ICSM Media, Math & Manipulation: The medium is NOT necessarily the message!

ICSM Course Description

This guide supports the following seminar:

The media has historically skewed viewpoints related to basic facts surrounding an event or outcome. In this seminar, we will introduce you to common polling techniques; how data are reported; how data are interpreted; and how you, as a student, should be able to understand and communicate effectively about that data. 

Library Session Learning Objectives:
  • Evlauate resources and identfy those most appropriate to your information need (card sorting)
  • Identify and combine keywords for a research topic  (brainstorm)
  • Distinguish between the catalog, databases, and open web when selecting resources; Identify the best databases relevant to a topic (database search and reflection)
  • Evaluate information for accuracy (verify a claim)
Library Session II Objectives:
  • Develop your Research Question and submit it to Sakai
  • Find background/secondary research and statistics related to your research question 
  • Understand the need to apply to the Institutional Review Board (IRB) in the Office of the Provost, Sponsored Research, if your research involves the use of human subjects
  • Manage your research findings in Google and/or Zotero

Statistics Research Project

Everyone should have a copy of the Statistics Research Project.

Past Projects - Secondary Research examples

Finding data on Hope for Heroes

  1. PsycInfo  veterans AND ("seek help" or "seek support" or "seek assistance")
    Fraser, E. (2017). Military veterans’ experiences of NHS mental health services. Journal of Public Mental Health, 16(1), 21-27. doi:http://dx.doi.org.ezproxy.ithaca.edu:2048/10.1108/JPMH-06-2016-0028

  2. Data.gov:   veterans psychology support

Finding data on SPCA

  1. EBSCO (spca or "animal shelter" ) AND adopt* AND ( mall or "public event" or location )

  2. SPCA Annual Report: https://www.aspca.org/about-us/annual-report

  3. Guidestar:  Tompkins County SPCA https://www2.guidestar.org/profile/15-0624378


Finding data on the pizza shop:

  1. Business Source Premier: Pizza (subject)  AND college students (all text)
    Pizza industry (as a subject)  >  SWOT analysis  & market research reports

  2. Statista:  Pizza retail market

Finding data on Wegmans

  1. Wegmans as a Company or Organization > SWOT
    Add: consumer choice
    Hebard, A. (2012). Getting More Green. Progressive Grocer, 91(10), 9.

  2. Wegman’s company overview: https://www.wegmans.com/about-us/company-overview.html

  3. Business Insights:  Wegmans Food Markets -- rankings

Finding data on Starbucks

  1. EBSCO research library:  SU coffee AND food service colleges

  2. Starbucks:  Annual Report  https://investor.starbucks.com/financial-data/annual-reports/default.aspx

  3. Starbucks:  Yahoo! Finance https://finance.yahoo.com/quote/SBUX?p=SBUX

Google Pathfinder Template

Copy and paste this template into your own Google Doc or MS Word page.  


Tools for collecting data

Create a Google Form
Besides Google Docs, you can collect data using Google Forms.  Here is an instruction from Google.

Learn How with Lynda.com
You can also lean how to create form using Lynda.com's online tutorial, "Google Forms: Essential Training" with Jess Stratton.  Ithaca College has a subscription to Lynda.com.  I access it through https://apps.ithaca.edu/    There  is an entire series called, "Learning Design Research."  There is also an instruction video called, "Survey Monkey: Essential Training" that might be of interest.   

Qualtrics: used by IC Researchers
Ithaca College has a subcription to Qualtrics for creating surveys.  They provide a help page for Survey Basics.  As a subscription product, it has a steeper learning curve (more bells and whistles) than Google or Survey Moneky.

Zotero Reference Manager

Here is a guide to Zotero Reference Manager

Zotero is software that allows you to easily collect, manage, and save metadata (title, author, imprint, journal title, etc.  -- data describing your information that you'll need to generate citations) about you research. It also works with word processing programs to help you easily cite your sources as you write.

Institution Review Board

Institutional Review Board (IRB)

The IRB is a standing committee at Ithaca College that is responsible for reviewing all research and teaching activities conducted by IC faculty, staff, and students that involve the use of human subjects to ensure that these activities minimize the potential for risk.

To determine if IRB approval is required or which application to submit, please use the Decision Tree.       

Presenting Undergraduate Research

Students at Ithaca College can apply to present at the James J. Whalen Academic Symposium an event each Spring at Ithaca College.

There is also the National Conference on Undergraduate Research (NCUR).

How to Create a Poster Presentation

The Ithaca Library has a guide to creating Effective Poster Presentations.

Best Bets: Databases

General databases: Background:
  • CQ Researcher
    Comprehensive reporting and analysis on current issues in the news. Each report includes an introductory overview; background and chronology on the topic; an assessment of the current situation; tables and maps; pro/con statements from representatives of opposing positions; and bibliographies of key sources.
  • Opposing Viewpoints in Context
    Opposing Viewpoints in Context covers today’s hottest social issues, from Offshore Drilling to Climate Change. This database helps students research, analyze, and organize a broad variety of data for conducting research, completing writing assignments, preparing for debates, creating presentations and more.
  • Facts on File World News Digest
    Facts on File World News Digest provides Information on issues, events, and people from 1940 to the present. Features include country profiles, primary documents, key issues, newsmaker profiles, and newspaper editorials. The database incorporates World Almanac and Book of Facts.
Subject specific databases:
  • Communication Source
    Communication Source offers worldwide full-text content pertaining to communication, linguistics, rhetoric and discourse, speech-language pathology, media studies and related fields and includes many unique sources previously not available. Content is derived from academic journals, conference papers, conference proceedings, trade publications, magazines and periodicals. 
  • SocINDEX with Full Text
    Comprehensive coverage of sociology and related areas of study: criminology & criminal justice, demography,ethnic & racial studies, gender studies, marriage & family, political sociology, religion, rural & urban sociology, social development, social psychology, social structure, social work, socio-cultural anthropology, sociological history, sociological research, sociological theory, substance abuse & other addictions and violence.
  • PsycINFO
    Bibliographic citations and some full-text for journal articles, books, and book chapters. Subjects include psychology and psychological aspects of related disciplines, such as medicine, psychiatry, nursing, sociology, education, pharmacology, physiology, linguistics, anthropology, business, and law. 1872-present.
  • US Newsstream
    U.S. Newsstream enables users to search current U.S. news content, as well as archives that stretch back into the 1980s. It features top newspapers, wires, broadcast transcripts, blogs, and news sites in full-text format. U.S. Newsstream provides key national and regional news sources from the U.S. and includes exclusive and preferred access to top titles, including The New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Boston Globe, Newsday, and Chicago Tribune. All titles are cross searchable on the ProQuest platform.
  • Nexis Uni (replaces LexisNexis)
    Nexis Uni features more than 15,000 news, business and legal sources, including U.S. Supreme Court decisions dating back to 1790.

Data & Statistics

  • ProQuest Statistical Abstract of the United States
    HA202 .U5
    The authoritative and comprehensive summary of statistics on the social, political, and economic organization of the United States. The final edition from the US Census is the 2012 edition.  The current editions by ProQuest are in  Reference behind the Research Help Desk.
  • Facts on File World News Digest
    Facts on File World News Digest provides Information on issues, events, and people from 1940 to the present. Features include country profiles, primary documents, key issues, newsmaker profiles, and newspaper editorials. The database incorporates World Almanac and Book of Facts.
  • First Draft News
    Nonprofit resource for verifying news sources from social media by journalism experts and a coalition of news organizations.  Includes case studies.
  • Polling the Nations
    A compilation of public opinion surveys, containing the full text of questions and responses from 14,000 surveys from 1986 to the present in the United States and more than 80 other countries. Each record includes the polling organization responsible for the poll, the sample size and the date the poll was released.
  • Statista
    A statistics portal that provides data on over 80,000 topics from more than 10,000 different sources.  The content is purely aggregated statistics, geared towards business and marketing statistical needs, with a focus on current awareness.  Easy-to-use infographics and tables are available for download as images to insert into presentations.
  • World Almanac and Book of Facts
    REF AY67.N5 W7
    The library retains the current 3 editions.  The current edition is behind the Reference Desk.  It is also available in Facts on File World News Digest (latest edition).
  • Data.gov
    The purpose of Data.gov is "to increase public access to high value, machine readable datasets generated by the Executive Branch of the Federal Government."  The site includes searchable data catalogs providing access to data in three ways: through the "raw" data catalog, the tool catalog, and the geodata catalog.
  • Data USA
    The most comprehensive visualization of U.S. public data. Data USA provides an open, easy-to-use platform that turns data into knowledge.  The software code is open source - users can build custom applications by adding other data.

Information Types, Processes and Needs

Information types, processes and needs: in class exercise.  Cards will be distributed in class.


Brainstorm on the topic:  Trust in the Media

Use the white boards to consider ideas related to this topic. 
Consider broader, narrower and similar terms.
This exercise will help you focus your research topic and develop keywords and phrases to use when searching library databases. 

(Cathy's brainstorm)

Fact Checking

Article Search samples

Below are links to sample searches using our EBSCO databases:  The results are broad so use the left column to limit your results or add another keyword to the search box. For instance, to find trade and news, uncheck the scholarly journals limiter in the left column.

Books by Subject

Click on a subject heading to find books in the library:

Crime Statistics

Understanding crime statistics : revisiting the divergence of the NCVS and UCR
HV6787 .U52 2007 
New York : Cambridge University Press, 2007.

  • Bureau of Justice Statistics 
    Data on capital punishment, correctional populations, criminal victimization, domestic violence, drug use, and workplace crime.  They publish the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS).
  • National Criminal Justice Reference Service (NCJRS): Abstracts Database 
    US Dept of Justice, Office of Justice Programs site that is a portal to justice and substance abuse information useful for research and policy development. Topics include: corrections, courts, crime, crime prevention, drugs, the justice system, juvenile justice, law enforcement and victims. The collection of several thousand full-text publications, primarily government documents, can be searched.  
  • Uniform Crime Reports (FBI) 
    Annual statistical publications, including the comprehensive Crime in the United States, produced from data provided by nearly 17,000 law enforcement agencies across the United States. Also data from annual publications, such as Hate Crime Statistics and Law Enforcement Officers Killed and Assaulted.
  • National Archive of Criminal Justice Data (NACJD) 
    Facilitates criminal justice research by making available data, reports, and publications. Includes data on capital punishment, violence against women, terrorism, and crime. Users can create an account. Some data is restricted to ICPSR members.
  • Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Data Resource Center  Lost funding in 2014 and is no longer updated. Site still active as a portal.
  • Sourcebook of Criminal Justice Statistics 
    The Sourcebook of Criminal Justice Statistics brings together data from more than 100 published and unpublished sources about many aspects of criminal justice in the United States. Since 1973, the project has been located at the University at Albany, School of Criminal Justice, and compiled and managed by staff at the Hindelang Criminal Justice Research Center in Albany, New York. (from the website)
  • Federal Bureau of Prisons Federal agency concerned with the treatment of inmates and the administration of prisons
  • United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) 
    UNODC is a global leader in the fight against illicit drugs and international crime including: prison reform, money-laundering, organized crime, terrorism prevention, etc. Resources include data and analysis.
  • INTERPOL: Connecting police for a safer world 
    Worldwide police organization consisting of 190 member countries.  

Authority is Constructed and Contextual

(from the Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education, Association of College & Research Libraries, 2015)

Information resources reflect their creators’ expertise and credibility, and are evaluated based on the information need and the context in which the information will be used. Authority is constructed in that various communities may recognize different types of authority. It is contextual in that the information need may help to determine the level of authority required.

Experts understand that authority is a type of influence recognized or exerted within a community. Experts view authority with an attitude of informed skepticism and an openness to new perspectives, additional voices, and changes in schools of thought. Experts understand the need to determine the validity of the information created by different authorities and to acknowledge biases that privilege some sources of authority over others, especially in terms of others’ worldviews, gender, sexual orientation, and cultural orientations. An understanding of this concept enables novice learners to critically examine all evidence—be it a short blog post or a peer-reviewed conference proceeding—and to ask relevant questions about origins, context, and suitability for the current information need. Thus, novice learners come to respect the expertise that authority represents while remaining skeptical of the systems that have elevated that authority and the information created by it. Experts know how to seek authoritative voices but also recognize that unlikely voices can be authoritative, depending on need. Novice learners may need to rely on basic indicators of authority, such as type of publication or author credentials, where experts recognize schools of thought or discipline-specific paradigms.

Contact Us

picture of Abby Juda
Natural Sciences Librarian
(607) 274-3889
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Communications Librarian
(607) 274-1293

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Visit the Digital Media Center on the 3rd floor of the library. It includes:
  • The Presentation Room features a 60" plasma screen where you can test out your presentations.
  • The Collaboration Room has a wall-mounted 32" LC monitors for group work. You can gather around a table and hook up your laptops to a central docking station. When linked to the LCD, you can take turns displaying your ideas and content.

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