Category Archives: Reference Question of the Week

Reference Question of the Week: How do I find information on private companies?

It’s often a challenge to find information on private companies. Sometimes it is virtually impossible. Sometimes you can nearly as much information as if they were a publicly traded company. When I’m looking for information on a private company, here are the resources I use.

1. Their website. I look for whatever I can on their website. Especially the names of executives or founders. I also look to see if I can discern the legal name of the corporation. Sometimes the commonly known name is the DBA (Doing Business As) name, and the name you really want is the name under which the company is incorporated. (For example, the nonprofit Glazer Children’s Museum is easier to research once you learn that the official name of the nonprofit is the Glazer Family Foundation.)

2. News. I search through Google News, and through sources like Access World News, Lexis Nexis, and American City Business Journals. The last three sources are available through the list of UT databases (be sure to log in to Esearch first).

3. Department of State websites. Just as the United States has a Department of State, so do most states. Typically the Department of State within the state oversees the incorporation of businesses within the state.

4. Privco. This is a new database we added that collects information about private businesses. It’s strongest when it comes to businesses considering an IPO. However, I always search this database for every private business I research. (Currently Privco is only in our list of Databases. It has not been added to the Esearch yet, and so is only accessible within the library.)

5. ReferenceUSA. This is another database available through the library.

It helps if you spend a little time before your research thinking about the information you’re looking for. Jot down the key information you’re hoping to find. This will help guide you through your search. (Examples of information you might be looking for: CEO, Address, state of incorporation (i.e. Florida? Delaware? California?), DBA names, subsidiary names, names of executives, earnings, expenses, number of employees, etc.)

Reference Question of the Week: Where can I find scholarly articles about popular TV shows?

As always, make sure to first log into Esearch. Your Esearch username and password is the same as your Spartan Domain username and password. By logging into Esearch you can access the databases from anywhere in the world.

My first choice for an example topic was American Horror Story. This series has only been on the air for one season, and after searching in four databases and finding nothing, I decided to select another television show. Keep in mind that scholarly publication is slow. So, older television shows, and shows with a lot of critical acclaim and popularity, will be more likely to be covered in scholarly journals.

My next choice was Twin Peaks, an early 1990s series created and directed by David Lynch.

I found a substantial number of results in ProQuest. I’ll scan through several of the front page results to help me think through the topic and/or research question I want to address in my paper.

I searched through several other databases, but only found a handful of items in Academic Search Complete, Project Muse, and JSTOR.

Keep in mind that I was only looking for peer-reviewed articles about that show. Other items you might consider for your research are reviews of the show. (I used LexisNexis to find early reviews of the show. I used the term “twin peaks” in quotation marks, then added the name Lynch. I then used the drop down menu next to the sort tool to sort from oldest to newest. That way I got reviews of the television show from when it was first aired.)

Also, don’t forget to search our online catalog. I searched hoping we might have a book on David Lynch. We didn’t, but it turns out we have the DVD of the television series.

Don’t despair if you don’t find sources immediately. Dead ends are a part of the research process. If you check the databases mentioned above and still don’t find anything, stop by the reference desk and ask one of our librarians for help.

Reference Question of the Week: Locating articles for an education class

There is often, unbeknownst to students, a secret syllabus. The syllabus may require that you find an article, but beyond finding useful information the purpose of the assignment is to expose you to the databases and the challenges of research. Sometimes, in the effort to challenge the students by requiring them to work through difficult research questions, professors end up challenging librarians as much as the students.

Recently, an assignment for a 300-level education class ended up challenging all the librarians. The professor tasked the students with locating peer-reviewed, scholarly articles dealing with the “reading endorsement competencies” that Florida uses to gauge the progress of English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL).

For example, the students were expected to find an article discussing how writing enhances the development of oral language.

This is not a particularly easy topic to research because the there are only a few key terms, and they’re somewhat vague. However, for this RQotW I’m not going to spend a lot of time leading you through the databases to find suitable articles. Instead, I want to write a little bit about some search strategies to keep in mind when you’re faced with a challenging assignment.

FRUSTRATION – Research is often frustrating. I’ve been researching for many years and I still find myself occasionally frustrated. One of the things I’ve learned is to trust the process. I’ve done enough research to know that the early parts of researching any topic are filled with dead ends. This is part of the process. There is a maze you have to work your way through, and you’re going to reach moments where it’s clear you need to go back to the beginning start again. If you know this, that the early parts of your search won’t bear any fruit, then you can plan accordingly. Keep your frustration to a minimum by starting your research early.

READ – There’s no getting around it. You are going to have to read. And, you’re going to have to read things that don’t make it into your final research project. If I were in the education class I’d start doing some background reading if I didn’t start finding peer-reviewed, scholarly articles pretty quickly. If I looked through 3 databases, and spent at least 10 minutes in each, and didn’t find some good research, I’d realize I needed to take a step back and do some background reading.

SYNONYMS – While you read to gain background knowledge and familiarity with the topic, you also read to pick up different ways of phrasing your search. You want to look for synonyms and alternative keywords. While you read look for unique terms that will help you with the next spin through the database. Names of researchers can often be useful search terms. Sometimes you can generate more terms by exercises like mind-mapping. I frequently use the subject headings for all the articles I find during my searches to help me find new terms. The richest resource for ideas on furthering your search is reading through articles. Sometimes you have to read, even if you don’t end up using those articles in your research. There’s no substitute for a working knowledge of your topic.

One secret of research is that you almost never find the perfect article right off the bat. You find something close, and then use that information to find another source that’s still closer, and then use that information to get to the information you’re looking for.

Research is a skill. And, like any skill, it can be improved with repetition. Eventually, when you’ve mastered the art of research you’ll have confidence in your ability, and dead ends and false starts will be less frustrating. Just keep in mind that there is a process, and if you trust the process, you’ll eventually have success.

Reference Question of the Week: Where can I find information on controversial topics?

An assignment we see regularly asks students to write a paper in opposition to, or in support of, a controversial topic. Sometimes the students are allowed to choose whether to write in support or in opposition, and sometimes that decision is made by the professor.

Students can be stressed when asked to write an argument that contradicts their personal beliefs. However, knowing your opponent’s argument is just as important as knowing your own. The first step in writing a successful argument is being able to describe your opponent’s argument in such a way that they say you have fairly represented their point. Once they agree that you understand their argument, then you can explain why it’s wrong by presenting your own facts, evidence, and cogent argument.

Many of the databases we have are not particularly suited for these sorts of assignments. If you’re looking for various points of view, and opinion pieces, you typically do not want to search in databases full of peer-reviewed research. You may use those databases to collect facts and evidence to support your argument, but often the research can be too specific.

The two databases I recommend first for locating information about controversial topics are Opposing Viewpoints in Context (listed as Opposing Viewpoints Resource Center on our Databases page) and CQ Researcher. (As always, be sure you’re logged into Esearch before searching these databases.)

Opposing Viewpoints in Context is a great starting point when researching controversial topics. When I use this resource I prefer to start with the Browse Issues button rather than using the search box. If I can find something in the Browse Issues list then it is formatted in an easy-to-use style. (If I can’t find something useful in Browse Issues page, then I use the search box.) Once you click on the Browse Issues link, then choose View All from the Choose a Category dropdown menu. Now, see if your topic is available on this page.

A caveat about using Opposing Viewpoints. What Opposing Viewpoints means by academic journals and what librarians mean by academic journals are two different things. They mean a journal with rigorous editorial standards, while we mean something that has been through the peer-review process (to learn more about the difference between different kinds of journals, magazines, and periodicals see The Difference Between a Journal and a Magazine). Ultimately, any decisions about whether a resource is appropriate is up to your professor, so always check with him or her if you have any questions.

The second place I visit when looking for information on contentious issues is CQ Researcher. CQ Researcher is like a thorough Wikipedia article, but one that is edited and reliable. Entries are usually long and include background information, pro and con arguments, a chronology, charts, graphs, and statistics, explanations of the debates, as well as recommended books and articles for further research. Recent entries include reports on genetically modified foods, treating ADHD, whale hunting, gambling in America, and alcohol abuse. There are hundreds of other topics in addition to the ones I mentioned.

And if you’re still frustrated you can stop by and visit with one of our reference librarians. We have librarians at the Reference Desk to answer your questions from 8am 9pm, Monday through Thursday; 8am to 5pm on Fridays; 10am to 6pm on Saturday, and 1pm to 9pm on Sunday.

Reference Question of the Week

One of the regular features of this blog is the Reference Question of the Week (RQotW). Throughout the semester reference questions come in clusters as classes work on their assignments. Since we know that not everyone asks at the reference desk we post the most frequent reference questions here at the blog. If it’s a slow week we might post the most intriguing reference question of the week.

This semester the Reference Question of the Week will usually be posted on Wednesdays. Don’t forget to use the search box in the right-hand column to see if your question was answered in a previous semester.

Here are some previous reference questions of the week —

Why Won’t My Password Work?

How do I evaluate companies and industries for investment purposes?

How do I find information about different countries?

How do I find tax cases and revenue rulings in IntelliConnect?

Where can I find the FASB accounting standards codification and information on Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP)?

Where can I find scientific articles on how spices affect foodborne pathogens?

How can I find demographic data?

How can I find a SWOT analysis?

Where can I locate the laws of specific states?

Where can I find Key Business Ratios?

Where can I find information on genetically engineering humans?

How do I find information on food cultures?

If you have a question about research stop by the Reference Desk to ask a librarian, or ask a question in comments, or ask at our Facebook page.

Reference Question of the Week: How do I find information on food cultures?

How can I find information on different food cultures?

Every culture has different ways of cultivating, preparing, consuming, and sharing food. What you eat is determined by your cultural surroundings, as is when you eat, how you eat, and with whom you eat. Learning about the cultural expectations surrounding food helps shine a light on different ways of living.

To learn more about food cultures first check the online catalog to see if we have a book on the food of the culture that interests you. Using ‘food’ and ‘culture’ as my search terms I immediately hit on a series of e-books (you must be logged into Esearch to access the content of these titles):

Food culture in the Mediterranean [electronic resource] by Carol Helstosky.
Food culture in France [electronic resource] by Julia Abramson.
Food culture in Great Britain [electronic resource] by Laura Mason.
Food culture in China [electronic resource] by Jacqueline M. Newman.
Food culture in Italy [electronic resource] by Fabio Parasecoli.
Food culture in India [electronic resource] by Colleen Taylor Sen.
Food culture in sub-Saharan Africa [electronic resource] by Fran Osseo-Asare.
Food culture in Russia and Central Asia [electronic resource] by Glenn R. Mack and Asele Surina.
Food culture in South America [electronic resource] by José Rafael Lovera ; translated by Ainoa Larrauri.
Food culture in Mexico [electronic resource] by Janet Long-Solís and Luis Alberto Vargas.
Food culture in the Near East, Middle East, and North Africa [electronic resource] by Peter Heine.
Food culture in Japan [electronic resource] by Michael Ashkenazi and Jeanne Jacob.
Food culture in Spain [electronic resource] by F. Xavier Medina.
Food culture in the Caribbean by Lynn Marie Houston.
Food culture in Scandinavia by Henry Notaker.

You might also want to look through an encyclopedia like —

Encyclopedia of food and culture [electronic resource] by Solomon H. Katz, editor in chief & William Woys Weaver, associate editor.

Or, some of these reference books located in the Global Issues Carrel (the table full of books immediately to your right upon entering the library):

The Ethnic Food Lover Companion: understanding the cuisines of the world.
The Oxford companion to Food, 2nd ed.
The Cambridge World History of Food, V. 1 & V. 2
What The World Eats
Food & Culture

Searching for food cultures is one of the times when generating synonyms really pays off. In addition to food, be sure to search for cuisine, and culinary. In addition to food culture, be sure to search for food habits, and/or cooking. You might also consider browsing our shelves. Most food culture books will be found under the TX call number. (Call numbers are the alpha-numeric code we place on the spine of every book. Our collection is alphabetized by the letters on the spines of the books.)

If you want to start with different types of food you can also start with books. We have a variety of books covering foods like sugar, coffee, pizza, vanilla, cod, salt, garlic, and pie.

Some of the databases to start with are World Folklife and Folklore, Academic Search Complete, ProQuest, Sage, JSTOR, SocIndex, Social Sciences, Daily Life Online, and ScienceDirect. Be sure you are logged into Esearch to access these databases.

Reference Question of the Week: Where can I find information on genetically engineering humans?

When it comes to looking for information on contentious or controversial issues there are two databases at the top of my list – CQ Researcher and Opposing Viewpoints in Context (formerly Opposing Viewpoints Resource Center). I also always check for books on the subject.

Be sure to login to Esearch before beginning your research. You can find both of these databases on the databases page.

At Opposing Viewpoints I always like to check the Issues tab to see if they’ve already made a page for my topic. The search engine will work as well, but finding a page already laid out makes my research easier.

In this case they have a page on genetic engineering. On this page I have access to OpEds (opinion editorials) both supporting and opposing genetic engineering. I will also find statistics, scholarly articles, news articles about my topic, magazine articles, and websites. Often there will also be video and audio news reports.

At CQ Researcher when I search for genetic engineering my top result is “Genes and Health,” but as I scan the top results I see an entry for “Designer Humans,” which seems more on topic. Even though the report on “Designer Humans” is from 2001 one of the nice things about CQ Researcher is that it provides a list of related reports. So, even if the report you find is a little dated the list of related reports will let you see if a more recent report is available. In this case the newer related reports cover the “Cloning Debate,” “Reproductive Ethics,” and “Genes and Health,” all of which might help provide more information. At the end of each report a short bibliography is included which will guide you to books, articles, and websites on the topic.

There are a few things I’m looking for when I start doing background research on a broad topic like this. First, I’m looking for unique words, short phrases, and people’s names I can use for search terms. I’m also constantly generating questions that I’ll want to answer. Some of the questions I will want to answer are straightforward factual questions (maybe about the history of genetic splicing, or the first mammal to be cloned). But, I’m also working on coming up with a viable research question, or a question I can turn into a thesis statement. “Is it possible to clone humans?” for example will prompt me to ask the factual question “What is cloning” and may lead to a thesis like “Cloning has many health care benefits,” or “Cloning creates a dangerous precedent.”

In addition to searching the above databases I will also look in the online catalog to see if the library holds a book on the topic that interests me.

At the online catalog I search first for genetic engineering. I see that I’m getting a lot of government documents, but what I really want is a book I can check out, so I restrict my search (by using the ‘Quick Limit’ drop down menu on the right-hand side of my search results) to Main collection. This will restrict my search to only those books books on the second floor that can be checked out.

When I scan the new results list I see (by looking at the dates on the right-hand side) that the top results are older than I’d like. I use the ‘Sort by’ drop-down menu to re-sort from newest to oldest. Now I see several books I want to take a look at: Mutation: The History of an Idea From Darwin to Genomics by Elof Axel Carlson, Gene Control by David S. Latchman, and Human Performance Enhancement in High-risk Environments: Insights, Developments, and Future Directions From Military Research edited by Paul E. O’Connor and Joseph V. Cohn. I’ll go look for these books on the second floor of the library. Sometimes the book may not be exactly what I’m looking for, but I’m always careful to look at the other books I find nearby. Often one of those books will hold some of the information I’m looking for.

And, as always, if you need more help finding information don’t hesitate to ask one of the librarians at the Reference Desk or send me an email — David Davisson.

Reference Question of the Week: Where can I find Key Business Ratios?

Mergent recently purchased Key Business Ratios (a database that provides… wait for it… key business ratios) from Dunn & Bradstreet.

We’ve had Key Business Ratios in our collection of databases for quite some time, but the switchover has made the page look a little odd.

First, make sure that you’re logging in through Esearch. When you select Key Business Ratios it looks like you need to log in again using the fields on the left-hand side of the page. You do not. There’s a lot of red text in the center of the page with some links. Read that text and follow the link provided. Then there will be another page where you have to press a ‘Continue’ button before finally reaching the Key Business Ratios page.

KBR is easiest to use if you know the SIC code (the Standard Industrial Classification code pre-dates the NAICS, and is obviously still used by some databases). You can also use the Line of Business drop-down menu, but sometimes the Line of Business is not readily obvious. Restaurants, for example, are categorized under Eating Places.

Reference Question of the Week: Where can I locate the laws of specific states?

There are a variety of ways to access this information.

At Justia you can find codes, statutes, and regulations for every state in the United States. There is no search engine to search specifically within the codes and regulations of a particular state, but there is a search engine which will search all of the material at Justia. This is a free site. Codes, statutes, and regulations for all 50 states (as well as federal law) are freely available. There is a premium version available to law firms which provides help with marketing.

“Based in the heart of Silicon Valley, Justia’s mission is to advance the availability of legal resources for the benefit of society. We are especially focused on making primary legal materials and community resources free and easy to find on the Internet. The company provides Internet users with free case law, codes, regulations, legal articles and legal blog and twitter databases, as well as additional community resources. Justia works with educational, public interest and other socially focused organizations to bring legal and consumer information to the online community.”

You can also access State Statutes, Codes & Regulations through LexisNexis, a proprietary databases to which the Macdonald Kelce Library pays a fee. To use this database log in through Esearch. When you find LexisNexis in the list of databases look on the left-hand side for the tab titled US Legal. Click on that tab. Then choose the link titled State Statutes, Codes & Regulations. A drop-down menu on this page provides you with a list of states so you may choose the state you want to search.

You can also typically find state statutes at the official site of their legislature (though each state decides how to make their statues available, and so the way laws are made available will differ from state to state). For example, Florida’s statutes can be found here: http://www.leg.state.fl.us/statutes/.

And, you can usually find print copies in law libraries and in large public libraries and some university libraries. Call first or check their online catalogs.

There are a variety of groups working to make the law (and supporting documents, like court opinions) easier to access. You can read about their attempt to create a law.gov site here.

Reference Question of the Week: How can I find a SWOT analysis?

A SWOT analysis is typically used as a way to think about a business or nonprofit, though it can be used for a variety of situations or projects. SWOT stands for Strength, Weakness, Opportunity, and Threat.

In Business Source Complete (be sure you’re logged into Esearch first) look at the top of the page for the word ‘More’ with an downward facing arrow next to it. Hover your mouse over this link and you should be given five choices, select ‘Company Profiles.’

The Company Profiles page provides you with information from Datamonitor and Life Science Analytics Company Profiles. Datamonitor includes SWOT analyses. To see if a SWOT analysis is available for a company you’re interested in use the search box to search for that company. For example, a search for Google brings up Google, Inc. as a result. I can click on the .PDF to get the Datamonitor report, or I can click on the Google link to take me to a page that gives me several options for finding information on that company, including a link to the Datamonitor report.

You can also use the ‘Company Information’ link at the top to search for a company. Once you find the company, click on it and you’ll be taken to a page that shows you several ways to find information on that company. On the left-hand side you’ll see a box for related information, which may include a SWOT analysis. NOTE: Not all companies will have a SWOT analysis available in Business Source Complete.

Sometimes you can find what you’re looking for simply by entering SWOT as a keyword along with the company you’re researching in the basic search of Business Source Complete.

SWOT analyses are also available in Business & Company Resource Center. Search for your company under ‘Company Search.’ Many, but not all, companies will have a SWOT analysis, often represented as a button that reads DOWNLOAD S.W.O.T. If you click on the ‘Search Now’ link under Company search in the horizontal column of search choices (instead of using Company Search in the drop down menu from the front page’s Quick Search) the page you are taken to has a check box so you can restrict your search to ‘Only search companies with S.W.O.T. PDF’.