October 25, 2014

Research Help

The Library provides a range of services designed to help you identify, locate, access and use information resources. We are here to help!

Ask a librarian

Click here for information on how to request research assistance in person, by phone and by email.

Research guides

Click here to access the Library’s research guides. Each guide focuses on a subject (ex. Journalism, Business Resources), class or set of skills (ex. Finding and Using Images, Statistics).

How to find and use scholarly articles

Additional resources for articles and journals

How to find scholarly information on the web

There’s no shortage of information on the Internet. In fact, there’s an overabundance of it. Our job as web users to is be able to look at a source and evaluate it critically.

How to use information in academic studies: citation and avoiding plagiarism

Which is the best resource to use?

That depends…First think about your topic and then decide.

  • Is current or historical information needed? If your topic very new, you might want newspapers and other extremely up-to-date sources. An older topic gives you more choices.
  • How big is your assignment?
  • Do you need to write a long paper or a short one?
  • Are you going to make a presentation? Seek out videos and other images to enhance it.
  • Is your topic very narrow and specific? If it is, you may have to gather information from lots of different sources in order to meet your needs.
  • Do you need statistics to back up your position?
  • Are you required to use certain kinds of resources and forbidden to use others? Very often your instructor will include some requirements in the assignment. Restricting you to scholarly and not popular journals is a frequent one. Most instructors do not consider Wikipedia an appropriate source for college-level research.
  • Do you need a primary source? In a nutshell, this is information and observations recorded by people who actually witnessed or participated in what they are describing, or examples [such as advertisements] that illuminate a particular time.
  • How soon do you need your information? If you need items immediately you will have to use books and full text journals in the LSC library and databases, and reliable Internet sources. Interlibrary loan is an option if you can wait.

How is information distributed?

The path an idea or event takes to come into our awareness depends on the type of information and the intended audience.

The Research Pyramid illustrates the way scholarly information begins with an idea and gradually makes its way through different types of publications.

The Information Cycle tutorial from Penn State libraries  “will help to introduce you to the way information is created, distributed, and eventually digested in the days, weeks, months and years following the occurrence of a newsworthy event.” The Columbine massacre is the example used. This is quite different from the way scholarly research gets distributed. [Sound required]

Open Access Publishing is an idea that takes advantage of the openness of the Web to to make information readily accessible and free of charge. It operates outside traditional scholarly publications [either print or online]. The Public Library of Science is one such scholarly initiative. Open access publishing does not bypass copyright as creators retain legal rights to their work but agree, via licensing such as the popular Creative Commons, to share the work and allow for distribution by others.