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ACL — ACLP Writing 5

Many Hands

Contact Information

Caroline Bordinaro


Basic Library Information

Getting Started


Finding Books & eBooks

Finding scholarly and popular periodical articles - Journals, Newspapers and Magazines

Recommended Databases

Search Tips

Off-Campus Access

Scholarly Internet Research

General Research Tips

Plagiarism and Citing Your Sources

MLA Citation Style

Basic Library Information

Getting Started

Start your research by going to the library home page.

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.

Click here for a tutorial on how to use the Torofind online catalog.

Library's Book Borrowing Policies

If the library does not have a book you need, you can request it via Inter-Library Loan!


ABSTRACT - a brief summary of the main content of an article.

APA - a citation and formatting style used in the social sciences. APA represents the American Psychological Association.

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.

DATABASE - a collection of information that is organized and easily searchable; usually in reference to electronic information.

FULL-TEXT - the complete article.

JOURNALS (scholarly or peer reviewed) - are written for experts by experts in a field. These journals are published for an academic audience.  The articles undergo a thorough peer review process before they are published.  This review process makes scholarly articles more reliable and more useful for researchers.

MAGAZINE - a publication with popular interest articles and broad subject coverage.  Targeted to the general public or specific interest groups.

MLA - a citation and formatting style used in the humanities.  MLA represents the Modern Language Association.

PERIODICALS - are publications that are issued at regular intervals including journals and magazines.

Finding Books & eBooks

There are plenty of books in the library which you will find useful for this project. You can search the library's online catalog to find books on any topic.

To find a book or journal in the University Library use the maroon colored SEARCH BOX on the homepage.  Search by keyword, title, author, subject, ISBN/ISSN number or call number with the drop down selections and then put in your search term/s in the search bar on the right.  Results will be books or journals in our collection, including electronic books which can be read online.  When you click on a book or journal of interest, a page will appear which will provide a more detailed record of the book/journal. This record will include the location of the book in the Library, its status (available, checked out, lost, etc.) and subject terms. Quite often it will also include the table of contents and a summary. How to Use the Torofind Online Catalog is a more in-depth guide on how to search the catalog and how books and journals are organized in the Library. Here are some tips:

  • 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

If you don't see the right item listed, or want more titles, try an on a few keywords (in separate boxes).

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

To find a book on the shelves read about our Shelving Locations.


The library also has several collections of e-books: books that have been scanned in and which you can access from home using the library website. To access the e-book you have selected, click the link below the title of the book. To add extra functionality to the e-books collections, you can create a username and password  account after logging into the database with your MyCSUDH information. Creating an e-book account will allow you to save books to a virtual bookshelf and highlight passages you want to remember.

Reserve Books

If your professor has put a book on reserve, to be shared by the class, you can find this book by using the COURSE RESERVES tab. Use the drop down fields to select either Course Number or Professor's Name, enter the corresponding search term and click on Search. Write down the call number and bring it to the Reserve Book Room (2nd floor, east of the entrance to the Library) to retrieve the item.

Checking Out Books

Bring books to check out to the Circulation Counter located at the Library entrance; You will need a valid student ID card or a notification from Admissions & Records to check out books. Books are loaned for a period of 28 days; you may check out up to 30 books at a time. Read more about the Circulation Policies here.

If the library does not have the book you need, you can request it via Inter-Library Loan!

Finding scholarly and popular periodical articles - Journals, Newspapers and Magazines

You can search for 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.

Once you are in a database, you can start to search for your article. Each database's search options are slightly different, but they usually include several search boxes for keywords, drop-down menus that tell the database where to look for your words, and limiters that help you focus your search. Most databases will also let you limit your results to only 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 link to view the article. Some databases also let you e-mail yourself the articles by clicking on an e-mail link.

Some entries will have a red and white FindItCSUDH button. Click theFindItCSUDH button to see if the library has access to the article (online or in print).
If no databases contain the article you want, you can request it via Inter-Library Loan.

Recommended Databases

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
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.

Encyclopedia Britannica
An authoritative general encyclopedia with full-text, cross-linked articles; includes a reliable dictionary and thesaurus and much more.

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. 

Los Angeles Times full text (1988-present)
The full text of LA Times articles from the last 20 or so years.  Be sure not to confuse this with our "Historical" LA Times database, which has articles from the 1890s up to the 1980s.

Project Muse
200 quality journal titles from some 30 scholarly publishers. As one of the the academic community's primary electronic periodicals resources, Project MUSE covers the fields of literature and criticism, history, the visual and performing arts, cultural studies, education, political science, gender studies, economics, and many others.

ProQuest Databases
Another multi-disciplinary database provides full text for thousands of peer-reviewed titles with searchable cited references are provided for thousands more.

ProQuest Newspapers
Full text of 300+ U.S. and international news sources. Includes coverage of 150+ major U.S. and international newspapers such as The New York Times and the Times of London, plus hundreds of other news sources and news wires.

Reader's Guide
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.

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 headings 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?

    • Add more search keywords
    • Use more specific keywords
    • Limit by date, peer reviewed, or publication.
    • Use subject headings instead of keywords (see above)

  • Not enough or zero results? Out-of-context?

    • Check your spelling!
    • Use more general or broad search keywords
    • Delete some keywords
    • 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!!!

Off-Campus Access

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.

Scholarly Internet Research

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, use the CARS test for evaluating information from the Internet:

  • 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 Internet Public Library 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

General Research Tips

Use multiple search terms and combine them using AND, OR and NOT, and try using synonyms for your 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.

Notice the Subject terms for the articles that meet your need and search on those terms - 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 databases; they are all different - 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.

Don't let yourself get frustrated; ask for help either from your professor or a librarian - 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.

Plagiarism and 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)

Instances of plagiarism include:

  • Quoting or paraphrasing someone's work in your paper without citing it
  • Expressing someone else's ideas as your own

Plagiarism is a serious matter and could result in a lower or failing grade and even expulsion from the University.

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.

How can I avoid it? - You can avoid plagiarism by giving credit where credit is due and always citing your sources. Whenever you insert a quotation, re-word information you got from a source or present an idea developed by someone else, be sure to include a citation in the proper style (MLA for this class). It is important to take detailed notes on where you are finding information for your paper as you find it.  This helps to ensure you will cite the information correctly as you begin writing your paper.  

Test your knowledge about plagiarism with this fun, online game, Goblin Threat, from Lycoming College. 

MLA Citation Style

This course requires that you use MLA style to cite your sources. This style of formatting and citation is usually used in the humanities and maintained by the Modern Language Association. Although there are online citation editors that will cite sources automatically, it is essential that you first understand how to do it on your own. These web sites are not always updated and can often be incorrect. If your professor is a stickler for correct citation usage, then he will notice the errors almost immediately.

The information you need to properly cite a source you're quoting in your paper varies depending on the source, but you will usually need:

Author - The person or people who wrote the source.  This can sometimes be a company or government agency, and in some cases may not be possible to determine.

Title - The title of the source you are using.  For journal articles or newspaper articles, you will need both the title of the article and the title of the journal or newspaper.

Date of Publication - When was the source published?  For journals or newspapers, you will also need the volume and issue number, if available.

Publisher Information (books only) - Who published the source?

Page Numbers (articles only) - The pages on which the source begins and ends.

We keep an MLA handbook at the Reference Desk if you need to take a look at it when preparing your citations and bibliography. Some examples of bibliography citations are below: 

This comprehensive guide from CSULA will help you further with MLA Citation Style.

Another excellent resource is the Purdue Online Writing Lab (OWL). The OWL is a very popular resource that can experience technical problems during periods of high usage; so, be prepared and don't wait until the end of the semester to take a look at it.