Tuesday, March 14, 2017

March 2017

This month, your BRCC Librarians have identified two new tools that you can use to find information related to your course. Both of these resources could be used to enhance your teaching and present your course material in a new and refreshed perspective. Finally, this month also includes a reminder about the upcoming book sale and a call to volunteer.

 What Works Clearinghouse is a new resource identified by your BRCC librarians. We have tested and played with this website and found some pretty useful information. It is particularly suited for research in the teaching/education related areas. 

The advantage of What Works Clearing House is that existing research is reviewed on topics like programs, products, and related policies within education. The stated goal of this clearinghouse is to make information available to educators in order to effectively make evidence-based decisions.   

Why not take a look and see what you can find?

 What Works Clearing House:


A recent article on Inside Higher Ed described a new feature available through JSTOR. The article by Barbara Fister is included below. 

By Barbara Fister

A quick note: I've been working with an intern to track some research down, but the keywords are slushy and the controlled vocabulary in the databases we're using just hasn't been cutting it. Mostly, we've been able to make some progress by seeing who is citing the articles that seem most relevant, but even that traditional citation-tracing method isn't producing quite as much as I hoped.

But then I happened on a nifty new tool today, the JSTOR Labs Text Analyzer, thanks to the kind of serendipty my Twitter community seems to promote. Basically, you upload a document (something you wrote, a text you're reading, an article PDF, a syllabus, even) and . . . something magical happens. The analyzer finds patterns in the text and looks for similar documents. The words used in the pattern appear on one side. There are sliders for how much you want to emphasize some concepts. There's a collection of keywords roughly sorted by type, and you choose which ones are most relevant to your interests or decide which ones aren't of interest. You can even add your own words.  If you want your results to emphasize current content, there's a checkbox for that. Results can be limited to the JSTOR content your library subscribes to, or you can search it all to see what you might want to obtain through interlibrary loan. It only surfaces JSTOR content, but that's a lot of good material.

Maybe it was the nature of the fuzzy, interdisciplinary topic I was trying (and failing) to capture through my usual methods, but this tool surfaced stuff I hadn't previously seen, and it was easy to scroll through and quickly browse and select the most promising results. The interface is clean and intuitive (which, I'm sorry to say, can't be said of library database interfaces generally speaking). I'll be playing with it and will see what my students think of it, but at first glance, all I can say is WOW. This is cool.

Now I need to explore the other projects that Alex Humphreys and the rest of the JSTOR Labs team have been up to. Fascinating stuff.

JSTOR Text analyzer:


If you are interested in volunteering at the book sale, e-mail Kathy Seidel at seidelk@mybrcc.edu. It’s great fun, and you get first dibs on the books!

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