Friday, February 10, 2006

Researching Connecticut

From time to time, I have posted information in the comment sections about how to conduct research, and where the best places are to find information online. However, I believe that we could still use a single page where all of the relevant information about researching Connecticut politics and history could be quickly and easily found. This will be that page: I'll link to it on the menu at the upper right when it's posted. You can add in your own research suggestions or research questions in the comment section.

Newspaper and other source links. A list of all the news sources in Connecticut.


ICONN.org

ICONN.org is an excellent site that's too often ignored by us. Why should you care?

Two reasons. AP Photo Archive and a backfile of the Hartford Courant. Oh, yes. Well, InfoTrac OneFile is nice for general research, too, although they could use some spaces between their words.

Go to ICONN.org and enter your library card number. All Connecticut residents with a library card have access to this material. If you're a Connecticut resident: why don't you have a library card? Go get one. Now!

Once you're logged in, you'll see To search for information, you could use what is known as a "federated search" tool, which is the search box at the top of the page. This will search all of the ICONN databases. This is sort of useful, but won't allow you to see your results right away. I suggest going into a specific database. For this exercise, let's go into the Hartford Courant's recent archive. This is something that Lexis-Nexis doesn't have, by the way. Only ICONN has access to it.

Click on either "Select ICONN Resources" or "Link to Individual Databases." Either will get you where you want to go. Either way, you will see a list of databases. Find and click on "Hartford Courant." Don't click on "Hartford Courant-Historical," which searches the Courant from 1764-1922 (that is darn cool, but not relevant to most of us). You'll see a ProQuest seach interface with three search boxes, linked by Boolean terms like AND, OR and NOT, and a dropdown menu of fields you can search within, such as document title, author, document text, etc.

Below, you will see a menu for "Date Range." You may want to specify a specific date range, or keep things current. Select what you feel is useful for you.

Type your keywords into the search fields. Connect your keywords with Boolean connecting words like "AND" and "OR." For those of you who haven't used these, here's all you need to know: the word "AND" between two keywords tells the database to return records with both terms in the field you select, while the word "OR" tells the database to return records with either of the terms. Don't ever use "NOT." Trust me, you'll miss important things if you do. If you want to find an exact phrase, put quotes around it. This is just like Google.

Some examples: If you wanted to find articles about Jodi Rell, type "Jodi Rell" (note the quotes) into the search box. If you wanted to find articles that mentioned both DeStefano and Malloy, type DeStefano AND Malloy into the search box. If you wanted to find articles that mentioned either Ned Lamont or Lowell Weicker, you could type Lamont OR Weicker into the search box. If you limited the date to the past few months, you'd probably find what you were looking for with that last search.

The rest of ICONN is a great deal of fun to explore, especially AP Photo Archive. This is an amazingly fun database with pictures that are uploaded to the AP from all over the world. Really cool: check it out. And, if you happen to be sitting in the General Assembly, remember how useful ICONN is when it comes time to think about library funding.

(Note: Some of you may see slightly different things on ICONN, depending on your public library)

Websites

CT Heritage: This is a site run by the Connecticut Humanities Council, and is an archive of interesting historical information. The Connecticut Politics and Government: A Profile page is a good place to start any sort of political research. Unfortunately, the site only has information up through 1984, but it can be useful for analyzing historical political trends.

Connecticut State Library's Resources by subject page: This page is a list of subjects that the CT State Library has organized. It's very useful. For example, clicking on the "Public Policy" link will take you to a nice list of public policy links, most having to do with Connecticut.

The Secretary of the State's Office: I know. It's a nasty site, but it's still sometimes difficult to find useful election information here. It can be slow and hard to navigate, but it's still the only source of information for detailed election information.
A very nice page, however, is the TOWNS, CITIES AND BOROUGHS page, which is a list of information about every town in Connecticut. It's mostly up to date and accurate.

These are just some of the great sites that are out there. You can always suggest more in the comments.

Plagiarism

Remember this when posting articles: don't quote the whole thing! That's plagiarism. We can post selections, as long as a link is provided to the original. I often feel this isn't always enough, and like to cite my sources anyway. Please make every effort to give credit where credit is due.

By the way, I don't mind if you quote me and don't give credit. However, a lot of other people do. So be careful!

Citing Sources

Do try to provide at least a link to whatever you're referencing. I cite most newspaper sources in full (providing author, title, source, date of publication--I use a slightly simplified MLA format) because I'm thinking about people looking at this site three months or more from now. Most of the links to newspaper articles have expired. I want to provide a way for people to find the original article, if they want (by, say, using ICONN!). Just something to think about.

I hope that this information is useful. There's a lot of information to gather out there, and the better informed we are, the smarter we're all going to sound. Please put suggestions, questions and anything else about research in the comments.

5 comments:

Aldon Hynes said...

Genghis, thanks for pointing out these great resources. I didn't know about ICONN.org until you mentioned it over on My Left Nutmeg. It is a real treasure trove.

Genghis Conn said...

ICONN isn't all that well-promoted outside of libraries (and sometimes within them, too!). The Courant stuff is one-of-a-kind: they have a deal with LexisNexis where they only provide access to the last year or so of their archive. As time progresses, LN users lose access to older articles. Lousy for research. If they'd only get around to digitizing 1922-1992...

Eddie said...

I'm seeing more ICONN publicity within libraries lately. I was wondering if people didn't want to talk it up for fear that funding would disappear just as it was catching on.

It is a phenomenal resource. Our Land of Steady Habits is really getting it right. I love the statewide card catalog, too, and the ability to tap in to some of the private university library catalogs from home.

Anonymous said...

Aldon Hynes said...

(on the Lt. Gov Race)

"There has been talk about getting some good focus on the fifth CD with either Audrey Blondin or Jim Maloney. I’ve gotten to know Audrey fairly well. I really like her efforts to get more people involved in the Democratic process, so I could see that. I don’t know Jim as well as I know Audrey, but I could also see him helping out the ticket a lot."

Aldon is right there should be some attention paid to Democrats out here in the 5th CD, we get treated like the red headed step child of the Democratic party. I for one would like to see some fresh blood on the ticket. Audrey Blondin ran a good spirted campaign that reached out to over 83 town committees and helped alot of Democrats around the state during this past election cycle. Also, I think her campaign had a big impact on some of the issues of last year, like campaign
finance. Good for you Aldon...

Anonymous said...

Audrey Blondin would be a great pick, a local pol with some real chops.

Everyone else that has been mentioned thus far (save Vance and Murphy) is a recycled pol. It is a great opportunity for the two mayors (and Rell as well) to build the farm system and introduce state-wide voters to some new folks. The recycled phenomenon is precisely why Kevin O'Connor became a Republican--- the Democrats don't seem to have room for anyone new. Blondin might not be 'brand new', but she is not a recycled Hartford pol.