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English 113a and 114a

Nikki Eschen

This guide has been archived and may have outdated information or broken links.

The following resources are designed to support English 113a and 114a students with finding articles and books for their argumentative essay.

Overview of the Research Process

As you begin your research, consider taking the following steps.

1. Create a research question or statement; an example could be:

  • The death penalty should be abolished in the United States.

2. Create a list of search terms (also known as keywords) that will assist you in finding information about your question or statement

  • death penalty, capital punishment, abolish, repeal, death row, United States, statistics

3. Identify the types of periodicals and other sources you need for the assignment (number of books or articles from library subscription databases)

4. Select and search in the library catalog for books and appropriate subscription databases for articles

5. Cite your sources in MLA Citation Style

Developing a Thesis

Guide from The Writing Center at the University of Wisconsin - Madison. This website may be useful to refer to when you are creating a research question or statement.

Searching in the Library Catalog

Since your assignment requires you to use only library resources, (no Internet sources) searching the library catalog for books can be a good place to start.

How to use the Library Catalog

  • Using your list of search terms, search the Oviatt Library Catalog for books
    1. Keyword vs. Subject search. These two things sound the same but work differently when you are searching, so be sure to try both.
    2. Title or author search if you know exactly what book you need.
    3. Write down the location and call number (the call number serves as an address, it tells you where the book is located in the library).
  • Finding Books in the library - reading a call number

Database Searching Tips

Searching for information in the library databases works differently than searching for information on the Internet. When searching in library databases, sentences can not be entered in the search box(es) to search. (You will get very poor results, if any.) Instead, library databases require users to enter search terms with the Boolean operators - "AND," "OR," "NOT" connecting each search terms/keyword. See the library's Boolean Searching page for a more detailed description and other helpful information.

Searching for Articles Through Databases at the Oviatt Library

The following databases may be useful to search for articles and editorials based on argumentative topics. You will need your campus User ID and Password to enter these databases if you are not in the library. (This is the same User ID and Password you use to access the portal and your CSUN email account.)

Gale Powersearch (Thomson) - Provides cross-searching of multiple Gale databases: General OneFile, Expand ed Academic ASAP, General Reference Center Gold, Health Reference Center Academic, Gale Virtual Reference Library, Business and Company ASAP, and Opposing Viewpoints Resource Center. May limit to full-text search, within a date range and editorials.

Proquest Newspapers - Offers full-text access to over 600 US and international newspapers, hundreds of other news wires and news sources; dates vary. May select specific newspapers to search, within a date range and editorials.

Opposing ViewPoints In Context - Provides full-text database that includes magazines, journals and newspapers of the minority, ethnic and native press in the United States. Provides an alternative perspective to mainstream media. (Only two CSUN users may search at one time. Unlimited CSUN users may access this database for pro and con viewpoint articles through Gale Powersearch listed above.)

CQ Researcher - Examines a single "hot" issue in the news each week. Topics include political, social, environmental, technological as well as health and education to name a few.

Academic Search Elite (EBSCO) - Offers full-text articles from journals and magazines, may limit to full-text search, within a date range and editorials.

General OneFile (Gale) - Includes Expanded Academic. Full-text articles from journals and magazines, may limit to only search full-text, within a date range and editorials.

LexisNexis Academic - Provides a variety of information including newspaper and journal articles, law reviews, case law and more, dates vary.

Depending upon your specific topic/issue, you may want to explore other databases which cover business, economics, education, political science or gender issues at our Find Articles by Subject page.

Evaluating Websites

You will want to evaluate carefully all Internet resources you use to support your argument. The Oviatt Library provides information within its Research Strategies pages to assist in effective evaluation.

Searching for Statistics

You may want to search for statistics through government agencies or trade associations. Think about what entity might collect, analyze and publish the type of information you are seeking. Consider whether the information might come from a local, state or federal source. Try searching in the Oviatt Library's Finding Statistics webpage.

Citation and Evaluation Guides

  • Citing Your Sources - For MLA Citation Information, select the first MLA link. Information on how to cite a book will appear at the top of the page. Remember to scroll down and look for the "CSUN subscription database" information in order to find examples of how to cite a journal, magazine or newspaper article you retrieve from a library database.
  • Why Cite? Avoiding Plagiarism

Reference Services and Library Hours

Ask A Librarian - get your questions answered here 24/7 or contact me at coleen.martin@csun.edu

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