Floor Replacement Scheduled for July 25 through July 29

A few of the library’s facilities will undergo renovations this summer which may result in brief closures of—and disruptions within—some departmental libraries and units.
Those planning on visiting the Main Library or Undergraduate Library, and any individual spaces within these buildings, are encouraged to contact departmental libraries and units before their visit to make sure these spaces are accessible during the renovation projects. For a list of library locations and their contact information, visit www.library.illinois.edu.

The Scholarly Commons would like to draw your attention to one project in particular which will affect physical access to our offices. The floor outside of Scholarly Commons is scheduled to be replaced during the week of July 25- July 29. (The actual time frame depends on work conditions.) During this time, those specialists who would normally be in Scholarly Commons if it not for construction will be available at other locations in the library.

If you would like a consultation, during this time, please feel free to contact us by email, consultation request form, or by phone, and we will meet you at another location.

Thanks for your patience and understanding as we work to make your experience more pleasurable in the fall. Enjoy your summer!

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Looks Do Matter: Data.Gov’s User Friendly Information Portal

Why would it matter to a serious researcher whether an information portal has a well-designed interface? In most research circles, interfaces to collections of databases don’t need to be pretty. In fact, pretty might raise suspicions that the data is sub-standard: “What are they trying to cover up?” It’s all about the data, right? Yes, it’s about the data. But a pleasing and useful interface is no small matter. Researchers, app designers, and concerned citizens all know that the government is a source of important information, but I imagine more than a few have had unpleasant experiences trying to find and apply particular data.

As a portal to the U.S. government’s open data, Data.Gov is noteworthy. There, you’ll find “data, tools, and resources to conduct research, develop web and mobile applications, design data visualizations, and more.”

CaptureWhat is the scope of the data? You can search 192,917 data sets of U.S. government data related to agriculture, business, climate, consumer, ecosystems, education, energy, finance, health, local government, manufacturing, ocean, public safety, and science & research. Data.Gov includes databases from 77 agencies and sub-agencies as well as 492 non-governmental publishers.

How easy is it to navigate the site? The design is simple, clean, and intuitive. If you click a tab, expecting something like “X,” you’ll probably get something like “X” and more beside.

Perhaps the most helpful features are the search functions which are front and center on the home page. If you know what you’re looking for (sort of), just use the search box. Otherwise, you can use their browse topic feature which uses clear, picturesque icons. These topics are helpful to non-researchers exploring public affairs related issues, and they will also help seasoned researchers explore general topics of interest.

In the top right corner of every subsequent page, you’ll find the same search functionality as on the home page: a search text box and links to each of the major subareas below it. The browse topics feature (with its attractive icons) is readily accessible from the same area, using a drop down menu.

Browse TopicsNow, there’s no guarantee that you’ll find exactly what you want. But it’s a good place to start. If you’re a data geek you’ll enjoy the exploration and perhaps discover something you didn’t know. Browse. Give it a try. You don’t need a blog to find your way.


[Scholarly Commons has two services that might be of use to those interested in government related data and/or usability.  Data Services provides assistance with finding and formatting digital numeric and spatial data. The Usability Lab provides a space with two workstations for conducting usability studies.]


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Illinois Research Connections web portal of Illinois researchers

Illinois Research Connections (IRC) is a new web portal which profiles the research of faculty and scholars at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. This year I have served as the project manager for this joint effort of the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research (OVCR) and the University Library. IRC was created to help researchers more easily discover and connect with potential collaborators and to reduce the time and effort needed to display Illinois research to local and external stakeholders.

IRC now includes more than 1,800 STEM and social science faculty and OVCR institute researcher profiles, and is populated with more than 101,000 publications indexed in Elsevier’s Scopus database, updated automatically on a weekly basis.

IRC is still in beta, and the currently available functionality is just the beginning. Our ultimate goal is to be as inclusive and representative of all disciplines on campus as possible. However, because of systemic challenges with humanities publications information, you will find faculty profiles in these departments are currently suppressed. The Library is currently working to pull publication information from other non-Scopus sources. In time, we will also be able to include grant and patent information. Users will soon be able to sync with their ORCID profiles.

How do you use Illinois Research Connections?

Visit the IRC site experts.illinois.edu to search for potential collaborators, reviewers, or committee members by name, unit, or concept. Not only can you see publications associated with individual experts, you can also view these publications aggregated by university department or college.


Publications identified in the Scopus index are pre-populated in each researcher’s profile. These are also the source of each researcher’s (and unit’s) Fingerprint®: a list of relevant concept terms identified through text mining.

You can search by one or more Fingerprint terms, and you can even expand your search beyond the Illinois campus to include results from the “Experts Community” of research universities around the world.

Enhance your profile

Each profile currently includes researchers’ names, job titles, and Scopus-derived publications, but profile holders can log into their profiles and add additional content such as personal or laboratory web pages, a research statement, unrepresented publications, and additional keyword terms (especially if these weren’t captured through the Fingerprint engine). Researchers are encouraged to follow the lead of Juan Andrade, Assistant Professor of Food Science & Human Nutrition, and add a professional photograph, research summary, keywords, and web links. Profile holders can access a number of help resources from the top right corner of the IRC portal, including short FAQs to help them add publications, hide Fingerprint terms, import publications from Google Scholar, and assign a proxy to maintain their profiles. Have questions or comments? Just send us an email to irc-help@illinois.edu.

Much more to come

Our hope is that IRC will help you to discover potential collaborators and make the work of Illinois faculty and researchers more discoverable. If you have questions, please contact me, Rebecca Bryant, at irc-help@illinois.edu

Posted on behalf of Rebecca Bryant, Visiting Project Manager, Research Information Systems.

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Creating the Semantic Web for Visual Cultural Heritage Digital Humanities, Arkyves, and Iconclass

Organizer: Mara R. Wade, Germanic Languages & Literatures
Event Dates: April 8-9, 2016

Please join us for three events that feature Hans Brandhorst, editor of
Iconclass (http://www.iconclass.nl/home) and founder of Arkyves
(http://arkyves.org/), a reference database for the history of culture.
Arkyves is a collection of collections that indexes images and texts
through Iconclass, a multi-lingual classification system currently used
by the Albertina in Vienna, the Princeton Index of Christian Art, and
the Getty Research Institute, among others. Iconclass is designed for
describing cultural heritage visual resources including emblem books,
medieval manuscript illuminations, Erasmus’ adages, Victorian
illustrations, printers’ devices, and early modern typography, in
particular decorated and historiated initials, satirical journals from the
University of Milan, and the virtual print room (VKK) of the Herzog
Anton Ulrich Museum and the Herzog August Bibliothek, totaling
some 50,000 graphic prints. Arkyves collaborates with multiple
projects, e.g. the German Hygiene Museum, Dresden, for a project of
cataloging AIDS posters.

Schedule of Events:

• Public Workshop (Friday, 8 April 10:00-11:30; 314 Library)
Searching and Browsing with Arkyves
Hans Brandhorst will introduce searching and browsing with Arkyves in this workshop. The UIUC subscribes to Arkyves through the School of Fine and Applied Arts, and it is available to campus via the homepage of Ricker Art and Architecture Library. We wish to make this valuable resource more useful to the campus researchcommunity, particularly for projects addressing text/image cultures.

• Public Lecture (Friday, 8 April, 4-5 PM, 126 GSLIS, CIRSS Seminar)
Iconclass, Arkyves and the use of Iconography Vocabulary Standards to Enhance Access Hans Brandhorst will provide a brief introduction to Arkyves.org (a Brill online resource) and Iconclass, a classification system designed for art and iconography. As a long-time partner in Emblematica Online (http://emblematica.library.illinois.edu/), Brandhorst will then lead a discussion of how vocabulary standards like Iconclass are applied to enhance discoverability of and access to cultural heritage visual information resources,including early modern emblem books.

• Public Workshop (Saturday, 9 April 1-5 PM, 314 Library)
Learning to Index with Iconclass
Hans Brandhorst will conduct a hands-on workshop for participants on how to do their own Iconclass indexing. This workshop will have two parts: introduction of Iconclass, followed by practical application. Participants will learn indexing based on a handful of emblems, the genre with which we are most familiar. Sponsors: These events have received generous financial support from the School for Literature, Culture, and Linguistics; Germanic Languages and Literatures; Krannert Art Museum; French and Italian; Comparative and World Literatures; English; Religious Studies; Spanish and Portuguese; Classics; and Medieval Studies. TheUniversity Library and GSLIS have kindly offered the space for these events.

About Hans Brandhorst: As an Art Historian (Leiden University, 1982), Hans Brandhorst works as an independent researcher in iconography. He also works part time for the institutional repository “RePub” at the Library of the Erasmus University, Rotterdam. He has been the co-editor of Iconclass since 1990 and primary editor of Iconclass and Arkyves.org since 2002.

Please email Mara R. Wade (mwade@illinois.edu) if you plan to attend either of the workshop events in 314 Library. There is no registration but seating for a Public Workshop is limited.

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GIS Savvy Researcher Workshops

At the Scholarly Commons, we offer a variety of introductory workshops designed to enhance scholars’ and students’ research needs at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. Among these workshops is a series of GIS workshops that will be offered again this coming April with the aim to get researchers started working with GIS. Check them out below:

Geographic Information Systems 101: Understanding GIS:  No GIS experience is needed for this workshop that will guide researchers through the foundational concepts of GIS and geospatial technologies in research. Researchers will gain skills in:

  • Thinking spatially about research
  • Identify resources available across campus to aid in GIS research

GIS for Research I: Tools, Concepts, and Geodata Management: This hands-on workshop is designed to introduce researchers to working with GIS software and data management. This workshop is recommended after completing Geographic Information Systems 101: Understanding GIS or if you want a refresher for working with ArcGIS. Researchers will gain skills in:

  • Framing research problems to utilize GIS
  • Gain an understanding managing vector and raster GIS data, scale, and coordinates systems

Discovering GIS Data:  This workshop will cover where and how to find geographic data throughout the web. No experience is needed, but it will be helpful to know about GIS data models. Researchers will gain skills in:

  • Identifying common and authoritative portals for geodata, recognizing quality GIS data and different GIS data formats
  • Understanding the importance of geospatial metadata

GIS for Research II: Geoprocessing, Analysis, and Visualization: This hands-on will explore different geoprocessing and spatial analysis tools common to GIS. Designed as a follow-up to GIS for Research I, this workshop requires basic knowledge of using ArcGIS. Researchers will gain skills in:

  • Solving a real world research problem using real geospatial data
  • Create maps to visualize geospatial data

We are looking for suggestions for upcoming workshops feel free to tweet your suggestions to @ScholCommons and include #GISworkshops.


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Image of Research 2016: Semi-finalists announced!

Please join us in congratulating the semi-finalists for the 2016 Image of Research! Winners will be announced on Wednesday, April 6 from 4:00 – 6:00 PM at a reception in room 104 of the Illini Union. Attendees will be able to view the semi-finalists, speak with the researchers, and vote for the People’s Choice Award.


In the meantime check out the list of semi-finalists and view a full gallery of their work.Visit the Image of Research website for more information about the competition.

The Image of Research is organized by the Scholarly Commons and the Graduate College. It is supported by a generous gift to the Scholarly Commons from the Division of Intercollegiate Athletics.

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Are you a Graduate Student at Illinois?

The University Library, in partnership with the Graduate College, is participating in a national survey of graduate student research practices this month. The survey invitation is being sent to a sample of graduate and professional students. If you receive an invitation to participate in the survey, we very much welcome your input and thank you for your time in filling it out. The findings from this survey will be extremely helpful as we work to provide a library environment that meets your needs as an Illinois graduate student. If you have any questions, please contact Karen Hogenboom (hogenboo@illinois.edu) or Lisa Hinchliffe (217-333-1323; ljanicke@illinois.edu).

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Scanning Woes: Best Practice Scanning Tips

As a researcher and student, I can attest to the frustration that scanning and digitizing documents often present.  Some of the most frustrating documents I have ever scanned were music scores from my undergraduate career. Before a recital, concert, or my finals, I would often have to copy or scan my music to be digitally sent or copied.  However, due to “creative” music publishers, my music was often over-sized, strange fonts, and extremely difficult to scan.  While I am no longer scanning music multiple times a month, I still experience many of these same scanning woes as a researcher and student and see many of my patrons struggle with the same dilemmas for their research.


Photo available through CC: Flickr Mikhail Kryshen

It often seems like turning a piece of paper into a PDF should be an easy task that only takes a few minutes to produce a nice, clear, and clean digital document that you can put into your computer.  While this is sometimes the case, more often than not, they are tricky.  The next time you are faced with a daunting scanning project or need digital copies of everything you are using for your dissertation, consider some “best practice” scanning techniques to make the task easier.


  • What color is your document?
    • Grayscale—this is best for OCR software, but can create large files
    • Color—only scan in color when absolutely necessary due to large files that may be difficult to save
    • Black & White—Great for everything else due to versatility and file size
  • What quality or resolution do you need your document to be?
    • 200 dpi—equal to a “high” fax quality
    • 300 dpi – is best for most things (creates a clear, usable image with a easily managed file size)
    • 600 dpi—This is typically more than needed unless scanning small text or photographs (large file size)
  • What brightness does your document need?
    • Start with your brightness at 50%
    • Adjust in either direction if the scan is too dark or light
  • Straightness is important
    • Helps create a clear and easy to read scan
    • Especially important for OCR software to read document
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CITL Data Analytics

Sometimes institutional life stumbles onto stage a bit disheveled. And there are other times when a fruitful collaboration happens…

At the Scholarly Commons, we strive to partner with members of the UIUC community to support their scholarly work. When it comes to more substantial questions about statistical analysis, we do this by referring members of our community to our partner CITL Data Analytics (formerly ATLAS Open Statistical Consulting Lab).

Their spring training schedule is now online and we thought you might like to know about it. There are workshops on Stata, SAS, SPSS, Qualitative Coding and Questionnaire Design. The courses are grouped in sets of two with a basic course followed by a more advanced one.  (Click the hyperlink below for registration.  Workshops are listed on the second screen.)

Spring Training Schedule [Grouped by Topic]
02/23/2016 – Stata 1: Getting Started with Stata
03/01/2016 – Stata 2: Inferential Statistics with Stata

02/24/2016 – SAS 1: Getting Started with SAS
03/02/2016 – SAS 2: Inferential Statistics with SAS

03/08/2016 – ATLAS.ti 1: Introduction – Qualitative Coding
03/09/2016 – ATLAS.ti 2: Data Exploration and Analysis

03/15/2016 – SPSS 1: Getting Started with SPSS
03/29/2016 – SPSS 2: Inferential Statistics with SPSS

03/16/2016 – R 1: Getting Started with R
03/30/2016 – R 2: Inferential Statistics

04/05/2016 – Questionnaire Design

These are short evening workshops and are available free of charge to University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign faculty, instructors, staff, and students. These courses are offered every semester, so if you miss a course this semester keep your eyes open for next semester’s schedule.

Their Open Statistical Consulting Lab is housed in 2043 Lincoln Hall. Its hours are Monday to Thursday from 10 am – 4 pm and Friday from 10 am – 2 pm.

All members of the UIUC community are welcome to use the lab space. The first hour of consulting is free of charge. Some charges may apply for consulting beyond the first hour based on one’s affiliation and the nature of the project.  If you are referred to the lab from the Scholarly Commons, charges may be waived depending on the extent of assistance that you need.

For more information about any of their services, please visit:

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Webinars About Survey Research

The Survey Research Laboratory on campus is offering a series of webinars on survey research this spring:

Cross-Cultural Survey Methods
Wednesday, March 16, noon

This seminar will provide an overview of the methodological challenges of conducting cross-cultural survey research and currently available techniques for establishing and/or evaluating equivalence in cross-cultural surveys.

Pros and Cons of Nonprobability Sampling
Wednesday, March 30, noon

This seminar will define nonprobability sampling and provide an overview of the most common types. It will describe the settings in which these types of samples are most appropriate and will offer an assessment of the pros and cons of using them.

Survey Question Response Scale Construction
Wednesday, April 6, noon

This webinar addresses choices and decisions that researchers make when asking survey questions with response scales such as unipolar versus bipolar scales, number of scale points, labeling of scale points, and use of a midpoint.

Fundamentals of Survey Data Set Construction
Wednesday, April 13, noon

This webinar will provide an overview of the basics of survey data set construction, including data coding, management, and editing, as well as issues such as data quality and missing data.

The webinars are free, but advance registration is required (go to http://www.srl.uic.edu/seminars/Spring16Seminars.htm to register).  Recordings of past webinars are also available at http://www.srl.uic.edu/seminars.htm.

The Survey Research Lab also partners with the Scholarly Commons to provide free consultations about survey research on Thursday afternoons from 2-5 pm.  Stop by the Scholarly Commons or contact us in advance for an appointment time.

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