science

science

Primary Science

Primary Science

The use of primary sources is a staple of academic research – these are sources created by someone involved in the matter being described.  In the humanities, these typically take the form of letters, diaries, or the like – for the historian, a diary is usually valued more than a book written by someone who wasn’t involved.  This isn’t to say that secondary sources have no worth, as those can often take a longer or more nuanced view than that of a person in the thick of things – but the value of a direct witness cannot be understated.  Numerous databases are built around these types of materials, like American Civil War: Letters and Diaries, Gale Primary Sources, or The … Continued
Separating Sense from Nonsense: McGill University’s Office for Science in Society

Separating Sense from Nonsense: McGill University’s Office for Science in Society

“Science looks like magic, until you know how it works.”  That was one of the first things Dr. Joe Schwarcz said when IU East Coordinator of Library Instruction, KT Lowe, met him last month.  Dr. Schwarcz is the director of the McGill University Office for Science and Society, one of the best fake news fighting organizations in North America.  The OSS focuses primarily on the science of the everyday, busting myths about food, sunscreen, homeopathy and other quotidian things. The room where it happens. The OSS was formally established in 1999 and receives no corporate funding.  It is a formalization of Dr. Schwarcz’s work since the 1980’s, when he would speak with the media on all things science.  He and his … Continued
One People One Sky

One People One Sky

April is Global Astronomy Month, sponsored by Astronomers Without Borders, a group dedicated to strengthening the bonds between nations by looking outward together. Their motto is “One People, One Sky”, and they focus on practical astronomy that you can participate with in your back yard over more esoteric theories. Astronomy is one of the most viscerally compelling of the sciences, because any child can understand its scope and grandeur just by looking up at the night sky; of getting excited at being able to identify a constellation like the Big Dipper. Perhaps you were inspired by Neil deGrasse Tyson, Maria Mitchell, or Stephen Hawking. Perhaps you took an astronomy class thinking it would be an easy grade, and were unexpectedly … Continued
Wilier Than a Coyote

Wilier Than a Coyote

Wile E. Coyote gave many of us inadvertent lessons in science in his endless quest to dine on delicious roadrunner. The hazards of poorly understood physics (what goes up must come down), where you should stand during an experiment, and humorous cautions on not using proper safety precautions were all hallmarks of his schemes. Professors even occasionally use his misadventures in class, to illustrate their points. But when it comes to your research, you probably want something a little more… rigorous (and less prone to catastrophic failure and personal injury). Fortunately, the worst you risk in the library is an occasional paper cut. We have lots of high-quality databases for science (listed here) that can supply you with the current … Continued
Science Questions

Science Questions

This summer, we’ve been looking at how to do insightful, quality research at IU East.  And while there are great general sources and techniques available that benefit any researcher, each discipline has its own special sources and quirks.  This week, we’ll look at the natural sciences.  If you’ve been following these columns, you’ll notice that there is some overlap with mathematics, since math is in many ways the ‘language’ of science.  People who are good at science often first studied math. Science is an incredibly broad topic, and which scientific discipline you are interested will affect your searching.  For example, finding current material (books and articles published in the last few years) is vitally important in most topics of biology … Continued