Special Types of Information
Mathematics & Computer Science Research home > Special Types of Information
- Transactions & Proceedings
- Hardware/Software Reviews & Documentation
- White Papers
- Dictionaries & Encyclopedias
- Programming Language Code
- Theses and Dissertations
In addition to the background information you find in books and videos, and the research you locate in periodical literature, other excellent sources of computer information exist. The following list explains where you can find special types of information that might enhance your research project.
Note: Access to the online subscription databases listed throughout this document is limited to currently registered students, faculty, and staff of Webster. Complete lists of the databases available through the library's Web site, are available by following the link to Articles / Databases on the home page.
Note: Call numbers for print materials in the Webster University Library are provided in parentheses. Extended campus students may wish to check the catalog of your local library to see if the resource is available and where it is shelved.
Trade and industry associations often collect and publish information of interest to their members. You may read or hear that an association or industry group has released a study in which you're interested. While access to much of it may be "controlled" ( i.e. only available to members), some associations distribute basic information to the public through their Web sites. Many also release summary information in trade and industry publications for which the full text is often available on our Web site. See the section of this guide which covers Finding Articles for more information.
To find an association by subject or name, try these:
- The Encyclopedia of Associations, is a standard print reference set available in many libraries (REF AS 22 .E5).
- The Business & Company Resource Center contains directory listings, including the URL for the Web site if available, for associations in all disciplines. (Hint: Search the association's name in the "company name" box.)
- Internet directories/search engines, e.g. ipl2 - Internet Public Library & Librarians' Internet Index and Yahoo!, often provide links to directories of associations under the "Organizations" category.
Several computer-related associations, including the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE), and the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) are linked from the library's Net Resources by Subject - Computer Science page.
Professional associations often sponsor several forums for disseminating information to their members and others in the field. These forums include association Web sites and conferences and many publish a large number of print publications. One of the largest professional associations in the computer field is the Association for Computing Machinery(ACM). Through the ACM Digital Libary database, Webster University Library provides electronic access to the full-text of a wide variety of traditional print publications. In addition to the ACM's magazines (e.g. Communications of the ACM) and journals (e.g. Journal of Experimental Algorithms), the Digital Library also provides the full-text of the transactions and proceedings of the Association.
Transactions and proceedings are the papers presented at the meetings and conferences of the organization. Often quite technical in nature, these papers are wonderful sources of cutting edge research in the field of computer science and information technology. The Digital Library contains transactions which cover a broad array of subjects including The ACM Transactions on Computational Logic, ... on Computer-Human Interaction , ... on Graphics, ... on Information and Systems Security, and ... on Programming Languages and Systems. The proceedings are equally diverse: Aspect-oriented Software Development, Data Warehousing and OLAP, Conference of High Performance Networking and Computing, and Wireless Mobile Internet.
One of the best ways to keep abreast of new technology is by reading computer and "tech" magazines. Many hardware and software companies (aka vendors) court these publications in hopes that the magazine will write a favorable review or point out useful features of their products. Most computer magazines also include technical information and often regular columns which address technical issues. Since many of the staff writers for tech magazines and newspapers have backgrounds and/or work in the IT field, this expertise is often evident and highly regarded by readers. (Plotnick, 2000, p. 265)
"Tech magazines generally contain a balance of news, reviews and analysis pieces. News items announce newly introduced products and services and attempt to assign significance to them. Reviews of a single item or a group of related products try to rank their relative abilities and competence for readers. A technical analysis is usually an attempt by an expert to explain or define the technology and its relative importance to the reader." (Plotnick, 2000, p.265-266)
Fortunately, many of the tech magazines, newspapers, and journals are indexed (and often the full text of the article is appended to the citation) in the library's databases. These databases make it easy to search for reviews, technical information, and comparisons of products. To see a list of databases which cover computer and technical publications, see the Recommended Databases section of this guide.
Because print materials are relatively expensive to produce, hardware and software documentation manuals are often inadequate. You can supplement them in several ways:
- Many commercial publishers, including O'Reilly, Sams and IDG, produce books which cover a multitude of hardware, software, programming languages, operating systems, and other computer topics. Public libraries often carry books on the more popular application software programs. You may need to check a college or university library to find supplemental materials on more technical subjects like programming languages and computer security. Refer to the section of this guide which covers Finding Books & Videos for help.
- Most hardware and software vendors maintain technical support information (and contact e-mail address and phone numbers) on their Web sites. If you do not know the URL, most Internet directories (e.g. Yahoo and LookSmart ) have a "computer" category which will help you to link to, or search for, the company's Web site.
- Since publishing on the Web is relatively easy, there is a plethora of independent (i.e. not produced by a vendor) Web sites dedicated to computer related topics. These sites run the gamut from e-zines (e.g. Slashdot), to technical sites maintained by IT professionals, to comprehensive sites including those maintained by university computer science departments, to personal Web sites dedicated to presenting the author's personal views (Plotnick, 2000, p.268). Because anyone can publish on the Internet, it is particularly important to discern who is responsible for the page content, and the authority and biases of that person. See the section of this guide, Finding Internet Resources for additional information.
The FOLDOC (Free On-Line Dictionary of Computing) defines a white paper as "a short treatise whose purpose is to educate industry customers." Often written by companies to showcase their products, they may contain relevant, technical information about the features of existing products and help you to learn about new products and technology. However, you should realize that the content is vendor-produced and likely to be biased, perhaps giving "one-sided comparisons to competitors' products." (Plotnick, 2000, p.263) That said, to find white papers, check out IT papers.com which bills itself as "the yellow pages of white papers". (The site requires free registration and Adobe Acrobat to read the white papers.)
Because the fields of computers, technology, and telecommunications are changing so rapidly, the Web has become the publishing medium most likely to keep abreast of new words and definitions. Consequently, our Net Resources by Subject: Computer Science page, lists several dictionaries and encyclopedias to supplement (and update) standard print resources.
Other than your textbooks, there are many sources for programming language theory and examples of code. Webster Library collects resources on the programming languages taught as part of the Webster curriculum, and books on the theoretical foundations (e.g. algorithms) of that code. Use the library catalog to search for these items in our collection. If you are not in the St. Louis area, you may use our Document Delivery Service to request these items or check a local college or university library catalog for similar materials.
Note: When searching an online catalog, try a subject search using the programming language name. It may be expedient to follow the name with the phrase computer program language. For example, a subject search on "C" will retrieve a list of Library of Congress Subject Headings which begin with the letter C, including acronyms like CBS. The search C computer program language will be more efficient.
Governments and their agencies are excellent sources of business and demographic statistics. The US Government Printing Office is the largest publisher in the United States. US state and local governments collect all kinds of information, e.g. state education departments may compile statistics concerning computer use in schools. Foreign governments may also be rich sources of information about the country and its trading partners. With the advent of the Internet, much federal information is now distributed online. The Library's government LiGuides pages link to US government web pages as well as State & Local government web pages.
|"Lies, damn lies, and statistics"*
If you intend to use and/or quote statistics in your research, be very careful--especially if you are using someone else's interpretation of the numbers and their significance. It is often best to find the original source of the statistics to make sure the statistical analysis is logical and is not taken out of context. Statistics can often be interpreted in different ways depending on one's point-of-view.
*Quote attributed to Benjamin Disraeli, Prime Minister of England
Many universities require the preparation of a master's thesis or a doctoral dissertation for completion of an advanced degree. Any theses and dissertations given to the library are cataloged in the library's online catalog. Note that not all programs require a formal thesis or dissertation and not all programs submit these documents to the library. You may need to contact your department to see if copies are available in their office instead. To learn how to search for such items, see our Webster/Eden Theses or Dissertations page.
If you find one in our catalog you'd like to see, St Louis area students may visit the library to look at a copy. Extended campus students may request a copy using the library's Document Delivery Service.
Dissertations & Theses @ Webster University contains Webster doctoral dissertations and masters level theses submitted summer, 2005 to the present. Webster faculty, staff, and students may view the full text for free (pdf files require the Adobe Acrobat Reader.)
Dissertations & Theses: Abstract & Index (Proquest) is a comprehensive collection of 2.7 million scholarly works spanning over 140 years. Free previews for the first 24 pages are available for most records.
Note: Unless you are working on an extensive research project, it may not be necessary to consult theses or dissertations. It is recommended that you exhaust other options for research first (i.e. library catalogs, databases, research handbooks, etc.).
Plotnick, N. (2000). IT Professional's Guide to Managing Systems, Vendors & End Users. Berkeley, CA: Osborne/McGraw-Hill.