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Information Research FAQ v.4.7 (Part 3/6)

Information Research FAQ: Resources, Tools & Training
Archive-name: internet/info-research-faq/part3
Posting-Frequency: monthly
Last-modified: April 2002
Copyright: (c) 2001 David Novak
Maintainer: David Novak <>

                  Information Research FAQ     (Part 3/6)

            100 pages of search techniques, tactics and theory
          by David Novak of the Spire Project (

    Welcome. This FAQ addresses information literacy; the skills, tools and
    theory of information research. Particular attention is paid to the
    role of the internet as both a reservoir and gateway to information

    The FAQ is written like a book, with a narrative and pictures. You have
    found your way to part three, so do backtrack to the beginning. If you
    are lost, this FAQ always resides as text at and
    and with pictures at

    This FAQ is an element of the Spire Project,
    the primary free reference for information research and an important
    resource for search assistance.

    ***    The Spire Project also includes a 3 hour public seminar titled
    ***    Exceptional Internet Research. This is a fast paced seminar
    ***    supported with a great deal of webbing, reaching to skills and
    ***    research concepts beyond the ground covered on our website and
    ***    this FAQ. has a synopsis.
    ***    I am in Europe, seminaring in Ireland and Europe though I
    ***    will be returning to the US shortly, and South Australia for
    ***    a seminar this October.

    David Novak -
    The Spire Project : and

    NOTE FOR RETURN READERS: previously, we prepared this section by
    converting work originally prepared in html. This became unproductive
    so we have limited the internet links in this FAQ and direct you to the
    more lengthy articles prepared in html. All the required links and
    search tool forms reside in other parts of the Spire Project, like the
    websites and free shareware

                            Information Venues
                                 Section 5

    At the successful completion of his work in Nubia, Shakh was invited to
    travel to Babylon as the assistant to the new ambassador. It had been
    many years since Egyptians were in official contact with the residents
    of the two rivers. All trade had been conducted through the Phoenicians
    living along the Mediterranean coast. With these cities captured by the
    Assyrians, new trade links were needed.

    The journey took much longer than Shakh had expected. Leaving Egypt in
    a simple boat, it took many months to reach the shores of Lebanon,
    where the tall cedar trees grew. These trees, essential to crafting
    fine sea-worthy ships, was just one of the items sought by the

    Within two weeks of their arrival in the Assyrian capitol Nineveh, the
    Ambassador fell ill and died. Without guidance, 18 months journey from
    Egypt, Shakh stepped into the position.

    His first task was to gather information both of the officials best to
    approach, and of Egyptian goods most likely to interest the Assyrians.
    With few local contacts, Shakh set about building connections with
    other governments, dining with export officials, collecting information
    about how other governments had succeeded and failed in their trade
    requests with the Assyrians. Shakh knew success would depend on
    approaching the most practical of officials while delicately
    side-stepping the wishes of the officials who threatened, or felt
    threatened, by Egypt.

                        - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

    While it may be practical to divide all information into a collection
    of formats, information is also organized by others for our benefit.
    Libraries, commercial databases, journals, information archives, each
    of these venues will assist you to find particular information. The
    information is already gathered together, classified and organized for
    your benefit. As a skilled researcher, you must be proficient in
    finding information from these resources.

                        - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

                        United Nations Information
             links and more at

    "The United Nations is involved in every aspect of international life -
    from peace-keeping to the environment, from children's rights to air
    safety. ... The UN system generates an enormous amount of information
    on some of the most pressing issues the world faces ... press releases,
    video and photographic footage, publications, briefing papers, etc."
    Samir Sanbar, A Guide to Information at the United Nations.

    United Nations documents are a recognized authority for any number of
    international issues: social, legal and political. You certainly will
    not be chastised for quoting United Nations statistics. Critical to
    research, the UN is a collection of almost autonomous organizations
    (called organs) with occasionally overlapping responsibilities,
    distinct websites, and recorded as distinct publishers. As you approach
    UN information, remember this is not a monolithic organization with
    clearly defined roles. All drug efforts are not coordinated by the
    UNDCP and all statistical work is not undertaken by the UN Statistical

    UN Internet Resources
    The UN website at is just one entry point to UN information.
    Of note, it contains a searchable archive of UN press releases
    stretching back to 1995, 7 days of press briefings, an archive section
    and information about UN publications. The real tool to use is UNIONS
    (, a meta-search engine for many
    of the larger UN organ websites.

    UN Library Resources
    The UN is an accomplished publisher, through their sales lists is not
    particularly large. It is just that anything they do publish is of a
    very high standard. Many documents are generated by the numerous
    meetings and efforts, so there is a second style of publishing, called
    Masthead or UNDoc documents, that are usually just photocopies. UNDoc
    are found in a collection of UN depository libraries around the world.
    (There is a good list at Thus we
    have the UNDoc primary source documents and UN Sales Documents, given a
    sales document number and sold and shelved in libraries as books.

    S/1997/742/Add.1, Report of the Secretary-General on the situation
    concerning Western Sahara: a brief breakdown of the estimated costs for
    completing the voter identification process in Western Sahara.

    Other documents have wider appeal...

    E.96.I.5, The United Nations and the International Tribunals for the
    former Yugoslavia and Rwanda - UN Blue Book Series

    S/1997/742/Add.1, Abortion Policies: A Global Review, Population
    studies No. 129: A three volume, 650 page country-by-country look at

    You can use the US Library of Congress Online Catalogue for a good
    approximate search of UN Sales documents. A search of UNDoc documents
    requires one of three comprehensive databases, like UN-Bis Plus, though
    you can also get the numbers to specific documents through UN
    periodicals like the Yearbook of the United Nations and the United
    Nations Chronicle.

    With 300+ shelves of UN documents at depository libraries, the UNDoc
    files are excellent records to history. The UNDoc Current Index (ceased
    publication in 1996) is an extensive quarterly directory (of the
    non-cumulative kind) just for this purpose.

    Further tools are available to help the dedicated searcher, like
    focused indexes and an annual list of current sales documents (also

    Trouble with Age
    United Nations publications do suffer time lags. The best documents
    appear well after the curve of public interest. Primary UNDOC documents
    will take up to 6 months before becoming available at a UN depository
    library and the Sales Documents are compiled after this. On the
    positive side, UN archives frequently extend back to the 1950s.

    Information Theory
    The UN has existed since the 1950s. The systems established to manage
    and distribute access to UN publications is at once both highly
    sophisticated and out-of-date. It is truly amazing to see 300 shelves
    of UN documents (a very big room mainly filled with stapled

    At the same time, it is only a matter of time before the whole concept
    of UN depository library is translated online. There is such potential
    savings (there are 359 depository libraries in the world but the UN
    pays for one in each country) and such an improvement in access.

    All the links and a few of the forms for searching UN information
    reside at

                           Government Information
             links and more at

    We pay a high price in both direct and indirect taxes for our
    government. These are intelligent people, paid to be informed.
    Government experts and documents are thus generally detailed, factual
    and reliable ... and helpful. It should not surprise you that
    government documents have a high quality, tend to have a little problem
    with time.

    Central to finding government information on the web is the way the
    clear organizational structure is replicated online. Each country will
    have a primary website with links to the websites of each national
    government department. Each state will have a primary website with
    links to the websites of each state government department. Each
    department website will link to all sub-departments. If you wanted to
    see the website for the New Zealand statistical agency, just visit the
    New Zealand government website, then look for the statistical agency.
    If you wanted to see the website for the Mississippi government agency
    responsible for childcare, just visit the US government website, find
    Mississippi, then look for an agency that might be responsible for the
    family, then keep clicking till you find the page you need.

    With a little more maturity, many corporate website were redesigned to
    present answers as they are needed by the visitors - instead of having
    marketing, accounting and distribution directories, websites were
    rearranged to have sections for customer sales, investor relations and
    distributor relations. Government website have begun the transformation
    too, with websites serving the perceived needs of visitors. Clever
    sites will present both structures but some will have an alternative
    structure linking you through to the agency website.

    * There are two fine internet directories of international government
    websites, one by the University of Michigan Documents Center, another
    by the University of Southern California.

    * There is a specialized, government-only webpage search engine called
    GovBot as developed by The Center for Intelligent Information Retrieval
    (CIIR). Altavista and All-the-Web also let you restrict a large global
    search to a specific domain. This allows you to search just for .gov

    * Government Publications are effectively organized in a national
    publication database. The US MOCAT database (Monthly Catalog of US
    Government Publications), the Australian AGIP (Australian Government
    Index of Publications (AGIP) and the United Kingdom Stationery Office
    publications list are all free online.

    For information not available, many nations permit Freedom of
    Information (FOI) requests. This essentially forces government agencies
    to release information they can not justify keeping secret. FOI
    requests may cost you a token fee (and is often less for members of the
    media). The Electronic Frontiers Foundation (EFF) maintains a good FOI
    archive (, as does the Society of
    Professional Journalists (

                           Commercial Databases
          links and more at

    Commercial databases are simply collections of information presented
    electronically. Databases range in size from simple books made
    searchable, to several billion records in the larger news databases.
    The retail database industry is obscure. Costs are highly variable and
    difficult to determine in advance. Products with the same name may
    contain different information. Databases are frequently combined into
    larger collections of databases, (also called databases,) often several
    times, so an individual magazine or database may exist within several
    databases and several collections.

    Within this confusion are a collection of definitive, must-search
    databases. Definitive databases are determined by successful marketing.
    Not necessarily the 'best', nor most useful, but the market-successful
    become definitive resources. From there, success breeds further value.
    Such databases will be invaluable in your search for answers. More
    discussion on the database industry can be found in section 9 of this

    Free Databases
    At the edge of the database industry are a number of prominent
    databases that have emerged as free databases, delivered over the
    internet directly from their source. Look briefly at some of these

    * ERIC, (Education Resources Information Center) is presented by the
    [US] National Library of Education. Established in 1966, ERIC is one of
    the cornerstone databases for the education field and provides
    citations & abstracts to education-related literature.

    * CRIS, (Current Research Information System) is produced by the US
    Dept of Agriculture (USDA) and includes Canadian, USDA, and Czech
    agriculture, food and forestry research. Projects sponsored by these or
    affiliated agencies are included

    * Agricola is produced by the [US] National Agricultural Library and
    its cooperators. This is an important bibliographic database covering
    agriculture and all the related disciplines (including forestry &
    agri-business & alternative agriculture). Started in 1970, this has
    become an important database limited only by its bibliographic nature.

    * Thomas, presented by the [US] Library of Congress, delivers US
    legislative information (including Congress, Representatives, Senate &
    the many committee reports).

    * EDGAR, produced by the (US) Securities and Exchange Commission,
    delivers all public US company submissions as required by law. The
    information is factual and numerical - and includes both current and
    past submissions.

    * MOCAT, UKOP and AGIP are the US, UK and Australian government
    publication databases

    * The Library of Congress, The British Library, and The National
    Library of Australia card catalogues can be searched online.

    * Medline is produced by the [US] National Library of Medicine and
    delivers references to all areas of medicine (including nursing,
    dentistry, nutrition), with some abstracts.

    * The United States Department of Energy (DOE) publishes The DOE
    Information Bridge, a database with full-text and bibliographic records
    of DOE-sponsored research and development. Covers research projects in
    energy sciences and technology.

    * BIOGRAPHY(r) Online is published at and includes
    15000+ biographical abstracts - but most are really really short.

    For more free bibliographic databases, I strongly suggest you read
    Bases de donnИes gratuites (
    by Jean-Pierre Lardy. This directory has over 200 entries! Use the
    Altavista Babelfish to have a look at it.

    All Databases
    Gale Research produces the Gale Directory of Databases (in 2 volumes).
    This is the definitive listing of databases in the world, for the
    moment. Most large libraries will have a copy. New editions are
    released every 6 months.

    There are also smaller, more focused directories like Fulltext Sources
    Online published by Information Today or The Directory of Australian
    and New Zealand Databases by the Australian Database Development
    Association (ADDA).

    Database Industry
    You will access commercial databases through one of five basic sources.

    1_ From a Commercial Database Retailer,
    2_ From alternatively funded (free) internet sources,
    3_ Through a Library or other venue with a site license,
    4_ With the help of an Information Professional (searching for you),
    5_ Directly from the source with a personal subscription.

    Consider the Commercial Database Retailer as the department store of
    the information market. The industry is dominated by a handful of
    dedicated retailers like The Dialog Corporation, Lexis-Nexis, and
    InfoMart. Other retailers focus on certain types of databases.

    Retailers select the databases they carry, and enjoy mark-ups in the
    region of 300% to 400% from which they provide customer service,
    support and promotion. So very much service and promotion is provided
    that these retail giants hold a pivotal role in the distribution of
    commercial databases.

    The most important selection tool for databases is the database
    description. These are factual, accurate descriptions of what each
    database includes and how they can be searched.

    Many of the database descriptions are online. To facilitate finding
    these, we have added links here and in other articles. Further
    descriptions may be available from retailer websites.

    A list of database retailers follow.

    * The Dialog Corporation (, a merger of Dialog,
    Datastar and M.A.I.D. The largest database retailer by far, the
    databases are general.
    * Lexis-Nexis especially carries full text and legal research
    * Questel/Orbit specializes in patent and technical science databases
    * EINS (European Information Network Services) appears offer discount
    access to technical databases.
    * Infomart Dialog (Canada) has Canadian coverage with many of the
    Dialog databases.
    * FT Profile is the information wing of Financial Times (UK).

    There are further database retailers specifically focused on the
    library market like OCLC's FirstSearch. Further databases are focused
    on business needs, like DowJones and Dun & Bradstreet.

    In addition, there are always the individual databases which undertake
    the difficult task of retailing by themselves.

    Databases are complex structures based on the inverted index and on a
    range of search technologies including Boolean terms, truncation,
    complex limits, descriptors, filters, ranking and more. Certainly the
    technology is becoming easier to use (look at the Reuters Business
    Briefing for state of the art), but there is still much to learn. An
    experienced searcher will locate far better results than a novice.
    However, an uninvolved searcher has a handicap, both in price and
    language. Sometimes it is wise to get help searching a database,
    sometimes it is not.

    The commercial database industry is shifting to use the internet as the
    preferred delivery vehicle. Considerable changes are coming too - not
    the least a tumble in the price of information.

    Another change is a move towards full text databases. Some databases
    include only bibliographic information, many provide abstracts, but
    only a small fraction include full text. This will frustrate you deeply
    as full text databases are so very very convenient.

    Researching databases is incredibly difficult and cumbersome. They
    challenge the mind, stretch far beyond the simple skills of searching
    the internet, and since every minute is expensive, there is much added

    But this is a skill like any other. Practice with the databases of your
    local research university at an off-peak time (mornings are good) and
    using the CD-ROM versions - learn on something free and not 2$ a

    A database is a collection of anything - meaning a database blissfully
    passes on the chaos for us to deal with rather than presenting a more
    logical/understandable front like the web (humour intended). This
    character has also blurred the contours of a database. Most small
    databases are merely digested versions of small books and directories,
    often made available to you at 50 cents a page. Of course, large
    databases are just hard to conceive, let alone describe.
    Word-searchable libraries? World knowledge snapshots? Commercial
    information marketing firms go further and group similar databases
    together into massive multi-database topic searches with phenomenal

    A Myriad of Databases
    A primary difficulty comes from the sheer number of databases in
    existence today. To get a feel for the size of this industry, stop by a
    large library and ask for the Gale Directory of Databases Volume 1: the
    partially definitive listing of global databases. The absolute number
    will astound you. This also explains why some of us are so excited
    about internet development. Just making the existing databases more
    easily available will transform our society. The Information age is
    just starting.

    Database Quality
    All research is guided by the resources at hand. Most amateur
    researchers suffer because they have very few resources at hand (or
    think they do). Research is also guided by the budget, the time and
    perhaps the skill. When selecting research databases, try to be aware
    of three further factors:

    Research here is easiest on Australian, British and American resources.
    This may be unfortunate or of little consequence, but does bear
    consideration. Many large databases are also large only because of
    their range of information. Which is better, searching 6000 magazines
    or 600 business magazines. Depends on the research topic.

    There are many databases which can claim definitive coverage but there
    are many more which should be kept in reserve. Just like the internet,
    a researcher is not expected to look at everything relevant, just
    enough to get to the solution.

    Global Textline was a database of phenomenal size, indexing text from
    over a hundred newspapers globally, reaching back many years.
    Australian Education Index (AEI) includes the contents of a small book
    of Education related theses abstracts. Each topic may only include 10
    relevant theses over 5 years. Size is a thus linked to database value.
    Searching Global Textline will always turn up leads. AEI will not.

    Selecting a Database
    Despite the factual nature of information research, word of mouth
    appears to be tremendously important in choosing databases. Some guides
    do describe the quality of various databases, and make valuable
    suggestions, but such guides also age rapidly as new products emerge. A
    rough understanding may emerge with practice. Our advice appears in
    other articles.

                             Discussion Groups
           links and more at

    Mailing Lists, Newsgroups, Associations - each are focal points of
    discussion, exchange of information and professional development.
    Sometimes called Special Interest Groups (SIGs), these are the original
    sources of many fine research resources. Brilliant research sites in
    their own right, a mailing list, newsgroup or association can also be a
    fine contact point for experts, or the site of focused, specialized

    The copyright mailing list is a group of more than 100 lawyers who
    focus on copyright. This list, and their Copyright FAQ, are the best
    resources on copyright law in the world; current, factual, and
    peer-reviewed. This is not unusual for a mailing list. As a source of
    experts, I once found an accomplished but poorly published scientist
    from an old message in a mailing list archive.

    Having said this, discussion groups are not organized for casual
    searching. Even when discussion is archived and searchable, finding and
    searching past discussion tends to be difficult. There is more to this
    resource than just asking a question but the other options are not

    Mailing Lists
    * Tile.Net/Lists ( has a fine index of mailing
    * Liszt is the second place to look.
    * The Directory of Scholarly and Professional E-Conferences, known also
    as the Kovacs Lists is third.
    * subject guides listed in the Argus Clearinghouse also refer to
    relevant mailing lists.

    Search several list directories for more rewarding results. Also keep
    in mind some lists have too little or too much traffic for your
    purpose. Find a list with a manageable number of messages and a wide
    enough membership. This takes a little effort in interrogating the list
    management software for the number of forum members, a look at past
    discussion, perhaps a look for supporting websites.

    If you have a newsgroup reader, you have a file called news.rc on your
    computer which lists all the available on your computer. also
    has a searchable list of newsgroups. Duke University can help you find
    additional newsgroups that exist but require you to ask your ISP to
    bring in.

    A more effective approach is to undertake a search of past newsgroup
    posts and select from the response a list of likely newsgroups to
    consider. Altavista allows searches of recent newsgroup messages. has an even larger archive (to before March '95).

    Another option is to search for an FAQ (like this one). Most summarize
    past discussion on successful newsgroups. The FAQ may be a brilliant
    informative document in itself, or the definitive pointer to further
    tools and resources. By virtue of its public origin, FAQs are far more
    likely to attract the peer review often very lacking from other
    resources. They are also open invitations to communicate with the
    knowledgeable FAQ maintainers.

    * FAQs can be searched by title by sites like Oxford University and
    Universiteit Utrecht (Netherlands), or if you know a newsgroup, visit
    an html FAQ archive like the one at

    Associations are more involved than their internet companion.
    Associations are also more into paper publishing, conferencing and
    collating specialist statistics. As an example, the Australian
    Booksellers Association publishes the best benchmark statistics on this
    topic. When approaching an association, consider asking for their
    publications list.

    Directory of Associations are national directories. The [US]
    Encyclopedia of Associations is produced by Gale Research. The
    Directory of Australian Associations is the definitive Australian
    source. Directory of Associations in Canada. Directory of Association
    of Asia.

    Some association directories have emerged online, like Directory of the
    American Society of Association Executives. Unfortunately, the database
    is small & Americanocentric. A search for 'book' did get me the address
    of the American Booksellers Association, but not others. Of course if
    you have a name, you could also use a meta-search engine like
    Debriefing. Alternatively, the Library of Congress Online Catalogue
    allows us to search for association as an author.

    There are three important research applications for mailing lists.1)
    Research through past discussion, 2) Directly ask members for
    assistance, 3) Become a participative member to pick up and exchange
    information. On a personal side, mailing lists are easy to use and a
    minimal investment in time (the information comes to you). However,
    mailing lists are difficult to develop and maintain. Few reach the
    potential brilliance of this form of communication, so many of the
    forums you come across will be non-existent or on their death-bed.

    Mailing lists depend on four vital ingredients - Content,
    Participation, IT-support, and Management. Often, one of these go wrong
    and the forum dies. As a member, there are important obligations
    starting with participation, and ending with forum etiquette.

    The better forums are private. Membership is not automatic, the list
    manager has more control, and often, more control and effort is
    expended developing interesting content and discussion. If you find a
    closed or private forum, persevere.

    When a group of like-minded individuals come together to achieve an
    aim, they often create an association. What better place to research.
    Even better, associations often interpret their purpose as a place to
    pool and distribute information. Larger associations often maintain a
    small library of their own and many associations publish documents
    about their area of interest. Furthermore, if you are seeking an expert
    in a given field, associations are sure to have one, or two, or many.
    For the smaller associations, be polite but firm in describing your
    interest and be ready to buy whatever small book they do publish in
    your quest for further information.

    The FAQ
    An FAQ is created to enhance the discussion of a newsgroup. After a
    time, the initial members of a newsgroup would have discussed many of
    the standard topics to death, which newcomers will still find
    interesting. To prevent only discussing introductory topics (and
    annoying long-term members) an FAQ is created to record answers to
    standard questions.

    Because one of the primary functions of a special interest group is
    resource discovery - and because FAQs are collectively created, they
    are valuable and generally reliable. I consider the Official Copyright
    FAQ the best document in the world on copyright law.

    As an aside, many FAQs are also available as web pages. Trouble is,
    without an system to vet true newsgroup FAQs, you are far more likely
    to encounter FAQs which have not been vetted by the news.answers team.
    The Official Copyright FAQ is 70+ pages of topical and factual detail
    with links to further information. There are several other copyright
    FAQs with less than 10 pages, (and not particularly concerned with
    providing information). Access an established FAQ archive for your
    FAQs. has a small list (
    Another longer list resides midway down this document

    Special interest groups are problematic because the task of preparing
    and presenting guidance is secondary to their main aims. Those that do
    actively publish do so through books (with the association as the
    author) or articles or newsprint... Sometimes, as in mailing lists,
    almost as an afterthought, past discussion is indexed and searchable.

    This situation is not likely to change. Technology could potentially
    aggregate past discussion from many mailing lists, but too much
    commercialism would swiftly kill open discussion. Then again, existing
    efforts like the archive of the business librarians list have taken a
    very proprietary view of messages within their discussion. Notice also
    that a database of newsletters failed commercially a few years back for
    lack of interest. No dramatic improvements are likely to emerge from
    this direction.

                                The Library
           links and more at

    Libraries are integral parts to the research process if for no other
    reason than public funds are used to buy the expensive research tools
    you will occasionally use. More and more libraries are extending their
    reference collections to include CD-ROMs and computer resources.

    Specialty libraries are special. Focus allows for far greater expertise
    and innovative research resources. Specialty libraries are prime
    research venues, and specialty librarians are considerable reservoirs
    of research expertise. All government agencies, and many large
    corporations & wealthy associations, have specialty libraries. While
    many may not invite public access, almost all are universally open to

    * Very large libraries, by virtue of their sheer size, become important
    research resources. This would include the US Library of Congress, the
    British Library, the [UK] COPAC unified library catalogue, the National
    Library of Australia, and the National Library of Canada.

    * To find a specific library websites, visit either Libweb
    ( ) or Libdex
    ( or a few other link sites.

    * A directory of specialist libraries will direct you to the highly
    focused libraries found within corporate, association or government
    organizations. An Australian directory exists online. The Directory of
    Special Libraries in Australia by ALIA is the definitive source.
    American Library Directory is a commercial database and probably a
    print directory too.

    Note: All these libraries will probably let you access information - if
    you come asking kindly with specific information in mind. Always ask
    how you would gain access, and assume access is possible (though not

    There are also a collection of mixed information directories which are
    research-worthy. Croner's A-Z of [UK] Business Information Sources and
    the Aslib Directory of Information Sources in the United Kingdom are
    prominent examples. These directories appear to be less than definitive
    but the ASLIB Directory (the larger of the two at 1500+ pages) is
    certainly something to behold. Aslib, under the subject "Egypt" lists
    the British Museum, the Egypt Exploration Society, the Tutankhamun
    Exhibition, and the York College of Further & Higher Education - all
    with really good contact details.

                        Zines, Magazines & Journals
           links and more at

    Zines, Magazines, Journals and Newsletters; each incorporate the
    valuable services of quality control, editorial input, and focus.
    Newsprint, though similar in concept, is best dealt with separately.

    The trouble with using periodicals in research is their unfocussed view
    of the world. Reading through a topical periodical is such a passive
    approach to finding information. The information is likely to be
    interesting, but hardly likely to answer your questions. At best, you
    are 'keeping up-to-date' in your field.

    The solution to this is the database search of either full-text or
    bibliographic/abstract information from a great many periodicals.

    Before we reach for the database search, let us run through the ways to
    find periodicals.

    * Zines are listed in three primary online directories: John Labovitz's
    E-Zine-list, the NewJour mailing list, the ARL Directory of Electronic
    Journals, and by browsing some of the university zine collections.

    * Print periodicals are listed in three primary directories: Ulrich's
    International Periodical Directory, EBSCO's Serial Directory, and
    Newsletters in Print, and by browsing the periodical collections of
    primary libraries like the Library of Congress.

    * A few further online lists of periodicals exist like one for US
    magazines and another for Australian Magazines.

    Since periodicals are a passive form of research, a search for
    promising periodicals is not the usual way of doing a search.
    Organizations will often subscribe to promising periodicals then
    circulate them among interested parties, facilitating the passive
    collection of information.

    The directories above represent one way to find promising periodicals.
    A better way is to search the databases for promising articles, then
    paying attention to promising periodicals which appear frequently.
                    This document continues as Part 4/6
    Copyright (c) 1998-2001 by David Novak, all rights reserved. This FAQ
    may be posted to any USENET newsgroup, on-line service, website, or BBS
    as long as it is posted unaltered in its entirety including this
    copyright statement. This FAQ may not be included in commercial
    collections or compilations without express permission from the author.
    Please send permission requests to

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