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Due to the holiday, the Ask A Librarian service will be unavailable Friday, December 24.

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Finding law journal articles

The library has a very good source of law journal articles – Westlaw Campus – but due to the unique way that database is organized, those articles are “invisible” unless you’re already inside that database.
There are a few tricks to using Westlaw, so I’m going to summarize the steps for finding law journal articles right here:
  1. Get into the database. Go to the library web site and click All Databases By Title. Scroll all the way down and click Westlaw Campus. Log in if you’re prompted to.
  2. In the options below the search boxes, click the checkbox for Journals and Law Reviews and then use the pull-down menu to select All Journals and Law Reviews.

  • Go back up to the search boxes and enter your keywords.
  • Scroll all the way down to the bottom of the page and click the Search button there.
  • In your search results screen, the actual journal title, article title, and author are printed underneath the citation number, which is a link to the full-text.This is what the search results page looks like:

  • Law journal articles are often over 100 pages long (don’t worry – most of it is footnotes!) Do not print the full-text before you check how long it is! But if you do decide to print it, or better yet, e-mail it to yourself, the links are in the top right corner of the page.

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    Due to the holiday, the Ask A Librarian service will be unavailable Thursday, November 25.

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    Doing library research can be intimidating just because there are so many places to search for different kinds of information resources (e-books, articles, videos, data) on different topics.
    Some day we’ll have achieved a level of technology where you can say, “Computer, give me three articles about PTSD among fire fighters!” and it will know exactly what you want and customize your results based on your known interests and preferences… that day is still far in the future. Not so much because of the technology, which is practically there already, but because of the laws and business considerations that restrict the sharing of content.
    In the mean time, we have Subject Guides. These are mini-websites that the librarians put together to make it easier to do research. Subject Guides bring together all the different search tools and sources that are useful for a particular subject area or family of topics, and they organize those tools and sources by type. In every Subject Guide you will find tabs for Reference, Journal Articles, Books, Multimedia and Web Sites. Under each tab will be various search tools and resources, each with a brief but useful description.
    You’ll also find a chat box so you can ask a librarian any question that occurs to you while you work.
    It’s important to note that the Subject Guide is not the place for you to do the actual keyword searching. With a few exceptions, it doesn’t contain any useful content in itself. What it does is link you to the places that you can go to search.
    To get to the Subject Guides, either go to http://subjectguides.esc.edu/all, or go to the library web site and click the link for Resources By Subject.

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    Help citing your sources

    Citing your sources in the form of in-text citations (footnotes, endnotes, and parenthetical references) and a bibliography or works cited can be complicated.
    First of all, there are the different citation styles. There are two major ones, APA and MLA. In addition, sometimes you’ll be asked to use Chicago style for history and CSE for the sciences.
    Then there are the different types of sources that can be cited:
    • book
    • journal article
    • web site
    • movie
    • musical recording
    • interview transcript
    • letters
    • online or “electronic” versions of the above

    Then there are the questions of when it’s required or appropriate to cite:

    • direct quotes (yes, always)
    • you have to cite paraphrases but when does it stop being a paraphrase and start being your original work?
    • you have to cite facts but you don’t have to cite common knowledge, so how do you tell which is which?
    • do you cite at the end of a whole paragraph or after each tidbit of information?
    Citing is high stakes because if you do it wrong, you can get in trouble for plagiarism even if you didn’t mean to steal somebody else’s work. So the library provides a lot of help with citing your sources. Every time you have a question about citing your sources, go to this Citing Your Sources Guide. Select the citation style you’re using and look through the resources we’ve provided. If you still have questions, there is a chat box to talk to a librarian right there in the window.

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    Last week I mentioned that you can go to any SUNY, CUNY or New York state community college library to take out books. You can use their online catalog to find out what books they have and where to find them in the stacks.
    WorldCat is a catalog of catalogs. It’s a database that contains the holdings
    of thousands of libraries – hundreds of millions of books, microform and multi
    media materials.
    You can get to it by going to http://www.esc.edu/worldcat. Once you’re in, just do a keyword search. It’s a huge database, so be as specific as you want with that search! Also be sure to specify Year, Audience, Content, Format and Language using the boxes provided.
    Now you’ll see your search results. Click on the title of any one that you’re interested in to see more information about it. If you scroll down, you will see “Find a copy in the library.” Put in your zip code to let it know where you are. It will tell you what libraries have the book, and the list will be arranged so that the ones closest to you are at the top of the list. Below, you can see that my book is available from four SUNY libraries, one of which is only 45 minutes away.
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    Getting books from other SUNY Libraries

    Every once in a while I like to put out a reminder that all Empire State College students are also SUNY students, and as such, you’re entitled to use the libraries at any SUNY, CUNY or New York state community college. You can use their in-house collections and borrow books using your college photo id. Some libraries also offer a guest login so you can use their databases while on campus. The libraries in this list that belong to SUNY will also extend interlibrary loan services to you.
    It’s good to know what you’re looking for before you get to the library. All library catalogs are on the web, so just do a web search like University at Albany library to locate their library web site. From there you can get to their catalog (sometimes called an OPAC) and find out what books they have on your topic. Be sure to write down their call numbers and any other “holdings” or location information provided, because that is how you will locate those books in the stacks.
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    Using Google Scholar to find articles

    When you have a research question that spans several different subject areas, you can use a multidisciplinary database such as Academic Search Complete, JSTOR, Academic OneFile or ProQuest Research Library. But many articles are kept only in subject-specific databases and searching all of them would take a lot of time. Fortunately there’s a way to search all of the library’s databases at once.
    If you go to http://www.esc.edu/googlescholar, there is a link to log into Google Scholar. It will prompt you for your college login and password, which regular Google Scholar doesn’t do. The reason you have to log in through the college is that now Google Scholar will link you directly to full-text in the library.

    First, there are a few things to know about
    searching in Google.
    • +keyword – this keyword must be in every search result
    • -keyword - this keyword can’t be in any of the search results
    • “two words” - everything in quotation marks is searched together as a phrase
    • Advanced search lets you limit your search to a specific date range or subject area
    Here is a screenshot of what your search results will look like. Notice the Full-text @ ESC Library link. Just click it to be taken to your article.
    You may also see links to PDF files in that space. These full-text articles are not in our library, but are stored in repositories, usually belonging to the university or research institute where the author works. They are perfectly legitimate as scholarly articles. You will be able to find out what journal the article was published in – in most cases, the journal version is the “official” version that you should cite.
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    Using RefWorks to manage your citations

    RefWorks is an online citation management tool that you can use for free because the college has subscribed to it.
    Basically, you log in with your college login and password and then create a personal account with RefWorks (you have an individual account to keep your research private.)
    Once you’re in, you can either type in bibliographic information from your research sources, or use a set of tools to import this information automatically. For example, you can select search results in a database and batch send them to RefWorks. There is also a plug-in that lets you grab this information from any web site.
    You can organize your citations into folders for different courses, topics or research projects. You can access the full-text of any article that is in the library through its entry in your RefWorks folders. You can also upload files, such as the PDF full-text, some images, or a document with all your notes!
    There is a plug-in that you download and configure, and it hooks up with Microsoft Word. Then when you are writing a paper, you simply click a button to open up the plug-in, select the source you want to site, and insert your citation. When your paper is done, you click a few more buttons to format it in any citation style you want – APA, MLA, Chicago, CSE, and others.
    No more confusion about what to do with oddball sources, or the picayune details of formatting in different styles – all of this is handled by RefWorks.
    For more information and to log in, go to http://www.esc.edu/refworks.
    Don’t forget to sign up for one of our webinars on how to use RefWorks! During the webinar, we will help you get set up with your own account, download and configure the two plug-ins and get some hands on experience using the different features. Go here for more information and to sign up for a webinar.

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