Archive for General

February Research Potpourri: New Research Tools

With the beginning of a new year and a change in US presidential administration, a number of new or improved research resources have appeared. We highlight a few below:

The Congressional Research Service is the research arm of Congress and produces high quality non-partisan reports on a range of timely topics. These reports are great sources for quality information, recent references and insightful analysis. They are not generally available to the public but several representatives have launched a bipartisan effort to make all these reports available at EveryCRSReport.com

If you are searching for a photo or image that is free to use (not restricted by copyright) for a report, blog post or other use, Creative Commons has launched a search tool for this purpose, CC Search.

Do you want to find out which non-profit organizations in your area have been awarded the most federal grants in your area? Do you want to find out which of your competitors have been awarded the most federal contracts? USASpending.gov was recently updated with new visualization and download options.

With the upsurge in civic engagement and political interest, a lot of attention is being paid to what is happening in Congress. Perhaps even more is occurring on the state and local levels. One service which offers a great free searching tool to track bills on these levels is BillTrack50.

In terms of search engines, Yippy has been attracting attraction. This search tool has been around for a while but has recently been improving its search results. Yippy specializes in searching for content that is found on the Deep Web and not usually crawled by the Google search spiders.

Show Me the Money: A Research Based Approach for Searching and Finding Government Contracting Opportunities Webinar February 15th

In conjunction with the Southeast Evaluation Association, I will be presenting a webinar on research tips, techniques and tools you can use to quickly and efficiently find RFPs for government contracting opportunities that meet your needs.

Description: Searching for and finding requests for proposals (RFPs) from government agencies can be a frustrating and time-consuming process. This webinar will provide tips, techniques, and tools to enable you to search for and locate federal, state, tribal, and local government contracting opportunities quickly. Topics covered include: search engine tips and techniques to uncover RFP opportunities, shortcut for searching FedBizOpps, pros and cons of commercial RFP finding services, and tracking and monitoring multiple RFP websites using free or low cost tools.

Speaker: Matthew Von Hendy MA/MLS has more than 20+ years as a professional research librarian and has worked at EPA, NASA, and the National Academies of Science. In 2012, he established his own research and information consulting firm, Green Heron Information Services, and has been working closely with evaluation and other research professionals ever since. He has presented at many local, regional, and national evaluation conferences.

Registration: This webinar is FREE to SEA members; $15 for non-members. RSVP to SEA (seacoordinator@southeastevaluation.org) and submit your program fee via the SEA website or mail. SEA will provide you with details for attending the webinar. This webinar will be recorded. If you are interested in this webinar but are unable to attend, please register and a copy of the recording will be provided to you.

Sources for Multidisciplinary Scientific Data Sets

data-1188512_1920Open access data sets which cover multiple areas of the sciences can be hard to find.   Fortunately, there are several resources which can aid in their discovery.   Each resource has its strengths and weaknesses so it is important to see how they match your needs.

Dryad

Dryad describes itself as a non-profit repository for data underlying the international scientific and medical literature although other scientific topical areas are covered as well.  All the datasets that are submitted to Dryad are associated either with peer reviewed articles or publications from reputable academic sources such as dissertations.  Content is curated; high level of quality control.   Number of search options including keyword, doi, author/title, subject and publication date. Good results.

Figshare

Figshare is a commercial online digital repository where researchers can preserve, share and save their research outputs including datasets.  All topic areas covered with a slight focus on science related topics.  Anyone can open an account and upload content so quality of information may be an issue.  Any data set submitted is assigned a digital object identifier number (DOI).  Search options return good results but are somewhat clunky.  Once you get search results, select ‘datasets’ under ‘type’ to limit your results just to datasets.

For much more information on searching for and finding open access scientific datasets, see my recent article in the July 2016 issue of Online Searcher.

 

Sources for Large Publicly Available Scientific Datasets

2015A range of government agencies, non-profit organizations and consortia have produced large scientific data sets which they have made open access. The NIH Human Genome Project (HGP)  is one example. These data sets are typically not included in most institutional or discipline focused data repositories as researchers cannot usually upload content to them. They are important sources for scientific data sets.

Let me briefly mention two resources for locating these types of scientific datasets.

Open Science Data Cloud Public Data Commons
Links to approximately 30 scientific and social science datasets covering a range of topical areas. Short descriptions of the datasets but virtually no metadata is included making searching options very limited.

Amazon Web Services Public Data Sets
Amazon Web Services hosts a central repository of large publicly available data sets which can be searched, downloaded and analyzed. There are science related categories such as astronomy, biology, chemistry and climate. You do need to create an Amazon account to search this resource. Since the datasets are also stored on Amazon servers what you are looking at and using is probably being tracked as well.

For much more information on searching for and finding open access scientific datasets, see my recent article in the July 2016 issue of Online Searcher.

New 2016 Webinars for Evaluation and Other Applied Data Professionals

2015Hope that everyone is having a great start to 2016!  Green Heron Information Services to excited to be offering two new webinars to start off the new year!

Using Research Resources to Find Your Next Evaluation Job

If one of your New Year’s resolutions is to find a new job this webinar is for you! This webinar is designed to give evaluation professionals the strategies, techniques, and tools to expedite the job search process by making smart use of research resources. Emphasis is on free or low-cost resources. Topics to be covered include:

  • You will learn how to expertly make use of the advanced features of search engines (Google and a few others) to efficiently locate evaluation related jobs
  • You will find out how to expertly search general job sites (Monster, Indeed etc.) to both narrow and/or expand your search as needed
  • We will cover searching relatively underutilized or lesser known evaluation specific job resources
  • You will discover effective ways to search for evaluation-related job postings on social media
  • You will learn how to efficiently gather information on a company or organization in preparation for an interview

Each session costs $49.99 which covers all the standard webinar stuff but also includes a 30 minute personalized post webinar session with me where we can cover your particular research needs.

For more information and to register, http://bit.ly/1l3YeMA

US Business Development Using Research Resources

The business development process can be challenging for evaluation professionals but the effective use of free or low-cost research resources can help make this effort easier.  Topics to be covered include:

  • You will learn to determine which organizations (non-profits, contracting companies, school districts) in particular geographic area have been awarded federal government and/or private grant money
  • You will find out how to locate non-profit organizations with a particular focus (youth development, workforce development etc.) in a geographic area
  • You will learn how to locate the ‘inside’ information (funding levels, management team etc.) on non-profit organizations
  • You will learn how to find background information on a particular person in preparation for a ‘cold call’ or meeting

Note: This webinar is focused on US resources

Each session costs $49.99 which covers all the standard webinar stuff but also includes a 30 minute personalized post webinar session with me where we can cover your particular research needs.

For more information and to register, http://bit.ly/1ngjD6M

Show Me the Money: Finding Request For Proposals (RFPs)

moneyMany evaluation professionals spend a good deal time responding to Request for Proposals (RFPs) but do not use a systematic research approach in finding appropriate opportunities.  RFPs can be issued by federal, state, tribal and local governments, non-profit organizations and for-profit businesses as well which can make it very challenging to keep track of all the opportunities.

Most federal request for proposals are listed in the Federal Business Opportunities database, FedBizOpps.  Typically parties interested in submitting bids on projects need to be register as vendors with the government.  Anyone can view the current listing of RFPs.

A number of commercial companies offer services that track RFPs from government, non-profit and commercial sources. FindRFP focuses exclusively on federal, state and local government RPFs and bidding opportunities.  A free trial is offered and basic monthly subscriptions start from $20 a month.

The RFP database (RFPDB) covers opportunities from government. commercial and non-profit organizations.  It is free to register and there is a small fee to respond/download RFPs.   Organizations can post RFPs to the service without a charge.

Onvia provides extensive coverage of federal, state and local government RFPs and procurement bids.  The company is noted for its expertise and knowledge in the area.  Not surprisingly, Onvia services can be on the pricey side.

It also makes sense to set up an alert service on certain keywords–perhaps ‘evaluation RFPs’ on the major search engines such as Google and Yahoo.

 

Searching Think Tank and Non-Governmental Organizational (NGO) Content

Content frocontinents-702008_1280(1)m think tanks and other non-governmental organizations can be important information resources for evaluation professionals.   The sheer number of these organizations and varying quality of their resources makes finding relevant content very challenging.   Fortunately, a number of search tools have been developed during the last several years to address this problem.

Think Tank Search developed by librarians at Harvard University is a customized Google search tool which covers more than 590 US and international think tanks.  They were selected for inclusion based on organizational affiliation and research reputation.

Find Policy, a tool developed by a team of researchers from Europe and the Middle East provides a search of a top level think tank content from a variety of international organizations.  Topical and geographical search options are available.

The Non-Governmental Organizations Search tool created by teams of both US and international information professionals offers a wider search of international NGOs.

American Policy Directory from the University of Oregon libraries concentrates on content from think tanks working on US national policy.   Searches can be limited to specific subject areas such as environment, civil rights or business.

Subject specific content from think tanks can also be found on resources which include a significant amount of grey literature content.   In the health area, examples include the New York Academy of Medicine Grey Lit Report and Popline.

Summer Search Institute

Lightning I am thrilled to announce the first Summer Search Institute which will be held from mid-August to mid-September. Almost everyone struggles with the problems of information overload and locating just the information they need.    This series of webinars is designed to give you the strategies, techniques and tools to help you find just the right high quality information you need in half the time.   Emphasis is put on high quality resources which are either low-cost or free.

Each session costs $40 which covers all the standard webinar stuff but also includes a 30 minute personalized post webinar session with me where we can cover your particular research needs.

Supercharge Your Search 2015 — Tuesday, August 11, 2-3 PM EDT
In the age of Google and Web 3.0, everyone is a researcher but the amount of information can be overwhelming. How do you minimize the amount of time spent looking at useless results just to get the right high quality information that you need? This webinar is designed to give you the strategies, techniques, and tools to help you find and organize twice the amount of high quality information in half the time.  For more details and to register: https://bit.ly/1gOH5Fg

Finding High Quality Health Information Resources on a Dime — Tuesday, August 18, 2-3 PM EDT Evaluation professionals (and others) working on health related projects often find themselves looking for high quality health information. However, locating high quality health-related information can be a challenge – especially when you have an impending deadline and/or have a limited budget. This webinar covers strategies, resources and tools to quickly and effectively locate high quality low-cost health information.  To register: For more details and to register http://bit.ly/1KkGlUJ

Searching For and Finding RFPs (Government Contracting Opportunities): A Systematic Research Based Approach — Tuesday, August 25, 2-3 PM EDT
Searching for and finding RFPs (request for proposals) from government agencies can be a frustrating and time-consuming process. This webinar is designed to equip you with the strategies, techniques, and tools to help you more quickly and efficiently search for and locate federal, state, tribal and local government contracting opportunities. For more details and to register: http://bit.ly/1Vvsyhx

Finding High Quality Education Information Resources on a Dime – Tuesday, September 8, 2-3 PM EDT Evaluation professionals (and others) working on education related projects often find themselves looking for high quality research. However, locating high quality education information can be a challenge – especially when you have an impending deadline and/or have a limited budget. This webinar covers strategies, resources and tools to quickly and effectively locate high quality low-cost education information with an emphasis on evidence-based resources. For more details and to register: http://bit.ly/1fmAvVl

About the presenter:

Matthew Von Hendy MA/MLS has more than 20 years of experience as a professional research librarian and has worked at EPA, NASA, and the National Academies of Science. In 2012, he established his own research and information consulting firm, Green Heron Information Services, and has been working closely with evaluation and other research professionals ever since. He frequently presents at local, regional, and national evaluation conferences.

Have questions or need more information? Contact Matthew Von Hendy – info@greenheroninfo.com

This May Supercharge Your Searching With Green Heron!

LightningThe number one problem facing  professionals when it comes to research and information is information overload.  Nearly everyone spends a great deal of time and effort looking through not such great search results to find what they want.  This series of webinars is designed to give you the tools, strategies and resources to help you find the right high quality information you need in half the time.

Each session costs $40 dollars which covers all the standard webinar stuff but also includes a 30 minute personalized post webinar session with me where we can cover your particular research needs.

Supercharge Your Search 2015 — Tuesday, May 5 2-3 PM EDT
In the age of Google and Web 3.0, everyone is a researcher but the amount of information can be overwhelming. How do you minimize the amount of time spent looking at useless results just to get the right high quality information that you need? This webinar is designed to give you the strategies, techniques, and tools to help you find and organize twice the amount of high quality information in half the time.  Register here.

Searching For and Finding RFPs (Government Contracting Opportunities): A Systematic Research Based Approach — Tuesday, May 12 2-3 PM EDT
Searching for and finding RFPs (request for proposals) from government agencies can be a frustrating and time-consuming process. This webinar is designed to equip you with the strategies, techniques, and tools to help you more quickly and efficiently search for and locate federal, state, tribal and local government contracting opportunities. Register here.

Finding High Quality Health (Evidence Based) Resources on a Deadline and a Budget — Tuesday, May 19 2-3 PM EDT
Increasingly many funders are asking grantees to use high quality health resources in their proposals. Locating high quality health-related information can be a challenge – especially when you have an impending deadline and/or have a limited budget. This webinar covers strategies, resources and tools to quickly and effectively locate high quality low-cost health information with an emphasis on evidence-based medical (ebm) resources.  Register here.

If you would like a fuller description of any of the sessions or have questions, please send me a message at info@greenheroninfo.com

How citation verification is like going to the dentist

dentistFor anyone who is writing research content, citation verification (the process of making sure your references are accurate and complete) is somewhat like going to the dentist. Everyone knows that it’s a good idea but very few people look forward or want to do it. As a result, citation verification is one of the most neglected parts of the research process.

The task is often given to interns or the lowest ranking person on a team who frequently may or may not have the knowledge and/or interest to do a good job. A common approach is to google all the references; a lot of time of time can be wasted going through pages of results and errors may still not be caught.

Some simple steps can make this job much easier.

Make use of citation managers. As you are doing your research or writing use a tool such as Endnote, Zotero or Mendeley to keep track of your citations. A little bit of effort during this stage of the research process will save you a lot of time when it comes to citation verification.

Understand what types of citations that you are looking for (journal articles, books, conference papers and proceedings, government reports etc.) and know the subject area. This knowledge will help choose the best resource to most efficiently verify the citations.

Make use of databases. If you have access or the budget, Scopus and Web of Science are multidisciplinary in scope and are great tools for verifying citations for journal articles, conference papers and proceedings, and reports.   Subject specific databases like PsycInfo can be very helpful for finding citations of all types of materials in those areas. If you are working in a budget constrained environment, tools such as WorldCat and PubMed can be very useful.

And yes, finally a quick shameless plug. If you find yourself dealing with a citation verification project, Green Heron Information Services has the expertise to do the work for you. We can also provide training for your staff who frequently do this type of work.

Finally, citation verification is also like going to the dentist in other way—everyone is usually much happier having it finished!