Author Archives: Starr Hoffman

About Starr Hoffman

Starr Hoffman is the Journalism and Digital Resources Librarian at Columbia University. Her primary activities include reference, instruction, support for data-intensive research, collection development, and social media outreach. Starr has a PhD in Higher Education, a MS in Library Science, and a MA in Art History. She is addicted to lifelong learning, coffee, travel, museums, scifi of questionable taste, and interesting shoes. Starr’s publications, experience, and blog can be found on her ePortfolio: http://geekyartistlibrarian.wordpress.com/

CNTS Dataset on Domestic Conflict Events (International Coverage)

In addition to the wealth of data that is publicly available through federal, state, or local government sources, at Columbia you have access to a number of other rich datasets. You can access these datasets through the Numeric Data Catalog and the Spatial Data Catalog, which are maintained by the DSSC Data Service at Lehman Library. (And if you’ve never checked out the page on NYC data sources, you should do so now!)

One example of these interesting datasets is the Cross-National Time-Series Data Archive. This resource was started in 1968, and some of its data goes back to 1815. Of primary interest is that this dataset records occurrences of domestic conflict events (defined as: General Strikes, Purges, Government Crises, Riots, Assassinations, Anti-Government Demonstrations, Guerilla Warfare, and Revolutions) for many countries, going back to 1919. This dataset has released a new feature beginning with the 2011 data, in which each of these listed events is also linked to a relevant New York Times story. You can find frequencies for the events in the main file <CNTSDATA.xls>, and the links to related NYT stories in another file <2012 Edition LINKS.xls or 2013 Edition LINKS.xls>.

The CNTS FAQ page provides information on variables, countries included, the codebook, and more:
http://www.databanksinternational.com/71.html

Before downloading this data, you must read ICPSR’s Responsible Use Statement, available here:
http://www.icpsr.umich.edu/icpsrweb/content/datamanagement/lifecycle/access.html

ICPSR’s guide to data citation:
http://www.icpsr.umich.edu/icpsrweb/content/datamanagement/citations.html
 
For any questions about using this or other datasets, contact the DSSC Data Service at: dssc.data@columbia.edu or 212-854-6012
 

2014 Data Visualization Contest

We are excited to announce the 2nd annual Data Visualization Contest for the Journalism Library!  Submit your data visualizations to journalism@library.columbia.edu by 5pm on Monday, May 5th to be included. (Only CU Journalism students are eligible for this contest.)

The winning entry will be printed as a poster and displayed with your name (and the project URL, where applicable) in the Journalism Library.  The winner will also receive a $25 Starbucks giftcard, have your project showcased on the Libraries’ Digital Center Projects webpage, and the opportunity to archive your work in Columbia University Libraries’ Academic Commons. This is not only a chance to get your work reviewed by a panel of faculty and library experts; it’s also an opportunity for greater exposure for your work. Last year’s winner, Jefferson Mok, went on to have his project picked up by CNN!

Contest Rules:

  1. Submissions must use publicly available data. (“Data” is broadly defined and can include video, audio, photo.)
  2. Submissions must be received no later than 5pm on May 5th.
  3. You may use previously submitted class work!
  4. Submissions may be in any file format, including URLs and other dynamic/interactive digital projects (a static image or screenshot will be required for the poster in the J-Library).
  5. Please do not use your name in the filename. Instead, in your submission email include the following:  your full name, graduation year, a title for your creation, and the data source(s) used.

All submissions will be judged based on accurate use of data and originality in aesthetic presentation; panel of judges includes Journalism Librarian, Starr Hoffman; Data Services Coordinator, Ashley Jester; and J-School Professor, Susan McGregor.

The winner will be announced at the J-School Innovation Showcase before graduation.  Please email journalism@library.columbia.edu with any questions. We look forward to your submissions; good luck!

Winter Break: Some Project and Thesis Tips!

Over the winter break, no doubt most of you will be hard at work on the first draft of your master’s projects and theses! Here are some ways to get help before your draft is due, along with some helpful resources and strategies for getting that draft done.

Where to get help:

Writing and editing resources:

Project/Thesis tips and strategies:

Peg Boyle Single has some great tips on writing theses and dissertations, much of which is applicable to your project. She also wrote a great (and really short!) book on this topic. 
 
How to Write a Lot by Paul Silvia; this book is geared toward academic writing, but it’s suitable for all kinds of writing, and how to make a habit of it. Best of all, this book is super-short at just 149 pages! 
 
This Gradhacker article has a lot of great tips, primarily geared toward getting yourself in the right mental space to get the work done. The main take-aways:
  • You are not alone—all your classmates (and those before you) have faced feelings of anxiety, failure, and inability related to this project. You may feel like you’re the only one struggling, but all of us who have trudged the halls of graduate school have faced similar feelings. Reach out for the support of your classmates—they probably need to vent their frustration, too.
  • Work in small increments, like half an hour. Even a little progress is something. Facing the seemingly insurmountable goal of writing your entire project can seem daunting, but you get it done by just breaking it down into tiny pieces.
  • Don’t strive for perfection, strive for DONE.
This blog post on outlining shows a great way to break your project up into chunks. Outlines are key to breaking your project into small, digestable pieces, and for keeping you on track.
 
A focus statement can be helpful: write a one- or two-sentence summary of your project. Write or print it on a notecard or small piece of paper, and keep it in front of you while you work. Look up at it every once in a while, and use it to keep yourself on track. Often, while working on a story or research, your mind will take off on wild tangents—having your focus statement in front of you can help you maximize your time by keeping you focused.

Viewing Past Master’s Projects & Theses

Master's projects/theses from past students are viewable in print at the Journalism Library and Lehman Library. Here's a guide to their location, based on year of completion.

type year location
MS projects 2011-2013 Journalism Library
MS projects 2010 and earlier (back to 1957) Lehman Library (International Affairs Building)
MA theses 2010-2013 Journalism Library
MA theses 2009 and earlier Lehman Library (International Affairs Building)

 

To find specific titles or authors, use our Master's Projects and Theses Index. Unfortunately, there is currently no subject access or keyword search for this collection. The print MS projects and MA theses cannot be checked out, but they can be read in the library. The most recent five years of broadcast Master's projects and theses are available for loan from the Journalism Library Reserves Collection and circulate for 2 days. Projects from earlier years may be requested at the Lehman Library Reserves Desk. To request a radio or television project, you must know the author's name and their year of graduation, available through the index.

 

Let us know if you have any questions about using the collection, and best of luck with your own projects!

Master’s Project/Thesis Resources

Getting started on your master's project or thesis? Here at the Journalism Library, we have lots of resources to help you get started! If you'd like to look at master's projects/theses from past students, you can access the 2010-2013 ones in Journalism. The 2009 and earlier projects/theses are located on the second floor of Lehman Library. Use our Master's Projects and Theses Index to find specific titles or authors.

Doing some background research? Tackling an academic subject or something not adequately tracked by publicly available sources? Try searching in our library databases. For science topics, try Scopus or Web of Science; for humanities, social sciences, and general topics, try ProQuest or Academic Search Complete.

Looking for books on writing, editing, or copy-editing? We've got them, as well as online access to the AP Stylebook!

Want to save all your links, articles, and resources in one spot? Want to make formatting your citations easy? Try using Zotero!

Still not finding what you need? Email or tweet Starr, your Journalism Librarian, with any questions or to request a research appointment. I'm happy to help!

Students Reading Periodicals

Finding Building & Property Information

Lately, we've had many questions in the Journalism Library about finding building histories, owner names, code violations, market value, and similar things. Here's a round-up of the most useful tools to find that information! (Photo below is a 1902 panorama of NYC from the Library of Congress.)

Panoramaic photograph of New York City, taken in 1902.

Dept. of Buildings: BIS (Building Information System)
http://a810-bisweb.nyc.gov/bisweb/bsqpm01.jsp

Lists actions, complaints, violations, alterations, certificates of occupancy, # buildings on lot, tax block/lot # (which you need for ACRIS, listed below), landmark status, zoning documents, etc. (Under “actions,” “NB” records are permits for new buildings.) When multiple buildings are on one lot, click on the number of buildings to access building-specific records. You can also use the BIS's "Building on my Block" to find properties in a block (or community district) that are new buildings or have had alterations. Good for getting a feel for what’s going on with property development in a given area.

Related: Building Permit Search, 1900 – 1986 (Office of Metropolitan History) http://www.metrohistory.com/searchfront.htm

Property Tax Bill & Information System (NYC Finance: Property) http://nycprop.nyc.gov/nycproperty/nynav/jsp/selectbbl.jsp

Market value history, building classification (what type of building it is), owner & billing address, tax charges, exemptions, abatements & any credits. You can find additional information (like number of stories or units, building dimensions, etc.) under Property Tax Benefit Information.

ACRIS (Automated City Register Information System; NYC Finance: Property) http://a836-acris.nyc.gov/CP/

Find mortgages, deeds, and other property documents. “Det” provides detailed information about the document (including the names and address of involved parties); “img” shows the document. Related NYC Property tools include the FY 2014 Final Assessment Roll for NYC and the Comparable Values for Condos & Coops.

NYC Housing and Vacancy Survey (Census Bureau) http://www.census.gov/housing/nychvs/

Includes information on rent-vs-own status, rent-to-income ratios, estimated value, and structural conditions (such as condition of exterior or interior walls).

Housing Code Violation Data (Dept. of Housing Preservation & Development)

HPD Online (find violations by address): https://webapps.hpdnyc.org/HPDonline/provide_address.aspx

New Residential Construction: http://www.census.gov/construction/nrc/

Reports from the U.S. Census on nation-wide permits for new residential construction.

U.S. Housing Market Conditions (HUD, U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development): http://www.huduser.org/portal/ushmc/home.html

Housing market data and analysis, home affordability, and related information. Available at the national, regional, metro, and local levels (some NYC-area data).

Landmark Designation Reports (only recent designations are here): http://www.nyc.gov/html/lpc/html/forms/reports.shtml

Landmark Designations, 1965 to present. (For older reports, contact the Landmark Commission directly.)

NYC Rent Guidelines Board Reports:
http://www.housingnyc.com/html/research/cresearch.html

Reports on housing supply, income & affordability, changes to rent stabilized housing stock, and more.

American FactFinder (Census Bureau): http://factfinder2.census.gov/

Two particularly relevant tables (both available at the census tract level) are:

  • Selected Economic Characteristics (DP03)
  • Selected Housing Characteristics (DP04)

Additional Information

For more information on NYC buildings, property, and real estate, consult with librarians at Columbia's Avery Art and Architecture Library.

Avery Library Subject Guides on related topics:

CRS Reports: Valuable Sources

Looking for in-depth, expert research on current issues? CRS Reports are a great resource! The Congressional Research Service (CRS) is an arm of the Library of Congress that exists to keep members of Congress informed about issues related to pending legislation. CRS staff are subject experts in a variety of fields and they produce nonpartisan reports that relate these issues in an easily-digestible format.  

CRS Reports can be hard to find. The federal government doesn't currently make them widely available to the public: you must request a CRS Report by title (or report number) from a member of Congress. However, you can find CRS Reports through subscription databases (like ProQuest), for some vendors for a fee, or for free from the following collections. 

CRS Reports on many subjects:

Collections with specific topic areas:

Subscription database for CRS Reports:

Search strategy for finding other CRS Reports:

More about CRS Reports…

This presentation talks more about CRS, summarizes past legislation that attempted to make CRS Reports public, and how to write your member of congress to request a report. For more information about CRS Reports, see this OpenCongress.org page: http://bit.ly/CRSReports