April 18, 2009

Need help with citations? APA, MLA, Chicago & more

If you need help with your citations, there is help available!

The first place to check is called QuickStudy: Citing Sources. This online guide is available through the library website and offers general information on how to recognize and avoid plagiarism and how to cite sources using the three most common styles at the U of M which are: APA, MLA and Chicago.

The QuickStudy tutorial is available at: http://tutorial.lib.umn.edu/infomachine2367.html

Refworks citation manager


What is a citation manager?

A citation manager can help you track the citations for the articles and books that you plan on using in your research. It can provide links directly back to online sources so that you don't have to run a search for that article or website every time you want to look for the information. It can also help you format your bibliography/references page correctly.


How do I get a Refworks account?

You can sign up for a Refworks account online at: http://www.lib.umn.edu/site/refworks.phtml. It only takes a minute or two and the account is created immediately.

How much does it cost?

If you are a student at the U of M then the Refworks account is provided to you free of charge.

What does it do?

Refworks allows you to save time in formatting your citations, keeps track of your citations for you and many databases at the U of M are directly linked to Refworks making exporting your citations into your account quick and simple.


March 9, 2009

Have you seen the new assignment calculator?

The new Assignment Calculator [Beta] adds more features and different types of assignment templates. Now students can customize their assignment calculator by deleting steps that may not be required for a particular assignment or even choosing a different template style. For example, there is a new template just for lab reports!

The new assignment calculator can be found here.


The old assignment calculator was primarily for research papers and divided the research and writing into 12 steps.


From the Undergraduate Virtual library page, you can find both the old assignment calculator and a link to the new Assignment Calculator.


Using the Full text finder to find online or print copies of articles

The full text finder tool is located at: http://www.lib.umn.edu/undergrad/

To use the Full text finder tool you are required to enter the journal name. For example, if you want to find online or print copies of the journal called "Adult education" you would type "Adult Education" in the journal name text box.

If you were looking for a specific article in that journal you could type additional information in the other text boxes such as the author or the year.

Once you fill out the text boxes click "Go" and you will be taken to the Find it page which will list possible journal matches.


If your journal is not available online, you may need to check for print.


Before visiting a library in search of a print copy of the journal you will want to make sure that they carry the year, volume and issue that you are looking for:

mncat holdings.JPG

March 8, 2009

Advanced Search Techniques: Proximity Searching

Proximity Searching

Few indexes have automatic phrase searching, but most will have proximity connectors that locate words together or allow you to specify a distance and order in which you want the terms to appear. Enter the symbol followed by a number for the distance between terms. Include spaces between terms and proximity connectors.


Special w1 education = will only find the phrase “Special Education” where the words are next to each other and only in the order specified by your search

w1 finds terms within one word of each other

Nobel n4 Prize = Nobel Peace Prize, Nobel prize winners, Prize winners for the Nobel

n# finds terms within an article abstract with the words in any order

Click here to visit MN-CAT Plus and try out your new search techniques!

Advanced Search Techniques: Wildcards & Masking

Masking and Wildcard Symbols

Wildcard symbols are used for masking a string of characters in your search term. Masking is useful when a word has different spellings, is hyphenated, if you are uncertain about the spelling, and for capturing plurals or specific endings.

humo#r = humor, humour

Use # for alternative spellings within a word

birth! = birth, births BUT NOT birthdays, birthing

Use ! for one character

facilit!!! = facility, facilities BUT NOT facilitation

Use one ! per character

These symbols can be used in MN-CAT Plus as well as many of the article databases at the U. Some databases assign a different symbol so be sure to check each database as you search.

Click here to go to MN-CAT Plus and try out these search techniques.

March 2, 2009

Advanced Search Techniques: How to use Boolean operators to find better scholarly articles

Boolean operators: AND, OR, NOT

Hopefully most of us are familiar with using "AND" in between search terms, but did you know that you can also use terms such as "OR" and "NOT" in between search terms in order to improve your search results?


IMPORTANT: When searching the U library databases it is important that you either type the word "AND" in between search terms or else choose it from a drop down. If you simply type a series of search terms in the text box the library databases will treat those words as a phrase and will only return results with that exact phrase in the tile and/or abstract.



When you want to expand your search results the boolean operator "OR" can be very helpful. For example, you might try searching for children OR teen OR kids OR youth. The term OR will search the title and abstract and return results that have any of those terms.


The boolean operator "NOT" is extremely useful when your topic or search term may be closely related to another topic and the majority of the results you are getting are not what you are looking for. For example, one might search violence NOT war if doing a search on school violence in order to weed out the many war-related articles.

For more information on boolean operators there is a great tutorial at: http://fcit.usf.edu/connect/files/frames.htm Once at the web tutorial visit the module called "Advanced Searching"

February 21, 2009

Have a question? Chat online with a librarian here!

If the Ask For Help Chat box is not active, send us an email message.

February 2, 2009

Find it! How to get the full-text of online articles

Find It! helps you locate the full text copy of your article!


When searching an article database you may see articles that are directly linked to the full text. These are labeled "html" or "pdf". When the article is not directly linked to the database you are searching, the U of M libraries may still own an electronic copy or a print copy elsewhere. If this is the case you should use the "Find It!" link to search all available resources. Often the full text of the article that you found is only a click or two away!

Tips:• Find It will connect you to a copy of your article.
• Find It will search for an electronic copy of your article in additional article indexes.
• Not online? Click on the "availability" link in MN-CAT Plus to see if the library owns the journal volume in which your article has been published in print.

How to find subject specfic article indexes for a research paper

Don't know where to start? Research Quickstart!

Research Quickstart is a great tool available online at http://www.lib.umn.edu/undergrad/.

All you have to know to use this tool is the topic that your paper might fall under. For example, a paper on "Adult Education" might fall under the heading "Education". A paper on "Environmental Change" might fall under several headings such as "Environmental Health", "Environmental Policy", or even "Government Information, US."


Once you've chosen a heading the Research Quickstart tool will give you a list of general and subject-specific article databases that will have scholarly articles on your chosen topic.



General database: A general database will have a variety of scholarly and popular articles across many different subject or topic areas. Academic Search Premier is an example of a general database.

Subject-Specific database: A subject-specific database will have a variety of scholarly articles across a small set of subjects or topics that are usually related. For example, Business Source Premier will have articles relating to business. This database would not have unrelated topics such as music, dance, medicine. science etc...it is a specialized database of articles concentrating on business only.

To review this process you can find a tutorial called Finding Article Indexes

MN-CAT now called MN-CAT Plus

MN-CAT (the U of M library catalog) is now MN-CAT Plus


MN-CAT Plus introduces new search functions, images of books, the new "Get it" system and a beta version of an article tab and article search functions.

• MN-CAT Plus, the library’s online catalog, can be searched to find books, journals, magazines, newspapers, maps, documents, CD’s, and videos that the U of M library owns. The online catalog can be accessed at http://www.lib.umn.edu. There is now limited article search functions within MN-CAT Plus, but you may still want to use the journals catalog to be sure to find all available articles.


• Click on the link “In the U of M Library��? to find out if the book has been checked out. In MN-CAT Plus green type indicates a copy of the item may be available, while red type indicates that all copies are currently unavailable.



• MN-CAT Plus DOES NOT search for article titles or article authors. There is a new tab called "articles", but currently it only searches a limited number of article databases.

• Click on "Online Access" to find out if the library owns the full text of an article and it is available online. If you are a U of M student there is no charge to access most articles.

• Not available online? Click on the title, then the library name to find out what issues of a newspaper, magazine, or journal the library owns in print.

• If you find your issue number in either the summary or the description of the record the library does own the article in print.

January 29, 2009

Unravel the Libraries

The Unravel Workshops consist of three different workshop lasting one hour and fifteen minutes each.


Unravel 1: Orientation to the Libraries & Tour of Wilson Library
This is a very basic hands on workshop designed to highlight services and resources the Libraries offer. It also includes a physical tour of Wilson Library. Students at the end of the workshop are able to:

*Locate resources and services found on the Libraries’ homepage and the Undergraduate Virtual Library page
*Search for specific books and periodicals and identify the library location and call number



Unravel 2: The Research Process - Finding Books and Articles

The Libraries have offered this workshop over a 1,000 times and carefully monitor results of a brief multiple choice test given at the end of the workshop. Students consistently score 80% or better on this test.

Upon completion of this workshop students should be able to:

*Identify appropriate subject specific article indexes
*Effectively search for articles given a specific topic
*Effectively use “Find It��? to locate a copy of a given article
*Identify whether an article is considered scholarly or not



Unravel 3: Beyond the Basics - Advanced Searching

This workshop expands upon knowledge and skills gained in Unravel 2. Participants learn both the art and science of advanced searching techniques. By the end of the workshop they will be able to:

*Construct a simple database record
*Use advanced searching strategies (limiting, truncation, and Boolean operators)
*Construct a coherent search strategy