# Statistically Speaking…

Data we’ve all witnessed in action…

When you’re doing research, statistics can be excellent evidence to support your topic or claim. After all, data don’t lie. But finding the perfect statistics for your research can be a little trickier. But don’t worry, the library’s got loads of starting points when charts and graphs and numbers (oh, my!) are what you need to find.

Before you start searching for stats, though, we’ve got a couple of tips for you. First, it might seem like data-collectors have probably collected data on every possible scenario under the sun, right? For example, if you are researching how many times people posted on Twitter about the 2013 Academy Award winners in relation to the TV ratings for this year’s ceremonies compared to past years, you should be able to find stats on that, right? Well… Maybe, but maybe not.

First, the Oscars were, like, just last weekend, so there probably hasn’t been a ton of data collected on them yet. Also, one person may’ve collected data on the TV ratings, and another person may’ve tallied Twitter reactions to the Oscar winners (how cute was Jennifer Lawrence when she tripped, btw? Team Katniss!), but they may not have necessarily put the two together. So, here are a few things to keep in mind when you are thinking about what kinds of stats you’d like to find:

• How recent does the information need to be? Some data takes time to collect, and the most recent data may not be available. Is it okay if your data is from last year? Or even maybe 2010 or 2011?
• Some events are too recent to have much data collected at all, so that’s another consideration.
• If you are looking at how different elements compare to one another, you may have to find your stats in more than one place. For example, you might be the first person in the world to think about comparing professional athletes’ salaries with the money each athlete’s respective college made on sports income while said athlete played there. So, you might have to find data on pro salaries in one place, and data on college sport income in another, and then compare them yourself.
• Is your research topic something that has statistics at all? Remember, in order for there to be statistics, someone, somewhere (we like to imagine in a white lab coat) needs to collect the raw data that turns into statistics. If no has has collected data on your topic, there might not be a lot of statistics.

That being said, there are still plenty of ways to find statistics—and plenty of ways to get help, too! If you want to browse a few starting points (conveniently organized by subject area), head to the UGL homepage and click on “Find” in the upper right corner.

The “Find” page is your link to locating all sorts of goodies!

Once on the “Find” page, scroll down to the bottom, and click on “Statistics.”

Tips on finding Statistics, among many, many other things!

The Find Statistics page lists a whole bunch of great places to start, including general starting points, which cover a lot of federal information and demographic info culled from census data. We’ve also got places to look for stats relating to Business & Economics, Crime, Education, Government, Health, Historical Statistics, Illinois-specific information, International info, and Psychology & the Social Sciences.

If you’re feeling really ambitious, the Government Information Services Library has an even more detailed list of starting points.

Of course, even if you find some potential stats, navigating your way through the data can still be a little daunting at first. You’re more than welcome to stop by the research desk, Ask A Librarian via chat, swing by Office Hours @ the UGL or make an appointment with a librarian who specializes in government information or other data services. We’re always happy to help you search for the stats that will really make your research shine!

# It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s . . . Office Hours @ the UGL!

If you find yourself caught in the clutches of confusing research questions and don’t know where to turn, never fear! Office Hours at the UGL is here to save the day!

You’re busy. You have papers, group projects, presentations. Sometimes, it probably seems like you’re lost, wandering the dark alleys with no one to hear your cry for help. But you’re not alone! UGL librarians are here to help you wade through your research with Office Hours @ the UGL.

We’re always here for you, at our Research Desk and online with Ask a Librarian. But maybe you need some one-on-one, in-depth research help. That’s where Office Hours can swoop in to rescue you. Every Monday from 2-4 and every Tuesday from 7-9, we’re waiting in UGL room 291 to answer all your research questions. We can help you with any part of your research process, too, whether you’re just getting started, need more sources, or don’t know if the ones you have are credible.

No matter if you just have a quick question or need more in-depth help, we’ve got both covered. And, if you need help tackling your writing questions, Writers Workshop tutors will be there to answer quick writing queries. So you can come get help with your research and your writing, all in one stop! New this semester, too, is Office Hours @ the Media Commons, where you can get tech tips, troubleshooting, learn more about the UGL’s loanable tech equipment and more. No matter what your trouble, the UGL has a solution for you.

You never know when calamity will strike, so don’t worry about making an appointment. Just stop in and let us know how we can help you. To make sure you get the most out of your visit, here are a couple tips:

• First, if you have a specific assignment you’re working on, bring any assignment details you have with you. The more we know about what you have to do, the better we can help!
• Second, if you’ve done any work on the assignment so far, make sure to tell us, so we can start from the best possible place.

Don’t feel like you have to fight alone. Let Office Hours @ the UGL help defend you against confusion and frustration. Researchers assemble!

# UGL 101: How Do I…? Pages

You don’t always have to get online to get research help! Kick it old-skool with one of our handouts, packed with great tips!

There’s a page on the UGL website that’s got all the answers for starting, doing and finishing a research project. No, really! Linked from the upper right corner of the UGL homepage, the freshly updated How Do I…? page has all kinds of library and research-related goodness.

Are you having trouble choosing your topic or developing a topic you’ve already chosen? We’ve got pages that can help with that too.

Links for help Getting Started, Finding Sources (all kinds!), Evaluating Sources and Citing Sources!

One of the best parts is there are also pages that can help you find all different kinds of information including:

And the best part? Most of these pages have customized PDF’s you can download and print for reference later. If you’re feeling even more low-tech, visit the display near the New Books section and Media Commons on the upper level and snag a few handouts—all printed out in bright colors and ready to act as your quick guide.
Special thanks to guest blogger Ashley Booth!

# Presidential Picks

Mount Rushmore photo courtesy of fotopedia

Because we’re all about celebrating holidays here in the UGL, we’d like to draw your attention to Presidents’ Day! Celebrated this year on Monday, Feb. 18, the holiday was originally established to honor George Washington’s birthday, but it’s since morphed into a standard federal holiday celebrated on the third Monday of February. Either way, we think it’s a great excuse to showcase some of our resources for researching the U.S. presidency.

Finding Background Info

• The American Presidents
• Encyclopedia of American Parties, Campaigns and Elections
This online encyclopedia has entries on contemporary American politics, including explanations of many of the most commonly used political terms and jargon
• The Presidency A to Z
Contains more than 300 entries related to the U.S. Presidency
• American National Biography
Contains 17,435 biographical articles on deceased Americans and includes men and women that were significant in politics, scholarship, science, sports, business, theater, film, and activism

Subject Guides

•  History of the U.S. Presidency
This subject research guide contains information on find background info, stats, journal articles and more for any research related to the U.S. President and the Executive Branch
• Presidential Campaigns and Elections
This subject research guide has loads of information for researching presidential campaigns, campaign history, election reform and more

Movies
Doing research on the presidents not your thing? Don’t worry—Hollywood is more than adept at glamming up the Executive Office for film and TV. Why don’t you kick back and celebrate the holiday with one of the famous leading men (and one woman!) who played Commander-in-Chief instead? Just a partial list to get you going…

All The President’s Men
What’s better than a couple of enterprising reporters breaking open one of the biggest scandals in Presidential history? Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman playing said reporters, of course.

Battlestar Galactica
In this sci-fi space odyssey, the last remaining members of humanity must protect themselves from the evil Cylons—all under the fearless leadership of Madame President Laura Roslin (Mary McDonnell).

Deep Impact
While the other meteor-will-destroy-Earth movie from 1998 was much more entertaining (Armageddon, for those of you keeping score at home), Morgan Freeman’s portrayal of President Beck in Deep Impact was harder-hitting. (Pun intended.)

Frost/Nixon
Frank Langella does his best “I am not a crook!” impersonation of President Nixon in this Oscar-nominated version of the famous post-Watergate interview between Nixon and British TV host David Frost.

Independence Day
Bill Pullman kicks some serious butt as President of the U.S.A. (and, really, all of the remaining world) after aliens decide to destroy Earth. Between President Thomas J. Whitmore and Will Smith, we’re pretty sure we can take whatever E.T. can dish out.

JFK
Who killed JFK? In Oliver Stone’s classic conspiracy theory flick, District Attorney Jim Garrison (Kevin Costner) tries to find out.

The West Wing
Martin Sheen plays President Jed Bartlett in Aaron Sorkin’s fast-paced, sharp-tongued take on the American White House in the late ’90s/early ’00s.

# Spotlight On… Tell Me More

Planning to study abroad? Going to spend Spring Break somewhere south of the border? Just want to impress your pals with your stellar language skills? Then you need the Tell Me More language software.

Getting started learning a new language is muy fácil with Tell Me More. Follow these simple steps:

1. Start on the Library’s homepage. In the center column, look for the link to the Online Journals & Databases tool.

2. Search for “Tell Me More”.

3. When you see your results, you’ll want to select the second result on the page, labeled “Databases DATABASES”. Click on the “Databases” link.

4. You may then be prompted for your NetID and password. Enter that, and you’ll be taken to the Tell Me More homepage.

6. A screen may pop up asking you to to allow the system to access your camera and microphone.  Once you check the appropriate boxes, you should be able to start learning your language of choice!

Click to enter the world of the multi-lingual! Wunderbar!

Some great features about Tell Me More:

• You can do reading, writing, speaking, and listening workshops. Learn how to sprechen sie Deutsch the best way for you!
• It’s got 37 different types of learning activities/interactions. Impressionante!
• It utilizes Spoken Error Tracking System (SETS®) technology, which automatically detects and corrects your pronunciation errors. Work on your acento!
• Anytime, anywhere accessibility. Voila! You can learn a language on the go.

Whether you want to learn a new language for business or pleasure, Tell Me More is convenient, easy, and free to you. (And really, who doesn’t love free?)

Find other posts in the Spotlight On… series here.

# Things We Know For Certain

We live in uncertain times. Not even something as mundane as the weather seems to follow a predictable pattern anymore. Is it still winter? Or is spring in the air? These questions stump us so completely that we turn to groundhogs to answer them, and not even the groundhogs can agree. What seems to be truth changes as frequently as the wind blows.

There’s one thing you can always count on, however–you can always come to the UGL to find great books to read and great movies to watch in your downtime. You may not know how you did on that test, but while you wait to find out, you can always find a good distraction here. We’ve compiled a list of new arrivals from the UGL shelves to help you explore and cope with the indefinite nature of modern life.

What’s A Dog For? The Surprising History, Science, Philosophy, and Politics of Man’s Best Friend
by John Homans
There’s no doubt that dogs are wonderful to have around, but what is their true role in our society? The way we treat our canine companions has changed greatly over the last few centuries, and this book explores that ever-evolving relationship. Incorporating personal anecdotes and scientific studies, it may make you view your fuzzy friend in a new light.

directed by Ridley Scott
Are the people you know really people? Or are they merely beings genetically engineered to look like people? What does it really mean to be a person, anyway? And do androids ever have that dream where you have a test in a class you haven’t been to all semester? Feel Harrison Ford’s confusion as he grapples with these questions.

The Knowledge of Good and Evil
by Glenn Kleier
Ian’s parents died in a plane crash when he was young, and, though once a religious man, he is no longer certain if he will see them again in the afterlife. He and his wife, Angela, search for the lost journal of a dead theologian who might have the answers, but their quest is hindered by a mysterious cult. Will anything go right for them, and will they find the peace they desire? You’ll have to read to (maybe) find out.

Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness
by Susannah Cahalan
If you’ve ever watched an episode of House, you know that medical mysteries can be some of the most tense and unsettling mysteries of all. This real-life medical drama chronicles the harrowing experiences of a young woman whose sudden bizarre symptoms are misdiagnosed as psychiatric problems, and whose memories disappear from an entire month of her life. The correct diagnosis is made clear in the end, but Susannah is left unsure of how to deal with her missing time and fractured identity.

Culture War? The Myth of a Polarized America
by Morris P. Fiorina
Sometimes it can seem as if there are actually two Americas that disagree with each other deeply, instead of the fabled E Pluribus Unum. But are differences of political opinion among Americans really as great and divisive as they are often portrayed? What on Earth is the political climate really like? Author Morris Fiorina has some polling results and narratives that may help shed some light on the issue.

Will you have time to enjoy all these recommendations with all the other stuff you have to do? We’re not sure, but we’ll do our best to stand at your side while you figure it out.

# Spotlight On… Scholarly Commons

Here at the UGL, we’d like to think we’ve got you covered when it comes to helping out with just about any research need. But, we’re always happy to direct you to other libraries on campus that may be even better equipped to answer your questions. That’s why we’re shining a little light on the Scholarly Commons and all of the super-cool services they offer for students.

Dual Monitors!

If you’re taking a course this semester that deals with data, data services, data collection, GIS (graphical information system) data  and mapping, conducting surveys, etc., then you should definitely have the Scholarly Commons on your radar. (This covers a lot of fields, but students taking courses in the social sciences, political sciences, economics and applied health sciences—we’re particularly looking at you!) The Scholarly Commons has access to a wide variety of data sets that you can download and use, along with friendly experts who can help you access the data and the accompanying software.

Aside from access to data sets, the computers (a mix of dual-monitor PCs and Macs) all come equipped with data manipulation programs such as SAS, SPSS, Stata, Atlas.ti, NVivo, R and much more. If you’re familiar with these programs, then you’re already probably geeking out about the fact that there’s a place in the library to not only use them, but get help doing so. If you’re not as familiar, than you should definitely drop in and see what they’re all about.

Comfy furniture!

If you’re planning to collect your own data through surveys, samplings or other research methods, you can stop by the Survey Research Lab. This is a service that the Scholarly Commons pays for (so you don’t have to!) that provides help with constructing and conducting surveys, taking data samples and analyzing the data. The Survey Research Lab is open from 1pm-4pm every Tuesday.

So all of this sounds pretty rad, right? Well, there’s even more! Some other services at the Scholarly Commons include:

While the folks at the Scholarly Commons can’t give official copyright advice, they can talk through any questions you may have and help you explore all of your options.
• Savvy Researcher Workshops
A series of free workshops that teach a variety of topics from citation management tools like RefWorks and Zotero to how to use images without copyright restrictions.
• Special Equipment
Do you have a lot of pages to scan? You can use their sheet-feed scanner!
• Usability Lab
If you’re testing out websites for ADA-usability standards or ease of navigation, the usability lab is equipped with software (Silverback for Mac and Morae for Windows) that tracks what users are doing on a site and how they are navigating through it. (Note: the lab must be reserved to use, but is available for drop-in use as long as there is no other reservation for that time.)
• Digital Humanities
If you’re working on a project in the digital humanities, the Scholarly Commons has resources and tools that can help you make connections and create multi-media projects and presentations.

Ample workspace!

So, what are you waiting for? Get over to the Scholarly Commons asap! They’re located in Room 306 of the Main Library, and are open Monday-Wednesday-Friday from 1pm-5pm and Tuesday-Thursday from 10am-5pm. You can also contact them directly to set up an appointment outside of these hours. You won’t be sorry you stopped by—we promise!

Find other posts in the Spotlight On… series here.

# Celebrate Black History Month

The University of Illinois works hard to foster an atmosphere of diversity and inclusiveness. And all through the month of February, many organizations are hosting events to celebrate and honor Black History month.

Portrait of Maudelle Tanner Brown Bousfield courtesy of University Housing at Illinois

One of the coolest announcements recently was the board of trustee’s decision to name a new dorm after the first black woman graduate, Maudelle Tanner Brown Bousfield. Ms. Bousfield graduated in 1906 and went on to teach high school math. She also became the first African-American principal in Chicago’s public schools in 1928. The new dorm, which will be called Bousfield Hall and open in Fall 2013, will be located on the corner of First and Peabody.

But that’s not all! Check out some of the awesome events coming up this month:

And that doesn’t even begin to cover it. Several groups have on-going presentations and series throughout the month. The Bruce D. Nesbitt African American Cultural Center has a “Food for the Soul” series featuring some great topics for the month. And Inclusive Illinois has countless events happening, too.

And don’t forget about the Library. This month, there is a display on the first floor of the Music and Performing Arts Library for Black History Month, and on the second floor, they’re exhibiting hip-hop and rap materials, including recordings. Stop by, check it out, and learn something new!