Learning LaTeX online

I recently had to learn some basics about LaTeX, which is free software used to create professionally typeset documents.  Its strength lies in formatting technical and scientific documents that contain mathematical notations.

Below are links to some short videos that are useful for learning how to use LaTeX:

Image from Microsoft Office Clipart

Earth as Art and other images

If you are looking for images to spruce up a class presentation or a conference poster here are just a few of my favourites.  Google Images may be the most obvious place to start, with the option to limit to faces, photos, clip art or line drawings, or to a particular size or colour. I use the colour option a lot to find images with a white or transparent background.

Flickr: Creative Commons is another resource that I use often. Here you can find images that others are willing to share, so that you can use them and credit whoever they belong to, based on a Creative Commons license as an alternative to copyright.

Most science magazines have image galleries online but I do love to browse NASA’s image gallery and 3D resources.  They are generally not copyrighted and can be used with acknowledgements.

Lastly, there is a gorgeous set of images from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). The image gallery of the Earth Resources Observation and Science (EROS) Center contains the Earth as Art photo seen here. This is Akpatok Island, where native Inuit people hunt walrus and whales in northern Quebec, that “rises out of the water as sheer cliffs that soar 500 to 800 feet (150 to 243m) above the sea surface.” The USGS EROS Digital Image Gallery also includes land remote sensing images of the Journey of Lewis and Clark.

Happy viewing!

Image from USGS EROS Digital Image Gallery

To cite or not to cite?

I take the BMW (bus, metro, walk) to work each morning and, on the way, I read the newspaper back to front, i.e., I start with the comics’ page.  My favorite comic strip is Zits, which is about the daily adventures of a teenager named Jeremy Duncan.  Last week, there was an amusing episode involving a bibliography.  Read the episode here.

This reminded me of a question that I am frequently asked by students.  When should I cite a source in my paper?

You would cite a source when the idea is not yours, i.e., when you obtained the information from elsewhere.  The source could be a book, journal article, website, etc.  Whether you quote the source or paraphrase it, you need to cite it within the text of your paper and include the reference in your bibliography.  The only cases in which you would not cite a source are when the idea is yours or when you state a common fact, such as “the earth is round” or “Stephen Harper is the prime minister of Canada.”

Image from Microsoft Office Clipart

McGill Library’s Open Access Workshops

McGill Library is offering two fantastic workshops this month, in celebration of Open Access Week. Sure, the workshops are next week, but we’re flexible like that. Mark your calendars and join us for one or both of these informative sessions:


1. Open Access Sources: your key to accessing free and reliable research beyond the university gates
Workshop ● Monday, October 29th ● 12:00 -13:30 ● Redpath eClassroom

Are you wondering what will happen after you graduate and you no longer have access to your McGill subscriptions to online research materials? Come to this hands-on workshop and learn how to:

  • Access reliable research once you’ve graduated from McGill
  • Find and use a variety of Open Access resources that are available for free online

2. Connecting with reliable, open access health information on the Web
Workshop ● Tuesday, October 30th ● 15:00 – 16:30 ● Redpath eClassroom

Do you and your family members have questions about health and wellness? Come to this workshop and learn how to:

  • Find reliable and free online consumer health information to answer your health and wellness questions
  • Assess the information and determine if it will be useful to you, your friends and your family
  • Access a collection of  books, available at McGill, written specifically for consumers on health and wellness topics

To learn more about workshops offered by McGill Library, click here.

Drop off your CV and participate in OA Week

To be sure that your research gets the widest distribution possible, showcase your work in McGill’s institutional repository, eScholarship@McGill. It includes articles, conference papers, books, research reports, and theses.

This is Open Access (OA) Week and it couldn’t be easier to make your research output available to everyone freely online in eScholarship with the Library’s CV Drive. Drop by and drop off your CV and the Library will do the rest.

There are still 2 dates left for the CV Drive: Wednesday, Oct 24th, 12:30 – 14:30, FDA lobby (at the entrance to the Schulich Library), and Thursday, Oct 25th, 14:00 – 16:00, Leacock lobby.

Whether or not you have a CV in hand, librarians will be there to answer all of your questions about OA.

Happy OA Week!

Canadian Library Support Staff Day

Today, Friday, October 19, 2012, has been designated by Canadian Library Association (CLA) as “Canadian Library Support Staff Day“. Library support staff members provide a wide variety of services in the library day-to-day operations: answer your questions, lend you a laptop, help you locate a particular book on the shelf, assist you in using uPrint machines in the library, etc. As the CLA website says, “the purpose of the day is to celebrate and show our appreciation for the work of library technicians, library assistants, library clerks, pages, shelvers, and all other support staff members who perform daily miracles in our public, private, school, government, academic, and corporate libraries.” So, if you will come to the library today for whatever reason, please do not forget to say thank you to the staff.

OA Week approaches

Open access (OA) is free, mostly unrestricted, online access to scholarly output. There is a strong international movement to promote OA and this month there is an Open Access Week, from October 22-28.

From the OA Week About site:

“Open Access” to information – the free, immediate, online access to the results of scholarly research, and the right to use and re-use those results as you need – has the power to transform the way research and scientific inquiry are conducted. It has direct and widespread implications for academia, medicine, science, industry, and for society as a whole.

Over 100 countries will participate in OA Week this year. You will see us around the Library wearing OA t-shirts so be sure to stop and ask us questions. We hope to have a series of blog posts on OA so I will kick things off by pointing to the McGill Library OA pages, including the extensive list of resources on the Learn more about open access page.

Image from PLOS