Monday, February 15, 2010

CQ Researcher Reports:
an information goldmine

This showed up in my e-mailbox this morning:

Sleep Deprivation:
Are chronically tired people at greater health risk?
via CQ Researcher Online

New research links sleep deprivation to a large number of automobile and other accidents. Moreover, chronically sleep-deprived people are at higher risk for poor memories, mental illnesses, obesity, cardiovascular disease and early death. Yet today's 24/7 culture fights against the human body's biological need for about seven hours of sleep a night. Some people are especially sleep deprived, notably teenagers and late-shift workers such as police officers, nurses and medical residents. Meanwhile, some experts worry that overuse of sleeping medications is becoming a serious problem. Newer medications like Ambien and Lunesta are in some ways “safer” than older drugs, but they also affect brain function and sleep patterns in ways that are still not fully understood. With primary-care doctors now able to prescribe these medications because of their greater apparent safety, more people may get into trouble with sleeping pills.

This is the weekly report announcement from CQ Researcher, one of our awesome online subscription databases. It comes from a company that got its start preparing background reports on issues coming up in the US Congress; CQ stands for "Congressional Quarterly." Each weekly report is a 24-32 page goldmine of information on some hot national issue, and includes an overview introduction, background information, a timeline, a Pro/Con debate on some question related to the topic ("Should medical residents' work hours be further limited to allow more time for sleep?"), and lots of citations to sources for further research. Some of these citations can even be gotten by going right over to ProQuest or SIRS Researcher, library databases of magazine and newspaper articles.

Recent CQ Researcher (and its monthly companion CQ Global Researcher) reports include:
Press Freedom: Should partisan bloggers get free-press protections?
Professional Football: Is the NFL doing enough to protect players?
Housing the Homeless: Is the solution more shelters or affordable housing?
Climate Change: Will the Copenhagen Accord slow global warming?
Truth Commissions: Can countries heal after atrocities?

If there is a relatively recent Researcher report on your topic, you have hit the mother lode!! Though the full-text of every report is available as a web page, I teach students that the easiest way to access the report is by downloading the PDF file to the computer; page 2 of the pdf always contains an annotated table of contents that helps a student get right to the good stuff.

From on campus, students can go directly to CQ Researcher Online, no passwords needed. For parents, or from home, a Paideia user ID and password are necessary -- see the librarians or go to the Library database page for the Database Help login link (use the @Paidia login info).

Want to keep on top of all the latest reports? You can subscribe to the E-mail Alert newsletter and get a weekly e-mail like the one I got this morning, or subscribe to the RSS feed (I use GoogleReader), using the orange RSS button at the top of the CQ Researcher home page.

I cannot enthuse enough about this wonderful resource! Solid, sophisticated coverage written for regular people, the CQ family of reports is a great way to research a topic or just learn more about the issues facing out nation and the world.

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