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Archive | January, 2016

Engineering Research Database: Technological advancement

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The Engineering Research Database connects users with 11 different engineering databases and some 100,000 new records each year. There are more than 3,500 periodicals, conference proceedings, technical reports, trade journals, patents, books and press releases that the information is taken from. These databases contain information on civil engineering, biotechnology and much more. It contains subjects on aircraft design, magnetic levitation railways and many others to discover.

Information provided dates back to 1966. The platform tracks your recent searches and selected documents.

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By Katlyn Pierre, public relations intern. For more information about this resource or others

Image: Creative Commons

Race and Violence Research: Charting the Literature

For much of the 20th century, librarians fielding questions relevant to the topic of race and violence guided researchers to historical and general social science resources.

Scholars found articles about people, court cases, or events in databases like America: History and Life, or Sociological Abstracts. Primary evidence might be most easily found in newspapers, and court records. Photographic records, personal and agency records, newsreels, and video have long been available, but until large-scale digitization efforts were underway,  these were not readily accessible outside of individual archives.

In 2016, the range and number of resources on race and violence, and their ease of access, looks quite different.

It’s possible to create quick searches that reveal compelling patterns of growth and change in disciplinary topic treatment. A sophisticated multi-disciplinary database, like Web of Science, allows a search that offers evidence for expanding perspectives. Comparing decades, and using a search on “race OR racial” and “violence”, an effort identifies:

  • 1970-1979, 11 scholarly articles;
  • 1980-1989, 18 scholarly articles;
  • 1990-1999, 381 scholarly articles;
  • 2000-2009, 1,003 scholarly articles.

By the latest half decade, from 2010-2015, the same search identified 1,386 scholarly articles.

This exercise reveals the information explosion in research. But, these sorts of carefully constructed searches can offer evidence to help us  quantify, and pinpoint these “explosions” in a field.  What may be more intriguing, if not entirely surprising, is that while the 11 articles from 1970-1980 spanned across four broad disciplinary areas, notably sociology and ethnic studies, by the most current five years, the 1,386  identified articles spanned 50 broad research areas. These 50 include predictable disciplines like history, psychology and urban studies, but also include research in fields like substance abuse, anthropology and international relations. The largest current disciplinary area for this research appears to be in criminal penology, with emerging  research in areas as diverse as surgery and linguistics.

Today, librarians will want  to understand more about your interests in race and violence to recommend additional databases, but here are some starting suggestions:

Because Web of Science is also a citation-tracing database, it is possible to reveal author connections, disciplinary crossovers and persistence of research findings through citation analysis. This sort of search in Web of Science can quickly identify leading and new scholars in a field like race and violence, or other areas. For help with crafting a search in Web of Science that can reveal a quick picture of growth in disciplines relevant to topics that interest you, contact Sara Williams, liaison to African American Studies.

By Sara Williams, Head, Academic Outreach

Image: Black Panther Demonstration, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut, 1970, Black Studies Center

Journal Citation Reports: New look and features

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Journal Citation Reports (JCR) is available on the InCites platform from Thomson Reuters. It continues to provide journal citation data along with the calculated Impact Factor and Eigenfactor score but has been enhanced to include all years of data from both the Science and Social Sciences editions.

New features include:
• Network graphs and node visualizations to portray journal relationships at the category and title level.
• Ability to compare journals and view data based on various indicators.
• Options to download data tables in CSV or XLS format.
• Personal registration to save reports and lists on the website.

To learn more about these and other features, select from one of the short video tutorials  or register for a live online training session.

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Image: Creative Commons

Kanopy: Video streaming service

unnatural causes ... is inequality making us sick? and image of chart and peopleFind It

Kanopy, new in 2015-16, is a large, educational streaming video service. It provides easy access to more than 26,000 documentaries, feature films, shorts and more. Kanopy adds new videos regularly, so check back to browse new content.

Included are many of VCU Libraries’ most-circulated DVD and VHS titles: Still Killing Us Softly 4; La Jetee; The National Parks; Race, the Power of Illusion; A House Divided; Rome, Open City; Apted’s Up series; Crude, the Real Price of Oil; Graduating Peter; Art & Copy; Unnatural Causes.

View a video new to VCU through Kanopy: The Pleasures of Being Out of Step: Notes on the Life of Nat Hentoff; Harper Lee: From Mockingbird to Watchman; The Economics of Happiness; How Facebook Changed the World – The Arab Spring; The Lady in Number 6: Music Saved My Life; Plastic Tides; Precious Knowledge; The Distracted Mind

Collections include:

  • Feature and international films from: Criterion/Janus Films, New Day Films, First Run Features, Media Education Foundation, Kino Lorber Education, Flicker Alley (silent film classics), Film Movement
  • Documentaries from: Media Education Foundation, Green Planet Films, Roland Collection, Michael Blackwood, PBS, BBC, California Newsreel, Documentary Educational Resources,
  • Broad subject coverage: the arts, business, communication, diversity, education, experimental film, fashion, history, global studies, health, LGBT collections, literature, media, music, religion, psychology, sciences, sustainability, and technical training

Individual titles can be found within VCU Libraries Search. Kanopy online features include closed captioning, tools for links, social media and embedding players. Create an account to save clips and playlists. Explore through searching, browsing and recommendations, then refine through the subject, date, language and other limiters at the bottom, left of the interface.

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By Nell Chenault, Film and Performing Arts Research Librarian

Image: Unnatural Causes: Is Inequality Making Us Sick? 2008. Kanopy Streaming

Engineering Village: Research in engineering and physics

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Engineering Village is the
major database platform VCU Libraries provides for locating research papers in engineering. Something for nearly every conceivable engineering research topic, no matter how obscure, can be found there.

At VCU, Engineering Village has three science and engineering databases with less memorable names:

Ei Compendex

  • Broad and deep indexing of engineering
  • International scope, including papers in languages other than English
  • Includes conference presentations, not just journal articles
  • Built from the Engineering Index, with content going back to the 1874,  Ei Compendex is useful for locating primary sources in the history of technology
  • About 25,000 records added to it per week or 1.25 million per year


  • Physics plus engineering and computer science sources
  • Deep indexing


  • Reports from federally-funded research submitted to the National Technical Information Service
  • Saves the extra step of going to the NTIS site to search for them
  • Engineering Village gives a full-text link that connects to the NTIS site to order the reports there. Once a report is found in Engineering Village, it usually is less expensive to type in the title of a report into a search engine and access a free copy of the report on the agency’s site or to use interlibrary loan to get a copy via VCU Libraries.

By default, Engineering Village searches all three of these databases, but the databases can be searched individually by changing the check marks on the search screen.

The search box in Engineering Village uses the “controlled terms” from Ei Compendex to offer suggestions for what terminology to use. For exampling, if “fracking” is typed into the search box, it will suggest searching for “hydraulic fracturing.” By using this suggestion, Ei Compendex will retrieve all of the results it has tagged as being about hydraulic fracturing, regardless of whether the authors used that phrase or just the word “fracking.” Engineering Village also displays these controlled terms on the left side of the results screen. This is a valuable shortcut for narrowing results to a precise topic and a way to discover the vocabulary of a subject area.

Because the three databases in Engineering Village are indexing only databases, Engineering Village does not include complete articles. The easiest way to get to full-text papers is to use the Get it @ VCU button to connect back to VCU Libraries. For the articles, conference papers and reports that VCU Libraries doesn’t have, the library can still get them for VCU students, faculty and staff via Interlibrary Loan.

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By Julie Arendt, science and engineering research librarian 

Image: Zero Engineering Type 5, Thesupermat, Wikimedia Commons

Institute of Physics: Access to journals and books expanded

propeller-style graphic

The Institute of Physics (IOP) is a scientific nonprofit society with its roots going back to the Physical Society of London in 1874. IOP’s publishing division produces journals such as Journal of Physics and magazines such as Physics World.

In the fall 2015, VCU Libraries updated its subscriptions with IOP to the IOPscience package and platform. IOPscience includes a combination of journals and ebooks in physics and related fields. In addition to the IOP journals already in the collection, VCU Libraries has access to new journals, including

IOPscience includes a historic archive with perpetual access to 65 years of journal content. Most of these materials used to be available at VCU Libraries only in print. Also included in IOPscience are the eBook packages IOP Concise Physics and IOP Expanding Physics.

IOPscience comes to VCU courtesy of the Virtual Library of Virginia (VIVA). VIVA works for higher education institutions across the commonwealth to obtain resources that are shared by member libraries. By sharing resources among libraries, VIVA helps VCU Libraries and other Virginia libraries get good value for their library investments.

By Ibironke Lawal, engineering and science collections librarian

Image from New Journal of Physics wallpapers

ICPSR: Source for data in all forms

ICPSR Source

The Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research (ICPSR) data contains data collections and data-related tools that can facilitate teaching or working with data in many different forms. Data sets can be downloaded in SPSS, SAS, Stata and ASCII.

In addition to the traditional political and social research data, the database also houses different types of data such as health data. Here are some examples of the data available:

For more information or help with access with the ICPSR data, please contact Irene Lubker at or Nita Bryant at

By Irene Lubker, research and education librarian

Image: Measures of Effective Teaching Database

Manuscript Matcher suggests where to submit

articles in different journals

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When deciding where to submit their research for publication, most faculty use the topic, audience and reputation of the journal as their main criteria. Subjective judgment and advice on how to choose can be supplemented by computerized tools like Manuscript Matcher. Manuscript Matcher uses an abstract and, if provided, a reference list to generate a list of suggestions of journals where that article may be a good fit.

Some publishers, such as Elsevier and Springer, provide free tools to match your abstract to recommended journals, but their recommendations only include that publisher’s journals.  Manuscript Matcher suggests journals across many publishers. Journals in Web of Science’s Core Collection, Journal Citation Reports, or Arts and Humanities Citation Index could be a match. Although Manuscript Matcher is more comprehensive than publishers’ sites, it works best for subject areas that Web of Science covers well.

Along with the suggested journals, Manuscript Matcher displays the Journal Impact Factors. The display includes both the Journal Impact Factor number and a journal’s quartile relative to other journals in the same discipline.

To access Manuscript Matcher, go to Web of Science and click on the Endnote link near the top of the page. Login to EndNote account or create a free account if you don’t have one already. Within EndNote, click on “Match” to access the Manuscript Matcher. From there, you can enter a title and abstract into the Manuscript Matcher. To potentially improve the match, put your reference list in EndNote and link to the list in Manuscript Matcher.

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By Julie Arendt, science and engineering research librarian

Image: Modified from CiteRank Citation Network Diagram, Brookhaven National Laboratory

Stubbins: U.S. municipal buildings postcards

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Researchers studying planning, history, architecture and similar subjects that involve built environments now have a new national resource. The Stubbins Collection of U.S. County Courthouse and Municipal Building Postcards has been digitized and is now freely available online.

The collection features U.S. county courthouses and other municipal buildings such as town halls and city halls. The postcards represent every state except for North Carolina. Many of the buildings depicted were built  in the late 19th or early 20th century. Some no longer exist. The collection documents various architectural styles. Browsing the collection, you can find clock towers aplenty (Springfield, Mass., Springfield, Ohio, Lincoln, Neb. and more). You’ll find public buildings hundreds of miles apart that resemble each other. (Take a look at Richmond, Va.’s city hall and that of Grand Rapids, Mich.) Domes, columns, soaring arches are typical features of these turn-of-the-century governmental cathedrals.

The postcards also illustrate the various state government structures. Many states have at least two tiers of local government, counties and municipalities (village, town, city, and borough), but some have unique governing structures. For example, the Commonwealth of Virginia has 95 counties and 38 independent cities. In most states, cities are part of the county government.

This collection was amassed by James F. Stubbins, who taught pharmaceutical chemistry for 34 years at the School of Pharmacy, Virginia Commonwealth University. Born in Honolulu in 1931, his family was living in the Philippines when Pearl Harbor was bombed in 1941. Stubbins, along with his mother and brother moved to Denver to live with family until the war ended. When he was 14 the family moved to Las Vegas. Stubbins earned a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from the University of Nevada at Reno in 1953 and then served in the Army. He earned a master’s degree in organic chemistry from Purdue University in 1958 and a doctorate in medicinal chemistry in 1965 from the University of Minnesota. Stubbins joined the faculty of the Medical College of Virginia (now VCU) in 1963 as an assistant professor of pharmaceutical chemistry. Among the faculty, he was well known for his boxes of index cards on which he recorded the details of every scientific paper he read. Stubbins retired from VCU in 1996 and was granted emeritus professor status.

An avid postcard collector, he began the hobby as a young man. He was a founding member of the Old Dominion Postcard Club, formed in Richmond in 1978. Stubbins died on April 22, 2009. His family made a gift of his collection to Special Collections and Archives, James Branch Cabell Library in 2010.

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By Sue Robinson, director of communication and public relations. For more information about this resource or others

Image: Talladega County Court House, Talladega, Alabama, VCU Libraries Special Collections and Archives