How to read a scientific abstract

The editor of Nature wrote a piece on the Huffington post recently about how to read a scientific abstract.

A well-written abstract typically provides several basic types of information about a research project in concise arrangement, facilitating the reader’s ability to quickly ascertain the context, questions asked or purpose, results & methodology, interpretation and conclusions of one particular line of experimentation. The presentation style can vary widely from publisher to publisher, but each important element can often be identified by language cues or even more simply, by the order of the sentences.

He then walks through an abstract, explaining each part. It’s a great read, check it out here.

Posted by: Ellen Hampton Filgo Comments

Help! I need to put my paper in Chicago style!!!!

Are you trying to figure out Chicago (or APA, or MLA, or SBL) or any other style your final paper needs to be put in and don’t know how?  Consider using Zotero to help you with this task, even if you have already typed your paper. The original post on Zotero in Library 411 says it all: “it will make  your life a whole lot easier,” especially as you are juggling all the deadlines the end of the semester brings with it.

Trust me (and the several students I’ve helped over the past two days), taking the 15 to 20 minutes to follow the directions below result in a big time saving for you.  One student’s comment was “How did I not know about this before?”

Once you add your sources to Zotero, you can use it to create the final bibliography (with a tweak from you) and your in-text citations, footnotes, or endnotes without adding stress to your writing process.

You’ll need the following software:

  • Firefox web browser
  • Zotero plug in for Firefox
  • Zotero word processor plug ins (for Word for MS Office or Macs, or Open Office)

all of these are available from the Zotero guide’s Home Page.

Follow the directions in the Zotero Guide to:

  • Create a free Zotero account (which will let you syncronize your library regardless of what computer you’re working on)
  • Create a “Collection” folder for the paper you are working on and be sure to have that folder highlighted in your list of folders (even if its the only one for now).

After you do these things, gather your list of books, articles, websites, blog posts, etc.  It’s helpful to sort them by type of source (book, journal article, web site, etc.).

Next, you’ll search for the books, articles, and web pages, etc. which you used in your paper.  For this you’ll need to use BearCat (for the books), the various journal article databases (like EBSCO’s Academic Search Complete), and Firefox (for websites you used) to find then add each source to the Zotero collections folder.  Look at the Zotero guide’s tab “Saving Citations” for directions on this.

  • Check each citation as it is added to Zotero to be sure that the title or some other part of the information isn’t in all capitals or has some other quirk.  You can change these “errors” in the entry for each item so that you won’t have to change each citation or bibliography entry individually
  • Choose and set your citation style preference to MLA, APA, Chicago, or whatever style your paper needs to be written in

Now you can add in your in-text citations, footnotes, etc., and your bibliography.  No matter how many items you have in your Zotero folder for this paper, the final bibliography will include only the items you’ve included as citations in your paper.

The only final task you’ll need to do manually is to make sure you place your bibliography on a separate page and give it the proper heading name for the citation style you are using (Works Cited, References, Bibliography, etc.).

See below for some videos on how to get your resources into Zotero as well as how to cite and create bibliographies for your paper.

Posted by: Eileen M. Bentsen Comments

Halloween in ARTstor

Want to see some great scary images for Halloween? Check out ARTstor, the fantastic digital image library that you have access to from the Baylor Libraries.

First of all, check out the Farber Gravestone Collection, provided by the American Antiquarian Society. It contains “more than 13,500 images documenting the sculpture on more than 9,000 early American grave markers, mostly made prior to 1800” like this one:

According to the ARTstor blog,

“You can also do a search for “Day of the Dead” to find images of calacas, skeleton toys from Mexico. There are also some artists who were great at portraying the dark side: You may be familiar with Henry Fuseli’s famous “Nightmare,” but a simple search of his name leads to several equally scary works, including a different version of the painting and several prints with the same theme; a search for “caprichos” will lead you to Francisco Goya’s legendary series of prints, rife with witches, demons, and gloomy owls, and a search for “Goya witches” to a set of his most unsettling paintings and etchings; similarly, search “Baldung witches” to see a number of the German Renaissance painter Hans Baldung’s ghoulish drawings, or search for his name to see his famous “Death and the Maiden”; and a search for Jose Guadalupe Posada will result in the Mexican artist’s famous “Calaveras,” satirical engravings of skeletons popular during the holiday.”

Check out some of those searches and try some other Halloween-y type words – witches, pumpkins, candy – and see what ARTstor has to offer!

"Ya es hora." by Francisco Goya y Lucientes, 1799

Day of the Dead figurine, skeleton dog, ceremonial, Mexico, 2002

Posted by: Ellen Hampton Filgo Comments

Coffee reading and research

Depending on whether you heard the news over the summer, you may have been pleasantly surprised by the new addition to the Moody foyer when you arrived on campus this semester.  Yes, Moody Library is now proud to house a Starbucks coffee shop in our entrance.


If you’re a fan of all things java, here are a few other coffee-related library materials to give you some interesting reading while you’re downing your venti soy chai latte.

We’ve got a lot of books about coffee hidden in our stacks – just take a look at a few of the subject headings:

Here are some of the intriguing titles I found while searching through BearCat:
Allen, S. L. (1999). The Devil’s Cup: Coffee, the Driving Force in History. New York: Soho.
Fridell, G.  (2007). Fair Trade Coffee the Prospects and Pitfalls of Market-Driven Social Justice. Studies in comparative political economy and public policy. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.
Hattox, R. S. (1985). Coffee and Coffeehouses: The Origins of a Social Beverage in the Medieval Near East. Near Eastern studies, University of Washington. Seattle: Distributed by University of Washington Press.
Parker, S. F., & Austin, M. W. (Eds.). (2011). Coffee: Philosophy for Everyone: Grounds for Debate. Philosophy for everyone. Chichester, West Sussex; Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell.
Schultz, H. (1997). Pour Your Heart into It: How Starbucks Built a Company One Cup at a Time (1st ed.). New York, NY: Hyperion.
Weissman, M. (2008). God in a Cup: The Obsessive Quest for the Perfect Coffee. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.

If you’d like some solid statistics on coffee drinking to provide justification for the amount of time you will be spending in the Moody Foyer this semester, the library can also help you.  Check out the database called Proquest Statistical Insight and in the search box type “Subject: Coffee” for lots of great industry data, sales and market share indicators, agricultural production statistics and a whole lot more.

While you’re on a hunt for research, check out the database called Sociological Abstracts and do a search for the term “coffeehouses” and read up on all the fascinating ways the coffeehouse has contributed to social development all over the world.  Then think about what could happen to you this semester at Baylor, as you read your class assignments and do your own research while sipping a cup of joe at our new Starbucks in the library.

Posted by: Ellen Hampton Filgo Comments

Access to the New York Times

big iPhone in Apple store window displaying New York Times

On March 28, 2011, the New York Times implemented a new policy regarding access to articles from their website,  That policy restricts access to 20 articles/month, unless you have a personal subscription to the paper New York Times or unless you set up a digital subscription.

Because of questions we’ve received from Baylor faculty, students, and staff, we contacted the New York Times to see if they have a subscription model so libraries can set up a digital subscription for their constituents.  They responded to us that they did not have such a model in place.

However, if people currently enrolled at or employed by Baylor University want to set up a personal digital subscription, they will receive a 50% discount because of their affiliation with Baylor University.  To receive that discount, do the following:

  1. Login to or create your account at the NYTimes website.  Note:  Make sure this account is associated with your Baylor e-mail address.
  2. Go to College Readership Digital Subscription.
  3. Complete the form on that page (select your status at Baylor and provide the name of the university (Baylor University).
  4. The next screen will indicate that a message has been sent to your Baylor e-mail account.
  5. When that message appears in your e-mail account (check your junk mail if you don’t see it), click on the link provided in that message.
  6. The screen that displays will be a form to complete to set up your personal digital subscription.  Near the top, slightly right of center, you should see the weekly subscription rate (at a 50% discount) , which will be billed to your credit card every 4 weeks.

Alternatively, the Baylor University Libraries do provide access to the New York Times from a number of our databases, which are listed below:


Thanks to the New Electronic Resources @ BU blog for this info!

Posted by: Ellen Hampton Filgo Comments

Google Art Project

If you haven’t already checked out Google Art Project, drop whatever you’re doing and head there now! –> With GAP, you can explore important museums from around the world. Go on a virtual tour and examine hundreds of works of art, many at amazingly zoomed levels (closer than the guards would let you get to the real thing!) You can also create and share your own collection of artwork from the galleries you visit.

Screen shot: Google Art Project site

Creatively using Google’s well-known “street view technology” from Google Maps, you can virtually walk around the museums, seeing the art just as you would if you were visiting the museum in person. There’s a great visitor’s guide that explains how the GAP works, gives you a behind the scenes look at how GAP was created.

Museums currently involved in the project are:
Alte Nationalgalerie, Berlin – Germany
Freer Gallery of Art, Smithsonian, Washington DC – USA
The Frick Collection, NYC – USA
Gemäldegalerie, Berlin – Germany
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, NYC – USA
MoMA, The Museum of Modern Art, NYC – USA
Museo Reina Sofia, Madrid – Spain
Museo Thyssen – Bornemisza, Madrid – Spain
Museum Kampa, Prague – Czech Republic
National Gallery, London – UK
Palace of Versailles – France
Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam – The Netherlands
The State Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg – Russia
State Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow – Russia
Tate Britain, London – UK
Uffizi Gallery, Florence – Italy
Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam – The Netherlands

Posted by: Sha Towers Comments

All the words fit to print – and then some most excellent stuff

I’m going to start this post with one of my favorite language stories.

If I called you a “nice person” you’d feel that was a complement, right?  Ah, but that’s by today’s standard.  For Chaucer to call someone a “nice” person was to say that person was foolish, silly, or ignorant.  Both Chaucer and Shakespeare could also use it to describe someone as “wanton” or “dissolute” (think of the Prodigal Son, here).

The resource, par excellence, for exploring the past use of words in English is the Oxford English Dictionary (OED).  Not only does this dictionary give you the definitions of words, but it will cite the word’s use in that sense as used in literature, letters, and other documents down through the years.  For many years while doing my doctoral research I had the compact OED on my shelf and consulted it frequently as I worked with Middle English and Middle Scots literature.  I should explain that the compact OED compressed the original 12 volume  into 2 and came with a magnifying glass – which you didn’t want to lose or you’d have quite a time reading the very small print.

Compact Oxford English Dictionary

The OED has a long and distinguished history as a reference tool (I’ll list of a few of the books written about it below) and now it has been “relaunched” as an online product: Oxford English Dictionary Online.  Now, not only can you search for meanings of words, you can find out which authors and publications are the most cited in the quotation examples; you can see, through the “Timelines” section, which decade/half-century had the most new words introduced into the English language; and you can search for “loan words” from other languages that have become part of the English language.  The “Historical Thesaurus” section will let you explore the changing use of a word by concept through time and language shifts . . .  

But enough of my rambling on.  Time to go play and explore.  I’ve developed a small intro “quiz.”  If you’d like to take it I have a surprise for two folks who complete the quiz correctly (random drawing from all correct entries). Here’s the link:  “Quiz” deadline is February 11th; surprises announced on February 13th.


Interesting Reads on the OED (BearCat links where available; Amazon where not):

Berg, Donna L. A Guide to the Oxford English Dictionary. 1993.  Part II, the “Companion” includes notes on people important to the development of the OED, the sources used, and interesting facts.

Gilliver, Peter, et al. The Ring of Words: Tolkien and the Oxford English Dictionary. 2006.

Shea, Ammon. Reading the OED: One Man, One Year, 21,730 Pages. 2008.

Willinsky, John.  Empire of Words: The Reign of the OED. 1994.

Winchester, Simon.  The Meaning of Everything: The Story of the Oxford English Dictionary. 2003.

Winchester, Simon.  The Professor and the Madman: A Tale of Murder, Insanity, and the Making of the Oxford English Dictionary. 1998.

Posted by: Eileen M. Bentsen Comments (1)

Facebook security

Here’s an interesting bit of Facebook security news that is of interest to well, anyone reading this who might be on Facebook!

Presence dongle

Facebook is rolling out a new security feature in the Account Settings – Secure Browsing. Basically, it means that if you check a certain box, you can log into Facebook using the encrypted “HTTPS” protocol, which means that when you are surfing Facebook in a place with a poorly secured wireless network (say, at Starbucks or Panera, etc.) someone else at that site who might possibly have software to “sniff out” usernames and passwords will not be able to do so.

This is something you should enable right away! To do so, go into your Account Settings and click “change” nest to “Account Security” and look for the checkbox under “Secure Browsing (https)” and get on the security train! Facebook has stated that they are still rolling out the option to all their users, so check back often to see if it’s been rolled out to you!

Posted by: Ellen Hampton Filgo Comments

Zotero will make your life easier!

Zotero is a free, easy-to-use tool that will make your life a whole lot easier.

Zotero is an add-on for the Firefox web browser that allows you to quickly collect, manage and cite your research resources. With one-click you can download citation information for books from BearCat, Amazon, or another library catalog, articles from a large number of the databases the Baylor Library subscribes to, like Jstor, Academic Search Complete, Science Direct or IEEE (for starters!). You can also collect citation information for newspapers, videos from YouTube, pictures from Flickr, or even archive web pages that you have found for your research.

After you download your citations, you can manage them with categories or tags; sort them by title, author or date added; and search for your resources using an iTunes like interface right in your web browser.

And if that’s not enough to send you into fits of joy, you can also drag and drop your resources into Microsoft Word, or any other word processing program (Google Docs, your email, etc.) to automatically format the resource into the proper citation style format – MLA, APA, Chicago (there are literally thousands to choose from with Zotero!) You can also download word processor plugins to seamlessly integrate your Zotero library with Microsoft Word or Open Office to format in-text citations and generate a bibliography when you are writing papers.

Check out this screencast which will introduce you to all the great features of Zotero:

If you’d like to learn more, you can check out the Baylor Library research guide on Zotero, or come to one of the introductory workshops at the library in the next few weeks.

Workshop times:

  • Thursday, January 27, 4-5 pm
  • Wednesday, February 2, 3:30-4:30 pm
  • Tuesday, February 8, 4-5 pm

Sign up for the workshop time of your choice here.

Posted by: Ellen Hampton Filgo Comments

Citation Clinic tonight!

Reference librarians Ellen Filgo and Eileen Bentsen will be hosting a Citation Clinic this evening in the Moody Library Study Commons – Dottie Riley Room. Stop by this drop in hour to get help with citations on your papers. They can show you how to use Zotero, Refworks as well as give you tips about oodles of different citation styles. They will be there to help you! Drop on by!

Posted by: Ellen Hampton Filgo Comments

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