Category Archives: Notes from the library

NOTES FROM THE LIBRARY

Introduction

Hello everyone! My name is Andrea Kang and I recently joined the Research & Instruction Librarians at the Hirsh Health Sciences Library (HHSL). One of my roles is to be the library liaison to the School of Biomedical Sciences. I am so excited to be a part of the Tufts community and hope I can make your lives a little bit easier, whether that is by helping you through your literature review for your thesis, or giving you tips on research data management, or connecting you with resources that HHSL has to offer you. Here are some things that I can help you do throughout your time at Tufts:

FIND JOURNAL ARTICLES & MORE. I can help you find articles, datasets, health statistics, chemical/drug information, etc. and equip you with the skills on how to do it yourself in the future! Even if you know the basics, I can help with troubleshooting or refining search strategies.

GET YOU STARTED ON A RESEARCH DATA MANAGEMENT. Government funders among others are requiring rigorous research data management (RDM) plans for your research, some requiring that you meet with a librarian. But beyond these requirements, RDM can make your life (and others’ lives) easier in the long run. I can provide tips on best practices and where to get started with your RDM plan.

HELP ORGANIZE YOUR CITATIONS. If you are still using Microsoft Excel/Word, Google Sheets, or going old school with pencil and paper to organize the bazillion articles you found for your research, STOP. There are other ways that you can manage your citations that will save you time in the long run! I can help you with tools like Zotero, Mendeley, and EndNote (which is FREE because Tufts pays for it), or connect you with the experts here at HHSL.

CONNECT YOU WITH OTHER RESOURCES. There are so many other resources available at HHSL. Whether you need to use test prep books, borrow a phone charger, just need advice on where to start your research, or learn skills like R/R studio, I can help connect you to the resources you need. Just reach out!

To make an appointment with me, you can go to my page and schedule an appointment through the scheduler. If there are problems with this, you are more than welcome to call me at (617)-636-0385 or email me at andrea.kang@tufts.edu.

Notes from the Library…Finding Company and Industry Information

Business Resources
Image from Foter.com under CC0 1.0

As you embark on your job search, prepare for an interview or conduct competitive intelligence during your career, you may find yourself searching for information about a company or industry.  While a company’s website is the natural place to start your search, there are other resources that you can use to find this type of information.

I have divided the resources below into those that are best for company information and those that are best for industry information.  However, several resources, including ABI/Inform Collection, D&B Global Business Browser, Nexis Uni and Factiva, provide both types of information.

Many business databases utilize industry classification codes, which group similar products and services, to organize information.  Using these codes in your search can help you find information about a particular industry.  The standard industry classification code system in the United States is the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS), which replaced the Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) system.  Some business databases still SIC, although it is no longer updated.  The NAICS code sector most likely to be of interest to you is 32541, Pharmaceutical and medicine manufacturing.

Company Information

  • ABI/Inform Collection: Business literature database. Indexes journals, case studies, working papers, reports, newspapers and trade magazines.  Use search fields to restrict search to company or publication title.  Full text available for most documents.  Requires Tufts username and password to access.
  • D&B Global Business Browser: Detailed company profiles, news and industry reports, compiled by Dun & Bradstreet. Search by company name or build a list of companies based on the criteria of your choice, such as location, industry or size.  Requires Tufts username and password to access.
  • Massachusetts Biotechnology Council (MassBio): Nonprofit organization that provides services and support for more than 1,000 Massachusetts-area biomedical companies, academic institutions and organizations. To discover local companies, search the membership directory by category and subcategory.  The Career Center offers job search advice and job postings.  Free public access.
  • Nexis Uni: Formerly LexisNexis Academic, this database provides news, business and legal information from journals, newspapers, television broadcasts and legal proceedings. To find company profiles, click the ‘Company Info’ button on the homepage.  Requires Tufts username and password to access.
  • ReferenceUSA: Directory of more than 15 million public and private companies in the United States. Particularly useful for finding information on smaller companies.  Search by company name, business type, location, or even executive gender or ethnicity.  Requires Tufts username and password to access.

Industry Information

  • Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO): Representative organization for biotechnology companies, academic institutions and associations in the United States and around the world. Resources available on the BIO website include industry analysis reports, a blog and SmartBrief, a daily newsletter that provides summaries of news from the biotech industry.  Free public access.
  • Factiva: From the Dow Jones Company, this global news database provides the full text of thousands of newspapers and trade magazines. Also searches select websites and blogs.  Search by company or industry.  Alternatively, click the ‘Companies/Markets’ tab in the menu bar to view company and industry snapshots.  Requires Tufts username and password to access.
  • Harvard Business School Working Knowledge: Harvard Business School newsletter with articles, case studies, op-eds, classroom lessons and working paper summaries that connect “leading edge research and ideas on business management with practitioners, thought-leaders and academics”. Browse by topic, industry, geography or publication-type category.  Free public access.
  • McKinsey & Company Insights: Articles, interviews, videos and commentaries on the pharmaceutical and medical products industry, from the consulting firm McKinsey & Company. Free public access.
  • Milken Institute: Think tank devoted to “collaborative solutions that widen access to capital, create jobs and improve health.” Work is centered around eight centers that explore the interaction between business, health and policy.  Browse the institute’s core publication, Milken Institute Review, by topic, or search the institute’s publications, videos and events by issue.
  • Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA): Trade organization for U.S. biopharmaceutical companies. PhRMA publishes reports, policy papers, news articles and an annual industry profile.  Free public access.
  • PricewaterhouseCoopers: Analysis of industry trends, issues and opportunities in pharmaceuticals and life sciences from the audit and consulting company PricewaterhouseCoopers.

Notes from the Library…LabArchives

LabArchives

Notes from the Library…LabArchives

Tufts has an institutional license for LabArchives, an electronic lab notebook.  Your lab may already be using this tool, but if not, read on for information on what LabArchives is, and how you can use it in your work.

What is LabArchives?

LabArchives is a web-based electronic lab notebook, designed to replicate and enhance the features of a traditional paper notebook.  LabArchives allows you to electronically document your experiments, store files, search content, manage version history, and collaborate with others.

How do I access to LabArchives?

While LabArchives is designed as a collaborative tool for research labs, anyone at Tufts can contact Tufts Technology Services to request access: tts-research@tufts.edu.

Once a LabArchives account has been created for you, then access the login page from your preferred browser (Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer, or Safari): https://shib.labarchives.com/select_institution.  Select ‘Tufts University’ from the dropdown menu (if you are on campus, then this option will already be selected), click ‘Go to Your Institution’s Login’, and enter your Tufts username and password.

LabArchives is also accessible via a mobile app for Android and iOS devices.

Tell me a little more about what I can do in LabArchives.

Like any tool, LabArchives is what you make of it.  Here are a few things you can do in LabArchives:

  • Create multiple notebooks
  • Organize information into folders, pages, and entries
  • Enter text, structures, or calculations, and upload files, to a page
  • Develop templates for common protocols and methods
  • Tag content to facilitate searching in your notebook
  • View changes made to, and revert to old versions of, your notebook

What types of files can I store LabArchives?

Any type of file can be stored in LabArchives.  Files up to 15 GB can be uploaded to a notebook page.  If you need to reference a file that exceeds this limit, then you can store the file elsewhere (e.g. Box, research storage drive) and link the location path to your notebook.  Your LabArchives at Tufts account has unlimited storage.

Can I view and edit files in LabArchives?

LabArchives is integrated with Office Online and GraphPad Prism, which allows you to view and edit Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Prism documents from within your notebook.

In addition, an Office plugin enables you to save documents to LabArchives while working in Word, Excel or PowerPoint on your desktop.

Most image files can be viewed and edited in LabArchives.  PDF documents can also be viewed in LabArchives.

Can LabArchives be used to store personally identifiable and/or medical data?

No.  LabArchives does not meet the standards necessary to comply with Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) or Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) standards.

How does LabArchives allow me to collaborate with others?

You can share an entire LabArchives notebook or an individual folder, page or entry with other LabArchives users, at Tufts or other institutions.

As a notebook owner, you can choose whether you provide read/write or read-only access to your content.  Permissions can be changed at any time.

How can I access my LabArchives notebooks when I leave Tufts?

Prior to leaving Tufts, you should confer with your PI about transferring ownership of your LabArchives notebooks to another LabArchives user in your lab.  In order to continue to have access to your notebooks, you will need to create a free individual LabArchives account or, if you are going to another institution with LabArchives, an account at that institution.

You can also download either an HTML or PDF version of your notebooks, for offline reading and storage.

What are the next steps if I want to start using LabArchives?

To request access to LabArchives, contact Tufts Technology Services: tts-research@tufts.edu.

For quick start guides, frequently asked questions and troubleshooting, go to the LabArchives help page: http://labarchives.kayako.com/.

For help with data management best practices, such as file structure, naming and metadata, contact me: laura.pavlech@tufts.eduLabArchives

Notes from the Library…Finding Gene Information in PubMed

PubMed is just one database from the National Library of Medicine (NLM).  The National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), a division of the NLM, maintains several molecular biology databases.  These databases link to one another and to PubMed.  This month, I’ll describe how to find information about a gene in PubMed and the Gene database.

Which NCBI resource(s) should I use to find information on a gene?

You can start in either PubMed or Gene, a database of known and predicted genes for a several species.  Each record is devoted to a single gene and may provide information on nomenclature, chromosomal location, gene products, phenotypes, and interactions, as well as links to literature, sequences, and other NCBI and external databases.  Consider a Gene record a gene’s homepage in NCBI.

I’ll begin in PubMed because it is the database with which you are likely most familiar.  In the PubMed search box, you can enter either a gene’s name or symbol.  To activate the Gene Sensor (see next question), use the official gene symbol, which can be found at genenames.org, the site for the HUGO Gene Nomenclature Committee (HGNC).  The HGNC assigns standardized names to human genes.

What is the PubMed Gene Sensor?

Gene Sensor checks the gene symbol that you enter against symbols in the Gene database and, if a match is found, displays links to information about the gene in NCBI databases at the top of your PubMed search results.  These links include: the records(s) for the gene in the Gene database; articles on the gene’s function (GeneRIF; see below); and tests in the Genetic Testing Registry.

Choose the link to the gene’s record in the Gene database.  The first option will be for the human gene, with links for other species, if available, following.

Gene Sensor results in PubMed
Gene Sensor results in PubMed

What if my initial PubMed search does not activate the Gene Sensor?

If you do not see the Gene Sensor box at the top of your PubMed results, then you can search the Gene database directly by selecting ‘Gene’ from the drop-down menu next to the search box.  Enter a gene name or symbol, species, or disease.

Gene database in drop-down menu
Choose Gene database from drop-down menu

How do I find information once I am in a Gene record?

Use the Table of Contents in the right-hand column of the record to navigate to specific information about the gene.  Scroll down to the ‘Related information’ section of the right-hand column for links to information about the gene in other NCBI databases.

Record in Gene database
Record in Gene database, with Table of Contents in right-hand column

So how does this help me find PubMed articles about a gene?

In the Related information section of a Gene record, you will notice several links to PubMed.  Each of these links retrieves a specific set of articles in PubMed:

  • PubMed: Articles that have been indexed with the Medical Subject Heading (MeSH) of the protein that the gene codes for, combined with the subheading ‘genetics’. For example: ‘Hemochromatosis Protein/genetics’[MeSH].
  • PubMed (GeneRIF): Articles that focus on the function of a gene. GeneRIFs (reference into function) are identified in three ways: by National Library of Medicine staff; by volunteer collaborators who submit a function, and article(s) describing that function (if you know of, or have authored, an article about a gene’s function, then you can submit a GeneRIF); through reports from HuGE Navigator, a human genome epidemiology knowledge base from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  PubMed (GeneRIF) also includes articles that describes a gene’s interactions.
  • PubMed (OMIM): Articles cited in Online Mendelian Inheritance in Man (OMIM) records. OMIM is a compendium of human genes and phenotypes.
  • PubMed (nucleotide/PMC): Articles identified from shared sequence and PubMed Central links.

Each set of articles is continuously updated.  Use these links to retrieve the set of articles that best describes the type of literature you are seeking.

PubMed links in Gene record
PubMed links under ‘Related information’ in Gene record

What if I want to find all the literature on a particular gene in PubMed?

If you want to do a comprehensive PubMed search for literature on a gene, then use the Gene record and HGNC (genenames.org) to identify the gene’s current and past names, symbols, and synonyms.  Use ‘OR’ to combine these keywords with the MeSH term for the protein that the gene codes for, with the subheading ‘genetics’.  Some genes, but not all, genes also have a MeSH term for the gene itself.

For example:

“BRCA1” OR “BRCC1” OR “FANCS” OR “BROVCA1” OR “PPP1R53” OR “breast cancer 1” OR “Genes, BRCA1″[MeSH] OR “BRCA1 Protein/genetics”[MeSH]

You may get a lot of irrelevant results with a comprehensive search because many gene symbols are not unique.  Therefore, this search would likely have to be combined with another concept, using ‘AND’.

For example:

(“BRCA1” OR “BRCC1” OR “FANCS” OR “BROVCA1” OR “PPP1R53” OR “breast cancer 1” OR “Genes, BRCA1″[MeSH] OR “BRCA1 Protein/genetics”[MeSH]) AND (“ovarian neoplasms”[MeSH] OR “ovarian neoplasms” OR “ovarian cancer”)

Notes from the Library…Open Access

Open Access

In honor of international open access week, which is October 23-29th, I decided to devote this month’s column to demystifying open access.

What is open access?

According to the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC), open access is the “free, immediate, online availability of research articles coupled with the rights to use these articles fully in the digital environment.”

What does this actually mean?

Open access removes the legal, financial and technical barriers to reading, downloading and reusing research articles.

While open access publishing models vary, SPARC considers the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution license (CC BY), the standard for open access.  This license grants users the right to share and adapt the material for any purpose, including commercial, provided they properly attribute the authors.  Several major open access publishers, including BioMed Central and PLoS, apply the CC BY license to the articles that they publish.

How can I make my article open access?

There are two primary mechanism by which you can make an article open access: submit your article to either an exclusive (all content open access) or hybrid (some content open access) open access journal; or deposit your final peer-reviewed manuscript in an institutional or discipline repository, such as PubMed Central.  The latter option can only be done with the permission of the journal that has accepted your article for publication.  This can be written into your author’s agreement.

Some open access journal charge authors an article processing charge (APC).  These charges allow the journal to cover the costs of publishing, and range from hundreds to thousands of dollars.  Reputable open access journals collect APCs only after an article has been peer-reviewed and accepted for publication.  Many funders allow grant funds to be used to cover the cost of publishing in an open access journal.

Tufts Libraries have memberships with select open access publishers and journals; Tufts authors who publish in these journals can receive a discount on their APCs.  For more information, see OA Support at Tufts.

Why would I pay to publish in an open access journal?

Open access expands your audience by allowing anyone, not just those who are willing or able to pay for a journal subscription or individual article, to read your article.  A broad audience means your work receives more recognition, and may be used in novel ways that you did not anticipate.

Where can I learn more about open access publishing and choosing a journal for my manuscript?

For more information about choosing where to publish, including resources to evaluate open access journals, see ‘Where to Publish’ in our Measuring Research Impact guide, or contact me (laura.pavlech@tufts.edu).

Notes from the Library…Introducing JumboSearch

In June, Tufts Libraries launched a new iteration of our search platform, JumboSearch.  This means that the way you search for resources (books, journals, databases, articles, etc.) available through our libraries has changed.  This new search platform is part of our transition to a new integrated library system, which will improve how we manage our resources.

Here is a brief primer on how to use JumboSearch to find the resources you need.

How do I access JumboSearch?

The search box at the center of the Hirsh Health Sciences Library homepage (https://hirshlibrary.tufts.edu/) is for JumboSearch.

How do I find a book in JumboSearch?

Enter a title, author or keyword in the search box at the center of the Hirsh Health Sciences Library homepage.  Use the filters on the left side of the results page to limit your search to books.  Once you find the book that you need, click the title to view additional information, such as location and availability, and, if it is available electronically, access the full text.

What if the book I want is located at another Tufts library?

If the book is located at another Tufts library, then click the title of the book on the JumboSearch results page.  Select the ‘Log in’ link in the yellow bar at the center of the page.  Once you have signed in with your Tufts username and password, click the ‘Request item’ link to request delivery of the book to the Hirsh Health Sciences Library.  You will receive email notification when the book is ready for you to pick up at our Library Service Desk.

How do I find a journal? 

Enter the title of a journal in the JumboSearch box at the center of the Hirsh Health Sciences Library homepage.  If the journal is available through our libraries, then the title should appear at the top of the results.  Click the title of the journal to view print and electronic availability.

Another (and I find more efficient) method of finding a journal is to click the ‘Journals’ tab at the top of any JumboSearch page, which brings you to a page where you can search or browse our Journal list (versus all of our resources).

Can I use JumboSearch to find the full text of an article?

Yes!  If you have the title of a journal article and want to know whether or not the full text is available through Tufts, then copy and paste the title into JumboSearch.  If necessary, use the filters on the left side of the results page to narrow your results.  Once you find your article, click the ‘Full text available’ link.

How do I access my library account?

Use the ‘Log in’ link in the upper right-hand corner of any JumboSearch page, or in the yellow bar at the center of an item details page.  In your library account, you can see the items that you currently have checked out (including interlibrary loan books), requests, fines and blocks, as well as renew Tufts Libraries’ books.

Notes from the Library…Choosing Where to Publish

Where you publish can be as important as what you publish.  Consider the following when choosing a journal to which to submit your article:

Quality

  • How does the journal rank according to impact factor and other journal metrics?
  • Who is on the editorial board of the journal?
  • Can you easily identify and contact the journal’s publisher?
  • Is the journal’s peer review process explicit?
  • Is the journal or publisher a member of a recognized industry initiative?
  • What opinion do your colleagues and mentors have of the journal?

Relevance

  • Does the journal publish research that is relevant to your work?
  • Does the journal publish the type of article that you want to write?
  • Who reads the journal?  Is this the audience that you want to read your work?

Discoverability

  • Is the journal indexed by major databases, such as PubMed, Web of Science, or other discipline-specific databases?  This information can be found on the journal’s website or Ulrichsweb (see below).
  • Does the journal offer extra services, such as graphical abstracts, videos or social media promotion?

Public and Open Access

  • Do you wish to publish in an open access journal, or a journal that has an open access option?  If so, what are the associated article processing charges (APCs)?
  • Does your article need to comply with a funder’s public access policy?
  • Does the journal allow self-archiving a version of the article on a personal website or institutional repository?  Is there an embargo period?

Finding Journal Metrics

For an explanation of the metrics mentioned below, see ‘How is Journal Impact Measured?’ in our Measuring Research Impact guide: http://researchguides.library.tufts.edu/researchimpact.

  • Journal Citation Reports: Journal Citation Reports provides Impact Factors, Eigenfactors and Article Influence Scores for science and social science journals.
  • Scopus: Scopus provides CiteScore, SCImago Journal Rank (SJR) and Source Normalized Impact per Paper (SNIP) for journals and book series. These metrics are also freely available at Journal Metrics.

Other Resources for Evaluating Journals

Predatory, or illegitimate, publishers and journals have proliferated in recent years.  These journals collect article processing charges (APCs) without providing publisher services, such as peer review, editing, and long-term preservation and access, in return (note that many legitimate publishers and journals have APCs for open access).  While it can be difficult to determine whether or not a journal is predatory, the questions above and the resources listed below can help you distinguish a predatory journal from one that is not.  In addition, you can look at the potential characteristics of predatory journals identified in a recent cross-sectional study of biomedical journals.1

  • Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE): COPE provides advice to editors and publishers on all aspects of publication ethics, in particular how to handle research and publication misconduct. COPE members are expected to follow a code of conduct for journal editors. Search ‘Member’ page for journal or publisher.
  • Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ): Directory of peer-reviewed open access journals. Journals must apply to be included in this directory. Journals that adhere to an exceptionally high level of publishing standards are awarded the DOAJ Seal.
  • NLM Catalog: Search the National Library of Medicine Catalog (NLM) to discover which journals are indexed in PubMed/MEDLINE and other National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) databases.
  • Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association (OASPA): OASPA develops business models, tools and standards for open access publishers. Publishers must apply for membership to this organization, and are expected to adhere to set criteria. View ‘Member’ page for complete membership list.
  • Ulrichsweb: Ulrichsweb™ is an authoritative source of bibliographic and publisher information on more than 300,000 periodicals of all types–academic and scholarly journals, Open Access publications, peer-reviewed titles, popular magazines, newspapers, newsletters, and more from around the world.

Match Your Manuscript to a Journal

If you are having trouble finding a journal for your manuscript, then try a manuscript matcher.  These tools recommend journals based on your manuscript’s title, abstract or keywords.

  • EndNote Manuscript Matcher: Manuscript matcher, a feature in EndNote online, uses Web of Science data to suggest journals based on the title, abstract and references of your article. Anyone can create an online EndNote account, which can be synced with the desktop version of EndNote. Once you sign in to your online account, look for ‘Match’ in the menu at the top.
  • Journal/Author Name Estimator (JANE): JANE compares the title and/or abstract of your article to MEDLINE records to find journals that are the best match for your article.
  • JournalGuide: Free tool that helps researchers evaluate journals. Paper Match feature offers journal recommendations based on your manuscript’s title, abstract and/or keywords. Informational page for each journal lists its aims and scope, Source Normalized Impact per Paper (SNIP), acceptance rate, submission and publication charges, when available, responsiveness and speed of publication. ‘Verified’ journals have been verified by third party indexes as recognized, reputable journals in their field.

1Shamseer L, Moher D, Maduekwe O, Turner L, Barbour V, Burch R, Clark J, Galipeau J, Roberts J, Shea BJ. Potential predatory and legitimate biomedical journals: can you tell the difference? A cross-sectional comparison. BMC Med. 2017;15(1):28; PMID: 28298236.

 

Notes from the Library…Finding Funding & Writing Grant Proposals

Finding funding and writing grant proposals is a necessary, time-consuming, and at times frustrating, part of doing research. Our ‘Finding Funding & Writing Grant Proposals’ guide lists resources available at Tufts and beyond for locating funding opportunities, discovering projects that have been funded, and writing grant proposals. The full guide can be viewed at: http://researchguides.library.tufts.edu/findfunding. Here are a few highlights from this guide:

Finding Funding

  • COS Pivot: Comprehensive database of national and international funding opportunities from government and private funders. Advanced search features allow you to restrict your search to a particular funder, funding type or applicant type (e.g. graduate student). Profiles section may help you identify potential collaborators within or outside of Tufts. Use your Tufts email address to create an account, which will allow you to build a profile, view potential funding matches, save searches and schedule funding alerts.  Log in with Tufts username and password for off campus access.
  • Graduate & Postdoctoral Extramural Support (GRAPES): Compiled by the University of California at Los Angeles, GRAPES is a database of scholarship, grant, award, and fellowship opportunities for graduate students and postdocs.

Discovering Funded Projects

  • National Institutes of Health RePORTER: Research Portfolio Online Reporting Tool Expenditures and Results (RePORTER) is a searchable database of research projects funded by the NIH as well as the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), and Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).
  • National Science Foundation (NSF) Award Search: Complete data on active and expired NSF awards from 1976 to present; some information available for pre-1976 awards.

Books on Writing Grant Proposals

  • The Grant Application Writer’s Workbook: This popular workbook guides applicants through a NIH grant application, providing examples of each component of the application. Updated to reflect recent changes to application requirements.
  • Guide to Effective Grant Writing: How to Write a Successful NIH Grant Proposal: Covering all aspects of the proposal process, from the most basic questions about form and style to the task of seeking funding, this book offers clear advice backed up with excellent examples. Based on the author’s experience serving on NIH grant review panels, it covers the common mistakes and problems he witnessed while reviewing grants.
  • Writing the NIH Grant Proposal: Hands-on advice that simplifies and demystifies writing a NIH grant proposal.

Notes from the Library…Copyright

As both creators and users of copyrighted works, it is good to know a little about this topic.  Below, you will find a brief copyright primer.  For answers to copyright questions pertaining to your thesis, see FAQs for Dissertation & Thesis Writers from the Tufts University Libraries Scholarly Communications Team, where you will find answers to questions such as: Can I delay the release of my thesis?  What if I have already published part of my thesis as an article?  What if I want to reuse a graph created by someone else in my thesis?  What is open access?

What is copyright?

Copyright is a set of rights, which give the owner the exclusive right to do or authorize any of the following: reproduce the copyrighted work; prepare derivative works based on the copyrighted work; sell, transfer ownership of, rent, lease or lend copies of the work; publicly display or perform the work (17 U.S. Code § 106).

The authorization for copyright legislation goes back to Article 1, Section 8, Clause 8 of the United States Constitution.  The Copyright Act of 1976 provides the framework for today’s copyright law, which can be found in Title 17 of the U.S. Code.

What does copyright apply to?

Copyright applies to “original works of authorship fixed in any tangible medium of expression” (17 U.S. Code § 102).  This includes literary, pictorial, graphic, and audiovisual works.  Copyright does not extend to ideas, procedures, processes, methods of operation, concepts, principles or discoveries.  Patent, trademark or trade secret policy may apply to these forms of intellectual property.  For more information on these types of IP protection, see What Are Patents, Trademarks, Servicemarks, and Copyrights? and Trade Secret Policy on the U.S Patent and Trademark Office website.

How long does copyright last?

In general, for works created on or after January 1, 1978, copyright lasts for the life of the author plus 70 years (17 U.S. Code § 302).

Who owns the copyright to my thesis?

You do!  According to the Tufts Policy on Rights and Responsibilities with Respect to Intellectual Property: “Students generally own the copyright to the academic work they produce.  Academic work can include class papers, theses, dissertations…”.

Notes from the Library…Approaching the Literature Review

Whether you are preparing a literature review for your thesis, a journal article, or grant application here are a few tips to help you get started and stay organized:

  1. Determine what information you need.

Why are you searching the literature?  Are you developing a research project and want to know what has been published about your topic?  Are you interested in literature on a particular method?  Are you preparing a grant application or manuscript to submit to a journal?  The answers to these questions will help you decide where to search, and whether or not the information that you find is what you need.

  1. Develop a focused question.

If you enter a few words, or a phrase, into a database, then you are likely to retrieve either a very large or very small number of results.  Developing a focused research question helps you construct a search strategy that will retrieve a precise set of results.  If you have a complex topic, then you may have multiple questions (and searches).

  1. Choose your resources.

Once you have determined what information you need and developed a focused question, then you are ready to choose your resources.  Choosing which resources to search can be overwhelming.  While PubMed is often a good place to start, think about where, and by whom, information about your topic is likely to be published, and what type of information you need (e.g. journal articles, conference proceedings, patents).  What disciplines might have a perspective on your topic?  What organizations, associations, institutes, companies or agencies investigate issues related to your topic?

Bibliographic databases, such as PubMed and Web of Science Core Collection, are organized collections of references to published literature (e.g. journal articles, conference abstracts, books).  When you are deciding which database(s) to search, consider the subjects, dates, and types of literature the database covers, as well as the search platform.  For example, MEDLINE, the database that is the principal component of PubMed, is also available through the Ovid search platform.  While PubMed and Ovid MEDLINE are similar, small differences in the content and search features of these two databases means that you will retrieve different results.  See the Sackler School Biomedical Sciences Research Guide for a list of biomedical database, or ask me!

  1. Create personal accounts.

You may think that you are finally ready to start searching.  Not quite.  Create a personal account with the databases, or platforms (e.g. Ovid, Web of Science), that you plan to search.  A personal account allows you to save searches and sets of results, and receive email notifications when new results matching your search criteria become available.  Unfortunately, you have to create a separate accounts for each database or platform, but it is a good idea to do so for the resources that you use frequently.  At the very least, I suggest that you create a My NCBI account, which is the personal account associated with PubMed and other National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) databases, such as Gene and Protein.  See the March 2016, May 2016, summer 2016 and December 2016 PubMed Tip of the Month posts for more information on creating and using a My NCBI account.

  1. Use a citation manager.

Choose a citation manager before you embark on a literature review.  Citation managers allow you to organize and store your own collection of references, and insert formatted citations and bibliographies into documents.  Contact me (laura.pavlech@tufts.edu) if you need assistance selecting or using a citation manager.

  1. Document your search methods.

Get into the habit of documenting the parameters of your search, including: the databases that you searched; the platform on which you searched (e.g. Ovid, Web of Science, etc.); years covered by the database; complete search strategies; any limits applied, such as year, age, language; and the date on which you ran the searches.  While this information is not typically required for a manuscript (unless, of course, you are doing a systematic review, meta-analysis or scoping review), or grant application, a literature search is part of your research and should be recorded as you would any other experiment.  Doing so saves you considerable time and effort if you need to replicate the search in the future.