The following table provides answers some of the more common technical questions we receive from library users attempting to do research. Please visit the Researcher's Toolkit page for additional tips and suggestions for improving the non-technical aspects of your research such as developing your topic and choosing the right resource.
Whether from on-campus or from home, the most frequent cause of problems when using library resources is the use of browser buttons. Even just one use of a browser button (e.g. BACK, PRINT) to produce, navigate, and/or manipulate search results can cause a number of problems. Three of the most common are: 1) an inability to print, 2) "empty" result sets, and 3) "gibberish" (in your results and/or printouts). To help avoid these problems, ALWAYS use the database's buttons (or Acrobat's buttons if you're working with a PDF file) to navigate and/or print your results. If you are having problems and have accidentally used one of the browser's buttons, you should try closing the resource completely and starting over. If you continue to experience problems, please contact the 1st floor Information Desk at 814-732-2253.
1- Working with a PDF file
To view PDF files, you need software known as Adobe Acrobat Reader loaded onto your computer. Even so, these files can be problematic because of their size. The following are a couple of helpful hints:
a) Especially when downloading via a phone modem, be patient. Even via higher speed services, these files will take longer than other files to download/appear.
b) Be sure the entire document has downloaded before attempting to print or otherwise manipulate it.
c) When you're finished, do NOT use your browser's BACK button to go back to your results' list unless this is the only option available. Look for a button like "Results List" or "Citation" to return to your results.
d) Opening PDF files in Firefox is sometimes a problem. If a PDF file won't load, try accessing it via another browser (e.g. Internet Explorer) or save the file locally and try opening it via Acrobat.
2 - Printing a PDF file
There are any of a number of things which could be causing problems printing a PDF file. Some of the more common ones include:
a) Use the Acrobat print button (i.e. NOT the browser's PRINT button or FILE...PRINT).
b) Depending on the capacity of your printer and the speed of your internet connection, you may need to print multiple ranges of pages rather than the whole document at one time (e.g. print pages 1-7, 8-15, etc.).
c) Be sure the entire document has downloaded before attempting to print or otherwise manipulate it.
d) Typically, the last page of most PDF files is a copyright notice. This page does not need to be printed.
3 - Using Journal Locator
The Journal Locator link off the library homepage does NOT locate articles. Rather, it merely enables you to determine if the library provides access to the journal you're seeking - either in print and/or in electronic format. For example, if you type in Newsweek, you will see a link to the library (to see what's available in the building) as well as links to several databases and dates to which we have electronic access. To retrieve articles, click on the resource link. Depending on the resource, you may have to regenerate your search in the resource to retrieve the article (e.g. indicate the journal name, issue, author, etc).
4 - Understanding full text
There are several types and availability levels of full text. What full text is available and how it is defined is typically up to the publisher. For example, "full text" could simply mean the publisher has supplied a bibliography, not the actual text of the article. Pictures and graphs may be included or not. Many times access is only provided for a certain range of issues which may or may not include the particular issue you seek.
Keep in mind that, while it is changing, the bulk of information is still produced in printed format. As such, don’t overlook possible sources of information just because they’re not in full text. We have many journals and such here in the library that you can read and/or photocopy.
While the names may vary by resource, the following are the "standard" varieties of full text to which you have access.
a) HTML Full Text
Only the text is provided. Ads, page numbers, and so on have been eliminated. Graphs and other images may or may not be included (generally if they're not, a message will appear indicating such).
b) PDF Full Text
This is like an electronic photocopy. The text appears exactly as it does in the original journal and, as such, can be cited in the same manner as the printed version. However, to view these files, you need a piece of software called Adobe Acrobat installed on your computer. For a free download, click here. Please note that it can take quite a while to access/view these files via a phone modem, especially for larger files and/or via slower/older modems.
c) Linked Full Text
This is the most confusing variety. It could link to the text of the article. But, just as often, it will link to a table of contents and/or bibliography (i.e. not the article). Frequently, you will simply be taken to a publisher’s page where you will be asked to subscribe to the periodical to gain electronic access. For technical reasons, sometimes these articles cannot be accessed from off-campus/remotely.
5 - Locating and retrieving full text
When full text isn't available in a resource, it doesn't mean it's not available. It just means it's not available in that resource. Many databases do not provide any full text, only indexing. Sometimes full text is only provided for things such as bibliographies and pamphlets. For those that do provide full text, be aware that not every issue is available in full text. That is, you may want the September, 1991 edition but full text may only be available back to 1995.
However, if full text isn't available in the database you're using, it may be available via another resource. To make this determination, visit our Journal Locator link (see #3 above). The latter provides a complete listing of all journals available in full text, coverage, and the database(s) through which a title's available.
6 - Accessing work stored on the campus' S:/ drive
When using this service, please be sure to place eup\ in front of your username when prompted.
7 - Saving your work
There are a variety of document formats in which to save your files and other information. Unless you know what format is best for your system, it is highly suggested that you save your work as a TEXT file. These files will have a .TXT extension and are compatible with most types of word processing and other software applications. However, saving a file as TXT will remove ALL formatting from your document. Saving in Rich Text Format (RTF) will save most but not all formatting.
As an alternative, you could highlight the text you wish to copy, right click once on the text, and select COPY. Then, open up the application you wish to use (e.g. word processing), right click once again, and select PASTE. You can then save this as you normally would a document.
10 - Translating software files
Everyone has different software on their home computers. If you plan on working at both home and at school on a particular file, you need to be sure to save your work in a format that is translatable in both locations. For example, many people use Microsoft Works at home. However, files saved in the default Works format will not open properly in Word. Conversely, if you create the file in Word here on campus, you probably won’t be able to open/modify it when you get home. Similarly, files created in Office07 cannot be opened in earlier versions of Office. You either need to save your work in an earlier version of the software used to create the file and/or download and install Microsoft's Compatibility Pack onto your computer.
When you first save a document, most applications offer some sort of "Save File As Type…" option. From the available options, you need to select a type that is available at both home and on-campus (e.g. Word 97-03 Document). Even so, you may still lose some of your formatting (e.g. boldfacing, margins) depending on the level of compatibility.
11 - Viewing files or documents for which you don't have the software
A viewer allows you to view a file or document without having to purchase or install an entire software application. For example, while you won't be able to edit the document, downloading and installing the Word viewer would enable you to view Word files. Our Software Downloads and Tutorials page provides links to various viewers as well as other useful downloads to improve your software and computer's functionality.
13 - Accessing electronic reserve (i.e. Docutek) items
Three things: 1) As with all library resources, you must have a current, valid EUP ID. 2) Make certain your browser preferences are set to accept cookies. Your Privacy Settings in Internet Explorer should be set at Medium or lower to allow ERes to display documents. 3) If you have a pop-up blocker installed, disable it. Course documents display in a new window for ease of viewing and printing. A pop-up blocker may prevent the new window from opening correctly.
14 - Accessing items from Docutek
Professors often place articles on reserve in the library for students. Docutek is a service whereby these items can be made available via the Internet. To gain access, click on the Docutek (electronic reserves) link via the library homepage and follow the instructions. When you are asked for a password, enter the password given to you by your professor.
As the majority of these items are in PDF format, you will need to have Adobe Acrobat installed on your computer to access these items. Because the quality of the image will never be better than the scanned original, you may have some problems from time to time viewing text, particularly if it was from a thick book (the text gets "eaten" as it approaches the spine). Some of these sorts of problems can be corrected by adjusting your computer’s resolution, printer settings, and so on. As everyone’s home computer is configured differently, the settings you have as the defaults on your computer may need adjusted.
15 - Getting results to appear
Incomplete or empty result sets can be caused by a number of factors. The two most common ones are:
a) Use of browser buttons. Use of your browser buttons while within a database can cause any of a number of problems. Some of the more common problems include not being able to print, results' sets not appearing, and incomplete result sets. Whenever possible, use the database's buttons to navigate, print, save, and so on.
b) Pop-up and other security software. Depending on its configuration, your pop-up blocking, firewall, and/or other security software may be "blocking" results sets from appearing properly. As a database is a secure site, you can temporarily disable pop-up software while searching.
16 - Logging into library resources from home
Because of the number of login procedures for various campus resources (i.e. email, network, SCOTS), logging into library resources from home can be confusing. Usually, the problem users encounter is that they are attempting to use one of these other login procedures to gain access to library resources. The correct procedure is as follows:
a) You must have a valid Edinboro University of PA identification card.
b) Be certain the resource you wish to access is available from home. Some resources are only available from a campus networked computer. To check on availability from a non-campus computer, visit our electronic resources’ page. If dial-up access is available, it will be indicated by a link beneath the annotation.
c) Logging-in to resources remotely follows one of two standard "authentication procedures." When you attempt remote access to a resource, you will be prompted with a login screen. For on-campus users, you will generally use the right login procedure which asks for your institution (EUP), login, and password (use whatever you use to log on to the campus network). For online students or students for whom their password isn't working, use the left login procedure for which you will need to supply your first initial, all eight digits of your ID#, and the first initial of your last name (as your username) and your last name as your last name.
17 - Accessing EBSCOhost resources
Assuming you're using the correct login procedure (see above), please note that, effective January 1, 2005, EBSCOhost will have new minimum browser requirements:
- Netscape 7.x
- Microsoft Internet Explorer 5.5
- Macintosh minimum requirements: Safari 1.2x or Netscape 7.x
18 - Viewing results from a database search
Sometimes result sets appear as "gibberish" or are incomplete. Sometimes they do not appear at all. These and other problems can emerge for a number of reasons, typically as a result of using browser buttons (e.g. BACK, PRINT) to navigate and manipulate citations. If one of the following does not correct the situation, please contact Prof. Monty L. McAdoo (814-732-1070) or contact the Information Desk 814-732-2253.
- Do NOT your browser's buttons (e.g. BACK, PRINT). Whenever possible, use the database's buttons to navigate between result lists, print citations, and so forth. This includes using the Adobe Acrobat Reader print button to print PDF files. Among other problems, use of the browser's buttons can cause incomplete result sets and "freezes." If you have used your browser's buttons, you might want to exit the resource and begin again to insure your search is "clean."
- Disable "pop-up" blocking and firewall software. Often this software will treat result sets as "pop-up" windows and block them. Similarly, firewall software may prevent results from making it back to your computer. Disabling this software while searching a database is highly recommended. Because databases are self-contained and secure sites, you typically don't need to worry about contracting viruses, pop-ups, and so on while searching them. Just remember to turn your software back on if/when you exit the database.
19 - Using AOL to access resources
AOL’s utilization of a proprietary browser does not pass authentication information properly to all library resources and/or library vendors at the present time. Translated...this means, you may experience difficulty accessing and/or using library resources using AOL's browser software. To resolve this issue, you can log-on to the Internet with AOL. But, rather than access resources with AOL's browser, use another. Because of problems with Firefox and PDF files, it is suggested you use Internet Explorer.
20 - Navigating an electronic resource
Once you are in a database, you should use the software’s buttons whenever possible. Among other problems, use of the browser’s buttons (e.g. BACK, PRINT) can limit functionality, "freeze" your computer, and create "empty" result sets even though there may be hundreds of relevant resources. If you are unclear about the difference between an Internet site and a database, contact a librarian.
21 - Finding what you seek
Generally speaking, a search strategy that works in one database or index will (more or less) work in another. However, there are some things you can do to improve your search strategies: - Check your spelling
- Check your typing
- Don’t use common or "noise" words (e.g. of, a) unless you’re doing a specific search and want an exact match
- Try a different database
- Try alternate spellings/wordings (e.g. brazil vs. brasil, adolescent vs. teenager)
- Try searching by keyword vs. subject
22 - Understanding keyword vs. subject searching
Unless you specify otherwise, when you search a database, you are searching by keyword. That is, the database returns citations for sources containing the word(s) you’ve entered, not necessarily your subject. For example, a keyword search for reading is as likely to return citations on the topic of "reading" as it is on the town of "Reading (PA)." This is a good way to brainstorm and come up with ideas.
Subject searching, though, produces more focused results. In a database, information is stored in fields. Most resources have an "index" of usable terms known as "subject headings." These are terms which appear in the subject field (sometimes known as "descriptors.") If you don’t know/use the proper heading, it’s unlikely you’ll retrieve any relevant results. For example, in PILOT, a subject search for world war one produces no results. A search for world war 1, though, produces more than 80 records. That’s because the proper subject heading is world war, 1914-1918. The word "one" isn’t part of the subject heading and, thus, no results were produced in the first search.
23 - Isolating peer-reviewed journals
A peer reviewed journal or article is one that is reviewed by professionals in the field before it is published. They tend to be more specialized and generally are more scholarly, more academic in their focus. For this reason, the periodicals you find in the grocery store or through Publisher’s Clearinghouse are typically not peer reviewed. Most databases allow you to limit your search to peer reviewed publications. Sometimes there will be a check-box, other times you will need to identify the specific field and limit your searches accordingly. For a more detailed discussion of peer-reviewed publications and source evaluation, visit our Researcher's Toolkit page.
24 - Renewing your books from home
If you would like to check which books are charged to you and/or would like to renew them, you can do so by clicking on this link.
25 - Understanding the difference between an index/database and the Internet
The library currently provides access to nearly 100 electronic information resources, sometimes referred to as "indexes" or "databases." They provide a variety of information from citations to book reviews to full text articles and more. They are called "indexes" because, like an index in a book, they tell you what articles can be found in a particular publication. When a faculty member tells you "Don’t use the Internet," most of them mean do not use Internet sites for your research. A database is not an Internet site. It merely uses the Internet as a way to access its content.
26 - Getting a copy of the book or article you seek
If the item you seek is not available in full text and is not available in the library, we can request it from another library via a service called interlibrary loan (ILL). This service is available to current students, faculty, and staff. The service is generally free and takes 1-2 weeks processing time. Forms are available in the Reference Area. For more information and/or to submit a request electronically, visit our ILL page.