What's In Blackwell
Date: 14th century
1: the communication or reception of knowledge
2: knowledge obtained from investigation, study, or
(taken from: Merriam-Webster
Online Dictionary, www.m-w.com)
In this module we'll
review the two most common types of information that are
out in the academic world for you to use, we'll discuss
what types of information you can frequently find in
libraries, the specific types of information that you
can find at Blackwell Library, and how information is
created, stored and used - which is to say, the various
steps of the Information Cycle.
There are all different types of information out
there - data that you collect in the lab, population
statistics that the government collects, diaries that
Civil War soldiers wrote.
All types and categories of information are constantly
and - most importantly - made available to other
people who then use that information to create new
Regardless of your
discipline, to be an efficient researcher you must understand
how information is organized, where it is located, and
how best to retrieve it.
In general the two most common kinds of information that you -
as a chemistry researcher - will encounter while doing
your research are primary
sources and secondary sources.
Original documents, research, or physical objects.
These can include such material as: diaries, speeches,
letters, research articles, or photographs. In the
case of research articles, the articles must be
original, hands-on research to count as a primary
An example of a primary
chemical article is as follows:
S.; Sigmund, W.M.
Hairy Surfaces with a Nearly Perfect Hydrophobic
Response. Langmuir. [Online]
(accessed March 2, 2010).
Documents or articles that relate or discuss information
originally presented elsewhere (i.e. information taken
from a primary source). Secondary sources
typically always involve the generalization, analysis,
synthesis, interpretation, or evaluation of the original
An example of a
secondary chemical article is as follows:
Raichle, M. The Brain's Dark
Energy. Scientific American.
2010, 302, 44-49.
For most of the
research you are going to be doing for your Chemistry
studies, you will need to rely on primary sources more
than secondary sources. Some faculty members will
specify exactly how many primary or secondary sources
you need to properly complete your assignment, so pay
careful attention to what it is you are finding when
searching the chemistry databases at SU!
Libraries are dedicated
to organizing and retrieving information.
Librarians are formally trained in this skill (typically all
faculty research librarians at academic institutions have
Master's Degrees in Library & Information Sciences) and
are also fluent and knowledgeable in their assigned
subject areas within
academic disciplines at such a level that they can help
both undergraduate students and faculty researchers with
their information needs.
Librarians and libraries
provide access to information through electronic sources
such as databases and catalogs, as well as print
materials such as indices and books. All
successful research is based around the understanding of
how to select and use the correct resource for your
specific information need, no matter what form it takes.
Blackwell Library has
subscribed to a large number (100+) of electronic
databases that index, organize, and store articles in
both abstract-only and full-text formats. Using
these academic databases when conducting your research means
that you consistently get professional, peer-reviewed,
properly-detailed academic articles as search results
(something that Google or Google Scholar can not
guarantee.) In general, your search results when using
these library-provided databases are going to be much more closely related to
your topic, and your searching experience will therefore
be more time- and energy-efficient than if you had used a
commercially available search engine like Google
or an open source like Wikipedia.
We'll cover the steps
for how to search for journal articles to best utilize
your time and maximize your search results next, in
Blackwell also has a
tremendous number of print resources that will be of use
to you when conducting research. We have thousands
of journal titles in print format, with back issues that go
back (in some cases) as far as 1855. We also
have a large book collection with titles covering every
discipline taught at SU. You can search our
monograph (i.e. book)
collection via an online search engine that is referred
to as the "catalog usmai" - the search box which is found
library's home page,
front and center. We'll talk more about the
best way to go searching for books later on, in
Types at Blackwell Library
When you search for
information, if you truly understand what it is that you
are looking for, you will best understand how to plan
your search strategy. For instance, if there is a
chemical discovery that has just happened, there won't
be any books out on this discovery - after all, it takes
months (even years!) to get a book written and then
published. A recent discovery will be, however,
well documented in newspapers, found in electronic
journals, and thoroughly covered on relevant websites.
The table below discusses the various types of
information that we have at Blackwell, what you can best
use it for, and where/how you can get access to it:
Is Useful For....
Can Be Found
Books can be useful for general overviews on a
topic, particularly topics that are broad and
in-depth enough that an entire book can be
written about them. Books generally start
with broad generalizations about a topic and
then get more specific as they proceed, and as
such are excellent places to start when you are
introducing yourself to a new topic.
Chemistry texts come in both print and e-book
- A starting point when looking for
Library's online catalog.
Journals are the backbone of chemical
communication. Experts in all fields of
chemistry publish their research results in
print and e-journals. Print journals take
several months (sometimes almost a year) to
accept a manuscript, proofread and revise it,
and then print it. E-journals take far
less time for this process, as they don't have
to actually send their contents off to a
physical printer to be typeset, printed, and
then mailed out to each subscriber.
- Primary scientific research
...via keyword, author, or title searches
Library's electronic databases.
Statistical data, research results, raw data
While there is certainly no shortage of data to
be found in both books and journal articles,
there are also sources that contain only data in
all of its myriad forms. Most of these
sources are electronic, but there are still some
(older) print sources as well for data that
either hasn't yet been digitized or is only
available in print format regardless of the date.
- Supporting or disputing a scientific
government websites, and independent
Print and electronic
sources both are great sources of information that can
be used in scientific research, help you to refine your
research topic, or write a scientific article.
now, bear in mind that
access most online SU library information from anywhere,
anytime - all you need to have on hand is your 14-digit
barcode number, which is found on the back of your GullCard.
If you are interested in
taking an online tour of Blackwell Library's holdings,
you can click
here for an in-depth (30 minute) walk-through of
our resources and layout.