Homeland Security Digital Library (HSDL)

This digital resource is available through the Federal Depository Library Program to faculty, staff and students (and on-site library users) of Texas Tech University.  The HSDL (https://www.hsdl.org) is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s National Preparedness Directorate, FEMA and the Naval Postgraduate School Center for Homeland Defense and Security.

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Materials available in the HSDL include resources on policy and strategy, various special collections like CRS Reports as well as theses and research reports.  Also included are various research tools that provide users guidance to locating materials outside of the materials housed within the digital library.

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Another useful section is the Featured Topics section.  They have provided access to selected resources on various topics of current importance or of particular significance to homeland security.  These topics currently range from Border Security to Wildfires, including topics dealing with terrorism, gangs and cyber security.

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Other useful resources that are available in the Homeland Security Digital Library include an Ask a Librarian feature and the On the Homefront blog.  The Ask a Librarian function allows users to ask research questions any time of day or night, while the blog will let researchers stay up to date on current events.  There is even a calendar of upcoming events.

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Visit the Homeland Security Digital Library (https://www.hsdl.org) and explore all of the numerous resources at your disposal. Just remember that you need to be connected to the university network to have full access.

Monitoring Social Media & the 2016 Presidental Election

LexisNexis has a new site, U.S. Presidential Campaign Tracker, that allows viewers to monitor how the medial is covering the 2016 Presidential Election.

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This site provides a variety of charts that shows various type of information including; Top Candidates 30-Day Coverage, Political Party Article Sentiment and Twitter feeds.

The Political Party Article Sentiment shows the number of media articles published by political party and then shows the percentage of positive, negative and neutral treatments of the articles.

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There is also a list of Twitter feeds from various people concerning the election which is interesting to follow.twitter feeds

This is a really interesting site to check-out if you are interested in the elections!

Choosing a Writing Reference Guide

Whether you’re a master wordsmith with a hundred publications or a struggling student who has trouble keeping the active and passive voices straight, you will at some point find yourself either struggling with how to properly structure a sentence, use a word, or drop in punctuation. For those times, it’s a good idea to have a reference guide of some sort. With the new semester starting, students will soon be writing memos, briefs, and seminar papers, and faculty will be diving into the spring submission season, so getting a good reference guide is fairly timely.

First off, getting a copy of The Elements of Style by William Strunk, Jr. is not a bad place to start, though it’s not a cure-all. The original text, published in 1918, is considered the authoritative statement on English usage, even if there has been resistance to it in recent years. There have also been updates to it over the last century. The most well-known version is the “Updated and Expanded” edition written by E.B. White, the author of Charlotte’s Web and other stories, which is commercially available through a number of sources (and in its 5th edition). However, the original Strunk text is public domain and available freely on the web in a number of locations. John W. Cowan, a computer programmer who codifies the syntax of programming languages, maintains an updated version of Strunk’s text on his website.

Moving on from The Elements of Style, there are hundreds of guides, publications, tip sheets, and so on with writing, grammar, punctuation, and style advice. I can’t possibly review all of them here, as each writer has their own needs. Instead, let’s assess your needs with the following questions:

  1. What is your general proficiency level? If you are a highly proficient writer, you’re probably good just picking up a fairly mechanical reference book (for academic writers, your fields’ publication manual may be sufficient). If you’re moderately proficient, you’ll want something that’s thorough, but written for more advanced writers. If you struggle at the basic level, consider some of the books written by the test prep companies, as they have exercises and tips targeted towards struggling writers.
  2. What do you struggle with? If you’re struggling at the sentence level (grammar, punctuation), then you’ll want to focus on guides on proper usage. Punctuation and grammar handbooks abound, so you shouldn’t have too much trouble. If you struggle with putting sentences together into paragraphs or sets of paragraphs, you’ll want to find a guide that helps with broader organization and composition. If you write technically sound compositions that fail to be persuasive or impactful, then you may want to consider guides on rhetoric.
  3. What are you trying to write? If you’re struggling at the most basic level, then this question should wait until you’re more comfortable with the ins and outs of general composition. For those who are more advanced, however, this can be a big question. The practices for journalism, fiction writing, and legal writing can be quite different, so you may want to consider a style guide appropriate to what you’re trying to write. For legal writing, there are three books you may want to consider:
    • The Redbook, by Bryan A. Garner — This style guide for legal documents contains extensive guides on usage, grammar, punctuation, style, and formatting, and also includes the specifics on a number of document formats. Currently in its 3d Edition, published by West (978-0-314-28901-8)
    • Academic Legal Writing, by Eugene Volokh — This guide is a little more advanced, and is geared towards those writing seminar papers, law review articles, and other works of scholarship. It’s relatively cheap (around $30 on most online retailers), and has advice from the word-level to the rhetorical-level, as well as tips for finding topics and getting on law review. Currently in its 4th Edition, published by Foundation Press (978-1-59941-750-9)
    • Making Your Case, by Bryan A. Garner and Antonin Scalia — This book is about argumentation, and specifically about the forms of argumentation in the process of a legal case. If you’re fine with the general mechanics of writing, but are having difficulty being persuasive, this is probably a good place to start. Published by Thomson West (978-0-314-18471-9)

Have questions? Feel free to contact me or the Office of Academic Success and we’d be happy to help!