Library Research 101 (Great for First Year Seminars)
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Welcome to the Library Research 101 Guide
This research guide will provide you with an overview of how to do library research. From finding books and articles to citing sources, it's your one-stop-shop for research tips and tricks. If you have any questions, please Ask a Librarian.
Choosing a Topic
Choosing a research topic can be challenging. Here are some tips:
- Brainstorm...write down your ideas.
- Don't bore yourself! Choose a topic that you are interested in.
- Narrow your topic, don't choose something too general.
- If your topic is too broad, you will find too much information making it difficult to focus.
- Do a bit of background research with a simple internet or Wikipedia search. This can help you choose and limit the scope of your topic.
- Consult interactive/browsable subject lists in various databases.
- Remember that your topic will evolve as you complete your research, embrace this fluidity.
Read more: Purdue OWL's Choosing a Topic
Why Use Reference Materials?
• for a quick overview of a topic
• to develop vocabulary or keywords for searching
• for suggestions of additional sources
Recommended Reference Databases
What about Wikipedia?
Wikipedia is a general encyclopedia that is a good place to begin research. It is useful for learning the basics of a topic and finding links to outside references which may provide deeper information, but NOT for citing in a research paper.
Finding Books and Media is as Easy as 1, 2, 3!
1. Start by using LibrarySearch to find books, eBooks, videos/DVDs, journals, newspapers, and other materials owned by Albion College Library. Use the filters on the right to refine your search. If you find what you are looking for, you are done! If not, continue to step 2.
2. MeLCat lets Albion College students, faculty, and staff borrow materials from libraries across Michigan. If we don’t have what you’re looking for, you can directly request materials through MeLCat. We will contact you as soon as your materials are delivered. There is no charge for this service. If you found what you are looking for, you are done! If not, continue to step 3.
3. ILLiad lets you get articles and books that we don’t have from libraries around the world. If MeLCat doesn’t have the resources you need, fill out a request through ILLiad. If you’re a first time ILLiad user, just fill out this form and you’ll be ready to get started! There is no charge for this service.
About Call Numbers
The Albion College Library uses the Library of Congress (LC) classification system. This system organizes books and other library materials by subject, to make it easier for you to browse the shelves for materials on a specific topic.
- A -- GENERAL WORKS
- B -- PHILOSOPHY. PSYCHOLOGY. RELIGION
- C -- AUXILIARY SCIENCES OF HISTORY
- D -- WORLD HISTORY AND HISTORY OF EUROPE, ASIA, AFRICA, AUSTRALIA, NEW ZEALAND, ETC.
- E -- HISTORY OF THE AMERICAS
- F -- HISTORY OF THE AMERICAS
- G -- GEOGRAPHY. ANTHROPOLOGY. RECREATION
- H -- SOCIAL SCIENCES
- J -- POLITICAL SCIENCE
- K -- LAW
- L -- EDUCATION
- M -- MUSIC AND BOOKS ON MUSIC
- N -- FINE ARTS
- P -- LANGUAGE AND LITERATURE
- Q -- SCIENCE
- R -- MEDICINE
- S -- AGRICULTURE
- T -- TECHNOLOGY
- U -- MILITARY SCIENCE
- V -- NAVAL SCIENCE
- Z -- BIBLIOGRAPHY. LIBRARY SCIENCE. INFORMATION RESOURCES (GENERAL)
Where to Find Materials in the Library
|Call Number/Location/Item Description||Location|
|A – E||Mudd 3|
|F – L||Mudd 1|
|M – N||Stockwell 308|
|P||Tier 1, 2, & 3|
|Q – Z||Stockwell 110|
|New Books||Accross from Read Between the Grinds|
|Music CDs||Mudd 2 (main floor)|
|Bound Journals||Tier 3, 4, 5, & 6|
|Current Journals||Mudd 2 (main floor)|
|Rare Books||Mudd 3 Rare/Archives|
|Storage||Mudd Attic (ask staff for assistance)|
|Course Reserves||Circulation Desk|
Where to Start
- LibrarySearch is a great place to start your research. It's a one-stop-shop for searching all of Albion College Library's resources. It includes access to the library's catalog of physical holdings, electronic resources in subscribed databases, and open access articles outside of our collection. What are you waiting for? Give it a try.
- Multidisciplinary databases are helpful for finding a wide variety of information on a topic. General databases typically include articles from many disciplines, but don't cover any discipline as comprehensively as a subject-specific database. Articles retrieved from general databases may include citations for more specific articles that can be retrieved from subject-specific databases (or directly from journals using Journals A-Z).
- Subject-specific databases provide content related to a particular discipline; these tools typically provide comprehensive coverage of scholarly literature in a defined field. Subject-specific databases are useful for finding information about obscure or lesser-studied topics.
What is lay or popular literature?
Layman- is a person who does not belong to a particular profession or who is not expert in some field.
Lay literature is written for the non-expert, or non-professional.
- Newspaper article
- Article from a magazine
- Article from most websites
What is professional/trade literature?
Professional literature is written for professionals in a field.
- Literature put out by professional societies
- Government reports
- Trade journals
- Publications by companies
What is scholarly literature?
Scholarly literature is written for experts and researchers.
- Heavily cited in the form of either footnotes or bibliographies
- Often peer-reviewed
- Organization based on Scientific Method
- Format designed to communicate research results to others in field
- Standard format allows easy comparison
Highly Recommended Multidisciplinary Databases
- ProQuest Central
ProQuest Central is a multidisciplinary database which provides access to millions of full-text articles from thousands of scholarly journals.
JSTOR features full-text search of scholarly journals in many disciplines, going back to the first volume of each journal it carries.
When to Use ILLiad
If you have exhausted all of the Library resources and cannot access the full-text of the desired article, you may request it from another library using ILLiad. If you need help placing a request, please consult a Library staff member.
Just how good is that resource? Give it the CRAP test!
The CRAP test offers researchers a system to evaluate the validity of a source using the following:
- Purpose/Point of View
CRAP Test Worksheet
Use this helpful worksheet from Ohio University Libraries to evaluate your resources.
Fake News How to identify and avoid fake news
Resource developed by Indiana University East.
Purdue Online Writing Lab (OWL)
It’s only right if you cite: Having trouble creating citations? Don’t scowl, use the OWL!
Purdue University’s Online Writing Lab, https://owl.english.purdue.edu/, contains information on APA, MLA, and Chicago Manual styles. Learn how to format your paper, do in-text citations, create reference citations, and more! WHOOOOOO knew?!?
Online Citation Managers
- EndNote Basic
EndNote Basic is a free, limited online version of EndNote is perfect when you're new to research and writing.
Mendeley is a free reference manager and academic social network. Make your own fully-searchable library in seconds, cite as you write, and read and annotate your PDFs on any device.
(Requires free software download)
RefWorks is a web-based citation manager which allows researchers to collect, organize, cite and collaborate. Create an account with your Albion College email to begin. Because it is web-based, you can access it from any computer or device.
Zotero [zoh-TAIR-oh] is a free, easy-to-use tool to help you collect, organize, cite, and share your research sources.
(Requires free software download)
Citation Tools in Library Databases
What's an Annotated Bibliography?
An annotated bibliography is a list of citations to books, articles, and documents. Each citation is followed by a brief (usually about 150 words) descriptive and evaluative paragraph, the annotation. The purpose of the annotation is to inform the reader of the relevance, accuracy, and quality of the sources cited.