Blog Assignment #10 (last one!)

For this week, please locate one useful specialized information resource for your discipline, one that doesn’t quite fall under any of the categories of information we’ve worked with in the blog assignments. Identify clearly what the resource is, describe it in detail, tell us how you found it, and explain how it is or might be useful for your research topic.

By “specialized information resource” I just mean a book, database, website, or document that contains a kind of information that we haven’t really gone over in class, a kind of information that’s specific to your discipline or topic. Patrick, for instance, has been using SciFinder Scholar, which lets you find chemical structures.

Here are some examples of specialized information:

  • Primary sources: manuscripts and archival records, also known as “special collections”
  • Genealogical / biographical sources
  • Laws and legal sources
  • Government documents
  • Pre-prints
  • Theses and dissertations
  • Financial information
  • Technical reports
  • Images
  • Maps and atlases
  • Data collections: geospatial, numeric, genomics
  • Patents and trademarks
  • Standards

One very good place to find specific resources for these kinds of information is in the chapters of Stebbins’s Student Guide to Research in the Digital Age that we haven’t read. Other good places to start are the Search the Collection page and the Browse Subjects page of the NCSU Libraries’ website. Sometimes it’s fun as well as useful to see “even more” from Google. Or, since people are ultimately the best sources of information (and in fact people are ultimately the ONLY sources of information), you might ask your expert, a professor, or a librarian for your discipline to suggest a resource.

Then, as usual, reflect on this assignment and on your research in general. Now might be a good time to ask for help on anything, anything at all.

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    • Patrick Proctor
    • April 8th, 2007

    While looking through the NCSU Libraries catalog, I found a book titled “Organ doses in diagnostic radiology” by Marvin Rosenstein, who works in the health physics division of the Oak Ridge National Laboratory. This book is a government document under the Bureau of Radiological Health, and is basically a table of doses that contains exposure data for many organs during specific radiological imaging techniques. This table was published in 1976, so it is very old for a scientific source, but in this case the data is still mostly relevant. Although there are many techniques in use today that did not exist in 1976, this table provides baseline data for organ exposure levels when a certain region of the body is subjected to a given amount of radiation. This information can be applied to current radiological imaging techniques, such as the CT scan that is the subject of my research.
    By now most of my research is complete, and most of my time and effort is going into deciding what resources are most appropriate to cite and how the sources I found can combine to provide a full answer to my research question. I’m satisfied that I’ve found a definitive answer to the questions I posed, and from now on I’ll just have to write up my results in paper format and use RefWorks to include as many relevant citations as I can. I have so many sources that some will inevitably be left out, but that’s not a bad thing. I don’t have any questions right now. Everything is going great.

    • Joseph Barton
    • April 9th, 2007

    Since this idea of a “Space Elevator” is still a new, theoretical idea, there are not many scholarly articles devoted to the subject. My technical research is based off of the ideas in articles written in periodicals. These periodicals refer to the scientific ideas of my research, but do not get into too much detail. I do gain much specialized information from these articles, however. I found science.nasa.gov/headlines to be a useful website to understand what my parameters should be for my design. I found this website by doing a regular search in Google. What is interesting about this website is that I can search for recent nasa headlines about the “space elevator” as well as link to other credible websites with useful articles on the same topic. I have linked to articles on other government websites like usgovinfo.about.com and even organization websites like http://www.elevator2010.org that keep up to date information of all the work that is being done in constructing this device. This organization annually holds competitions of designs of certain properties of the elevator. What’s more interesting is that I found a blog dedicated to my topic: http://www.spaceelevatorblog.com. The history, recent findings, and current questions regarding the space elevator can be found on this blog.
    Again, this information from these periodicals are taken with a grain of salt, but they do continue to give me ideas of what technical information I may need to do scholarly research.
    I have been using these websites for some time now, and I think this “specialized information source” is critical for my topic. Without these sources, it would have been hard to get started and continue my research on a space elevator cord. My research right now has been consisting of weeding out useless information and figuring out what pieces I will use for my final report. I am also still looking up articles on the properties of certian high performance fibers. What I initially thought would be the best fiber for the composite is turing out to be not the best choice.

    • Nikki Harris
    • April 9th, 2007

    I have actually been using The Weather Channel web site (www.weather.com). Since I am always looking at current weather data, I have known about this website for a while. But for my research project, I am only using part of the site. Recently (over the past few years), The Weather Channel has started taling more about climate. They even have a climatologist that is regularly on tv and has her own show. I knew about this so I have been using the climate section of the website to see the view on global warming from people who are constantly monitoring the weather. Through this site and watching The Weather Channel, I learned that IPCC just had a conference and came out with some interesting findings about the future of our planet. The conference deliberated all night just to finish the conference with agreement. I am really glad I found this site and this conference. These new findings will be very useful for my research since it will give expert opinion on the future of our planet that has just come out and it is interesting to see the actual predictions they came up with.
    Thought this isn’t a resource, I also enjoy watching Planet Earth on tv right now. This is an 11 part mini-series on The Discovery that explores all the diverse animals that live on our plante and that could be extinct soon if we do not take care of our planet. I recommend it to all!
    Overall, my research is nearing its end. I have a good range of books, articles, journal articles, and websited that I have compiled. I could use some more articles to get even more opinions. But compiling my research could be tricky since there are so many ideas and golbal warming and El Nino. I will just have to sort it all and see if there is a general consensus about my topic. It seems like most people recognize global warming, without any connection to El Nino. I have always been a little hesitant to believe in global warming directly, but my opinion my change after this research project.

    • Myra Fulp
    • April 9th, 2007

    I forgot to mention that this is categorized as a genomic sequence collection

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