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ENG 111 — Freshman Composition: Armstrong

ATTENTION: This research guide was last modified on March 03, 2011, before the January 2012 redesign of the library's home page. Information on how to access journal articles, databases, and other library resources may be inaccurate or outdated.

For up-to-date instructions on accessing materials, please visit our tutorial pages instead.


Contact Information

Carol Dales


Beginning your Research

Borrowing Books

Locating Books

Locating Journal Articles

Recommended Databases

Finding Journal Articles

Off-campus access

Search Tips

Scholarly Internet Research

Citing your Sources

Beginning your Research
  • For most essay assignments, plan to investigate three basic types of information:
    1. Books
    2. Articles from journals, magazines and newspapers
    3. Websites

Borrowing Books
  • To borrow books, you will need your CSUDH photo ID with a current sticker.
  • Before borrowing books, read the regulations on the Circulation /Borrowing Books page.

Locating Books
  • Use ToroFind Online Public Access Catalog (OPAC) to look for books on your topic.
  • Leave out dashes and commas when you type a search into the catalog.
  • Library catalog searches are not case sensitive-don't worry about capital letters.
  • Search with your own keywords and try to determine Subject Headings for your topic .
    Academic libraries use Library of Congress Subject Headings to describe the contents of books and other materials list in the library catalog. For instance:

    • Same-sex marriage (use instead of Gay Marriage)
    • Capital punishment  (use instead of Death Penalty)
    • Drug legalization
    • Marijuana - Law and legislation - United States
    • Illegal aliens - United States
    • Amnesty - United States

Ask Library Reference staff if you're not sure what to look under for books on your topic!

Locating Journal Articles

To find magazine, newspaper and journal articles on a particular topic, use a special index called an journal article database. Journal article databases that are most helpful for this course are listed in the section just below this one.

Terms you should know before you search in electronic databases:

  • DATABASE: any organized collection of information, especially electronic information.
  • JOURNAL (also called SCHOLARLY JOURNAL): scholarly publication published for an academic audience; narrow focus, deeply researched, all articles approved before publication by a group of experts working in the same field as the author (this approval process is called peer review).
  • MAGAZINE: publication with popular interest articles and broad subject coverage .
  • CITATION: the basic information you need to find or cite the full text of an article; includes article title, author's name, name of publication, date, volume & issue no. and page numbers.
  • ABSTRACT: a brief summary of the main content of an article.
  • FULL TEXT: the complete article.

Recommended Databases
  • Encyclopedia Britannica: an authoritative general encyclopedia with full-text, cross-linked articles; includes a reliable dictionary and thesaurus and much more.
  • CQ Researcher Online: objective and balanced treatment of current issues and hot topics; each 12,000-word report by an experienced journalist examines all sides of an issue and includes charts, graphs, sidebar articles as well as a chronology, extensive bibliography and a list of contacts.
  • Academic Search Premier: indexing, abstracts and high percentage of full text articles from journals in social sciences, humanities, education, arts & literature, and ethnic studies.
  • Reader's Guide to Periodical Literature: indexing, abstracts and high percentage of full text articles from popular publications (Time Magazine, National Geographic) as well as several scholarly ones such as Science.
  • ProQuest Newspapers: searches the full-text of over 500 national and international newspapers written in English, including Los Angeles Times and New York Times.

Finding Journal Articles

Find journal articles by going to the library home page and clicking the gray Find Journal Articles Now bar. Click the heading that sounds most like your situation.

  • If you only know what subject you're looking for (e.g. Communication), under "Electronic Databases", click "by Subject".
  • If you know which database you want to use (e.g. Academic Search Premier) click
    "A-Z List".
  • If you are looking for an article from a specific journal (e.g. Human Rights Quarterly) click "Journal List" and search for the journal title to see which database contains it.

Once you are in a database, you can start to search for your article. All database search options are slightly different, but they usually include several search boxes you can fill out. Most databases will also let you search only for peer-reviewed or scholarly journals. Articles you can read in full text will have a clickable link to the PDF full text or the HTML full text. Some databases also let you e-mail yourself the files by clicking on an e-mail link.

Some articles will have a red and white  "Find it @ CSUDH Lib" button instead of links to the full text.  This means the full text of that article is not in the database you are searching. Click the "Find it @ CSUDH Lib" button to see a list of which databases do have the full text.
If no databases contain the article you want, you can request it via Inter-Library Loan.

Off-campus access

When you're on campus, you can access all of our journal article databases and ebooks. Just click on the database name in the Database List and you will be taken immediately to the search screen.

If you are off campus, you will see a screen asking you to log in using your username and password, the same information you use to log in to Blackboard, MyCSUDH or campus email.
After you enter your username and password,  click "Submit" to view any of our journal article databases and ebooks just as you would on campus.

Search Tips

Once you are successfully logged in to a journal index, read the instructions (Help screen) to figure out how the database works.

To develop an effective search, look at your topic or research question and pull out the keywords. Then think of any synonyms for each of the keywords. For example: Do video games contribute to violent behavior in children?

KEYWORDS video games violence children
SYNONYMS gaming aggression youth

Your search becomes: video games and violence and children

  • When doing a keyword search, try to find one article that is exactly what you need. Look at its subject terms and re-do the search with those index (subject/controlled vocabulary) terms.
  • If the journal article index has a Thesaurus or Subject Guide, look there to find correct search terms for your topic.
  • Did you find too many articles?

    • Use more specific search terms
    • Limit by language, publication, date, full text, peer reviewed.
    • Use controlled vocabulary (look in the database subject guide or thesaurus)
    • Narrow your search with AND
  • Did you find too few articles? None? Out-of-context?

    • Use different search terms, synonyms, alternate terms and phrases
    • Check your spelling
    • Use truncation (child* = child, child's, children and other words that begin with child. )
    • Broaden your search by joining synonyms with OR
    • Search a different journal index
    • Ask for help!!!

Scholarly Internet Research

Remember, not all web sites are created equal! Some sites may be valid sources of information, but others are filled with opinion represented as fact. While there isn't a 100% effective way to figure out what kind of site you're looking at, here are some guidelines to follow when using the internet for research:

  • Check Credibility - Is it easy to figure out who's behind the information? Does whomever it is know what they're talking about? Do they have qualifications in the field or some other reason to be trust-worthy in it?
  • Check Accuracy - Are the sources cited well? Is the information up-to-date? Are there any broad, sweeping generalisations that are impossible to verify?
  • Check Reasonableness - What is the page's point-of-view? Is it a corporate page trying to sell you a product? Is it a government or educational site where the main purpose is to educate people?
  • Check Support - Is it possible to double-check the information in another location?

Useful Scholarly Websites:

  • Best Information on the Net: Internet resources selected by librarians at St. Ambrose University; includes a set of reliable websites for hot paper topics.
  • INFOMINE is a virtual library of Internet resources relevant to faculty, students, and research staff at the university level. It contains useful Internet resources such as databases, electronic journals, electronic books, bulletin boards, mailing lists, online library card catalogs, articles, directories of researchers, and many other types of information.
  • The Librarians' Internet Index aims to provide a well-organized point of access for reliable, trustworthy, librarian-selected websites, serving California, the nation, and the world. All links on the Index are selected and approved by librarians before inclusion.

For more information, check out our guide on Evaluating Web Resources.

Citing your Sources

What is plagiarism? - Plagiarism is "The action or practice of taking someone else's work, idea, etc., and passing it off as one's own; literary theft." (OED)

In essence, when you quote or paraphrase from somebody else's work without citing it, you are plagiarizing their work. Plagiarism is a serious matter, and could result in a lower or failing grade and even in your expulsion from university. Just rewording your work isn't enough to avoid plagiarism. Since you are still borrowing information heavily from another writer, you still need to include a citation.

But I didn't know! - Ignorance of the law is unfortunately no excuse. You can commit plagiarism without meaning to, and it's just as serious a problem if you do.

How can I avoid it? - You can avoid plagiarism by always citing your sources . Whenever you put a quotation or borrow information heavily from a source, be sure you include a citation in the proper APA style. This will let your professor know you aren't trying to pass the idea off as your own. Taking detailed notes on where you get your information helps a lot with this, since it prevents you from forgetting which is your own work and which is borrowed from others.

For more information on plagiarism, see your student handbook and this handout by Sheela Pawar at CSUDH

Click here for our tutorial on citing sources.