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UNV 395 — Selected Topics In University Courses (McNair Scholars Program)

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Contact Information

Caroline Bordinaro


Concepts and Questions for Beginning Research


Search Help

Finding Journal Articles

Finding Books in the Library


MLA and APA Citation Styles

Interlibrary Loan services

Scholarly Internet Research

General Research Tips


Library Session Evaluation

Concepts and Questions for Beginning Research
  • Where to Start?
    • What's your research question?
    • What information do you need to find?
  • Who cares about the same information? (e.g.: researchers, practitioners, government, etc.)
    • What kind of information do they need?
    • Where would they get it?
  • Types of information available
    • Books
    • Articles from journals, magazines and newspapers
    • Websites
  • How to Find an Article On Your Topic: Click here for more tips, tricks and advice
  • What is a primary source? What is a secondary source? Click here to find out

  • DATABASE: An organized collection of electronic information, such as photographs, addresses, or journal articles.
  • ONLINE JOURNAL INDEX: A database that contains magazine, newspaper and journal articles, e.g: Academic Search Premier. AKA Subscription Database.
  • SCHOLARLY JOURNAL: Also called academic or refereed journal. Articles usually reviewed by experts in the field before publication, published for a research audience, narrow focus, e.g.; Molecular Endocrinology
  • MAGAZINE: Publication of general interest: popular interest and broad subjects (e.g: Psychology Today)
  • SUBJECT HEADINGS : Also called descriptors. Official terms used to classify items in a database.
  • THESAURUS: List and finding aid for official controlled vocabulary terms. Also called Topic Index or Subject List.
  • ABSTRACT: a brief summary of the main content of an article
  • FULL TEXT: the complete article. Click on the FindItCSUDH button to see if the Full Text is available.
  • CITATION: The basic information you need to find the full text of an article. It includes the title of the article, the author, the name of the publication, the date, the volume and issue number and the page numbers.

Search Help

Creating an effective online search:

  1. Take your research question and circle the "action words" or keywords.
  2. Think of at least three synonyms for each keyword
  3. Use these words in various combination to get a good result (between 15-40 results is optimal)
  4. Combining keywords
    • AND: use to add words to results (broadcast AND media AND regulations)
    • OR: use for synonyms or alternate words (testing OR evaluation)
    • NOT: eliminates any results containing word (cybercrime NOT hacking)

Search Concepts:

  • Phrase searching ("Neil deGrasse Tyson" "Federal Communications Commission")
  • Advanced Search: Use this frequently to determine your search options. This will save you TIME and FRUSTRATION!
  • Find subject headings attached to useful article citations, and redo your search with these controlled vocabulary terms
  • Remember, the more words you use to search or the more limits you place on a search, the fewer results you will get. (How can you get more results?)
  • All databases function essentially the same way and have similar features. You just need to look for them.

More Tips:

  • Always use the Print and Save functions embedded within the database instead of the browser Print or Save functions.
  • Use the online HELP screens - they really are helpful!
  • If you can't find anything: don't freak out and go to Google! Ask a reference librarian for help.

Finding Journal Articles

Here are a few more indexes in addition to the sources your professor recommends. These indexes must be accessed through the library home page at library.csudh.edu. Under Articles, E-books, Online Scholarly Resources, you may either browse by subject area or go to your favorite resource using the Alphabetical List.

  • Academic Search Premier*: includes articles from trade publications, reports, magazines and newsletters, as well as scholarly journals. 
  • JSTOR: Peer reviewed journal articles on a wide range of Humanities subjects.
  • Project Muse: Multi-subject scholarly article index focused on Humanities topics.
  • Web Of Science: Provides authoritative, multidisciplinary coverage from more
    than 12,000 high impact research journals worldwide, including Open Access journals. Includes Arts & Humanities, Sciences and Social Sciences, all indexed back to 2003.
  • Reader's Guide Full Text*: includes indexing of over 450 periodicals as far back as 1983 and searchable full text of articles from over 250 journals as far back as 1994. PDF page images of full-text articles provide access to illustrations, photographs and other graphical content from the original article. 
  • Humanities Full Text*: Full text articles in the areas of history, literature and other humanities.
  • Social Sciences Full Text*: Full text articles in the areas of sociology and other social sciences.
  • CQ Researcher: Authoritative reports on timely or controversial topics. Very good for federal legislative issues.
  • Proquest Databases*: Very good multi-disciplinary index to journals, magazines and other periodicals.
  • Lexis/Nexis: Excellent resource for national and international periodicals, legal and business information.
  • OmniFile Full Text Mega*: Indexes all types of publications in many disciplines. Includes full text for many articles.
  • Los Angeles Times 1988-current
  • PsycInfo*: The most comprehensive source for psychology and related research.
  • ERIC*: The premier source for education related research.

*To limit search to peer-reviewed journals only, look for check box next to Peer-Reviewed, Scholarly Journals, or Academic Journals on database search screen (may be in Advanced Search)

BONUS!! Check out the e-book "How to Read A Paper" on various types of research articles and what to look for in them. 

Not sure how to search? Use our How To Find Articles help page for assistance.

Having trouble logging in? Click Here

Finding Books in the Library

Go to TOROFIND: the CSUDH Library Catalog and search on the title, author, subject or keyword. Look not only for that specific call number, but also check out the books in that section.

  • If you don't see the right item listed, or want more titles, try an on a few keywords (in separate boxes).
  • If you still don't find the right book, ask a reference librarian.

We also have an extensive collection of electronic books provided by several vendors:

  • http://0-site.ebrary.com.torofind.csudh.edu/images/main/ebrary_logo_small.png
  • http://0-global.ebsco-content.com.torofind.csudh.edu/interfacefiles/ Collection
  • http://0-onlinelibrarystatic.wiley.com.torofind.csudh.edu/images/brand/footer-logo.png Online Library
  • http://publishing.cdlib.org/ucpressebooks/images/ucpress_rebrand.png Ebooks Collection
  • http://0-proquest.safaribooksonline.com.torofind.csudh.edu/static/201309-7389-proquest/images/6.0/logo.png
  • http://www.gale.cengage.com/gvrl/images/gvrl_header.png

Search these collections by author, title, subject or keyword.


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)

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.

MLA and APA Citation Styles
MLA style is the citation and formatting style created and used by the American Psychological Association.

This comprehensive guide from the librarians at CSULA will help you use the APA citation style. Click here for our tutorial on citing sources.

APA style is the citation and formatting style created and used by the American Psychological Association.

This comprehensive guide from the librarians at CSULA will help you use the APA citation style. Click here for our tutorial on citing sources.

Click here for a cheat-sheet on APA citation style.

Interlibrary Loan services

Although the library provides access to over 37,000 print and electronic journals, the indexing databases provide citations to a large number of journals which are not available in our print and electronic holdings. If you need an item that we don't have or can't access, you can use our Interlibrary Loan (ILL) service.

When you request a book or article through ILL, we will send a request to the closest library which owns a copy.  Due to cooperative agreements, we can usually get the item you request sent to us for you to borrow for free. (Some lending libraries do charge for the service).

Note, however, that ILL can take anywhere from 5-10 business days, and occasionally longer.  Don't wait until the last minute and assume we can still get it for you in time!

If at all possible, we will try to send journal articles to you via email PDF attachments. We are also able to request books through three different methods. Your options are listed on the Interlibrary Loan page.

You can access the ILL forms on the ILL web page or by clicking the on Renew, Request, & Access ILL Materials on the library's home page. If you have questions, please ask the librarian at the reference desk. 

Scholarly Internet Research

When using information from the web for projects and research papers, you should evaluate the quality and reliability of the information. 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 generalizations 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?

Here's another list of evaluation criteria from Cornell University: Five Criteria for Evaluating Web Pages

Google Scholar enables you to search the scholarly literature, including peer reviewed articles, but note that you may not be able to access the full text of the article. For the scholarly literature, the databases listed above in the "Using Databases to Find Articles " section will usually be a better option for beginning your research. Click here for a tutorial.

The following are indexes and recommended links to quality web sites that have been reviewed by librarians. The sites have been checked for accuracy, timiliness, stabilty, and will generally conform to the standards of academic research. However, please be judicious in the use of websites in general, because anybody can put anything on the web.

  • Infomine (infomine.ucr.edu): A project from the Univeristy of California and other universities, it is a searchable index of websites specifically appropriate for university research. Click on SocSci & Humanities to search their specialized index.
  • ipL2: Index of websites reviewed by librarians, geared toward the general public. Choose a topic from the index or use Advanced Search to search for keywords.
  • Evaluating Information on the Web: This is a very good checklist from the Pasadena City College Library for judging the quality of not only information on the Internet, but any information you may want to use for an assignment.
  • Statistical Abstract of the United States: from the US Census, comprehensive social, political and economic statistics for the country, states, MSAs and cities.
  • FedStats: Portal for statistics-generating federal agencies.

General Research Tips

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 ideas about 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 much 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.

  1. Finding journal articles using Academic Search Premier (advanced search/retrieval methods, Interlibrary Loan)
  2. Accessing databases from off campus
  3. What is a Literature Review?
  4. Searching Google (section from handout) (advanced Internet search methods)
  5. OR click here to download ALL FOUR GUIDES with BONUS MATERIAL! (10pgs.)

Library Session Evaluation