Only in the Library
"It's all free on the Internet, right?" "Why should I go through the library's website to find sources for my paper?"
The Web is a great source for free, publicly available information, but not for thousands of electronic books, journal articles, and scholarly resources that are available only to the campus community. Resources like Lexis-Nexis, Web of Science, Academic Search Complete, and ARTstor are "invisible" to Google. You will not see results from these databases in the results of a Google search.*
Through the Library website, you can access hundreds of different licensed databases containing journal articles, electronic books, maps, images, government and legal information, current and historical newspapers, digitized primary sources, and more.Read more
Is it a scholarly source?
Your instructor wants you to use scholarly [or 'peer reviewed'] sources. What does she mean?
- Authoritative- written by a recognized expert in the field. How do you know? The PhD is one sign; employment by a university is another.
- Peer reviewed- before publishing, the article was vetted by other scholars in the field. How do you know? Try searching the journal title in Google and read the publisher's blurb.
- Audience- written for scholars and experts in the field. How do you know? The level of the language is usually a give away. It will be technical and formal.
- Includes a bibliography and/or footnotes with citations of sources used.
Scholarship is always changing. Try to find the most recent scholarly sources you can.
The Research Process
Choose a topic.
Do a brain dump: Note down what you already know about your topic, including
- Names of people, organizations, companies, time period you are interested in, places of interest [countries, regions, cities]
Fill in the gaps in your knowlege: get background information from encyclopedias or other secondary sources. Wikipedia can be good here.
Select the best places/ databases to find information on your topic. Look under the History Databases tab of this guide for article database suggestions. Or use a catalog like Oskicat or Melvyl to search for books and other resources.
Use nouns from your brain dump as search terms.
Evaluate what you find. Change search terms to get closer to what you really want.
Refine Your Topic - Using the information you have gathered, determine if your research topic should be narrower or broader. You may need to search basic resources again using your new, focused topics and keywords.
Take a look this short tutorial on beginning your research for more ideas.
To use library databases from off campus you have to set up the proxy server: this changes your browser settings.