Internet Resources: April 2021 Edition
Selected reviews of digital reference resources from the April issue of Choice.
Posted on in Internet Resources
Posted on October 5, 2017 in Internet Resources
The International Encyclopedia of Geography: People, the Earth, Environment and Technology, ed. by Douglas Richardson. Wiley, 2017. Available for one-time purchase for $2,995.00, or by annual subscription; pricing based on institutional type/size/FTEs.
[Visited Jul’17] The collaboration between Wiley and the American Association of Geographers (AAG) has produced a monumental, 15-volume print set and online counterpart; its general editor Richardson is the AAG executive director. It is an initiative of the sort that yields high-quality, subject-specific information that librarians and faculty will want to direct students to, helping to counter the problem of novice researchers citing information that they readily encounter online but are ill-equipped to evaluate critically. With over 1,000 entries, both short and long (some up to 10,000 words), this reference work covers areas of physical and human geography, GIS, earth science, and other related, interdisciplinary fields of study. In the ebook edition reviewed here on the Wiley Online Library (CH, Jan’11, 48-2411) platform, articles (with abstracts) are accessible in HTML format or PDF facsimile of the printed edition. Contributors’ entries offer ample further readings, and where applicable are accompanied by color imagery. The online interface provides full-text searching functionality and supports emailing of citation links and export to bibliographic managers.
A search for noted geographer Carl Sauer (who coined the neologism “landscape”) turned up more than 20 substantive results, including “Berkley School,” “Cultural Geography,” and “Landscape.” While the set is comprehensive, some topics warranting their own entries are instead addressed within other topics (e.g., psychogeography is treated within entries titled “Situationists/Situationist Geography” and “Deep Mapping and Sensual Immersive Geographies”). Given the breadth of the work, the decision to consolidate topics makes sense, but also requires one to consult the set’s index or its thematic list of entries (both features of the printed set that are not easily explored online). This thorough, thoughtful, seminal work will support programs covering the spectrum of geography and allied fields. Those looking primarily for a comprehensive encyclopedia limited to human geography specialties will also want to be aware of the online International Encyclopedia of Human Geography (CH, Sep’10, 48-0052). Summing Up: Highly recommended. Community college and undergraduate students through professionals/practitioners; general readers. —T. Dolence, Minnesota State University Moorhead
ProQuest Dissertations & Theses Global Database (PQDT Global). ProQuest, 2017. Contact publisher for pricing (based on FTE, Carnegie Classification, and other factors); annual academic subscription begins at about $15,570.00.
[Visited Jul’17] Even though a growing number of universities make their theses and dissertations freely available via open-access platforms, ProQuest Dissertations & Theses Global Database, last reviewed in 2008 (CH, Sep’08, 46-0008), continues to be the largest single database to amass the record of graduate research work. Covering the range of disciplines, the database provides access to abstracts describing more than four million theses and dissertations from more than 3,000 institutions worldwide (the earliest dates back to 1637, from the University of Groningen, Netherlands). Full-text PDFs are available for approximately half of the records, from as far back as 1743 (from the Martin Luther University of Halle-Wittenberg, Germany). ProQuest updates the database with more than 130,000 records annually, and the recent addition of 270,000 works from China expands international coverage significantly.
ProQuest database subscribers will find the familiar search interface, providing both basic and advanced search options. The hierarchical arrangement of the Subject or Location browse sections—by Country > State (where applicable) > Institution > Subject—is intuitive and usefully tallies the number of documents under each heading. The basic search option allows limiting to full text or doctoral dissertations, but more powerful advanced-search options offer many user-friendly features: field-specific searching with “look up” indexes of entries for authors, advisors, universities, subjects, and keywords. Some users may have difficulty differentiating between subjects and keywords, but online help provides clear descriptions of field codes. Users can also narrow searches by manuscript type, master’s theses versus doctoral dissertations, language, and publication date. Responding to the growth of multimedia theses and dissertations, ProQuest began in 2008 including in the database supplemental files submitted by the author. Accessible from the search results and record displays, these multimedia files may consist of video, audio, or other file types; searching requires use of the appropriate field code.
The search results display is cleanly organized and highlights search terms. Users can toggle between brief or detailed views and narrow searches by full text, publication date, subject, keyword, institution, location, or language. The bar graph feature is a useful tool that segregates the returned search results by decade and helps visualize publication trends. Formats available for displaying the search records include the bibliographic record with the abstract, and either a preview of the first 24 pages or the complete document. The files sizes for both these formats are conveniently noted. Users have the option to email, print, save, or download records in a wide variety of citation styles. Overall, most academic librarians will find PQDT Global a beneficial, powerful database that provides significant advantages to users of all levels who need to discover and search these specialized materials. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Beginning students through professionals/practitioners. —T. M. Owen, University of Maryland
Race Relations in America: Surveys and Papers from the Amistad Research Center, 1943-1970. Adam Matthew, 2017. Pricing based on FTE, purchase history, and Carnegie Classification; a typical one-time purchase with nominal fee (0.5% of purchase price) ranges from $14,850.00 to $49,500.00.
[Visited Jun’17] From 1943 to 1970 the American Missionary Association supported the Race Relations Department at Fisk University. Founded during violent race riots of the 1940s, the department was formed to investigate and improve race relations by training personnel, conducting research, and motivating social action. Under the leadership of the eminent sociologist Charles S. Johnson, workers collected a wealth of data and analysis, and worked at the local, state, and federal levels to influence policies. Based on his vision of a research-based agenda for social change, the department also organized forums for well-known figures in the Civil Rights Movement to discuss the challenges of prejudice and segregation with community leaders.
The six series of collections of the Race Relations Department, currently housed in New Orleans at the Amistad Research Center at Tulane University, are now available online from Adam Matthew Digital. They include an impressive array of nearly 3,000 discrete items, including administrative materials, correspondence, surveys, statistics, analyses, photographs, sound recordings, and transcripts from the department and affiliated Race Relations Institute, Area Institutes (one-time events held in New Orleans and St. Louis), and the 1968 National Defense Education Act (NDEA) Institute held at Fisk University. Intimate and informative insights on segregation and discrimination can be found in field worker reports and interviews with residents. The depth and breadth of documents is evident through guides and indexing across 12 themes (e.g., Employment and Labor, Faith and Religion, Housing, Voting Rights).
The database provides several tools for teaching and research. Of particular note, it includes an interactive map to relate survey and studies documents to the dates and places across the US. Intriguing relationships can be identified with the data association tool, which enables analysis of occupation, affiliation, and place of origin of individuals, organizational representatives, and community leaders using attendee rosters compiled from 25 years of Race Relations Institutes convened annually at Fisk. Complementing the many freely accessible materials available on the Amistad Research Center website at amistadresearchcenter.org, Race Relations in America is a significant, well-curated, proprietary digital archive for scholars and students conducting research on civil rights. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Upper-level undergraduates through professionals/practitioners. —D. Pan, University of Washington Libraries
Rank and Filed: SEC Filings for Humans, from Maris Jensen.
[Visited Jun’17] This open-source software product by former U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission analyst Jensen claims to offer SEC filings from EDGAR, the Electronic Data Gathering, Analysis, and Retrieval system (CH, Jul’16, 53-4616) in a more user-friendly format. The product is attracting interest among business professionals because it offers novel graphical displays and new data combinations. Individuals can access an interactive visual map of the US and search for public companies by state—or alternatively, investors can scroll through in descending order a list of corporations with the largest market capitalizations. One can access interactive graphs over time of stock prices and the firm’s leaders or documents filed with the SEC. Other interesting diagrams show total ownership among company employees and other equity holders. The site also supplies a surprising amount of industry information and handy details that many business professionals might seek, such as CUSIPs (the Committee on Uniform Security Identification Procedures alphanumeric identifier), stock symbols, mutual funds, and private offerings.
The site’s overall look is fairly staid and frankly unattractive, however, and its designers offer no assistance in navigation, nor any tutorial or help sections. The home page presents three main search options: Filings Stream, Explore Filers, and Data Export, with no further details or explanation. Users must spend a considerable amount of time exploring and drilling down through lists of information to discover on their own what the site contains. Most importantly—unlike the official EDGAR site—this resource does not have the authoritativeness one associates with the SEC. The developers give no information about the website’s scope and timeliness, nor about how accuracy is ensured. The primary mission of the SEC is to protect investors, and EDGAR assists in this mission by supplying the public with SEC filings and other transparent, trustworthy data. Using open-source software, data could conceivably be falsely manipulated or misinterpreted. Therefore, investors and other business professionals using this product’s database should always attempt to cross-reference their results with other credible sources. Summing Up: Recommended. With reservations. All readership levels. —C. E. Geck, independent scholar
SBDCNet, from the Small Business Development Center Network and U.S. Small Business Administration.
[Visited Jul’17] The SBDCNet is an excellent one-stop, comprehensive resource that aims to help both new entrants and existing business owners with research about small-business prospects. The site proclaims its goal to provide information resources to its 1,100-plus member network of Small Business Development Centers located in all 50 states as well as Guam and Puerto Rico, which operates as the national information clearinghouse of the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). In addition to the freely accessible website, SBDCNet also can help small-to-midsize community-development agencies as well as small-business owners who are clients of the SBA by producing financial, market, and demographic research reports customized to industry and geographic locations.
The Small Business Market Research Reports section includes information on topics ranging from startup costs to business plans, competition, running expenses, employment and industry trends, and so on. New reports are added every month, and the site hosts an archive for the entire collection. The site also has a Start Your Business Now call-out box; categories on pull-down menus are labeled Help Center, Industry Links, and Research Market Reports. The latter category provides “snapshots” of various small business enterprises (e.g., bed and breakfasts, bike shops, farmer’s markets, legal services, etc.). Although the reports identify their authors, most are undated and mainly cite resources from the mid-2000 period; newer reports include the date of analysis as part of the title (e.g., “Daycare Business 2017”). One can find, with some exploratory effort, information on business plans, corporate information, federal procurement, import-export help, and tips on advertising and marketing. The site also highlights an Entrepreneur News feed that was not functioning at the time of review. Despite some organizational challenges for users, the site offers fine resources for people wanting to start a new small business or expand an existing one. Summing Up: Recommended. All libraries. All levels. —A. B. Sarangapani, Lone Star College-Tomball
Socialism on Film: The Cold War and International Propaganda, Module 1: Wars & Revolutions. Adam Matthew, 2017. Contact publisher for pricing (based on FTE, purchase history, and Carnegie Classification); a typical one-time purchase with nominal hosting fee (0.5% of purchase price) ranges from $16,500.00 to $55,000.00.
[Visited Jul’17] This module is the first of three collections of British Film Institute productions—this one offering ETV–Plato Films produced in the communist world and dating from the Russian Revolution to the 1980s. Created as English-language versions and intended for viewing in the West, this film collection is part of a small body of valuable resources that can offer foreign historical perspectives to monolingual English speakers. The first module, Wars & Revolutions, chronicles the conflicts of the 20th century; it will be followed by modules titled Newsreels & Magazines in 2018 and . in 2019.
Geographically, most of the films offered here are from or about the former Soviet Union, although there are also a substantial number from Vietnam, China, Latin America, and the former East Germany. The collection consists of documentaries, newsreels, and feature films ranging in duration from 23 seconds to more than an hour. The metadata are good, including the country and year of production as well as the countries and years of the subject matter—allowing one to distinguish search criteria and find, for example, a film produced in Czechoslovakia in 1962 about Germany during World War II. Transcripts are available for all films except the silent ones, which significantly aids in searchability. One can find keywords in transcripts using the Search Results tab, while a Snapshots feature displays the timing and links from still images to the transcripts. The freely accessible British Film Institute website (CH, Jan’15, 52-2296) at bfi.org.uk/archive-collections offers comparable searching of metadata in archival records for many of the same films held in its vast collection, although there are no transcripts and one cannot view the films themselves.
In addition to the compelling film content, the collection is well documented with helpful essays, case studies, interviews, and maps throughout, plus a Chronology section with informative details arrayed along a time line interspersed with clips from the films. The viewing interface works well, although trying to drag the play head to skip through content resulted in some freezing up of the player. A full-screen option is available, which is helpful for classroom viewing. An email address is provided for copyright inquiries—a very helpful addition for those documentary filmmakers who might make use of this fantastic collection. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Undergraduates through professionals/practitioners. —J. A. Knapp, Penn State University
Vanderbilt Television News Archive, from Vanderbilt University Libraries.
[Revisited Jul’17] Is seeing believing? In a world in which facts dance on the heads of pins, observers need backup. For nearly 50 years, the Vanderbilt Television News Archive (CH, Sep’07, 45-0111) has offered access to commercial network journalism. Since 1968, staff at Vanderbilt University Libraries have been collecting and indexing the news broadcasts and news specials of ABC, CBS, and NBC, adding representative coverage from CNN, Fox News, Al Jazeera America, and MSNBC as they entered the fray. Researchers can access collections from the home page’s “This Day in History” pane or from nine topical sections that slice across the national consciousness: Space Exploration, Weather, Sports, War, Medicine, Personal Computing & Technology, The Arts, Protests, or Celebrities.
Beyond the browsable lists, one can use keyword or advanced search to narrow a subject to a specific date or date range, reporter or anchor, and network, sorting results by relevance or date. Even the ads are included in these video recordings, offering an additional window into the time period. A date search allows scanning entire broadcasts, seeing the topics covered and time allotted to each topic. A typical entry begins with the scripted title for a segment, network, day and date, and notes of the contents with last names capitalized for faster scanning. Entries conclude with anchor and/or reporter and story duration—rarely more than three minutes long. At this time, sponsoring (subscribing) institutions have instant access; others have the option to request a loan of a broadcast for a fee. If faculty or students are looking for background or guidance, there is a 150-item annotated bibliography. Some days in the past five decades are uncovered, and others have coverage provided by only a single network. The new interface, long in beta-test phase, offers intuitive discovery and delivery options for all users. Summing Up: Highly recommended. All libraries. All levels. —D. A. Schmitt, St. Louis Community College at Meramec
Women’s Studies Archive: Women’s Issues and Identities. Gale, part of Cengage Learning, 2017. Academic pricing based on FTE ranges starts at $6,575.00 for two-year institutions or $9,700.00 for four-year institutions, with annual hosting fee.
[Visited Jul’17] Released in March 2017, Women’s Issues and Identities is the first online collection available in Gale’s Women’s Studies Archive, a new addition to the Gale Primary Sources platform. The database provides full-text access to a variety of primary sources focused on women’s history, political, and social issues in the 19th and 20th centuries, with sources dating from 1775 to 1998. The database’s 14 collections gather material totaling more than a million pages from various sources, including Planned Parenthood Federation of America records (1918–74), Swarthmore College’s records of the Women’s Peace Union (1921–40), and the UK-based Women’s Labour League’s conference reports and journals (1906–77). While global in scope and including materials originating from several countries in multiple languages, the textual sources are mostly in English and predominantly come from the US, England, and Western Europe. Its subject coverage is wide, including women in the labor movement, women in the church, women’s sexuality, gender identity and expression, women’s involvement in war efforts, and the history of birth control.
The interface is clean and usable, with a default full-text keyword search that works well for exploratory searching, and an advanced search that supports more targeted searching by publication title, language, author, subject, etc. Limiters on the advanced search are easy to understand and allow users to select content type and dates or date ranges, and to explore the database by collections and source libraries. After opening a retrieved document, the search terms are highlighted within the text, and a pane displays a linked list of all pages containing matches. The option to search further within the document is especially useful, as many of the collection’s sources are lengthy and may include multiple pieces of correspondence or clippings. Users may page through sources using navigation arrows, or may jump to specific pages by entering page numbers. The interface makes printing and downloading in PDF format simple, and users may employ the downloadable Optical Character Recognition (OCR) option to download searchable TXT files.
This online archive provides content that is unique, rich, and highly relevant to historical research as well as to current conversations about politics, social issues, and women’s health. The interface will be familiar to users of other Gale Primary Sources databases—like the recent American Fiction, 1774–1920 (CH, Jul’17, 54-4969) or Archives of Sexuality & Gender: LGBTQ History and Culture since 1940 (CH, May’17, 54-4067). The platform makes discovering relevant primary sources easy for novice researchers while also giving more control to experienced scholars, facilitating discovery of common themes and issues across archival collections. Researchers interested in the history of feminism and women’s movements, as well as those in women’s studies-related interdisciplinary programs, will find this database tremendously valuable. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Undergraduates through professionals/practitioners. —E. A. Nicol, Washington State University
Selected reviews of digital reference resources from the April issue of Choice.
Posted on in Internet Resources
Selected reviews of digital reference resources from the March issue of Choice.
Posted on in Internet Resources
Selected reviews of digital reference resources from the February issue of Choice.
Posted on in Internet Resources
Selected reviews of digital reference resources from the January issue of Choice.
Posted on in Internet Resources