Category Archives: Research Tips

Columbia Experts Abound

Looking for an expert in a particular area of study on which you are reporting?  Check out the Columbia University Experts Guide from the Office of Communications and Public Affairs.  Search by name, subject, keyword, or peruse the different pre-compiled Expert Guides, such as Elections Experts Guide or Financial Crisis Experts Guide.

NYC Community District Profiles – First Stop for Beat Reporting

New York City's 59 community districts within its 5 boroughs show the incredible diversity of our city.  Each district profile contains summary data on population characteristics and land area and use.  Using 2010 Census information, these profiles are a great way to know your communities (age, ethnicity, household, income support, population changes), and each community board writes a needs statement at the beginning of the profile, talking about the particular needs and issues – traffic congestion and parking, affordable housing, schools, parks and recreation facilities, economic and retail development, and more.  This statement provides a context for development and budget priorities.

There is one bound volume per borough available in the reference section of the Journalism Library, call number HT168.N3

These profiles are also available online and for download in PDF format:

Compare to the Citywide Profile, and find much more at the Department of City Planning website.  Go on, take a bite out of the big apple!

Cinco de Mayo Facts for Features

Did you know:

  • $31.8 million = the number of U.S. residents of Mexican origin, according to the 2010 Census. These residents accounted for about three-quarters (63 percent) of the 50.5 million Hispanics and increased 54 percent, growing from 20.6 million in 2000 to 31.8 million in 2010. (The Hispanic Population: 2010 <>)
  • $39,264 = median family income in 2010 for households with a householder of Mexican origin. For the population as a whole, the corresponding amount was $60,609. (2010 American Community Survey <> table S0201)
  • $48.9 million = product shipment value of frozen enchiladas produced in the United States in 2002. Frozen tortilla shipments were valued even higher at $156 million.  (2002 Economic Census <>)

In honor of Cinco de Mayo, check out these and other interesting statistics from Facts for Features & Special Editions from the U.S. Census for your seasonal research needs.

Evaluating Information on the Internet

The World Wide Web is a composite collection of content created and hosted on the internet by millions of organizations and individuals. In order to effectively evaluate the information, consider the following criteria:

Authorship –

Currency –

  • Is the information provided timely? This is particularly important in areas of science, technology, health, and politics.
  • Is publication date or “last updated” date included with the information?
  • If the information is dated or historical, does the document refer to the source and year, e.g. “Based on 1990 U.S. Census data”?

Objectivity –

  • Does the author or web page sponsor have a bias?
  • Is more than one viewpoint expressed on the topic?
  • Does the author or publishing body have a particular agenda?

Coverage –

  • Is the information freely available?
  • Is the site complete or under construction?
  • Does the information have a print equivalent?

Accuracy/Verifiability –

  • Does the information include references to experts in the field or rely on other sources?
  • Does the information include a bibliography?
  • Was an explanation offered on how the data was gathered and interpreted?

Please ask if you need help in evaluating a particular internet resource – or IM the Columbia Librarians!

Ginger Statistics & the Death Star Cookie Jar

Ginger Root StatisticsGinger cookies are always a favorite (Death Star Cookie Jar featuring Pepperidge Farm gingermen!), and did you know that the price received per pound of U.S.-grown ginger root nearly doubled from 2007 to 2008?  You can find this and many other freely available agricultural statistics at the U.S. Department of Agriculture National Agricultural Statistics Service

Religion in the News – the latest from Pew

Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism and Pew Research Center's Forum on Religion & Public Life just released the latest Religion in the News report – Islam and Politics Dominate Religion Coverage in 2011.  A couple of key findings include:

  • Religion accounted for 0.7% of all mainstream media coverage studied in 2011, down from 2.0% in 2010
  • 6 of the top 10 religion stories in 2011 were about Islam
  • Twitter users gave less prominence to religion in 2011 than in 2010

Read this and other studies at the Project for Excellence in Journalism's Studies section.

Research Consultations at the Journalism Library

Need some research assistance with your project or thesis second draft?  We can help!  Come to the Journalism Library, meet with Cristina Ergunay (who is back from leave and available on Wednesdays and Thursdays) or one of her colleagues.  Send email to to set up a research consultation. 

Have a quick question and need an immediate answer?  Try Ask a Librarian instant message service!

SOPA Bill Text from the Library of Congress

Interested in reading the full text of the SOPA bill?  Try Thomas at the Library of Congress, which provides legislative information.  Search for bills, resolutions, committee reports, and more.  And check out the Bills to be Considered on the House Floor digital repository from the Office of the Clerk of the House of Representatives. 

For more updates, follow Thomas on Twitter!