the second search in Google Search and also in Bing Search, then Google will return more results about Google, and Bing will return more results about Bing, respectively.
There are other operators we can use in search engines, and many of them work regardless of which search engine we use. Here are some examples that you can test in Google or elsewhere:
- :related to find related sites
- :filetype to return results in specific types of files:
- search uky.edu for the term flu vaccine but only retrieve PDFs:
flu vaccines filetype:pdf site:uky.edu
- same as above but only return Microsoft Word files:
flu vaccines filetype:docx site:uky.edu
- same idea as above but only return Microsoft Excel files:
birth weight filetype:xlsx site:gov
- search uky.edu for the term flu vaccine but only retrieve PDFs:
Information retrieval (or search) can be complex but fun. Remember the three principals we stared with in this section, and apply those principals when constructing your queries.
- document centered
- consider the text
- no document is an island
- consider the document with respect to the corpus
- the web is organizated
- take advantage of the how the web is structured with site searches
Remember and practice the techniques I discussed here:
- query construction
- use quotes to force exact matches
- exclude terms with the minus sign
- term order matters
- use OR to select alternate terms
If you forget anything, use advanced search: https://www.google.com/advanced_search
Or Advanced Image Search: https://google.com/advanced_image_search
Google provides a list of some of these operators.
Other search engines also have search operators, and often they're the same:
You can get very advanced with your queries. Here are some examples:
trade ("surplus" OR "deficit") (site:whitehouse.gov OR site:congress.gov)
Or, limit to specific filetypes:
trade ("surplus" OR "deficit") (site:whitehouse.gov OR site:congress.gov) filteype:pdf
The last search query is so complicated that it decomposes into the following separate queries but searches them all at the same time:
trade surplus site:whitehouse.gov filetype:pdf
trade surplus site:congress.gov filetype:pdf
trade deficit site:whitehouse.gov filetype:pdf
trade deficit site:congress.gov filetype:pdf
trade surplus site:congress.gov site:whitehouse.gov filetype:pdf
trade deficit site:congress.gov site:whitehouse.gov filetype:pdf
trade surplus deficit site:congress.gov site:whitehouse.gov filetype:pdf
trade surplus deficit site:congress.gov filetype:pdf
trade surplus deficit site:whitehouse.gov filetype:pdf
trade surplus deficit site:congress.gov site:whitehouse.gov filetype:pdf
I introduced the concept of databases in section 3. Databases, or sometimes bibliographic databases, offer a number of unique advantages over search engines, and some disadvantages, too. The main advantages are that databases offer specialized collections on a variety of topics; they offer many sources that are invisible to search engines; and they provide greater control over the search process. The main disadvantage is that they are a bit complicated to use well, there are many databases to choose from (and find), each has their own user interface, and they are often only accessible via a library.
Many databases are only accessible via a library because a library pays to use them. Google and other search engines operate on different revenue models, like serving ads.
Information retrieval (search) in databases works similarly and differently than it does with the web. Like with the web, database information retrieval works on documents in a corpus. We search that corpus using queries, and how we construct our queries is important.
Documents in databases though are a bit different. As discussed in the previous section, while web pages on the web exist in a fairly organized hierarchy (with respect to top level domains, etc.), web pages themselves are not always very structured. Search engines have become really good at taking all that unstructured text and making sense of it.
Databases, on the other hand, in particular, the ones we access through libraries, generally index fairly structured documents: i.e., bibliographic records. They may also index full text documents if those documents are accessible to the database, but the focus is on those bibliographic records. You can see examples of bibliogrpahic records at the Library of Congress. If only bibliographic records are indexed, the database is usually called an abstract and indexing database (A&I database). Otherwise it's just called a full text database. Many of the databases that we have access to at our library are a mix of the two.
By bibliographic information, I generally mean metadata, and by bibliographic records, I generally mean metadata about specific items (books, articles, photos, etc.). Metadata is broadly defined as data about data, or sometimes as information about information. For example, a title of a book is metadata about a book. The author name of a journal article is metadata about the journal article. And so forth. All the metadata about a specific item (book, journal article, etc) is a record. In a database, this metadata is controlled, and therefore, well structured (see the Libary of Congress link above). As searchers, this basically means that there are pre-set fields that we can search in these databases and that these pre-set fields specifically search the corresponding metadata. For example, in Academic Search Complete (ASC), we can search the following fields:
- Subject Terms
- Abstract text
- Author supplied keywords
- Geographic terms
- People (names)
- Journal Name
And more. We can also filter by publication date, full text availability, document type, language, number of pages, and images (depending on the database and its content). In the end, this means we have greater control over the search process than we do in a search engine because the corpus is better defined.
For example, in the previous section,
I showed how we can search the web
by using the
:filetype operator to limit results
to PDFs, DOCX, XLSX, etc files.
In a bibliographic database like ASC, however,
we can often specify that we want PDFs, but
we can limit results by document type.
That means we can restrict results to items like:
- book chapters
- book reviews
- case studies
- film reviews
And much more.
Otherwise, all the same principles apply to searching databases as searching the web with a search engine. Specifically:
- Document-centered (bibliographic records are documents)
- Documents exist within a corpus
- Query construction is important
And many of the same techniques apply, too:
- We can use quoting to make sure words are included in the results
- Term order matters
- We can use OR between terms to focus on one term or the other or both
- We can use other operators, like NOT and AND
The AND operator between two query terms means that both terms must be present for each result in a search. For example, if I search for
dogs AND catsin a database like ASC, then each result must include both the terms dogs and cats. We usually have to specify this AND in a database. This not the case with Google and other search engines. In search engines, the AND is assumed between terms. So the equivalent search in, for example, Google, Bing, DuckDuckGo, etc is simply
Many (but not all) databases offer the ability to search by subject or thesauri term. Subject/thesauri terms are kinds of controlled vocabulary. If a database uses these kinds of vocabulary terms, it means that each record in the database includes a list of these terms that should well describe the contents of the item it describes. Further, this means that all bibliographic records that share a specific subject term are linked together.
For example, the ASC database uses subject terms. One subject term is Forest animals, and if I use that as my search query, then each record that is returned must include that subject term, and that record should match the contents of the item. I can peruse the results and identify other subject terms that help narrow my results. For example, the subject term BIRD habitats appears in records with the subject term Forest animals, since records often have multiple subject terms. If I combine those terms with an AND operator, then I narrow my results down to two journal articles, which is pretty precise. ASC is a multi-disciplinary database, and so feel free to explore subject terms related to your own interests.
Although database search can be more precise than searching in search engines, databases are also good for browsing.
We all browse (online, in stores, as we page through books, and so on) but as a type of search process, browsing can become a highly useful tool when applied systematically and strategically. The result is not simply a way to scan through search results. Rather, the result of intentional browsing, (reading or skimming a list of titles and abstracts) can be the accumulation of highly relevant source material, relevant to our information needs and queries.
Although we make a distinction between browsing and searching, it is oftentimes helpful to begin a browsing session with a keyword search, and then use something from the search results, something like an author's name or subject term, to find and collect related information. We call this type of browsing pearl growing.
Below is an image of the ERIC Database. ERIC stands for Education Resources Information Center. It is provided by the U.S. Department of Education, and it is an important access point for millions of bibliographic records to journal articles, books, research reports, white papers, government and other organizational reports, and more on education related topics.
ERIC, like other databases, offers a thesaurus of controlled terms to help aid search. For example, let's say I'm interested in research on academic libraries. In this screen shot, I'm looking at the page that describes the thesaurus descriptor for academic libraries, and as is usual with thesauri, it not only describes how the term is defined in the database, but it also links to related terms, including terms that are conceptually broader than academic libraries, conceptually narrower than academic libraries, or that are conceptually related to academic libraries. I can click on any of these terms, and then click on the link that says to Search collection using this descriptor. And in doing so, I engage in subject browsing.
I can certainly browse using other access points, like author names. After perusing the results from above, I can click on an author's name to narrow results.
Knowing that authors tend to write and research on a specific range of topics (i.e., are specialists) is helpful because it allows me to browse by author and subject topic.
I've described abstracting & indexing (A&I) databases, but there's another special type of A&I database called a citation database. Three useful ones available to us are
The first two are available via UK Libraries, and the latter is available freely on the web. A citation database is a database that shows who has cited an article (as known by their database) and provides a link to those articles that have cited an article. Citation theory says that when any two articles (or books, or other documents) are cited in this way, they are more likely to be about the same thing. In fact, this is how Google search works, in part. Google's original Page Rank Algorithm posited that if a web page links to another web page, then the two pages are likely to be about the same topic. Because of this theory, we can follow citations to find more relevant articles.
Pictured here is a record in Web of Science on information literacy. To the far right you can see that it has 4 Citations. If we click on that 4 Citations link, we can begin to browse those 4 articles or documents. Per citation theory, it's highly probable that those 4 citing documents are also about information literacy; and thus, browsing them would be of considerable help if we were interested in reading more about information literacy.
After clicking on the 4 Citations link, we can see that the term information literacy appears in the title of all four citing works. This is good evidence for our citation theory, but it's also a useful trick for us.
Google Scholar works in much the same way. Instead of Times Cited, it says Cited by, and the search results default by generally listing (we think) the most highly cited works rather than the most recent, as is the default in Web of Science. But if we click on the Cited by link, we'll be taken to a page that lists the citing articles and documents, and like the Web of Science example, it's likely that many of the citing articles will be relevant in our search on this topic.
Like with most other searches, we can combine terms and use those combinations to focus our browsing sessions. The available combinations depend on the database we use. Here's a screen shot of an item from the Communication & Mass Media Complete (CMMC) database. I searched this database using the thesauri term DIFFUSION of innovations AND also the term regression in the abstract. Basically, this tells the database to retrieve any record tagged with the thesauri term DIFFUSION of innovations and where also the term regression appears in the record's abstract. If it contains regression in the abstract, then the source likely used or refers to a statistical technique called linear regression, logistic regression, or like. Once I have this initial query, I can begin browsing the 11 titles and abstracts that are listed in the results.
Remember that database searching is more structured at the document level, and that this structure is reflected in the ability to do field searches. In the above example, for instance, we use two fields. The first field is a subject term search for the subject DIFFUSION of innovations, and it's marked as a subject field with the DE at the beginning. The second field is an abstract search, and this is shown in the drop down box to the right of the query term. In between these two fields is a Boolean AND operator. The AND operator tells the database that both query terms must be present in the results. We've seen this AND in prior examples.
I've mentioned two other Boolean operators: NOT and OR. Many bibliographic databases offer all three. The NOT operator instructs the database to exclude the assigned term. Thus, if we had chosen NOT "regression", then the CMMC database would have returned results where the term regression surely did NOT appear in the abstract for records with the subject term DIFFUSION of innovation.
The OR Boolean operator is a bit tricky. It means, basically, one or the other or both. Thus, if we had used it here, then CMMC would have returned all records having the subject term DIFFUSION of innovations, as well as those records that did or did not have regression in the abstract. The OR operator is more useful when querying terms in the same search fields. For instance, we might want to use the OR operator to search for two different terms that might appear in the abstract fields, or the subject term fields, such as the following related terms:
DIFFUSION of innovations theory" OR INFORMATION dissemination"
We can see how this plays out in the results. In the first record in the following screenshot, both terms appear in the subjects list. But in the second record, only one of the terms appears.
When we browse, therefore, we are attempting to locate key qualities from our results or our initial results lists (e.g., authors, subjects, etc.). These lists include the titles, the abstracts, the thesauri, and so forth. And these key terms will help capture what our search is about.
Many databases will offer a way to create, save, and export lists or individual records based on browsing and searching. This helps us easily manage the documents that we highlight as initially important. We can curate these lists as they grow and our search becomes more focused.
Creating a list in a specific database usually requires us to create an account on that database. I already have an account with EBSCOhost, the vendor that provides the CMMC database as well as many others, and in the following screenshot, I've already signed in to that account. To the right of the image, you can see a folder icon. As I browse through records that look relevant to my needs, I can click on that icon and save the result to a folder. I can also create multiple folders and email, download, or print the records for later use.
Of course, I prefer to save records in Zotero rather than use a database folder or list. This way I keep the records with me even if I lose access to the database.
In this section, we learned the following:
- Databases and search engines are different
- Each have advantages and disadvantages
- Search engines are well structured at the file system level
- Databases are well structured at the record level
- Searching in a database means search structured bibliographic records
- Records are structured by pre-set fields
- Subject terms or thesauri descriptors help create precise searches
- Systematic browsing can be a rigorous way to engage in search
- Pearl growing is a browsing strategy that involves collecting items
based on an initial aspect of a bibliographic record. Such as as:
- subject term
- author name
- Because databases search structured bibliographic records with pre-set fields, we can create very precise queries by combining fields
- We can combine fields using Boolean logic: AND, OR, NOT
- We can create and save lists as we browse
- Or we can save items to our reference manager (RM).
In the end, don't simply browse absentmindedly. Rather, browse with smarts: systematically and strategically. Make the systems work for you. And save your results in Zotero or your chosen RM as you go.
Read this short introduction on reading laterally as a way to evaluate information, and watch the short video.
- Newell, C. (n.d.). Jessup Playbooks: How do I read laterally?: Home. Retrieved August 3, 2022, from PVCC.edu
- Stanford History Education Group (Director). (2020, January 16). Sort Fact from Fiction Online with Lateral Reading, from YouTube
When we're doing research or trying to learn something, we obviously want to gather content that is true. And so the key question is, how do we know content is true or false, or more or less true, or something along those lines. Basically, truth and veracity can have nuances that are important to identify or disentangle within stories that are presented about how things are in the world. For example, it's become very common for people in the public sphere to refer to narratives, and to argue that someone's or some group's narratives are either true or false. Or more accurately, a fiction or a non-fiction. Regardless of our political or whatever positions, this focus on narrative is interesting and worthwhile. It's interesting, in part, because placing information within a narrative has ancient origins, and it's worthwhile because it places true and false content within some context, a story, which can itself be evaluated as fairly true or not (or fiction or non-). Essentially, this is important because stories are central to human communication and understanding (Fisher, 1989).
Before we explore this, I want to acknowledge that you may have been taught about various existing frameworks, like the CRAAP test, to help determine the veracity of content. Many of these frameworks ask us to ask questions and to check off boxes about the content itself when evaluating information or information sources. For example, who is the author of the content, where is the content published, on what platform? What is the author's or publisher's motivation? Is the motivation purely or mostly financial? How does that introduce bias? What is the date of the publication? Is it outdated? And so forth.
Those kinds of questions are important, but they may also be insufficient in determining some content's veracity. What's also important to identify, especially for content that is new or new to us, are questions that place the content in broader context, to fit it within an overall story that's taking place. For example, where does some content that we're evaluating fit within a story someone or some group is trying to tell? How does one group's (or author's, or publisher's, etc) story conflict with another group's (etc.)? Alternatively, what is the consensus among different stories that group's tell about a thing? How do these stories compete for public acceptance?
When we try to identify the story, then new questions and frameworks open up to us. For example, it could be the case that the basic facts about an event are agreed upon by various storytellers (e.g., news articles, politicians, scientists), but that the basic facts are presented in ways that impact how the story of those facts are told. Then, in those different tellings, the stories may consequently ring true or not. Worse, if the overall story rings false, then it may cause doubt about the basic facts, even if those basic facts are true.
Fortunately, we have ways to think about stories, and Walter Fisher (1989) identified two methods for evaluating narratives that he called narrative probability and narrative fidelity. Let's discuss these.
For a story to be probable (probably true, that is), it must satisfy three criteria:
- argumentative or structural coherence
- material coherence
- characterological coherence
Argumentative or structural coherence speaks to the validity of an underlying argument in a story. That is, good stories, whether true or not, present a series of premises that build off each other and that present an overall thesis or argument. Or, stories have a structure that makes sense and, upon close inspection, contains few holes. You all know if a story has argumentative or structural coherence because you have all surely watched bad movies that fail to convince you that the movie made sense. Sometimes this lack of structural coherence in a movie is what makes a movie fun ("it's so bad it's great!"). But when telling stories about how things are in the world, or how they should be, or how they will be, it's important for the story to make sense and to be valid, logically.
If a story is internally consistent, what next? As is often the case, a group (e.g., ideological ones) may compete with another group about what should be the dominant narrative. In such cases, we can compare and contrast their narratives, and doing so is testing their material coherence. This is the idea that we compare and contrast stories and note in the process whether "important facts may be omitted, counterarguments ignored, and relevant issues overlooked" in the process of comparing and contrasting them (Fisher, 1989, p. 47). Such comparisons may happen from a bird's eye view; for example, when Democrats or Republicans are telling the story of the United States, can we see what important facts each group omits, which counterarguments each group ignores, and which relevant issues each group overlooks?
These comparisons may also happen at the micro-level. In the social and physical sciences, scholars and researchers are engaged in a series of discussions with each other about all sorts of theories about the social or physical worlds.
A quick note on theories. Theories are simply very rigorous explanations given the data. These explanations generally provide an account of causality, or of how one thing causes another. As social and physical scientists gather data, they develop theories (like stories) that explain the data. As new data is analyzed, those theories are tested. If the theories no longer explain the additional data, they are revised or discarded and replaced with new theories. Some theories (like the theory of general relativity) are quite stable (i.e., well tested), even if they do not explain everything about things within their purview, like gravity at the quantum level. Other theories still walk a tight rope (like string theory), and this is most likely because more data is needed to test them but enough data has been analyzed for them to hold for the time being. In the social sciences and physical sciences, it's more common for theories to explain limited phenomenon. These are called middle-range theories. The diffusion of innovation theory, for example, is a middle-range theories that was originally devised to explain how new ideas and technology spread.
You can see these discussions among scientists and researchers take place in the literature review and discussion sections of journal articles. In these sections, researchers cite and refer to others who have completed research on a similar or the same topic. The overall goal of these discussions is to test or develop theories that explain some phenomenon. Essentially, researchers in the sciences are seeking to provide a story, based on a rigorous analysis of the data they have, that explains some phenomenon, and in the process of doing so, they compare and contrast their explanations with others. As Fisher might say, they seek important facts that may have been omitted, counterarguments that may have been ignored, and relevant issues that may have been overlooked.
Practically, we can use tools to help immerse ourselves in these discussions. Tools like Zotero or other reference managers aid us in collecting sources, taking notes on those sources, and citing those sources in papers that participate in these ongoing discussions and contribute to this collective storytelling. In the process of writing about the phenomenon under review, we attempt to provide a story based on the back and forth discussions that have taken place on the topic. These RMs, then, basically help us to test material coherence.
Can you think of a story that doesn't have a character at all? I can't. Even places and things can be characters in stories. The Delorean car in the Back to the Future movies is, for example, somewhat of a character in those movies. But when people are characters, they often behave, in movies, plays, etc., characteristically. That is, they behave according to their values, beliefs, attitudes, ideas, and words. They behave according to who they are.
We don't often see movies or plays or hear stories where people behave uncharacteristically because such stories are generally not good. Or if people do behave uncharacteristically, it's usually a part of the plot and the uncharacteristic behavior was foreshadowed somewhere earlier in the story. Often, when we see something coming in a movie before it's happened, it's because the characters are playing to their character. If we don't see something coming, then it's simply likely a complex character, and the story supports that.
In any regard, stories have characters, whether people, places, or things. And when we investigate stories (or theories), it's worthwhile to consider whether the characters are coherent in this way, too. You can put this to the test. When thinking about big issues taking place in the world, think about who is involved, how they are acting, what they are saying, etc. Is what they are saying make sense, per the above ideas?
How does this all help you evaluate information sources? Well, when you collect sources for a project, like a paper or something, it's a good idea, as you collect sources, to think about the story you want or need to tell. The sources you collect should have structural, material, and characterological coherence, too. This means that in the process of collecting evidence, if you find evidence that degrades the coherence of these things, you need to revise your story, just like a scientist must revise or discard their theory in the face of contradictory or discordant evidence.
You can test this method yourselves. Consider a news event that's going on as you read this. Pick three news articles that cover the event, from three different publications. Choose three publications that lie on different parts of the political spectrum. Study those three sources, and ask the following questions:
- How are the stories structurally coherent? Or not? That is, do the stories in the three articles make sense? Are they internally consistent?
- How are the stories materially coherent? Or not? That is, upon comparing them, do any of them leave out important facts? Do any of them respond to counterarguments (or alternate explanations that fit the data)? Do any of them overlook relevant issues?
- Are the characters in the stories characterologically coherent? Who are the characters in the story? Do they behave according to what we know of their values, attitudes, beliefs, ideas, and words? Do the stories present them counter to what we already know of these people?
Being able to evaluate information is important, but if we have been exposed to lessons on doing so, we have often been presented with some kind of framework that asks us to check the boxes to see if an information source satisfies some pre-existing criteria. For example, such a checklist might ask us to ask: who are the authors? do they have a good reputation? is the publisher respected? is the motive to publish based on profit? are they selling something with the information they provide?
While that's an important part of the process in evaluating information, it's also insufficient. A more thorough way to evaluate information is to think of the information more broadly and holistically. That is, to think of the stories that are being told, and how the information is contextualized. Once we see the story, we have three methods to investigate a piece of information's credibility. We can test its:
- argumentative or structural coherence
- material coherence, and
- characterological coherence.
By the way, this method can also apply to the stories we tell ourselves or about ourselves or about our beliefs. It's important, that is, to evaluate the information we believe to be true as much as it is to evaluate what others posit to be true.
Fisher, W. R. (1989). Human communication as narration: Toward a philosophy of reason, value, and action. University of South Carolina Press. https://doi.org/10.2307/j.ctv1nwbqtk
You are not editing Wikipedia yet, but you will near the near the end of this course. However, it's not too early to learn about the process. Please review this article on it:
- Help:Editing. (2022). In Wikipedia, from Help:Editing
And this article on Wikipedia stub articles:
- Wikipedia:Stub. (2022). In Wikipedia, from Wikipedia:Stub
In this course, the main assignment involves identifying a Wikipedia article, searching for information sources that we can add to the article, collecting those sources in our reference manager (RM), and then editing the Wikipedia article in order to add our findings that summarize those sources in a way that makes sense for a Wikipedia article.
So far, we have covered the following topics that will help us with our project:
- Information sources and resources
- Bibliographic reference management
- Information retrieval: the web
- Information retrieval: databases
- Analyzing evaluating information sources
And for the remainder of the course, we will continue to cover specific library and web resources, how to use them, and how to incorporate them into our work flows. By the end of the semester, we will have collected enough material to edit the Wikipedia article that we have identified this week.
For this week, your task is to identify a Wikipedia article to edit. The Wikipedia article must be a stub article, which are articles that are "deemed too short to provide encyclopedic coverage of a subject." You will analyze the article for shortcomings, and collect sources that will address those shortcomings using the search skills and source knowledge you have and will acquire this semester. At the end of this semester, in the second part of this project, you will edit the Wikipedia article, and add any relevant text as well as the references to the sources that you collected.
For now, your job is to:
- Create an account on Wikipedia (if you do not already have one).
- Identify a Wikipedia stub article that you would like to analyze and edit later. See below on tips to do this.
- Begin to analyze the stub article for informational shortcomings.
- That is, stub articles are incomplete articles, and thus they are missing information to complete them. Your goal will be to complete these articles.
- You can start thinking about what's missing from this articles with respect to the W questions: who, what, when, where, why, and of course, how.
- But you can also think about these articles as narratives, as we discussed in the prior section.
- Begin to collect and describe at least four sources over the course of the
next four weeks.
- Two sources will come from the library.
- Two sources will come from the general web.
For this week, you will submit to the discussion board a post that describes your activities. Your post should respond to the following:
- Provide your Wikipedia account name and a link to your Wikipedia
- For example, my account name is Cseanburns and my Wikipedia homepage is https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:Cseanburns.
- You must edit your Wikipedia homepage and add some basic biographical information. Note: it's not necessary to identify yourself as a student or use your linkblue username for this assignment.
- Provide the title of the stub article that you would like to edit and a link
to the page.
- For example, I might choose the Diskworld stub article, which is located at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diskworld
- State why you chose the stub article.
In the Information Retrieval: Web section, you might recall that I wrote the following:
...our queries are not divorced from the documents nor the corpus. When we construct queries, it's useful to think about the content (corpus) that we are searching.
This, along with the search techniques I covered in that section, offer a major clue on how to locate a Wikipedia stub article. Basically, the process requires knowing something about how stub articles are identified on Wikipedia. That is, it's helpful "to think about the content that we are searching." Specifically, Wikipedia editors take great care in labeling stub articles as stub articles, and you can see this on the Diskworld stub article I link to above. At the bottom of that article, you'll see the following text:
This computer magazine or journal-related article is a stub [emphasis added].
If we look at other stub articles,
we'll see the same four words at the bottom of their pages.
We can use this pattern
to build a search query in Google (or other search engines).
For example, we can figure that the phrase "article is a stub"
probably appears consistently at the bottom of all stub articles.
So let's include that in our search query within quotes
so that the search engine treats it as required.
Then we can add a keyword based on our own interests.
For example, I'm interested in technology, and
so I might add that as a query term.
Finally, knowing that we're searching Wikipedia only,
since this is a Wikipedia-based project,
we can use the
site: operator in our search query.
Basically, I found the Diskworld article
using the Google query below:
"article is a stub" technology site:en.wikipedia.org
And then I simply browsed through the results until I identified an article I was interested in looking at more closely.
Please review the aspects of Infokat searching here:
- Naas, D. (n.d.). Research Guides: InfoKat Discovery: Getting Started. Retrieved August 3, 2022, from UK LibGuides.
We have already discussed database information retrieval. In this section we're going to explore a bit more the places where we can apply that knowlege. Specifically, UK Libraries provides access to many millions of sources that include books (ebooks and print books), databases, journals, archival works, image collections, multimedia collections, and more.
In this and the next, I'll focus on two of the most common usages of the library's resources:
- Infokat: for searching books and also database offerings
- Databases: for searching specific database offerings
However, it's worth your time to explore the UK Libraries' website
in order to learn what you have access to.
Or even, you could use Google's
to locate resources of interest that the library provides:
[something of interest] site:libraries.uky.edu
Infokat is short for Infokat Discovery, and
is the primary search tool for browsing and finding materials from UK Libraries' collections, and a great place to begin your research. Infokat searches our libraries' physical holdings together with a majority of the individual databases to which we subscribe About Infokat.
In short, it's the modern equivalent of an online card catalog system, but because it's modern, it's much more than that. Not only can Infokat locate books on the shelves at W.T. Young or at the other library locations at UK, Infokat is also good for discovering digital collections, database resources, and more. And if the library doesn't have a source, Infokat can facilitate an interlibrary loan request. Although interlibrary loans mean that we won't get immediate access to the requested source, it's often very fast. In my experience, I usually receive PDF copies of requested journal articles within 24 hours, and for many books that I've requested through interlibrary loan, I generally receive copies within one to three days.
Infokat also works well with Zotero and other reference management software. I'll cover that in a follow up demonstration video.
There are two initial ways to search Infokat:
- Basic search
- Advanced search
Basic search works just like how you would use Google or some other search engine. You enter a query into the search box and press enter.
However, because the corpus you're querying is structured, like a database, it's not necessarily advisable to use natural language for your queries like you might in a web search engine. Remember that our queries should always consider the corpus we're searching. This means you should devise queries that highlight the subject matter. You can do this by picking one or more keywords for your queries that express the topic that you're interested in retrieving. Also, because the corpus you're searching in Infokat is structured, advanced search offers fine-tuned, precision search functions that let us search by specific fields, dates, and includes Boolean logic.
Basic search is a great place to start your research, especially when starting on a new project. From there you can use hints that you see in your retrieval results to practice pearl growing or to refine and narrow your search results.
You can apply pearl growing by noticing title information, subject terms, publication information, or more and as a way to follow up on leads/hints you find in the results you retrieve. You can also refine results by availability, resource type, subject heading, language, and more.
Like web search engines, term order matters. Therefore, you should enclose queries in double quotes in order to force Infokat to return results using the exact terminology and to return results in the same order as your terms. For example, if my query is:
Then results will include titles like:
Development of a web tool to ...
But if I wrap my query in quotes, like so:
Then results will literally reflect those terms and in that order. For example:
Hands-On Full Stack Web Development with Angular...
Advanced search in Infokat provides a form where you can focus on constructing precise queries. You can apply a variety of search filters that limit queries to specific fields in the structured data, such as title information, author/creator information, and subject terms.
Instead of using double quotes to force results to match your query, you have other options. These include the ability to state whether the search results should contain the terms in your query, match exactly the terms in your query, which is like using double quotes, or whether the search results should start with the same terms as your query.
You can also use Boolean logic in advanced search. This is especially helpful as you refine your queries. For example, if you're interested in web development but not interested in "embedded web development", you can use the Boolean NOT to removed retrieved records that contain the word "embedded" from the results. You can also limit results by time period (publication date) in order to focus on either historical works or recent works.
If you're using Zotero and the browser add-on, you will see a folder icon in your browser bar when you're on the result page. This will let you save multiple items to your Zotero library or to a specific Zotero folder in your library.
When you find a result that interests you, click on the link to get more information and do more with the result. From here you can save the specific item to Zotero, but Infokat let's you export citations manually, too. You can have the item emailed to you, or print it out, and more.
If the item is available as a print item, Infokat will tell you where in the library it's located (i.e., shelf and floor), and it will also tell you which library the book is located, since UK Libraries has many locations aside from W.T. Young. If the item is not available electronically or in print at one of the UK Library locations, this is where you can request the items via interlibrary loan.
When you sign in via your linkblue information, you can request the item directly, and if you have loans out, you can request that they be renewed.
UK Libraries provides access to millions of items in both digital and print versions. In this section, I focused on accessing their collections using Infokat Discovery, and we focused on using Basic and Advanced Search.
It's fine to know the basics of a technology like Infokat, but it's another level to integrate this technology into your workflow. In order to do that, you should use Zotero, or your reference manager of choice, to save items to you Zotero library. As you save items, return to them, read them, and take notes on them. This process will become streamlined and feel natural over time, and eventually you'll have amassed your own personal knowledge repository.
In the next section, I'll focus on specific databases that UK Libraries provides access to for more topical searches.
UK Libraries provides access to many millions of sources that include books (ebooks and print books), databases, journals, archival works, image collections, multimedia collections, and more. In the prior section, I focused on using Infokat to search some of these collections. In this section, I focus on a handful of the databases that UK Libraries offers.
I can only focus on a handful of databases because UK Libraries, as a major research institution and because of its large student body and wide range of majors, provides access to 712 total databases (as of summer 2022). Many of these databases are specialized (e.g., African American and Africana Studies, Appalachian Studies) or cover a broad general research area (e.g., Chemistry, Education). But a few are designed to be super broad; that is, they are databases of databases. I've already covered Academic Search Complete in prior sections, which is one example of a database of databases. In this section, I'll cover another one plus some citation databases.
Remember that if you have desktop Zotero plus the Zotero browser add-on installed, Zotero will automatically recognize when you have a web page open for a specific item in of these databases. Thus, use Zotero when examining these databases to collect information on your Wikipedia topic.
While I will only cover a few databases in this section, I encourage you to explore all that's offered. To access the databases, you can browse the list on UK Libraries' website:
You can also search that list using topical keywords in the search box, you can limit results to specific subject areas, and you can focus on database types. Like document types in the ASC database, database types indicate something about the source. Potential types include:
- Digitize primary sources
- E-book collections
- Government documents
- Image collections, and more.
Factiva is a helpful database for locating news, market, and company information. You can search against subjects, industries, within regions, and you can add other limits. There are a slew of some advanced search operators that help power up your search. You can read through the list of operators and field codes to use when searching Factiva.
We can try an example search. Let's say I'm interested in any news about Google and open source software. To search this in Factiva, I can approach the query simply, like so (being sure to wrap open source in quotes):
"open source" AND google
This search was conducted on Aug 1, 2022, and you can see there are 4,244 results.
On the left side you can see a distribution of articles by date of publication, a list of relevant companies that appear in the documents that were retrieved, as well as lists of sources, subjects, industries, languages, regions, and so forth.
If I wanted to export any of these documents, I can click on specific check boxes and export the results in various ways, either as RTF or a PDF files, or have it email the results to me or print them. We can look at the publication data distribution and note whether there are more results on a given day than on others. This may suggest a hot news day for this particular topic and that may be something we want to explore.
Let's go back to the search builder. Say I found that the previous set of results were hit or miss and, as a result, I want to refine my search. Now I can try the adjacent operator. The adjacent operator tells the database to only return documents where the query terms appear within a set amount of space between each other. The assumption is that the closer any terms are to each other, the more likely the document will be about those terms. Thus, if I replace the and operator with the adj5 operator, I ask Factiva to return documents where the term open source is within five words of the term Google:
"open source" adj5 google
You can see that the results are much different than the previous one. Here I only have 205 results. The list of companies have also changed, and more. If we investigate any of these documents, you and confirm that our two terms, which are highlighted, appear within five words of each other in all the results.
As stated, there are many operators in Factiva besides adj[N]. At that link, you can see that the standard Boolean operators are available: and, or, not. There are more proximity and other operators, such as:
"open soruce" w/5 google
- like the
"open source" same google
- terms must appear in same paragraph
"open source" near5 google
atleast5 google and "open source"
- 'google' must appear at least 5 times in document
Remember that you can create an account for Factiva if you want to save or export your searches. Zotero is also capable of extracting bibliographic information from Factiva and will recognize that a source document is, for example, a news article or like.
Web of Science (WoS) is an abstract & indexing citation database. This means that the database does not directly provide full text access but it does link to UK Library when full text is available for results. As a citation database, it also provides the number of citations each result has received, and this is a way to find additional relevant documents.
The Core Collection is the default collection/database. This is Web of Sciences' main database and includes coverage of the sciences, the arts, and the humanities. WoS offers other databases that mostly cover the sciences, and you can search all of those databases at the same time, but it's often better to focus on the core collection when starting.
Let's try a search. We can try our open source and Google search, as seen in Figure 3:
I can keep the default field search set to All Fields, or focus on other fields, like Topic, which searches titles, abstracts, and keywords.
As of August 1, 2022, this query retrieves 1,134 results. Let's say that my search is a bit too broad still, and I want to refine my query to narrow my results. Just like in Factiva, WoS offers a proximity operator called NEAR. Let's try it out with the following query on the WoS advanced search page:
Now there are only 9 results, and if I examine the title, abstract, or keywords for the results, I'll see that the term "google" is placed within five words of the term "open source". If I want to really narrow down my search, I can change the field to Title only.
The default results list is to show articles that are published more recently. I can change this default sorting method so that WoS sorts based on sources that have the highest citations first. Once I do this, I can go to the right side, and look at the Times Cited link and see which articles have been cited the most. This is what makes WoS a citation database. We don't have to use WoS as a citation database, but this is what separates WoS from many other scholarly databases.
Theoretically, each one of these citing articles should be related to the article that is cited by them. I can them peruse these citing articles to help me find even more relevant sources of information.
Instead of basic search, we can search by author, cited reference, and more. If you click on the big question mark button in WoS, you'll find a guide on how to use WoS. The guide includes some tips on the use of various search operators, including the NEAR operator as well as the Boolean operators.
Remember that Web of Science doesn't offer direct access to content, but notice that there is this Full Text @ W. T. Young link at the bottom of some records in the search results. This link is connected to Infokat, which knows that if the article is available, Infokat can retrieve it. If not, then we can request it through interlibrary loan. Also, in some cases there's also a link to look up the full text in Google Scholar if the source is freely available on the web (this is usually called open access).
Remember that you can create an account for WoS if you want to save your searches or create folders (called Marked Lists) in WoS. Although the vendor that provides WoS is also the same vendor that provides the EndNote reference manager, Zotero is also capable of extracting bibliographic information here.
Let's try Google Scholar now. Google Scholar isn't technically a library database since it's freely accessible on the web, but I will show you how to connect it to Infokat so that it functions like WoS or other databases that we've covered.
Google Scholar doesn't have the kind of search operators that either Factiva or Web of Science have, but it's a freely available citation database that indexes a lot of content. In Google and related search products, like Google Scholar, the AND operator does not need to be specified. Thus the following search is translated as: "open source" AND google
You can see here we get a lot of results. Maybe even too much. If we want to limit our results, we have to use other tricks. The most common one is simply to add more specific keywords to our query. E.g., if I add "android" to the query, that reduces the results.
"open source" google android
There is an advanced search option. However, since Google Scholar is indexing full text sources and not structured bibliographic records, this means that it can't offer the kind of advanced search we've seen in database searches. It is pretty useful, though. For example, Figure 6 shows an advanced search for the terms google and "open sources" but it excludes the term android in the title, and it asks for results published from 2018 to today. You can see that this substantially narrows our results. As of August 1, 2022, Google Scholar returns only 35 hits.
Other than that, one of the nice things about Google Scholar is that it's also a citation database. You can see the Cited by N link just below each result. If something has been cited, click on that to follow citations.
The reason Google Scholar returns so many more results is because it casts a bigger net than something like Web of Science does, which purposefully casts a smaller net. Because of that, I find Google Scholar can return many non-relevant works, but it makes it nice for browsing or discovery. Web of Science shines for more rigorous and methodical literature searches.
The observant among you may have noticed that in Figure 5, there is a View Now @ UK link. The reason Google Scholar provides that link is that I've configured it to talk with UK's Infokat. This is something you have to set up, but it's pretty simple to do. Just click on settings, and then go to Library Links, and then search for the University of Kentucky. Check the box next to it. Be sure that you're signed into Google if you want to save this as a preference. After that, you should see the View Now option when something is available via UK Libraries.
JSTOR is multi-disciplinary database. Like other databases, you can limit results by Item Type, Language, Publication Date, subject area, and more. JSTOR also provides proximity search using the NEAR operator.
JSTOR covers subjects such as:
- Business & Economics
- Medicine & Allied Health
- Science & Mathematics
- Security studies
- Social Sciences, and more.
Each of these subject areas includes access to many journal titles, and therefore, many journal articles. JSTOR has long focused on back issues of journals, but in recent years has made moves to include current literature and open access content (this is content that is freely available). The content in JSTOR is high quality, peer-reviewed work, which makes JSTOR a great place to gather documents on a topic that you want to research in-depth. My "open source" and google query for Images returns 26 results.
JSTOR also includes ARTSTOR, which is separate from the JSTOR images search above. ARTSTOR is database of art and multimedia objects, much of which is also available as open access.
Again, remember that if you have desktop Zotero plus the Zotero browser add-on installed, Zotero will automatically recognize when you have a web page open for a specific item in in JSTOR. Thus, you can use Zotero with JSTOR to collect information on your Wikipedia topic.
That covers Factiva, Web of Science, Google Scholar, and JSTOR. Remember that Factiva is a general-interest news database; WoS and Google Scholar are both citation, scholarly databases; and JSTOR is a scholarly and image database.
In the next section, we begin to cover web content. Although it might have been appropriate to include Google Scholar in the next section, I included it here because of its ability to link directly to UK's Infokat. This won't be the case for resources I cover next.
Many of us spend most of our time on the web visiting a handful of sites. These sites vary by country, but in the U.S., we spend much of our time on Google, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Netflix, TikTok, Wikipedia, and a few others.
That's fine, of course, but the web is composed of billions of web pages, and many are worth knowing and exploring.
We also spend most of our time on a variety of domains.
This includes sites ending with .com, .org, .edu, etc.
But remember that you've already learned how to search the web,
and if you're interested in learning more about what's out there,
I encourage you to add a
:site operator to your web queries
if you want to vary things up every once in a while.
Remember that there about 1,500 top level domains,
and it can be fun to add random ones to your searches:
asthma site:health (linux or windows or macos) site:computer
That said, in this and the next section I want to cover a few specific sites that are great information resources.
The Internet Archive is a "non-profit library of millions of free books, movies, software, music, websites, and more."
For example, you might be interested in playing some old PC games that your parents played when they were younger:
The Archive also provides the Wayback Machine. The Wayback Machine is an archive of the web from its early days to the present. It's fun, for example, to use it to see what the web looked like years ago. For example, this is likely UK's first web page and was captured by the Wayback Machine in 1997:
But the Wayback Machine is also useful to retrieve web pages and sites that have been shutdown or removed. That is, if you have a broken URL, you can enter the URL in the Wayback Machine and see if the original page was archived.
The Internet Archive is also a library, and as such, offers collections on a vast range of topics and links to all sorts of media, including text, audio, video, and images.
You can view its main collections on the home page of the Internet Archive. You can also search. I've found, for instance, scanned yearbooks from my college.
The Internet Archive also oversees The Open Library. You can use the Open Library to check out and read books for free, just like you would use a physical library.
The DPLA (Digital Public Library of America) is a shared repository of content that brings together digital and digitized sources from libraries, museums, and archives across the U.S.
The DPLA is great for browsing, but they also provide guides for those interested in using the DPLA for Education, Family Research, Lifelong Learning, and Scholarly Research.
Like a library, museum, or archive, the DPLA offers:
- featured exhibitions
- primary source sets
- the ability to browse by topic
- the ability to browser by contributor
- and more.
The Library of Congress provides a list of bibliographies, research guides, and finding aids on a vast range of topics. Many of the links in this list go directly to digital libraries that focus on specific topics or areas. For example, check out this fun collection of resources on dance manuals published from 1490 through 1920.
The Library of Congress also provides access to digital collections on subjects ranging from American History, War & Military, Art & Architecture, Sports & Recreation, Science & Technology, and more.
The United States Census Bureau is the best way to get various demographic and some economic information about the U.S. You can also get Quick Facts about your local area. You can, for example, also compare demographics by location. Here's a population comparison between Lexington, KY and Cincinnati, OH.
NASA's website offers tons of sources on all of its major projects. From its homepage, you can download apps, audio & ringtones, e-books, and podcasts. The site also provides information on various missions, like the recent James Webb Space Telescope as well as exciting image and video galleries.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) is the go to site for job and economic information. The site takes some exploration to learn all that it offers, but I can provide two examples.
The Data Tools dropbox box provides employment change data for various sectors of the U.S. As of June 2022, we see that manufacturing jobs in the U.S. increased by an estimated 29,000, government jobs decreased by an estimated 9,000, and overall non-farm jobs increased by 372,000.
The CPI Inflation Calculator shows how the value of the dollar has changed over time. For example, I can see that $1.00 in June of 2021 has the same buying power as $1.09 in June of 2022, which shows that, on average, what costs me a $1.09 in June 2022 cost me a $1.00 the summer prior.
This calculator is useful in a lot of ways. For example, the tuition to attend UK for the 2002-2003 academic year was $1,740 per semester, and for the 2022-2023 academic year, it is $6,340. The CPI calculator shows that if tuition increased at the same rate as inflation, then today's tuition cost should only be $2,865.93 per semester (from June 2002 to June 2022). That means the extra $3,564 spent on tuition today increased due to other (complicated) factors.
You can also see how home prices have changed. The house I rent was purchased for $101,650 during the summer of 2001. Today the owners could easily sell for around $250,000 (estimated by realtor.com). But inflation only accounts for a $171,016 price tag. Thus the extra $70,000 or so is factor of other market forces.
Property information like this is generally public information. Fayette County, the seat of Lexington, KY, provides this information at https://fayettepva.com/. You can check your local municipality's website for comparable information. In fact, many city and county websites make available lots of data.
EDGAR is a go to site if you're thinking about investing in a public company. Of particular interest are the 10-K and 10-Q reports. The 10-K report is an annual report that public companies are required to submit to the SEC. The 10-Q report is the quarterly version.
The 10-K report:
Provides audited annual financial statements, a discussion of material risk factors for the company and its business, and a management's discussion and analysis of the company's results of operations for the prior fiscal year (Form Type Description)
The 10-Q report is unaudited.
The EDGAR search page is pretty straightforward and offers autocomplete as you type. My search query in Figure 1 is a search for Google's (specifically, Alphabet's) last 10-K report, which was filed on February 2, 2022.
If you read the report, you can see that, for example, more than 80% of Google's (or Alphabet, specifically) revenue is based on advertisements, and that changes in privacy policies and technologies that protect privacy is a concern for them.
Lastly, I would like to refer you to MedlinePlus, which is part of the National Library of Medicine. The purpose of this site is to serve as a health and medical reference resource for the general public. Although no online site can take the place of professional medical help, MedlinePlus can be an important resource for becoming more informed about various health topics.
Instead of googling that next symptom or condition, I highly encourage you to visit MedlinePlus first. The site also covers wellness topics and provides recipes for a wide range of meals.
Although it's important to know how to search the web well, it's also handy to know about specific go to resources on the web that can provide more in-depth information or that provide more coverage than most Google etc searches can yield. In order to highlight this, in this section I covered a few, I think, super interesting and helpful sites that include the:
- Internet Archive
- Open Library
- Library of Congress
- U.S. Census
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
- EDGAR (SEC)
Be sure to explore these sites, as well as others you find, because many of these just don't come up in your everyday kind of search.
We continue this section by covering a variety of web resources that are invaluable but that don't necessarily show up in our everyday web searches.
In particular, in this section, I'd like to cover a variety of open educational resources and digital libraries. Your education at UK should be, I hope, super beneficial, but you won't be in college forever, and you may have the kind of mind that wants to continue to grow and learn and improve. These sites may also help with various research projects, but they're also just enlightening and educational.
Fortunately, the number and quality of open educational resources has been blossoming in recent years, and these sites offer free, online textbooks on a vast range of subjects.
The Directory of Open Access Books (DOAB) provides references to hundreds of free textbooks or scholarly works on a wide range of topics. It's easy to browse by topic or subject, such as sociology, economics, earth sciences, technology, and more.
OER Commons is probably a bigger resource for open educational content. It provides access to subject areas ranging from applied science to education to mathematics to social sciences. It goes beyond providing access to textbooks and also includes access to various materials types, such as case studies, games, data sets, lesson plans, and more.
UK Libraries provides more links to open educational resources and supports a program for UK faculty to create free, digital textbooks. You can find a lot of this material on UKnowledge, and there is an OER Research Guide that lists more links to a wide range of open educational content.
MOOC sites are massive online open course providers. Two major MOOCs are Coursera (via Stanford University) and edX (via Harvard and MIT). Both sites offer courses on all the subjects you'd find in college for free, but you can also pay to earn certificates, if you want that. These courses are like online learning courses. They provide lectures and online activities to work through and to learn the material.
In addition to the open educational resources that are available, there are also some really interesting digital libraries that exist and are worth exploring.
The National Science Digital Library is a digital library that provides educational resources on STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) topics and for all educational levels. Topics include applied science, mathematics, statistics and probability, trigonometry, technology, chemistry, and much more.
The Civil Rights Digital Library is a digital library that provides resources on the Civil Rights Movement. The library can be browsed by events, places, people, topics, and more. Due to the nature of the topic, some of the content can be disturbing or challenging, but if you are interested in civil rights, then this is an invaluable and necessary resource.
The New York Public Library (NYPL) is one of the biggest public libraries in the U.S. with more than 25 million items in its collections. The New York Public Library Digital Collections is an effort by NYPL librarians to make much of that collection accessible to the wider public. The digital collections provide access to "prints, photographs, maps, manuscripts, streaming video, and more." Visitors can browse by collection or search the site.
europeana is a digital library that acts as a central repository for libraries, museums, and archives across the European Union. In that way, it's very much a European version of the DPLA, which we covered in the prior section.
HathiTrust provides access to books and other items scanned from major U.S. research libraries, Google, and the Internet Archive. There is a big focus on public domain works, which are works that are free of copyright restrictions. Although that's why I've included it in this section on web resources, UK Libraries is a partner institution, which means you can login to HathiTrust and check out works that are still under copyright.
Project Gutenberg is the oldest online ebook collection on the web, and even predates the web by 20 years. All ebooks one Project Gutenberg are free, and can be read on your computer or ebook reader.
In this section, I largely covered educational resources and digital libraries. These kinds of sites don't generally pop up in our everyday web searches unless we're really looking for them. Thus it's worthwhile to know they exist and explore them if we're interested in the content.
There are two takeaways here on this topic of web resources. First, be good at web search. We covered this in section 5. Second, when search fails, know the good sites to go to. I've only covered a handful of them in this and the prior lecture, so keep exploring the real stuff.
- Notes [Zotero Documentation]. (2017). Retrieved August 3, 2022, from Notes - Zotero
- PDF reader [Zotero Documentation]. (2022). Retrieved August 3, 2022, from PDF - Zotero
- Creating bibliographies [Zotero Documentation]. (2018). Retrieved August 3, 2022, from Bibliographies - Zotero
- Word processor integration [Zotero Documentation]. (2018). Retrieved August 3, 2022, from Word Processors - Zotero
- Styles [Zotero Documentation]. (2017). Retrieved August 3, 2022, from Styles Zotero
At this point you should have built up a decent collection of information sources in your Zotero library for your Wikipedia project. You may have even been using it for your other courses, too, and if not, then start! If you need to collect more sources for your Wikipedia article, this is the time to do it. Revisit the previous sections to remind yourself about the existing sources that exist on the web and at the library, and to remind yourself how to search those sources.
In the weeks of this course, your final goal is to edit your chosen Wikipedia article based on the information resources you've collected.
In order to prepare for the Wikipedia edit, it's time to return to your Zotero collection. You should have been reading the sources you've collected, and taking notes on them in Zotero. Now is a good time to get caught up and add (more) notes or refine and edit them, synthesize them, and begin writing content for your Wikipedia article.
Zotero and other reference managers offer a number of tools to help with this process. As a reminder, you can use your Zotero browser plugin to automatically add information sources to your Zotero library. You can store those sources in folders in your Zotero library. A folder can be project based. You can also tag each information source for more organization. You can highlight and add notes to PDF copies in Zotero.
In the section below, I will discuss ways to export your work to a word processor program and how to edit your Wikipedia article.
Although our main project this semester is to edit a Wikipedia article, in most cases you will want to work on papers in a word processing program like Microsoft Word, Google Docs, or LibreOffice Writer.
Zotero is able to work with the above three word processors. Mendeley and EndNote are primarily geered toward Microsoft Word, and if you elected to use those two RMs, then reach out to your instructor, or search the web, for guidance on using these with those Google Docs or LibreOffice Writer, if you use those, too.
Using Zotero with Word, Docs, or Writer is straightforward. The necessary plugins are already installed when you installed Zotero Desktop, and additional instructions are available, too.
You'll want to use Zotero as you write papers, etc. to insert in-text citations and bibliographies. While Zotero or other reference managers can handle this automatically, you should still review your in-text citations and bibliographies to check for any errors. If there are errors, it's likely because the item in Zotero is missing metadata for some fields (like author, title, journal title, publication date, etc.). This happens because the source information Zotero extacts metadata from may be incomplete or malformed.
With Zotero, you can add in-text citations like: (Smith, 2007) or (Chan, 2018, p. 144) or "Garcia (2020) stated ...". You can also generate bibliographies using many different styles, like APA, MLA, Chicago, and so forth. Zotero will auto-update the bibliography in your document as you add more in-text citations. To set a default style, in Zotero, click on the Edit button in the Zotero menu bar, click on the Cite tab, and then choose your default style, which will most likely be one of these:
- American Psychological Association 7th edition
- Chicago Manual of Style edition (author-date or full note)
- Modern Language Association 9th edition
- American Medical Association 11th edition
While the preferences window is open, there are two more things to set. First, click on the Export tab, and under Item Format, select Wikipedia Citation Templates from the drop down menu. This will come in handy when you edit your Wikipedia article.
Second, click on the Advanced tab, and then click on the drop down menu under the OperURL section, and scroll down until you find University of Kentucky. This will enable Zotero to retrieve full text items through InfoKat.
Once you've set up some basic preferences, you can start writing in your preferred word processor.
Zotero will add a new tab in Microsof Word, or new toolbar items if you're using Google Docs or LibreOffice Word. You can use these new functions to add in-text citations, to extract and insert Zotero notes for items, and a bibliography.
In this section, I covered the basics of integrating Zotero with your word processor. Although the basics are pretty straightforward, given the variety of options you have available to you, you may need to refer to the Zotero documentation for additional help. you'll need to read through
- Help:Introduction to referencing with Wiki Markup/1—Wikipedia. (n.d.). Retrieved August 4, 2022, from Verifiability
- Help:Introduction to referencing with Wiki Markup/4. (2021). Reliable Sources
- Wikipedia:References dos and don’ts. (2020). Do's and Don'ts
In the Wikipedia Project: Setup you read about editing Wikipedia articles and locating a stub article to edit. You were also asked to create an account on Wikipedia and make a small edit to your user page. In this last section, your task is to edit the actual article stub that you chose for the project.
By edit, I mean that you are to write more of the article, and add your two library and two web references. What you write should be directly supported by the references you add. Essentially, your goal is to work on completing the article so that it is no longer counted as a stub article.
When you edit your article, be sure you are logged in to your Wikipedia account when making your edits. If you are not signed in, you will not be able to earn credit for this assignment.
- Log into Wikipedia and make sure you are logged in when you make all edits to Wikipedia.
- Begin editing the Wikipedia article that you identified in the first Wikipedia assignment. Add your text (you're writing the article) and add your references. You must integrate all four sources and add text that makes sense of those sources.
GNU Free Documentation License
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Copyright © 2000, 2001, 2002, 2007, 2008 Free Software Foundation, Inc. https://fsf.org/
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Termination of your rights under this section does not terminate the licenses of parties who have received copies or rights from you under this License. If your rights have been terminated and not permanently reinstated, receipt of a copy of some or all of the same material does not give you any rights to use it.
- FUTURE REVISIONS OF THIS LICENSE
The Free Software Foundation may publish new, revised versions of the GNU Free Documentation License from time to time. Such new versions will be similar in spirit to the present version, but may differ in detail to address new problems or concerns. See https://www.gnu.org/licenses/.
Each version of the License is given a distinguishing version number. If the Document specifies that a particular numbered version of this License "or any later version" applies to it, you have the option of following the terms and conditions either of that specified version or of any later version that has been published (not as a draft) by the Free Software Foundation. If the Document does not specify a version number of this License, you may choose any version ever published (not as a draft) by the Free Software Foundation. If the Document specifies that a proxy can decide which future versions of this License can be used, that proxy's public statement of acceptance of a version permanently authorizes you to choose that version for the Document.
"Massive Multiauthor Collaboration Site" (or "MMC Site") means any World Wide Web server that publishes copyrightable works and also provides prominent facilities for anybody to edit those works. A public wiki that anybody can edit is an example of such a server. A "Massive Multiauthor Collaboration" (or "MMC") contained in the site means any set of copyrightable works thus published on the MMC site.
"CC-BY-SA" means the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 license published by Creative Commons Corporation, a not-for-profit corporation with a principal place of business in San Francisco, California, as well as future copyleft versions of that license published by that same organization.
"Incorporate" means to publish or republish a Document, in whole or in part, as part of another Document.
An MMC is "eligible for relicensing" if it is licensed under this License, and if all works that were first published under this License somewhere other than this MMC, and subsequently incorporated in whole or in part into the MMC, (1) had no cover texts or invariant sections, and (2) were thus incorporated prior to November 1, 2008.
The operator of an MMC Site may republish an MMC contained in the site under CC-BY-SA on the same site at any time before August 1, 2009, provided the MMC is eligible for relicensing.
ADDENDUM: How to use this License for your documents
To use this License in a document you have written, include a copy of the License in the document and put the following copyright and license notices just after the title page:
Copyright (C) YEAR YOUR NAME.
Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.3 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, no Front-Cover Texts, and no Back-Cover Texts. A copy of the license is included in the section entitled "GNU Free Documentation License".
If you have Invariant Sections, Front-Cover Texts and Back-Cover Texts, replace the "with … Texts." line with this:
with the Invariant Sections being LIST THEIR TITLES, with the Front-Cover Texts being LIST, and with the Back-Cover Texts being LIST.
If you have Invariant Sections without Cover Texts, or some other combination of the three, merge those two alternatives to suit the situation.
If your document contains nontrivial examples of program code, we recommend releasing these examples in parallel under your choice of free software license, such as the GNU General Public License, to permit their use in free software.