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Walsh Assignment #31

Maura Walsh
LI812XO
Assignment #3

1. Include Assignment #2.
Attached separately

2. Select another database to use in your search. This database MUST be from another Vendor
unless you receive prior approval from the Professor. Search this database for your topic.
Provide the following information about that database:
WilsonWeb: General Science Full Text and Omnifile Full Text
a. Subjects covered by the database
The Omnifile database covers six of Wilson’s full text databases including the General
Science Full Text; these are the most pertinent subjects from all of them for this search; listing
all the subjects in the database would require too much space.
Atmospheric Science Ecology Oceanography
Biology Environment Physics
Biotechnology Environmental Science Physiology
Botany, Government Regulations Policy Sciences
Chemistry, Health, Mathematics Political Science,
Conservation Medicine Soil Science
Earth Science Microbiology Zoology

b. Types of sources indexed

Full text of articles from over 1,750 publications and article abstracts and indexing from over
3,500 publications.

c. Time period covered by Database and how often it is updated

Indexing (1982- ), Abstracting (1984- ), and select Full Text (1994- ); updated daily

d. Vendor of database

H.W. Wilson Company

e. Is there an electronic version of a thesaurus available?

Yes
f. Does the database contain abstracts? Full-text?

Indexing, abstracts and full text

g. What choices do you have for capturing data (print, email, download, etc)

Data can be marked and then either saved, emailed, downloaded in PDF or normal text
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formats, exported as citation only to other software programs or printed.

h. Search statements that you use for searching the database

See Appendix A: Database WislonWeb

3. Select several of the Internet search tools discussed in class and use them to search the
Internet for your topic. Provide the following information:

See Appendix B: Internet Results

4. Write a 5-page essay
Attached below

5. Include a bibliography listing 5 items that you found through your searching. Some should be
from the Library Database and some from the Internet. Indicate which source.

WilsonWeb Database:
Lawrence et al. , (2006).Most of Arctic's near-surface permafrost may thaw by 2100. Bulletin of
the American Meteorological Society. v. 87 no. 3 , 279-80.

Internet:
Google (direct search after Nobel prize announcement):
WMO and UNEP, (2007). Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change . Retrieved October 14,
2007, from Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Web site: http://www.ipcc.ch/

Wisenut.com:
Schneider, Stephen (2007). What is the probability of “dangerous” climate change?. Retrieved
October 14, 2007, from Climate change Web site:
http://stephenschneider.stanford.edu/Climate/Climate_Impacts/CliImpFrameset.html?http
://stephenschneider.stanford.edu/Climate/Climate_Impacts/WhatIsTheProbability.html

Alexa.com:
International Council for Science (ICSU) and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO),
(2007). IPY. Retrieved October 14, 2007, from International polar year Web site:
http://www.ipy.org/

OAIster.com:
Department of Energy, (2007). Final report: An automated system for measuring microphysical
and radiative cloud characteristics from a tethered balloon. Retrieved October 14, 2007,
from Information bridge Web site: http://www.osti.gov/bridge/servlets/purl/822044-
bd25Zg/native/822044.PDF

Essay
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Researching in the digital age is a relatively new skill and one that seems to evolve continually.

The question ‘What do studies of the Polar Regions tell us about global warming?’ is probably an

especially interesting example of what such a search can entail. It became much more absorbing

than was expected and, in trying to progress from the full spectrum of what is available to the

specific documents that would be most valuable; a few unexpected results were revealed.

The approach deemed most useful was a journey of discovery that would clarify and

contextualize the subject for anyone who was trying to distinguish between the glut of oftentimes

competing and conflicting data available. Neutrality was the desired point of embarkation, but is

it ever possible to start a project free of preconceptions or to recognize them and yet avoid being

negatively influenced by them? The impact of global warming on our world today is such a hot

topic that this project involved an overload of information in two already very crowded

mediums: databases and the internet. At times this excess seemed almost a larger challenge than

actually finding information. There has been a lot of politicalization of the topic in our own

society and around the world and this is clearly reflected in the sheer volume of results available

in both mediums.

The database in assignment two, Geobase, was picked initially because it seemed the best for the

topic. This time WilsonWeb was selected because it appeared to be one of the largest and the

challenges of finding data in this more extensive context added interest to the project.

Nevertheless, WilsonWeb proved to be perhaps too all-inclusive and cumbersome to explore

satisfactorily.

Whereas WilsonWeb ostensibly had more to offer, the General Science Full Text part of

WilsonWeb contains only 360 titles (including The New York Times Science section as well as

many non-scholarly works) and includes full text for only about 60 titles. Geobase has 2,000

international journals. Although there were more journals, the advanced search in Geobase
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seemed to have provided options that were more useful in paring the results little by little. In

WilsonWeb it was more a case of feast or famine. Of course non-scholarly articles can be quite

useful for this topic and the WilsonWeb Omnifile was utilized as well.

There was a thesaurus, a tool not found in Geobase, but perhaps because of the nature of the

topic or the structure of the thesaurus itself, it was not at all helpful. It was arranged in an outline

style with a number of results given for each part. Clicking on one part only seemed to turn the

results around and didn’t actually help define or focus the results in any meaningful way.

There were also many more complex varieties of methods available for capturing the data once it

was gleaned. The marked records could be exported in a variety of ways and to a variety of

places. However, once again, these choices seemed unnecessary and unnecessarily convoluted.

How much of this distaste came from being accustomed to and pleased by Geobase is difficult to

determine. However, there is no doubt that familiarity with a database breeds a peculiar and

unexpected type of loyalty.

On the open seas of the internet search engines there were many visible ploys. Sometimes the

results appear to have been hijacked by groups with an agenda that probably bears little

resemblance to either the real science of the topic or technological savvy. The internet search

was launched on Yahoo.com. Interestingly enough, Wikipedia seemed to come first here in the

results no matter how the search terms were altered. Later detective work showed that Yahoo

currently owns Wikipedia, which made the results seem much more logical.

Ask.com gave similarly dismal results. There seemed to be many pages to be waded through

before a practical result could be fished out and tagged for later examination. Some of the page

titles seemed slanted in an absurdly obvious manner, for example ‘Did Jesus predict global

warming?’ was in fact the title of a page at Unityinchrist.com. This was actually the third

referenced site on the MSN results page. But others lurked behind more reputable sounding
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names like ‘The Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine (OISM)’, ready to hijack the innocent.

Obviously not all spiders are created equal.

Alexa.com became an invaluable resource in helping deduce the puppet masters behind the

webs. However sometimes the information at Alexa.com is quite technical and can be difficult to

interpret. SourceWatch.org also provided some illumination, though they may have an ax to

grind as well. It is difficult to be an innocent at sea.

Wisenut.com was frustrating at first because the same search terms could not be employed.

Nonetheless the results proved to be fairly useful because they were subdivided in very

meaningful categories such as “Published in peer-reviewed”, “Peer-Reviewed Scientific

Studies”, “Global Warming Forecast”, and “Refute, Scientific”. However the advanced search

option offered here did seem rather useless.

A9.com and Kartoo.com were similarly disappointing with lots of really bad results like the

‘Heartland Institute’ and ‘Junk Science’. It was very difficult to be inspired to look further with

such a mishmash of results and, in both cases, extremely displeasing aesthetics. In the first

instance, A9.com gives the impression of being much more interested in selling books than

helping find information. The results page is literally half advertisements. In the second case, the

little genie in Kartoo.com is too cartoonish to believe that authentic scientific research is being

conducted and the results just look like ugly blobs even after the color scheme is tweaked.

Some results led to much better things. For example a page on wisenut.com led to another by

Stephen Schneider. Googling this name led to a report about a conference held in Seattle last

year where Schneider was cited as a world expert from Stanford University. Then an exploration

of Stanford.edu led to Schneider’s homepage and a list of links and publications that were

extremely valuable.
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Serendipitously, a check on one of his books led to the University of Washington book store

webpage where there was a link for the UW ‘common book’, required reading for all incoming

students. It was called Field Notes from a Catastrophe: Man, Nature, and Climate Change by

Elizabeth Kolbert, published in 2007. This led to a check of the New York Times’ Books section

where it was given high praise along with another book called The Weather Makers; How Man

Is Changing the Climate and What It Means for Life on Earth by Tim Flannery. Kolbert, a

writer for the New Yorker, initially wrote a series of articles for that magazine that later grew into

this book. In it she explains the science and the studies as well as examining what we can do.

Flannery is an Australian scientist who unequivocally states that the arguments about global

warming should be over and done with and we, as industrialized nations, need to take action

immediately.

Maps were another great resource for this search and good ones for the topic were found on

Nws.noaa.gov as well as Earthtrends.wri.org. Both of these pages were found by following a

RUSA link to the combined index (1999-2006) of the best free reference web sites.

OAIster.com led to one of the best scientific, yet easily understood documents of the search, a

final draft report that doesn’t seem to have been formally published, or at least not under the

same name. It is called Final report: An automated system for measuring microphysical and

radioactive cloud characteristics from a tethered balloon and it is the last citation given in the

bibliography for this assignment. It was found on a page called InformationBridge.com. Here

free public access is provided to full-text documents and bibliographic citations produced by the

Department of Energy and maintained by The Office of Scientific and Technical Information

(OSTI). This page is searchable and provides access to documents that cover a wide range of

subjects, many of which were extremely pertinent to the topic under investigation.

The Digital Library Federation at http://www.diglib.org/ provides E seminars, class models, and
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sample syllabi Their searchable database gave four rather good results for global warming and

Polar Regions. They have 62 data contributors and more than two and a half million records.

Finally the research led to the Working Group II Contribution to the Intergovernmental Panel on

Climate Change’s Fourth Assessment Report on Climate Change 2007: Climate Change

Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability. This document seemed to be the culmination of what the

search had intended: a document that appeared to be as apolitical as possible and explained in

clear and concise terms what is actually happening in our world.

The last curious twist of fate blew our quest into the harbor of good hope on Friday morning,

October 12th, with the announcement of the Nobel Peace Prize being awarded to Al Gore and the

IPCC. That seems a ringing endorsement and very good portent. If only it had been announced a

few weeks earlier, the journey might have been swifter; but the edification would also have been

more cursory.
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Appendix A: Database WilsonWeb
Search term Results

Keyword (k) Subject (s) Title (t) k+s k+t
pr = peer reviewed,
ft = fulltext k/ft/pr s/ft/pr t/ft/pr k+s/ft/pr k+t/ft/pr

Global warming (GW) 9774/3028/544 6009/1790/345 1504/384

Arctic region 109/33/10 0 8/3/3

Greenhouse effect 3219/516/126 2294/394/100 246/18/2

Polar regions 1545/251/157 228/33/18 74/8/7

Pollution 50197/12099/5258 33105/7788/4196 6225/1274/648

Pollution + Polar region 45/7/3 10/0/10 1/1/1 16/0/12 4/1/2001

Arctic global warming 1/0/0 0 0

Pollution + Polar or Arctic 10504/1651/782 1368/222/65 2063/267/126 1390/232/68 2220/287/135

Global warming + Polar regions 34/10/1 19/4/0 0 21/4/0 1/0/1

Polar regions + Global warming " " " 28/8/1 3/1/2002

Gw + Arctic/Antarctic 4067/862/325 2988/514/211 1490/255/118 3042/539/217 1574/260/132

Arctic and Global warming " " " 4496/816/311 4340/757/302
Carbon dioxide emissions
(CDE) 1002/331/39 0 50/11/8

CDE + Arctic or Polar 10149/1587/760 1152/187/55 2041/265/126 1157/189/55 2044/266/126

Climatic changes 3789/961/420 3519/905/396 31/1/1

CC + Arctic/Antarctic 4533/814/326 3002/505/213 1485/224/118 3007/505/213 1576/224/128

CC + Antarctic 120/25/10 85/19/6 0 32/6/3 91/19/6
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Appendix B: Internet Results

What do studies of the Polar Regions tell us about global warming?

Search Terms

1 2 3

Search Engine FQ + Peer FQ + PR + Search Engine Global Climate
Full Question reviewed 2007 Warming Change Full
Yahoo 549,000 38,100 7,070 Wisenut.com* 22 16 590
Ask 22,800 1,720 1,090 *Didn't accept
MSN 31,346 8,007 6,713 more than seven
A9 31,346 6,413 5,458 words; put in seven
Alexa 20,000 2,000 44 key words, then got
Google Scholar 2,270 209 54 customized results
Clusty 113 113 113 categories listed here
Kartoo 455,000 43,700 1,600
Ujiko 10,800 2,130 1,480
Exalead 290 32 12
Ixquick 14,592 10 925(?)
Icerocket 25 2 2
nws.noaa.gov 209 18 8