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Information Literacy Modules: Gathering Information as You Work

Collecting Information from Print Sources

Decorative image, finger pushing request button.When searching for information, it is a good idea to collect potential sources as you work. Even if you are not sure if an item will be used in your final project, having that extra material available helps to expand your potential pool of information. How you choose to approach searching will depend on the types of sources needed for a given project. As has already been presented, if book materials are required for your topic, it is best to start with searching for those first. The books you find that will be of use may not be immediately available, and may need to be requested. It is easiest to just go ahead and request materials you will need as you find them.

Decorative image of an open book. What if you need to find older information? The vast amount of electronic access to sources is amazing these days, and sometimes it is easy to forget that not everything is available directly through the internet. We have mentioned different print tools available to find older information, such a periodical indexes and bibliographies. There are times when these are still the best source for information. If you find a need for such tools, how would you go about gathering information out of them? Being print, the options of emailing a section or finding a permalink are out. Photocopiers, scanners, or even a picture on your phone are all great ways to capture accurate information from a print source. Remember that the different print finding tools may vary in how they are structured and organized. Reading the guide or scope of the tool will explain how to work with it.

When working with a print book, using image capturing technology (photocopier, scanner, your phone, etc.) is a great way to work with materials. This way you can highlight, underline and annotate the item without damaging it. We have already explained, though it is worth pointing out again, locating information within a book through the table of contents and index are a great way to isolate where you may find pertinent information.

Collecting Information from Electronic Sources

Most of your research will take the form of electronic searching through the Catalog and Databases. Even when looking for print materials, such as books, you will be searching through the catalog and can take advantage of the various features available. Though most of these features have been pointed out in the previous segment, here is a list of ways to organize your search results as you work:

  • Email Option – emailing a list of potential books out of the catalog will supply you with the titles and author names for later reference. Most databases will allow you to email the full text of an article with a formatted citation (already in MLA, APA, Chicago, etc.). The citations generated by a database are many times wrong and need to be edited, but at least it is a starting point.
  • Permalink/Stable URL – these urls are a great way to get back to a record. There is one for each record in the catalog. Most databases also provide this type of url for each record. If you choose to utilize this feature, simply copy and paste the links into a Word document or email and allow the software to create a hyperlink. It is a good idea to annotate each link with a description of what it leads to so you know what you are clicking on. Remember that for database links, you will need to be logged into the Library system before clicking on the url.
  • My Account – These are only available through the various databases. You cannot save work inside the catalog. If you are primarily using one database provider, such as Gale or EBSCO, this is a great option. You will need internet connection to access your saved work, but it is a great way to organize your results.
  • Cloud Based Storage – many of the databases now have options to save articles directly into Google Drive. Some, like Gale, also work with Microsoft OneDrive. If you regularly use either service to store and access files, this may be the perfect option. It is much like using the My Account features, only you can add materials from any database. The only downside is the articles will not have the citation option available this way.

Gathering citation information as you work is extremely important. If you choose an option that does not offer you a way to include this information, then be sure to get it on your own. Finding an article once you already have the text can prove to be difficult at times, and nobody enjoys running in circles trying to find citation info just before the assignment is due.

Below is a quick slide presentation that shows the various features explained above in the databases.

Gathering Features

Gathering Features

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Explanation of Slide Show. As with the previous slide shows, we will take a look at EBSCO, Gale, ProQuest, and JSTOR. The emailing and permalink features in the catalog were already explained.  When working with the various databases, there are two main file formats provided for Full Text: PDF and Full Text/HTML.   PDF stands for Portable Document Format. These files can be viewed by many types of software these days, including internet browsers.  This ability in browser is due to the Adobe Acrobat Reader plugin.   Full Text/HTML is when the full text of the item is presented in the database, not as a PDF. Some databases refer to it as Full Text, and some refer to is as HTML.  Either way, the page numbers and graphics that may accompany a PDF are many times absent in this format.  Some of the database present all articles in Full Text/HTML, but will include PDF versions when available. Some databases provide one or the other format, or both. A few databases only provide PDF.

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EBSCO Features.

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EBSCO Gathering Features from Results. From the results list of a search in EBSCO, if you click on a title of a result, a bibliographic page about that item is presented. If the item is available Full Text, the format is presented in the top left area. This item has a PDF of the article. The other format EBSCO provides is HTML. Most of the information needed to create a citation is presented on this page. The right side of the page has the Tools area. This is where you will find the various gathering options.View of a resluts list in EBSCO. View of a bibliographic record in EBSCO.

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EBSCO Tool Bar on Bibliographic Result. The main gathering tools to pay attention to are:  Google Drive – This allows the user to save files directly into Google Drive, where you can create your own file structure and organize your resources. Add to folder – This feature is how you can add materials into your My EBSCOHost account, if you choose to create one. Once in the My EBSCOHost area, it allows you  to create your own file structure like Google Drive. E-mail – This feature will provide the ability to email a citation with the full text of the material together. As mentioned before, the citations are not always correct, but if you want to see what the citation looks like before emailing is, look at the Cite feature. It will show you what EBSCO will provide for the result in various citation formats, including: APA, MLA, Harvard, Chicago, etc.  Permalink – This feature will provide a document URL inside the database. Click on the link and as long as you are logged into the Library’s system, you will be brought back to the same page.   There are a few other tools provided, such as Print, Save, Export, Create Note, and Share.  - Print is useful, but for organizational reasons, it is recommended to choose an electronic method. You can always print from a saved file later.  - Save is not a bad option, but with email you get the ability to send yourself the citation. - Export is actually a way to move the citation information into a citation utility software. Give it a try if you are using one. - Create Note allows you to annotate the item for later reference. To save notes, a My EBSCOHost account will need to be created.  - Share allows you to post information about the result through social media. View of the Toolbar from the article page. It is presented in a single column on the top right side of the result page.

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Gale Features.

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Gale Gathering Features from Results. When you click on the title of a result in Gale, the article is presented in Full text format. If a PDF is also included, that information will be presented.   Each result has a Save feature, these work like the check boxes in the catalog. There is an area called “My Folder” in  the More drop down menu. Saved  results can be viewed there. They will not be saved beyond the session. To save results permanently,  one would need to use the Download feature on the Tools menu. This is explained in more detail on the next page. Vew of search results page. The Save feature is highlighted, as well as the More menu, which is located one the upper right corner of the top search bar. View of an article result. Tools are in a column to the right of the text.

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Gale Toolbar on Bibliographic Result. Gale has many of the same gathering tools.  Citation Tools – this provides a drop down menu where you can choose between the current versions of APA, MLA, and Chicago. The feature also allows the generated citation to be copied, downloaded (as an HTML document) , or exported to a citation utility.  E-mail – this provides the ability to email either the full text of the record, the citation with a link to the full text, or a PDF of the item, when available. Download – this is how you would save the file to either Google Drive, OneDrive, or to your computer as an HTML, or PDF, document.  Print – this lets you print the file. Highlight and Notes – it is possible to highlight and add annotations       to any file. These types of modification would be saved to Highlights       and  Notes in the More menu. They would not be saved beyond the        current session Save – this works just like the Save feature on the results list. Download MP3 – this allows an audio file of the document be       downloaded for later access.  Share – this is just like the share feature in EBSCO. View of the Tools menu. All options are presented n a column. View of the Dowload option when selected. Choices are in a column.

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ProQuest Features.

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ProQuest Gathering Features from Results. ProQuest also has the same basic features available, but they condense their tool area to a smaller space. They also provide either Full Text or PDF formats of results. View of the results list.  In the result image to the right, you can see that the result has two tabs. One provides the full text of the item, and the other provides the publication information, which can be used to check the citation generated. View of an article bibliographic page. the Full Text view described is visible, as well as an Abstract/Details tab. The gathering toolss are located on hte upper right area of the article view.

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ProQuest Gathering Tools on Bibliographic Result.  The tool area seen here has the same basic features seen in EBSCO and Gale. There are a few differences.  Save as PDF – this allows a non PDF full text file to be converted into a PDF. This is not the same as saving a PDF from one of the other databases, where the PDF is   a file of the original document. This works where the full text seen on the page is converted, and so may not contain images or other materials in the original file. ProQuest does provide original PDFs for some results, and those will work like the other databases.  Cite – this provides citations in various formats, including APA, Chicago, MLA, ASA, AMA, Harvard, etc. They do include the ability to choose older edition formats of many of these. Be sure to choose the newest available for more accurate information. Email – this lets you email the file to yourself with several possible choices, including  Full Text with citation. Print – also allows you to choose what to print and how much of the record to include in the print job. Save – this feature has quite a few options, as can be seen in the image to the left. These choices include citation export, Google Drive, as an HTML file, PDF (the same restrictions apply as described above), as an RIS file, RTF file, text file or XLS. These various files work with specific software (suggested next to the name), though a few of them are considered universal. Text only (.txt) and Rich Text Format (.rtf) are universal, and can be opened by a wide range of editors on various platforms (i.e. Windows, Mac, Linux, etc.). View of the toolbar. Save as PDF, as mentioned in the description, is presented as a large button that spans the top of the box. The other features described are presented in two columns. Cite and Print are in the left column. Email and Save are in the right column. This is a view of the Save feature when opened. The options provided, as mentioned in the description, are presented in a single column.

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JSTOR Features.

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JSTOR Gathering Features from Results. JSTOR has a slightly different configuration. They provide the same gathering features on the results list as on the item record. As can be seen below, the top of the entry has the publication information. Underneath is a reading pane that displays one page at a time. View of the result list. Gathering features are present on the right of each title available. View of an atricle's bibliographic page. The articles descriptive information is in the middle of the page, towards the top. The gathering tools are to the right. The full text, not seen in this picutre, is displayed below this view. JSTOR is one of the databases that only provide PDFs for full text.

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JSTOR Gathering Tools on Bibliographic Page. As is evident by the offered features, JSTOR has a very limited set of tools. You can download a PDF, or you can download a PDF.  Download PDF – This is the only way to save material in JSTOR. Each file will include a page at the beginning that contains all of the pertinent information to write a citation, but it does not format that info for you. Once a PDF is downloaded, you can choose how you want to save it (flash drive, email, on the computer, Google Drive, etc.) Remember that the student computers in the Library at SJR State are not good place to store files. They are frozen and will not keep the materials you save to them.  Add to My Lists – this feature works with a JSTOR account, much like EBSCO. Cite this item – they do provide formatted citations in the Cite this item feature, but they do not offer a way to save the citations beyond copy and paste. Citations can be exported to a utility software. The last tool is not really a gathering feature. Journal Info provides a description of the Journal being accessed, what it covers, how far back in time does JSTOR have access to full text material from them, and information about the Moving Wall. Many of the titles available in JSTOR have an embargo/moving wall, or waiting period, before full text is made available in the database. View of tools from description. Tools are presented in a single column.

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