train door

Introduction

The modules in this tutorial will put you on the right track when you research information for your projects. This tutorial will also satisfy your General Education Research Skills requirement.

For the most interactive experience, the tutorial is best viewed on a laptop or desktop computer using Chrome, Safari or Firefox browsers, but it can be viewed on mobile devices. Functionality is limited in Internet Explorer.

train door

Introduction

This tutorial consists of five modules. It is best to view the modules in the order they appear, but you do not have to do all of them at one time. When navigating within the tutorial, use the navigation controls provided - do not use the "back" button in your browser.

Each module is followed by a required quiz. More details will appear before you begin each quiz.

The tutorial content and code is available on GitHub under a Creative Commons license as an open source project.

Introduction video

train switching

In this module, you'll be introduced to types of information sources, both popular and scholarly.

You'll also learn about the information process.

Research starts with a question

girl studying

For each project, ask yourself:

  • What do I want to know?
  • What is the information I need to find to answer my question?

Types of projects

Some of your projects at Menlo might include:

(hover or tap images to reveal)

  1. market research graphicDoing market research on a product or company
  2. psychology assignment graphicFinding scholarly articles for a psychology assignment
  3. ancient civilization paper graphicWriting a paper about an ancient civilization
  4. issue debate graphicResearching a controversial issue for a debate
  5. business plan graphicCreating a business plan

Types of information sources

apple and orange

In order to determine which sources are most authoritative and will best meet your needs for a particular project, you have to understand something about the types of information sources that exist.

Types of information sources

data, periodicals, books
  • Some sources you'll use to answer research questions might be:
    • data and statistics
    • magazine, newspaper, and journal articles
    • books
  • You'll use information sources in print and online formats.

Types of information sources

  • You'll use both popular and scholarly sources, depending on the project.
    • Popular sources are written for a general audience. Scholarly sources are written for an academic audience. You'll hear about these sources in more detail later.
    • Each type of information source is the product of a process involving varying amounts of research, writing, and review.
    • Let's take a closer look, beginning with data and statistics.
party and scholar

Data and statistics

DNA and chart
  • Data interpretation and analysis lead to the creation of information and knowledge.
  • Data collection can take minutes (such as weather data) or years (such as census data).
  • Data are multidisciplinary; the same set of data can be used by researchers in many different fields.
  • Data can be in either numeric or non-numeric form. For example, statistics about traffic patterns are numeric data, while videos of runners at the finish line of a race are non-numeric data.
  • Knowing how to find and make use of data will be a valuable skill long after you graduate.
popular magazines

Popular sources

Here, the word "popular" is used to describe something that is intended for use by the general public.

Popular information sources:

  • May be online, in print, or both.
  • Include some books, as well as magazines, newspapers, blogs, web sites, product catalogs and reviews, and company annual reports.
  • Are published on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis and can take anywhere from a day (newspapers) to months (in-depth magazine articles) to produce.
  • Are written by paid journalists or authors who may not have scholarly expertise.
  • May report on current trends and events as well as research from scholarly sources.
  • Often do not include bibliographies or lists of sources.
  • May be reviewed by editors or may be self-published.
  • Are selected by librarians for the Library's collection based on subjects that students and faculty research here at Menlo.
researcher

Scholarly/academic sources

  • Scholarly sources are also called academic, peer-reviewed, or refereed sources.
  • Scholarly sources can take months or years to produce and publish because of the research and review process that goes into creating them.
  • Let's take a look at this research and review process.

The scholarly research and review process

(hover or tap images to reveal)

  1. more arrowResearchers identify a question or topic in need of further investigation.
  2. more arrowResearchers conduct research or experiments, then write about their findings.
  3. more arrowResearchers submit the article to a peer-reviewed journal or, if it's a book, to an academic press or publisher.
  4. more arrowThe article or book is reviewed by other experts (the researchers' peers) in the same field as the researcher.
  5. more arrowPeer-reviewers may suggest or require changes, or they may reject the work entirely.
  6. more arrowResearchers make changes based on the reviewers' comments.
  7. more arrowThe article or book is published in print and/or digital formats.
  8. more arrowLibrarians review, select, and subscribe to books, print journals, and online databases containing these scholarly works to support courses and research at Menlo. Access is provided through the Library's web site.

Textbooks and reference works

books on shelves
  • Compile and synthesize the most important information about a subject from other scholarly sources
  • Provide an overview of essential knowledge on a subject
  • May be general (World Encyclopedia) or subject specific (Dictionary of Psychology)
Textbooks and reference works
databases and books
  • Are an excellent place to begin your research
  • Are not intended to be read cover to cover
  • Provide background, main concepts, and organization of a topic
  • Provide the important vocabulary and terms you'll use when you begin to search for more information
  • Can be in print or online

Wikipedia: Is it scholarly?

Wikipedia
  • You're familiar with Wikipedia, but it is not an academic source.
  • Entries in Wikipedia are created by many contributors, many of whom are not experts.
  • Information in Wikipedia is sometimes inaccurate or incomplete.
  • But before disregarding Wikipedia, consider how it can be useful:
    • Offers an overview of an unfamiliar topic
    • Provides useful keywords or search terms
    • Might include a bibliography with sources that you can use to find more information

Scholarly vs. popular sources

Click or tap questions to reveal the answers.

Scholarly Resources: What's the difference
Question Scholarly Popular
What's in them? Articles presenting original research related to a specific disciplineAmerican Journal of Psychology© University of Illinois Press Articles about current events and popular culture, opinion pieces, fiction, self-help tipsPsychology Today©Sussex Publishers
Who writes them? Professors, researchers, or professionals; credentials are usually stated in articlePopular Culture©Blackwell Publishing Staff writers or free-lancers; names or credentials often not statedRolling Stone©Rolling Stone LLC
Who reads them? Scholars (professors, researchers, students) knowledgeable about a specific disciplineHarvard Business Review©Harvard Business Review General publicBusiness Week©McGraw-Hill
What do they look like? Mostly text supported by black and white figures, graphs, tables, or charts; few advertisementsThe LancetReprinted from The Lancet V364(9440), © 2004 with permission from Elsevier. Glossy, color photographs, easy-to-read layout, plenty of advertisingHealth©Health Magazine
What are their advantages?
  • Articles are usually critically evaluated by experts (peer-reviewed) before they can be published
  • Footnotes or bibliographies support research and point to further research on a topic
  • Authors describe methodology and supply data used to support research results
  • Written for non-specialists
  • Timely coverage of popular topics and current events
  • Provide broad overview of topics
  • Good source for topics related to popular culture
What are their disadvantages?
  • Articles often use technical jargon and can be difficult for non-specialists to read
  • Scholarly journals are expensive and may not be as readily available
  • Research and review process take time; not as useful for current events or popular culture
  • Articles are selected by editors who may know very little about a topic
  • Authors usually do not cite sources
  • Published to make a profit; the line between informing and selling may be blurred

Adapted from Tutorial for Info Power (TIP), University of Wyoming, available at http://tip.uwyo.edu/categories.html

Overview of the information process

Although the various types of information sources are different in several ways, they also have something in common: the use of data. Data are the building blocks of information and include much more than numbers. Data include facts, events, and items of information presented in visible form.

Show me: (click or tap to reveal)

Source Type Source Visualization
Popular popular sources: blogs, catalogs, news articles, etc.
Scholarly scholarly sources: journals, textbooks, data sets, etc.
Scholarly & Popular all sources in a data flower diagram
  • Popular sources (yellow petals): Researchers and writers of popular sources such as news articles, blogs, and books often include data, facts, and details of events in their work.
  • Scholarly sources (green petals): Just as data form the basis for popular information sources, data play an even larger role in scholarly work. Scholarly information sources include things like journal articles, scholarly books, data sets, dissertations, textbooks, and reference works.
  • Scholarly & popular sources: We've talked about the research process from data to published work. But where do YOU fit in?

Where YOU fit in the process

data with student
  • Understanding the differences between information types will help you decide which sources to use for your projects.
  • This knowledge will also help you decide where to search.

Recap of what you've learned

Now that you've completed this module, you should be able to:

  • Recognize the central role of data in the information process
  • Identify characteristics of popular and scholarly information sources
  • Understand the scholarly research and review process

Module 1 Quiz

In order to complete this module and get credit, you must take this quiz and submit your results. A passing score is 70%. You may retake the quiz if your score is lower than that.

The magnitude of an earthquake, the number of Americans who own computers, and incomes of players in the NBA are all examples of: Exactly right. All of these are examples of data.
  • Well, no. Bibliographies contain sources used in an academic paper or report, not random bits of information. Try again.
  • Well, these could be the subject of popular articles, but by themselves they are not considered popular sources. Try again.
  • Well, these could be the subject of scholarly articles, but by themselves they are not considered scholarly articles. Try again.
Which of the following are popular information sources? Choose the two correct answers. Correct. Both magazine articles and company annual reports are examples of popular information sources.
  • Yes, you are correct, but remember you must identify two popular information sources to get full credit for this question.
  • Remember that reference books are written by experts in their fields. That makes them scholarly rather than popular.
  • Well, no. Many people use textbooks, but they are written by authors academically qualified to write about the subject matter. That makes them scholarly rather than popular.
  • Yes, you are correct, but remember you must identify two popular information sources to get full credit for this question.
Which of the following is most likely to provide a scholarly overview of a topic? Yes! This is just the place to get a succinct, authoritative overview of a topic.
  • No. Newspaper articles might give an understandable summary of a given topic. However, they are written by journalists, who are not necessarily scholars or experts in the field.
  • No. This information source would not provide peer-reviewed or scholarly information.
  • No. Blog posts will not provide a scholarly overview even if they're written by scholars. Peer review by experts before publication is what makes an information source scholarly.
Which of the following are true statements about peer-reviewed articles? Choose the two correct answers. Correct on all counts! You've found both true statements. Good work!
  • Well, no. Peer review indicates that experts have reviewed the work to verify that its methods and scholarship are sound.
  • You are right. That's exactly what a peer-reviewed article is. But remember you must select two true correct answers to get full credit for this question.
  • Not correct. Although many peer-reviewed articles are published in scientific journals, they appear in the journals of all disciplines, including fields such as English and philosophy.
  • Yes. The term refereed is another way of saying that an article is peer-reviewed or scholarly. But remember that you must identify two correct answers to get full credit for this question.
Why are reference works useful for academic work? Choose all that apply. Congratulations! You've found all three true statements!
  • Yes, reference works are scholarly or peer-reviewed while Wikipedia entries are not. This is only part of the answer, however. Identify three true statements to get full credit for this question.
  • Hey, you were paying attention! This is part of the answer, but you must identify three true statements to get full credit for this question.
  • Yes. Reference works explain a topic and introduce terms commonly used in the subject area. However, you must identify three true statements to get full credit for this question.
  • Well, this is a bit tricky. It used to be true, but these days reference works can be online-only, print-only, or available both in print and online.
Which of the following characteristics are clues that an article you are reading is probably from a popular source? Choose the two correct answers. Hear the bells & whistles? You nailed this one! You've chosen the two answers that indicate a popular rather than scholarly source.
  • No. Bibliographies are generally included in scholarly rather than popular sources.
  • Good choice, but this is just part of the answer. To get full credit, select both true statements that let you know you're reading a popular source.
  • Nope, not right on this one. In fact, popular sources will often have plenty of pictures and illustrations to appeal to the general reader.
  • Hey, you were paying attention! However, this is just part of the answer. Select both true statements to get full credit for this question.

Sorry, your score was insufficient. Please review the answers and try again.

road signs

In Module 1 you learned about types of information sources; now it's time to start using some of them.

In this module, you'll learn how to search library resources effectively.

How to begin a successful search

(hover or tap images to reveal)

  1. students reading Carefully read your assignment and be sure you understand it
  2. highligting terms Identify the key words or concepts
  3. whiteboard Find synonyms for the main terms
  4. notebook Document your search by keeping a list of all search terms

Try it!

In a class or in the work world, you may have a project like the one listed below.

Project: You work in the marketing field. You have a client who is investigating launching a new green product and is interested in the characteristics of consumers who use such products. Choose search terms to suit each category. You must pick 3 valid search terms for each one. Remember that there may be other good search terms that we haven't listed here.

Green Products

Consumer Characteristics

Brainstorm a concept map

  • Sometimes a visual or concept map can also help you brainstorm search terms.
  • Additionally, it might help you develop an outline for your project.

Here's a sample concept map for a psychology project on the psychological causes and effects of bullying among adolescents.

concept map whiteboard

Once you've considered the search terms you'll use, you're ready to try them out in a search. But where will you start?

Web searching

Your first stop might be Google, and you might have some success there, but remember…

Web search funnel

You'll get millions of results to sort through, many of which will not be helpful.

Going beyond Google

Google sometimes is the fastest, easiest way to the information you need - think about movie listings or sports scores - but it might not meet your needs for academic projects.

easy doesn't equal scholarly
  • There are ways you can use Google successfully in your academic work, such as Google Scholar, and we'll discuss that in the next module.
  • But if not Google, where should you start your search?

Using library resources

The place to start your search is the Library's web site (http://www.menlo.edu/library). You'll find thousands of online and print resources that have been selected by the Menlo librarians to support your courses and assignments.

library web resources

You won't find most of our resources on Google or the web because our subscriptions are available only to the Menlo community.

When you need books and e-books, you can find them in our catalog; when you need articles, you can find them in our databases.

And when you need to know if the Library subscribes to a particular magazine, journal, or newspaper, you can use the Journal Finder to search by title. It will tell you if the publication is available on our shelves or in our databases.

What is a database?

databases for information
  • You'll hear the word "database" a lot when using library resources, so let's be sure you know what they are.
  • Databases are searchable collections of information. You already use them when you search for songs in iTunes, for friends in Facebook, and for books in Amazon.
  • Most databases rely on similar methods of searching, so while the databases themselves may look different, once you have mastered one, it's much easier to learn how to search others.

Library catalog

The Library catalog is one database you'll be using.

It's the place to find print books, e-books, DVDs, and CDs.

library materials search
  • You won't find individual articles here, however. You'll have to search one of the Library's subscription databases for those.
  • Let's take a look at how to search the Bowman Library catalog.

Searching the catalog video

Recap of what you've learned

Now that you've completed this module, you should be able to:

  • Design a search based on the requirements of your project
  • Identify relevant search terms
  • Understand the function of databases
  • Use the library catalog

Module 2 Quiz

In order to complete this module and get credit, you must take this quiz and submit your results. A passing score is 70%. You may retake the quiz if your score is lower than that.

Which of the following are common strategies for choosing search terms? Choose all that apply. Perfect!! You've selected all four strategies that will help you develop a useful set of search terms. Good planning up front will increase the effectiveness of your searches.
  • Good choice! However, you must find four good strategies to get full credit.
  • No, this isn't a useful strategy, since you won't have information sources to document at the beginning of a search.
  • Right on! Synonyms will help expand your results. You must identify four good strategies to get full credit.
  • Yes! This is a good way to account for more possible search terms. To get full credit for this question, however, you must identify four good strategies.
  • You are right! Brainstorming for other terms, both broader and more specific, will help you search effectively. Identify all four good strategies to get full credit for this question.
You have an assignment to discuss how participation in competitive college sports affects academic success. Choose the four terms that might be most useful in your initial search. Great job! You have identified all four phrases in this question that will help you design an effective search!
  • Not really. Look at the topic again. Your focus is on college athletes, not professional sports.
  • Yes. This is one correct answer. Find all four to receive full credit for the question.
  • Yes. This is one correct answer. Find all four to receive full credit for the question.
  • Hmmm….No, this is not part of the assigned topic.
  • No, this one isn't right. Keep referring back to the topic; your focus is college athletes.
  • Way to go! This is one correct answer. Find all four to receive full credit for the question.
  • No, not right. The focus of this assignment is on academic achievement.
  • You are right on track! This is one correct answer. Find all four to receive full credit for the question.
Which of the following are characteristics of databases? Yes. You remembered what you read. Databases are searchable; that's what makes them so useful.
  • No. Databases can include any type of information - journal articles, court decisions, or photographs, for example.
  • No, databases do not generally include a table of contents.
  • Well, no. Databases can focus on a single subject, but many will include information on a wide range of subjects.
Which three of the following statements about Google are true? Strike up the band! You found all the statements that are true about Google! You are learning the skills that will help you become a super searcher!
  • Isn't that the truth? This is only a partial answer, however. Identify all three true statements to get full credit!
  • This is true. This is only a partial answer, however. Identify all three true statements to get full credit!
  • Well, no. Remember how many results a Google search can produce?? It's usually much better to start with library databases!
  • You are right about this one! The huge number of results can make your head spin. This is only a partial answer, however. Identify all three true statements to get full credit!
The library catalog is the best place to locate which of the following. Choose the two correct answers. You got it! Both these statements are correct.
  • No, the library catalog is not a reliable source for synonyms. Try a dictionary or a thesaurus.
  • Yes! Any library catalog will let you search for the items the library owns. You must find two correct answers to receive full credit for this question!
  • No, the library catalog does not contain individual articles. Go to the article databases to find those.
  • Yes. You are exactly right, but you must find two correct answers to receive full credit for this question!
How would you use a subject heading that you find in the library catalog? Wow, you are paying attention! This is the right answer.
  • No, that's not right. A subject heading indicates the topic of a book.
  • Okay, this is a little tricky, since we haven't talked about citations yet. But the subject heading is not something you include in your bibliography or list of references.
  • No. Subject headings in the library catalog link to books or DVDs but not to individual articles. You must search article databases for those.

Sorry, your score was insufficient. Please review the answers and try again.

tracks in Venice

In the previous module on searching, we discussed using the library catalog when you need books.

In this module, we'll talk about the times when you'll need articles from periodicals (magazines, journals, newspapers). That's when you'll want to turn to the Library's databases.

Library databases

What you'll find in the library databases:

(hover or tap images to reveal)

  1. magazinesJournal, magazine, and newspaper articles, both current and past
  2. encyclopedia articlesArticles from encyclopedias and other reference works, both scholarly and popular
  3. country databaseCountry demographics
  4. company databaseCompany reports
  5. financial pagesFinancial/stock data

Library databases

databases screenshots

On the Library's web site you'll find an alphabetical list of all our databases, as well as lists of databases by subject.

We also have lists of the databases most useful for specific courses. Look for the links to Course Research Pages and Subject Research Guides on the Library's home page.

Library databases

If you're not sure where to begin your search, you can always ask a librarian, in person or by phone. We're here every hour that the Library is open and we're here to help!

Menlo College ID barcode

You can access the library databases 24/7 with your library barcode.

Try it!

woman choosing from doors

Individual library databases might focus on only one subject, such as psychology or business, or might contain articles from many disciplines. Choose the best database from the pull-down menus for each topic listed below.

Advanced search techniques

  • Scholarly databases like the ones the Library subscribes to are more complicated to use than search engines like Google and Yahoo because they offer sophisticated tools and techniques for searching that can improve your results.
  • Many databases, including the library catalog, offer tools to help you narrow or expand your search. Take advantage of these.
  • The most common tools are:
    • Boolean searching
    • Truncation

Boolean searching

Boolean searching allows you to use AND, OR, and NOT to combine your search terms. Click each example to see how to limit or expand your search results.

Boolean search results
Search Type Results
Boolean Used

Search Terms

Boolean searching uses AND, OR, and NOT when combining your search terms. Click each example to see how to limit or expand your search results.
AND

"Endangered Species" AND "Global Warming"

When you combine search terms with AND, you'll get results in which BOTH terms are present. Using AND limits the number of results because all search terms must appear in your results. animation of AND search

"Endangered Species" AND "Global Warming"

OR

"Arizona Prisons" OR "Rhode Island Prisons"

When you use OR, you'll get results with EITHER search term. Using OR increases the number of results because either search term can appear in your results. animation of OR search

"Arizona Prisons" OR "Rhode Island Prisons"

OR

"Corn Ethanol" OR "Corn Fuel"

When using OR to join terms, note that there could be some results in which both terms appear. animation of OR search

"Corn Ethanol" OR "Corn Fuel"

NOT

"Miami Dolphins" NOT "Football"

When you use NOT, you'll get results that exclude a search term. Using NOT limits the number of results. animation of NOT search

"Miami Dolphins" NOT "Football"

Adapted from University of California Libraries Begin Research Tutorial

Truncation

  • Truncation allows you to search different forms of the same word at the same time.
  • Use the root of a word and add an asterisk (*) as a substitute for the word's ending. Show me.
    1. psychology
    2. psychological
    3. psychologist
    4. psychosis
    5. psychoanalyst
    Psycho*
  • Truncation can save time and increase your search to include related words.
  • Now let's take a look at these tools in action.

Adapted from University of California Libraries Begin Research Tutorial

Searching a library database video

Google Scholar

Google Scholar site

In the last module, we promised to show you how you can use Google for academic research. We recommend that you use Google Scholar, which you'll find in the Library's list of databases.

Google Scholar uses much the same interface as Google but includes journal articles, books, and reports from academic publishers, professional societies, online repositories, and universities - exactly the kinds of scholarly sources your professors will often want you to use.

Google Scholar

While you won't always find full text in Google Scholar, you can find the citation of an article. The citation gives you the title, author, journal title, date, and page numbers.

Google Scholar results page

You'll notice in the image above that no full text is available for the third article. But you can click the link and find the citation of the article, which is shown below.

article citation

Finding the full text of an article when you have only a citation

  • If you have only the citation to an article, you can use the journal title from the citation in the Library's Journal Finder to see if the Library provides access to the article you need.
  • Having only a citation for an article isn't a dead end. It contains all the information you'll need to find the full text.
  • Let us show you some ways to get the article you want.

Using the Journal Finder video

Using databases after college

You'll continue to use databases after you leave Menlo. Becoming an expert at using them now will give you a leg up later on.

(hover or tap images to reveal)

  1. working together Your job or company may subscribe to them - perhaps LexisNexis in the legal field, Hoover's or Mergent for business.
  2. libraryEvery public library will have a selection of databases for you to use.
  3. Yahoo! FinanceYou'll use publicly available databases, such as yahoofinance.com, census.gov, webmd.com, espn.com.

Where YOU fit in the process

Even though information sources are readily available online, it still takes time to find, evaluate, and read the right sources for your projects. Following the suggestions below will help you succeed.

(hover or tap images to reveal)

  1. readingRead carefully
  2. ideasFind new search terms as you explore a topic more thoroughly
  3. note takingTake notes as you read
  4. notebookWrite down your search terms in a notebook
  5. sitting with booksDocument all your sources as you read so you don't have to find them all over again when it's time to put together your bibliography

Recap of what you've learned

Now that you've completed this module, you should be able to:

  • Identify the kinds of information contained in library databases
  • Use the Bowman Library databases to find articles
  • Use techniques for advanced searching, such as Boolean searching and truncation
  • Find an article from its citation
  • Order a publication through interlibrary loan

Module 3 Quiz

In order to complete this module and get credit, you must take this quiz and submit your results. A passing score is 70%. You may retake the quiz if your score is lower than that.

Based on the description of the three business databases below, which would be the best choice for finding magazine, newspaper, and journal articles about the growth of solar power in the western United States? Yes! This is the database that will be most useful as you search for relevant articles. In fact, this is a good place to start many searches for topics related to business and the economy.
  • Not the best choice. You could find information about the solar power industry in the U.S. And other countries, but this database does not provide access to articles in magazines, journals, and newspapers.
  • Try again! This database will not provide articles, although you might come here to see how a company is faring on the stock market.
For a psychology assignment, you are investigating the psychological effects of media on body image among adolescent girls. Based on the information below, which of these journal articles would be most appropriate? Yes. This article looks right on target! Good job!
  • This article will not further your knowledge on the assigned topic. You want information on adolescent girls, and the focus here is on male college students.
  • No, this isn't the best choice. This one is a bit tricky, since the article does involve body image and adolescent girls, but it is concerned more with sociocultural factors than with the media, specifically. There is a better answer for this question.
You are searching for articles about college students and their jobs. What is the better search strategy? You're right! This search connects two of the main concepts with the Boolean operator AND so you'll retrieve articles that deal with both students and work. Great job!
  • No. Including the word who doesn't help improve or target your search results.
You are searching for articles about college students and their jobs. What is the better search strategy? Yes, this is right! You want your results to include one of these synonyms, so you've used the Boolean operator OR to search for articles that include at least one of the three terms.
  • No. This would retrieve only those articles that include all three terms. Remember how the Boolean operator AND works?
You are searching for articles about college students and their jobs. What is the better search strategy? You've got it right! This search string will help you find articles that include all of these concepts together. You are on your way to developing great searching skills.
  • Not right. You want your results to include all three terms. There might be some areas of overlap, but using OR will retrieve all the articles that include any one or more of the three terms. Some of the retrieved articles will deal with work, for example, but will have nothing to do with college or students.
Why are Boolean search terms useful? Choose all that apply. Right on! You found all three ways Boolean terms can help you construct a better search!
  • Yes! However, you must select all three true statements to get full credit for this question.
  • Exactly right. However, you must select all three true statements to get full credit for this question.
  • No. Boolean terms are not useful when you want to limit the publication dates of the articles you retrieve.
  • You're right! You remembered how to use NOT to exclude topics that you don't want in your results. However, you must select all three true statements to get full credit for this question.
You are researching education in China. In order to maximize your search results, you decide to use truncation to find terms such as education, educator, and other words with the same root. Which of the following would be the best truncated term to use for your search? Yes! Truncating in this way will do the trick! You'll get educator, educating, and education, among other relevant results.
  • This would expand your results to an extent, but words like educator would not be retrieved by this search. There's a better answer.
  • This would expand your results too much, since you'll retrieve results you don't want - articles with words such as edible and editorial.
  • This is not the best choice, since it may retrieve results that don't have anything to do with education, such as educe and eduction.
How would you check to see if the following article is available in one of the library databases?

Ready, D.A., and Truelove, E. (2011, December). The power of collective ambition. Harvard Business Review, 89(12), 94-102.

Great job! You were paying attention. Use the Journal Finder to learn whether a journal is available online or in print through Bowman Library.
  • No. The library catalog is not the place to find an article within a journal.
  • Not unless you have the whole day and evening to devote to the task! This is not the best way to find what you need!
  • It could work, but it's likely to take a long time. There is a better method.

Sorry, your score was insufficient. Please review the answers and try again.

winding road

Now that you know something about the types of information sources and where to find them, we need to talk about how to use them effectively.

This module will teach you some skills for deciding whether a particular information source is right for your project.

CRAAP test: Questions to ask

(hover or tap images to reveal)

  1. CIs it CURRENT? When was it published or posted? Does the date influence its usefulness?
  2. RIs it RELEVANT? Does it relate to your topic or answer your question? Is the language level appropriate (e.g., not too technical)?
  3. AIs it AUTHORITATIVE? Who is the author, publisher, or sponsor? What are the author's credentials?
  4. AIs it ACCURATE? Do the authors offer evidence to support claims they make? Has the information been peer-reviewed?
  5. PWhat is its PURPOSE? Does it inform, sell, entertain, or persuade? Is it objective? Is it fact, opinion, or propaganda?

CRAAP acronym & concept adapted from CSU Chico, Meriam Library

If your information source does not meet these criteria, it might be CRAAP! In that case, you may want to find another source.

Using format to evaluate a source

Another way to evaluate a source is to look at its layout or format.

Features such as tables of contents can help you determine quickly whether a source might be appropriate for your topic.

article citation

The format of scholarly articles usually contains standard sections for describing research. Let's take a deeper look.

Parts of a journal article video

Using format to evaluate a source

Title page

Some of the criteria you use to scan an article can also help you evaluate books. Let's begin with the title and title page. A book's full title appears on the title page.

title page

Note that the full title of the book pictured here is The Great American Stickup: How Reagan Republicans and Clinton Democrats Enriched Wall Street While Mugging Main Street

Verso page

The back side of the title page is called the verso page. The verso page contains:

  • the copyright date, or publishing date
  • the publisher name
  • the location of the publisher
verso page

Table of contents

contents

The table of contents at the front of the book will give you a good idea of what the book covers and how it is organized.

Often the Introduction section will explain the contents in more detail and include historical background on the topic.

Index and bibliography

index and biblio

At the back of the book, the index helps you find specific names or topics in the book that may not be listed in the table of contents.

The bibliography contains references, or citations, to the sources of information that the authors used, so that readers can find the sources themselves.

Try it!

index and biblio

(Hint: There are two correct answers.)

Evaluating numeric and statistical data

data chart

When using numeric and statistical data, it is important to evaluate the source of the data. In this case, the source is the U.S. Census Bureau.

The publisher, sponsor, or presenter of the data may be different from who compiled the data. The name of the publisher or sponsor can help you evaluate possible bias or conflict of interest.

Try it!

For your social science class, you are comparing spending on education between Korea and the U.S. Examine the data below.

chart for exercise

Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Factbook 2011: Economic, Environmental and Social Statistics. Education at a Glance, OECD Publishing. © OECD 2011. http://www.oecd.org/edu/eag2011

Let's take a look now at evaluating a web site.

Evaluating a web site video

Evaluation steps

Before you read...

(hover or tap images to reveal)

  1. lookingLook at the section headings of an article, chapter, or web site. Notice how it's organized. This will help you understand the content.
  2. formulaMake sure you understand the language level of the source. An article using language that is too technical may not help you, even if it is about your topic.

As you read...

  1. writingWrite down the ideas, facts, and statistics that are important to your topic or argument. Keep track of the page numbers or section where you found your information.
  2. watchWrite down as much citation information as possible. Writing things like the author's name, the title, the date, and exact web address will save you time and trouble later.

Take your research to the next level

(hover or tap images to reveal)

  1. booksUse a variety of sources.
  2. questioningSeek information that a skeptical reader will find convincing.
  3. weighingBe objective and seek unbiased sources. Be able to distance yourself from your topic.
  4. seekingSeek information on all sides of an issue to support your argument. Don't ignore conflicting information ... acknowledge and respond to it.
  5. chartingWhen appropriate, consider using statistical data to strengthen your argument.

Recap of what you've learned

Now that you've completed this module, you should be able to:

  • Use the CRAAP criteria to evaluate a source
  • Identify the parts of a journal article
  • Use the format (table of contents, sections) of a source to evaluate it
  • Scan headings before you read
  • Take detailed notes while you read
  • Research objectively, and seek information on all sides of an issue

Module 4 Quiz

In order to complete this module and get credit, you must take this quiz and submit your results. A passing score is 70%. You may retake the quiz if your score is lower than that.

If an article or a web site uses emotional language and does not provide supporting evidence for its claims, this might indicate that this source is: You've got it! Emotional language with no supporting evidence is a sure sign of bias.
  • Not so much. You don't want to rely on information that isn't supported by cited evidence.
  • No. The writer might be very sincere yet not able or willing to present a balanced argument.
  • No. The emotional language doesn't have anything to do with the date of the information source.
You are thinking of buying a used car. Use the CRAAP test to help determine which of the following would provide the most accurate and current information for the safety and repair record of the models you are considering. Great answer! This is a good place to find authoritative information about the reliability and performance of used cars.
  • No. This isn't a good source for reliable information about used cars.
  • You might value your friend's advice, but he or she probably doesn't have comprehensive, objective knowledge of used cars.
  • Not so much. What is the purpose of a BMW web site?? To sell you on the idea of owning a BMW.
  • No. This racing magazine doesn't focus on used cars!
What part of a scholarly journal article will give you a quick understanding of the focus of the article? Yes! The abstract (summary) is just the place to get a quick overview of the article and to help you determine whether it will be useful or not.
  • No. Tables of contents are useful, but journal articles almost never include them.
  • No. The methods section tells you how the study was conducted.
  • Well, no. The references list will indicate which articles and books the author has consulted but will not describe the key points of the article you are reading.
Why should you consult the bibliography of an article or book that you are using for a research project? Choose the two correct answers. Way to go! You found both correct answers to this question!
  • I think you've confused bibliography with biography. This is not a correct answer.
  • You are right! This is one way to find additional relevant information. But you must identify two correct reasons in order to get full credit for this question.
  • No. Journal citations never include the city of publication.
  • You are right! But you must identify two correct reasons in order to get full credit for this question.
Your Management 101 team must write a business plan for a new company of your choice. A recent biotech innovation could become the main product of the business you want to develop. Which of the following sources will best help your group understand this new discovery? Perfect answer! This is the kind of article that will be useful as you develop your business plan. You'll learn about the product itself, its competitors, and its potential in the marketplace.
  • No. This kind of article might mention the product, but it's not likely to give you a full understanding of the discovery.
  • No, not really. This won't provide unbiased information about the product, and may focus only on the information the company wants to make public.
  • Not unless you also have a degree in bioengineering. You need something that is understandable to the non-expert!
Your political science professor wants you to examine gun control laws in the United States. Which of the following could help you write a balanced paper? Choose all that apply. Absolutely right! Even though some of these information sources might be biased, using all three sources could provide a very full and balanced look at this issue.
  • Yes, this is one source that could help you, although it would only provide one side of the argument. For full credit for this question, you must select all three correct answers.
  • This article would not be relevant to the assignment.
  • Yes, this is one source that could help you, although it would only provide one side of the argument. For full credit for this question, you must select all three correct answers.
  • Yes, this will provide a lot of good information, but you might still use other information sources to get all sides of the story regarding this issue. For full credit for this question, you must select all three correct answers.
  • This article would not be relevant to the assignment.

Sorry, your score was insufficient. Please review the answers and try again.

tracks and trains

Using sources effectively includes using them ethically.

This module will teach you how to correctly credit the sources you use, and how to identify the main elements of citations from different sources.

Citing information sources

You'll need to cite the sources you've used in your projects. Here's an example of citations in the text of a paper.

cited paragraph

Excerpt from: Comeaux, E., & Harrison, C. (2007). Faculty and male student athletes: racial differences in the environmental predictors of academic achievement. Race, Ethnicity & Education, 10(2), 199-214.

Why cite your sources?

cited paragraph highlighting reasons
  • Lets others know where you found your information.
  • Shows the validity/acceptability of your sources.
  • Proves you've done the work required of your project.
  • Gives credit to the author of an idea.
  • Helps you use information ethically and legally.
  • Helps you find your own sources later on when it's time to create a bibliography.

Quote or paraphrase?

We've talked about why to cite, so what about how to cite?

Quote

  • When you use the exact words of someone else.

Paraphrase

  • When you state someone else's idea in your own words.

Whether you quote or paraphrase, you must cite the source or else it is considered plagiarism.

Ideas that are common knowledge do not have to be cited. For example:

  • Google is a popular search engine.
  • The Olympic Games are held every four years.
  • Windows is one of the most common operating systems for personal computers.

Try it!

Read the article segment below and test your knowledge of quoting and paraphrasing.

"Finally, the records and statistics of any person testing positive for a banned substance should no longer be recognized as valid by the MLB. Assuming an athlete cares more about the mark he or she leaves on the sport than the money earned, nothing is more important than the statistical records one leaves behind. Imagine the deterrent effect on an athlete if abuse of performance-enhancing drugs led to the elimination of every statistic or record compiled by the player throughout a career. If nothing else, it would ensure that those who achieved greatness through hard work and perseverance are the ones that are recognized as great players."

Excerpt from Tynes, J. R. (2006). Performance enhancing substances: Effects, regulations, and the pervasive efforts to control doping in major league baseball. Journal of Legal Medicine, 27, 493-509.

Which is it? A quote or a paraphrase?

Citing in-text and in your bibliography

You will be citing sources in the body of your paper or presentation and at the end in a list of references, also called a bibliography or a list of works cited.

In-text example

Tynes argues persuasively that "the records and statistics of any person testing positive for a banned substance should no longer be recognized as valid by the MLB" (2006, p. 508).

Bibliography example

Tynes, J. R. (2006). Performance enhancing substances: Effects, regulations, and the pervasive efforts to control doping in major league baseball. Journal of Legal Medicine, 27, 493-509.

Citation styles: A comparison

Different citation styles are used in different areas of study. The style you use depends on the instructions from your professor, your boss, or the journal to which you are submitting for publication.

Two of the major styles are APA (American Psychological Association) and MLA (Modern Language Association). Take a look at these examples.

APA Style

Tynes, J. R. (2006). Performance enhancing substances: Effects, regulations, and the pervasive efforts to control doping in major league baseball. Journal of Legal Medicine, 27, 493-509. doi:10.1080/01947640601021113

  • Uses author's initials instead of first name
  • Capitalizes only the first word in title and subtitle
  • Does not include name of database
  • Includes digital object identifier (DOI) when available

MLA Style

Tynes, Jarred R. (2006). Performance enhancing substances: Effects, Regulations, and the Pervasive Efforts to Control Doping in Major League Baseball." Journal of Legal Medicine 27.4 (2006): 493-509. Academic Search Premier. Web. 13 May 2012.

  • Uses first name of author, not initials
  • Capitalizes all major words in the title and subtitle
  • Includes name of the database
  • Indicates whether you used a print or web version
  • Includes date of access

Citation tools on the library web site

The library web site has tools to help you create and format citations. Look for NoodleBib and More Citation Help on the top or side menus.

biblio tools on library site

Where YOU fit in the process

biblio tools on library site
  • You've researched, evaluated, and cited your sources.
  • Now it's time to put it all together and present your findings in a report, a slide presentation, or a research paper.

Recap of what you've learned

Now that you've completed this module, you should be able to:

  • Understand why you should document your sources
  • Understand the difference between quoting and paraphrasing
  • Understand the basic elements of a citation
  • See differences between citation styles

Test your knowledge in the quiz on the next page.

Module 5 Quiz

In order to complete this module and get credit, you must take this quiz and submit your results. A passing score is 70%. You may retake the quiz if your score is lower than that.

What is the purpose of an in-text citation? Choose all that apply. Exactly right. We didn't list all the reasons to cite your sources, but you have found two of the many ways in which in-text citations are useful.
  • Good choice. However, there is one more purpose you must identify to get full credit for this question.
  • No. The in-text citation gives author, publication date, and sometimes a page number, but it doesn't include publisher information.
  • Yes, that's right. However, there is one more purpose you must identify to get full credit for this question.
For an assignment in your Diversity in the Workplace course, you read a book on sexual harassment and write down a quotation or two describing the results of the author's survey, but you haven't kept any information about the book. It's the night before the assignment is due and the Library is closed, so you cannot locate the book. You reorganize the words in the quotation and include them in your paper without citing them. This is: Exactly right! When you refer to the results of the author's survey, you must credit the author even if you don't include a direct quotation, since the ideas or research results are not yours.
  • No. Even when you don't quote directly, you must credit the author for his or her work and ideas. Failing to cite might lead your professor to think you have plagiarized.
  • No. This isn't common knowledge. When you use specific information such as survey results, you have to credit the source. Remember that common knowledge includes only that information that is known and accepted by everyone — for example, that the Earth revolves around the sun. Failing to cite might lead your professor to think you have plagiarized.
  • No, this is not true. When using published sources, you only have to cite the source and acknowledge the author; you don't need to get the author's permission. Failing to cite might lead your professor to think you have plagiarized.
Find the statement below that is NOT true: You found it! This is false! The Library of Congress has nothing to do with setting rules and procedures for research papers.
  • This is a true statement. You need to identify the one that isn't true.
  • This is a true statement. You need to identify the one that isn't true.
  • This is a true statement. You need to identify the one that isn't true.
When creating your bibliography or the list of sources you used, you should: Wow! You were paying attention! Exactly right.
  • Undoubtedly you will include this information, but this will not be sufficient. You've got to follow the guidelines as shown in the appropriate style manual.
  • No, this won't work. You have to follow the guidelines in the style manuals.
  • Nope, won't work. You've got to follow the guidelines shown in the appropriate style manual.
Using the ideas of another person in a research paper is ethical only if: Yes! Cite the author of an idea in-text and include the complete citation to the source in your reference list.
  • No, this is not necessary! Believe me, there is an easier method.
  • Well, no. You might consult your professor to make sure a source is appropriate, but if you use ideas from that source, you've got to cite them.
  • Not quite. No matter whether you use your own words or quote directly, you must credit the source!
Read the following statements on recent voter identification laws. Which offers the best supporting evidence? This is correct! The detailed information is supported by cited evidence.
  • No. There is not enough detail. More importantly, there is no citation to back up the statement.
  • Not quite. There is good detail that strengthens the point, but the page number alone (without author or date) does not identify the source of the information.
  • Well, no. The author of the idea is credited, but no source is included. Furthermore, the statement is weakened by the lack of detail.

celebrating graduates
Congratulations! You have passed this quiz. Please print this page for your records.

Sorry, your score was insufficient. Please review the answers and try again.

loading…

Please wait….