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

How to choose a topicChoosing 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!

Finding books and media1.  Start by using LibrarySearch to find books, 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.

Library Map

Where to Find Materials in the Library

Library Map

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
Juvenile Mudd 1
DVDs Mudd 1
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
Chromebooks 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.
Identifying Articles

What is lay or popular literature?

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.

Examples:

  • Newspaper article
  • Article from a magazine
  • Article from most websites 

What is professional/trade literature?

Trade Journals

Professional literature is written for professionals in a field.

  Examples:

  • Literature put out by professional societies
  • Government reports
  • Trade journals
  • Publications by companies 

What is scholarly literature?

Scholarly Journals

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
    JSTOR features full-text search of scholarly journals in many disciplines, going back to the first volume of each journal it carries.

Click here for a comprehensive list of multidisciplinary databases.

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.

Evaluating Resources

crap detectorJust 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:

  • Currency
  • Reliability
  • Authority
  • 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)

Purdue OWLIt’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
    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
    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
    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.

What is an Annotated Bibliography? from Kimbel Library on Vimeo.

The Writing Center

The Writing Center is located on the third floor of MUDD in room 309.  From the main entrance of the library, go across the "bridge" to the Mudd building and up the stairs.  The hours of the Writing Center are Monday - Thursday 6 - 10 p.m or by appointment at writing@albion.edu.