CAMS Student Guide
LIB SOUTH 2037O
Basic Library Information
Finding Journal Articles at CSUDH
Useful Books & Ebooks
Scholarly Internet Research
General Research Tips
Primary and Secondary Sources
Finding Primary Sources at CSUDH
Start your research by going to the library home page.
Site Organization:Start your research by going to the library home page.
- Dropdown Menus - Links to all our major web pages in one convenient place.
- Tabbed Search Box - Easy one-stop access to search books, articles, and more.
- Quick Links - Useful links to renew your books, contact the library, and other common tasks.
- Main Section - All the resources you need to perform your research.
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!
- Library Location
- Library Hours
- Reserve Desk
- Library Guides
- Ask a Librarian
- Reference Desk
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.
Unfortunately, CAMS students can not access library databases from off-campus.
There are plenty of books in the library which you will find useful for a research paper. Try the following search in the library's online catalog and you will see a list of relevant books.
- Go to the library's online catalog
- In the text area to the right, type in your search term.
- Once you have a list of books on the screen, you can sort your results with the drop-down menu at the right.
- Select "date" to see a list of books with the most recent books first.
The library also has several collections of ebooks: books that have been scanned in and which you can access from home using the library website. The main collection of ebooks is called ebrary. You can find it by clicking the "Find Journal Articles Now" header on the main library page, then selecting "E" for ebrary.
To add extra functionality to ebrary books, you can install the ebrary reader, available after logging into the database.
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.
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. 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.
MAS Ultra--School Edition
Designed specifically for high school libraries, this database provides full text nearly 600 popular general interest and current events publications with information dating back as far as 1975 for key magazines. MAS Ultra – School Edition also provides more than 500 full text pamphlets, 268 full text reference books, 82,968 biographies, 90,915 primary source documents, and an Image Collection of 107,135 photos, maps and flags.
General Science Full Text
General Science Full Text is a bibliographic database that indexes and abstracts articles of at least one column in length from English-language periodicals published in the United States and Great Britain plus the full text of selected periodicals. Periodical coverage includes popular science magazines as well as professional journals. General Science Full Text also covers The New York Times Science Section (published weekly on Tuesday).
Los Angeles Times
Full-text access to the Los Angeles Times, dating back to 1988.
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 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 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.
primary source materials and secondary source materials.
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
- Existing research
- Examples include scholarly books, journal articles, presentations and papers
Why does it matter?
In Historical research, both primary and secondary sources can play an important role even at the undergraduate level. In much undergraduate research, only secondary sources are used, as these sources have already put the material into a form that is easy to apply to the goals required by coursework. HOwever, many post-graduate courses will require you to use entirely primary material and come to your own conclusions.
However, history especially places an equal emphasis on the two types of source materials. History cannot be understood without primary sources--the "authentic voices" of history--but at the same time it is easier to understand the broader scope of things by looking at other people's existing research.
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.
In our catalogue, the easiest way is to search as normal, and then check the subjects for the word "sources". This is the word we use to reference primary source material as opposed to secondary sources.
You can also search for biographies and memoirs using individual's names or looking for the words "personal narrative" in a work's subject.
In our databases, the most useful sources of primary sources are our newspaper collections. We have several of these:
Los Angeles Times (ProQuest)(1988 - current)
Los Angeles Times Historical (ProQuest)(1881- 1987)
News & Newspapers (ProQuest)(1988 - current)
Most of our newspaper databases only date from the 1980s. However, the historical LA Times database has newspaper articles dating back to the 1880s. Since newspaper articles are sometimes syndicated, this historical access includes newspaper coverage from other parts of the country and--occasionally--abroad.
If you are looking for primary coverage of specific events or individuals, you can often find many resources available online through university archives and other sources. To search just university websites using google, you can add site: .edu to the end of your searches or use the advanced search option.
For European materials, the most common university domain type is .ac.##, where ## is the top-level domain extension for the country you are interested in. (e.g. .ac.uk for British universities, .ac.at for Austrian ones, etc.) Note that you will, in most cases, need to be fluent in the language of the country in order to really make use out of their materials, and that your professor may not want you to use non-English sources--especially if he or she is not fluent in the language.
You can see a list of country top-level-domains on Wikipedia.
Google News is another useful source for more current historical--or contemporary--events. You can search in a number of languages, or limit your search by country.
For more historical materials, you can also check in the library's Archives and Special Collections department. This department holds many unpublished manuscripts, first-hand accounts and historical information.
However, you can't just walk in any time! Please call the archives and know what it is you need before stopping by. That way, the staff will be able to assist you properly.
You can see a list of materials available in the archives by looking at the Guide to CSUDH Archives Collections document online. (Table of Contents is on page 17)
You can also see some historical materials online through our Digital Collections.
If you're sure you have a good idea of what you're looking for, or if you're interested in a specific collection, you can call Archives at (310) 243-3895.
Note that the Archives are only open Monday through Friday, from 8am to 4pm, so you may have a hard time using the materials as CAMS students.