ENG 195 — Buckley - Special Topics in Composition
LIB SOUTH 2037O
Basic Library Information
Primary and Secondary Sources
Research Terms to Keep in Mind
Finding Journal Articles at CSUDH
Scholarly Internet Research
General Research Tips
Start your research by going to the library home page.
- Main - Here you will find the most-used links and information
- Use the Library - Links to pages which will help you use the library
- Help - Basic Library Information and Help pages
- Services & Depts. - Services the library offers and departmental web pages
Checking out books: You can see what books are available in the Torofind Library Catalog. Once you have found the books you want, bring them to the Circulation Counter on the second floor of Library North to check them out. You will need a valid student ID card or a notification from Admissions & Records to check out books.
If the library does not have a book you need, you can request it via Inter-Library Loan!
There are two main types of soruce material: primary source materials and secondary source materials. To effectively complete the research assignments your professors give you, it is important to understand the difference between the two types.
What is a primary source?
- The "raw materials" of history
- Unprocessed data or accounts of history as it happened
- Examples include memoirs, contemporary news reports, interviews, government reports
What is a secondary source?
- "Processed" history as summarized by someone else
- Existing research
- Examples include scholarly books, journal articles, presentations and papers
Why does it matter?
When writing a research paper, you will usually want secondary sources. They are especially helpful as they have already put the material into a form that is easy to apply to the goals required by coursework. Some advanced courses, though, will require you to use entirely primary material and come to your own conclusions.
For instance, if you were buying a car, you would want to find out what other people who own the car think about it (secondary sources) and you would probably also want to test drive the car (primary source). Doing one or the other would be good, but doing both would give you a much better idea of the car's quality and suitability for your needs. The same is true in historical research.
Terms you should know before you search in electronic databases:
- DATABASE: an 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 text of an article
You can get journal articles by going to the library home page and clicking the Journal Articles & Electronic Resources link under the "Find Journal Articles Now" heading. Click the heading that sounds the most like your situation.
- If you only know what subject you're looking for (e.g. English) click Browse Databases by Subject.
- If you know which database you want to use (e.g. JSTOR) click Browse Databases by Title (A-Z).
- If you are looking for an article from a specific journal (e.g. Seattle Journal for Social Justice) click Browse Journal Titles.
- If you aren't sure where to start, click the how to find an article link at the top for help.
Once you are in a database, you can start to search for your article. All databases' 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. For your research papers, you will want to make sure you check this option!
Articles which you can read in that database will have a link to the PDF full text or the HTML full text. Click on that text link to read the article. Some databases also let you e-mail yourself the files by clicking on an e-mail link.
Some articles will say "Check Availability of Complete Article" instead of having links to the full text. If you see this, it means the text of that article is not in the database you are searching. But don't worry! By clicking the link which says this, you can see a list of which databases do have the full text. If there are no databases containing the article you want, you can request it via Inter-Library Loan.
If you are using a computer that is on campus, you can access all of our electronic databases and ebooks without any further steps. Just click on the database name in the Database List and you will be sent immediately to the search screen.
If you are off campus, you will need to log in using your MyCSUDH Username and Password (the same thing you use to log in to Blackboard, MyCSUDH, and student e-mail). When you click on a database name from off-campus, you will see a screen asking you for this information.
After you enter your login information, you should be able to access any of our electronic databases and ebooks just like you would on campus. If you have problems, try resetting your password. If that doesn't work either, give the reference desk a call at (310) 243-3586 and we will help you troubleshoot.
Academic Search Premier
This multi-disciplinary database provides full text for more than 8,500 journals, including full text for more than 4,600 peer-reviewed titles. PDF backfiles to 1975 or further are available for well over one hundred journals, and searchable cited references are provided for more than 1,000 titles.
JSTOR offers high-quality, interdisciplinary content to support scholarship and teaching. It includes over one thousand leading academic journals across the humanities, social sciences, and sciences, as well as select monographs and other materials valuable for academic work.
CQ Researcher is noted for its in-depth, unbiased coverage of health, social trends, criminal justice, international affairs, education, the environment, technology, and the economy. Reports are published weekly in print and online 44 times a year by CQ Press, an imprint of SAGE Publications.
Each single-themed, 12,000-word report is researched and written by a seasoned journalist. The consistent, reader-friendly organization provides researchers with an introductory overview; background and chronology on the topic; an assessment of the current situation; tables and maps; pro/con statements from representatives of opposing positions; and bibliographies of key 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, see your student handbook and this handout by Sheela Pawar at CSUDH
Remember, not all web sites are created equally. Some sites can 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
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
Use multiple search terms - Remember, not every database or article uses exactly the same words to describe the same thing. Make sure you try several synonyms for the term you're trying to find. Most databases have a link titled "thesaurus" or "subject terms" which you can use to find out what words to search for.
Search in multiple places - The more places you look for information, the more information you're likely to find. Don't just search in one database and assume it's all you'll be able to find! Take a look at the list of Useful Databases earlier on in this page for where to start your search.
Ask for help - Don't be afraid to ask for help! Research can be an exhausting process, and sometimes a fresh perspective will make your task immensely easier. You can stop by the reference desk in the library and ask any of the reference librarians for help with your research. You can also submit an online help request which a librarian will answer within a day or two.
Don't leave it until the last minute - The earlier you start, the better your paper will be. Starting early gives you plenty of time to read and absorb the information so that you'll be properly informed when writing your paper.