Naming Conventions for Databases

One of the things I struggle with when thinking about the library website is how to name the databases and other online resources that we subscribe to at my library. My general principle is to have the database name on the library website match the way that the database names itself. In general, this means leaving the platform/vendor name out of the name we use on the library website. Rather than say “EBSCOhost Academic Search Complete” or “Academic Search Complete (EBSCOhost),” it makes more sense to just list it as “Academic Search Complete.”

I get that including the platform/vendor name as part of the naming system you use on the website may help those users who can’t quite remember the exact name of the database they were supposed to use or that they used once before. By offering the vendor or platform name (EBSCOhost, ProQuest, WilsonWeb, etc.) as well as the specific database name, we’re giving our users  more details that may trigger recognition. On the other hand, I’m more concerned that students be able to indicate the database name correctly in any citations that they include in a bibliography. In general, the style guides seem to suggest that you just use the database name. Many of the databases will generate citations for sources that you find, and those citations usually leave off the vendor or platform name.

This week, I noticed that a database we’ve listed as “Westlaw Campus” is probably more correctly referred to as “Campus Resarch.” Before I recommend to my colleagues that we rename the database on our site, I’m curious about how other libraries list that database on their library sites. If you’ve got 30 seconds, it would be great if you could indicate on this poll in Doodle how your library handles the naming of this database. I’ll do a post later where I summarize the results.

Should Video Games Be Cited Like Other Works?

Why doesn’t the MLA require that the titles of video games be set in italics, as is the case for many other things? On page 88, the seventh edition of the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers instructs italics be used for titles as follows:

Italicize the names of books, plays, poems published as books, pamphlets, periodicals (newspapers, magazines, and journals), Web sites, online databases, films, television and radio broadcasts, compact discs, audiocassettes, record albums, dance performances, operas and other long musical compositions (except those identified simply by form, number, and key; see 3.6.5), works of visual art, ships, aircraft, and spacecraft.

The Awakening (book)

The Importance of Being Earnest (play)

The Waste Land (poem published as a book)

New Jersey Driver Manual (pamphlet)

Wall Street Journal (newspaper)

Time (magazine)

PMLA (journal)

Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Web site)

LexisNexis Academic (online database)

It’s a Wonderful Life (film)

Star Trek (television broadcast)

What’s the Word? (radio broadcast)

Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (compact disc, audiocassette, record album)

The Nutcracker (dance performance)

Rigoletto (opera)

Berlioz’s Symphonie fantastique (long musical composition identified by name)

Chagall’s I and My Village (painting)

French’s The Minute Man (sculpture)

USS Arizona (ship)

Spirit of St. Louis (aircraft)

Challenger (spacecraft)

On a recent episode of NPR’s On the Media (31 December 2010), guest Jamin Warren-Brophy, the editor of Kill Screen Magazine, argues that:

They treat them like a Toyota Prius, right? We would never put a Prius in quotation marks, or…Windows Vista, right? And I think that that distinction is very important, and it changes the way that people think about video games. They think about them as technological product, as opposed to something that was created, that there were artists, that there was a team of people who were responsible for it. And I think that that gesture is symbolic of how most mainstream publications think about video games.

Although I’m not much of a gamer now, I think I buy the argument that video games are deserving of being treated the same way as other artistic creations. MLA requires that you italicize even the lowliest TV show. Shouldn’t video games be accorded at least the same treatment (not that I would put all video games at the same sorry level as, say, TV fare like Small Wonder or Punky Brewster)?

Check out the rest of the segment, “The Culture of Gaming,” especially for its interview with Nicholson Baker, who talks about his time spent looking deeply at eight of the most popular video games of 2010.


Citing Materials from Archives Is Not for the Weak of Heart

Today I have been struggling with the skimpy guidelines provided by the Modern Humanities Research Association that tell you how to cite materials found in archives. I’ve used Chicago and MLA for this in the past, and gotten quite a few migraines trying to get the citations just so. But these MHRA guidelines are really not too fleshed out. Anyone out there know of a site that explains more fully how to interpret the MHRA rules?

Modern Humanities Research Association Style Guide

Just when I think that I’m in pretty good shape for being conversant with the main citation styles (Chicago A, Chicago B, MLA, APA), I find that I’m forced to learn a new one. This time, it’s the style from the MHRA (Modern Humanities Research Association). I hope I can figure out how to use MHRA for all the complicated citations to archival materials I’m using for my article on McCarthyism and the NYPL.