Family Consumer Sciences Library Guide and Resources: Finding Sources

Library Catalog Basic Search

Home page Search Box

You can search by Keyword, Title, Author, or Subject by using the drop-down menu and typing search words in the text box.

The default Limits setting will search the entire collection. You may also limit your search to smaller sub-collections: Ejournals (electronic periodicals--not specific articles), Ebooks, NCOD (National Center on Deafness), TCC (Teacher Curriculum Center), Periodicals/Serials (not specific articles), Videos, Reference Room, Special Collections, or Sound Recordings by selecting a collection from the drop-down menu.

Searching for a specific Item

Select an Author or Title search if you know the author (last name, first name) or at least the first few words of the title.

Searching for Items by Topic

There are two ways to search the online catalog for resources on a topic: by Keyword or by Subject.

  • A Basic Keyword search will simultaneously look for words in titles of materials, in subject headings, and in notes fields.
  • A Subject search will locate materials by Library of Congress Subject Headings, which is a controlled vocabulary or standard list of subject terms. The Oviatt Library assigns Library of Congress Subject Headings to all items listed in the online catalog.
  • Another way to find the Library of Congress Subject Heading for your topic is to search the catalog by Keyword, display the record for a relevant title, and select one or more of the Subjects listed for that record.

Library Catalog Advanced Search

For an Advanced search, select the Advanced Catalog Search link on the homepage. The Advanced search allows you to search by keyword in up to four separate fields, and optionally limit your search by language, material type, location, collection, publisher, or publication date.

To start your search:

  1. Select the field you want to search (Author, Title, Subject, Note, or "any field") from the first drop-down menu.
  2. Type keyword(s) in the adjacent text box. Two or more words entered together in one search box will retrieve records containing that exact phrase, unless there is no exact match. If there is no exact match for the phrase entered, the system will retrieve records contain all search terms entered, wherever they are in the record.
  3. (OPTIONAL) For a combined search, enter additional keywords into separate search boxes and choose the appropriate Boolean operators (and, or, and not) from the pull-down menu.

Can't Find the Book You Need Here?

  • Ask the Library to get the book you need via Interlibrary loan.
  • Check worldcat.org to see if any libraries nearby have the book if you need it immediately.
  • Remember, as a CSUN student you have borrowing privileges from any of the other CSU libraries.

Finding Articles in Magazines, Journals, and Newspapers

Pick a database recommended for your subject from Find Articles by Subject and then search using keywords.

To locate the full text of an article:

  • If full-text is available in the database, click on the link to full text (HTML or PDF).
  • If full-text isn't available in the database, click the Find Text button to see if we have access to the article in another database or in print in the library
  • If no Find Text button is available or you didn't find the article through our databases, search for the magazine or journal title using the Journals tab in the library catalog.
  • If the full text isn't available through the Library, you can request an Interlibrary Loan for the article(s) that you need. However, you must allow about two weeks for this!

 

Types of Periodicals

Different types of publications have different purposes and different audiences. When we talk about journals/magazines, we can usually divide these publications into three broad categories: scholarly journals, popular magazines, and trade publications.

Check Ulrich's to see if a journal is peer-reviewed/referreed

Scholarly Journals Trade Publications Popular Magazines Newpapers
Current Psychology Research and Reviews Information Today Psychology Today New York Times
Geographical Perspectives Aviation Week and Space Technology Discover USA Today

Finding Websites on Specific Topics

  • Browse Web sites identified by librarians in Research Guides for specific subjects (see Find Articles by Subject).
  • Search using keywords in an Internet search engine, such as Google. Try Search Engine Watch to find other Internet search engines.

Choose the Right Resource

When choosing resources for your assignment, consider:

  • Assignment requirements—what does the professor want you to cite?
  • Learn about your topic -- You may want to use a reference book like an encyclopedia (print or online) to start out with if you don't have a clear understanding of your topic yet.
  • Time—the more current the topic, the less will be found in scholarly journals or books, which take longer to get published. Recent events will be covered on the Internet, in newspapers and magazines, as well as in the media.
  • Depth of coverage and/or the topic—scholarly journals and books cover topics in more depth than magazines and newspapers. Some topics are not covered by the popular press, e.g., research that would not be of interest to the average consumer.
  • Quality of the resource - see Step 3: Evaluating Sources
Type of Information You Need Try These Resources
Does your topic cover current events? Newspapers, magazines, Internet
Do you need general information on a specific topic, written in a non-specialist style?
Newspapers, magazines, Internet
Do you need in-depth information on a specific topic, written for the college student and above by authorities in the field? Scholarly journals
Do you need more detail and/or has the topic been written about for awhile? Books
Do you need an overview, quick facts, statistics on a topic? Reference books, Internet

Find a Book on the Shelves

  • Check the Status field of the book's record in the catalog.
    • IN LIBRARY - book is available for checkout.
    • DUE + date - book has already been checked out.
  • The Location field shows the general location of the book.
  • The Call # field gives the book's call number, which serves as the book's address in the library. Each row of books on the 2nd and 3rd floors will have a sign at the end indicating which call numbers can be found on that row.

Evaluating Library Resources

Books and database articles should be evaluated to determine their credibility and relevance to your topic before selecting them for a research assignment. Use the criteria below to help you evaluate these resources. Note: Titles below marked with an asterisk * are in hardcopy in the Oviatt Library--click the link to get location information.

Who Created the Information?

  • What are the qualifications of the author, publisher, or organization responsible for the content of the resource?
  • What are the author's education and/or experience?
  • Look for the author's biography or information about the publisher or responsible organization  either within the publication or use the sources below to find out more about authors, publishers, and organizations:

Information on Authors:

Information on Publishers:

  • Google - look for publisher's home page (check for focus, how long in business, circulation, etc)
  • Worldcat.org - see how many/which kind of libraries have the publication.

Information on Organizations:

Content & Coverage

  • Who is the audience for the publication (scholarly or general)?
  • Is the information primary or secondary in nature?
  • Does it provide general background information or in-depth information on a specific topic? Which do you need?
  • How extensive is the bibliography or list of cited references? Can you use these references to find more information on your topic?

Timeliness

  • What is the publication date of the book or database article?
  • How up-to-date are the citations in the bibliography?
  • How current does the information need to be for your topic or your assignment?  

Accuracy

  • Have other scholars evaluated the resource?
    • Books: Use the sources below to locate book reviews:
    • Articles: How have other scholars evaluated the article in follow-up letters or editorials? Letters or editorials in response to journal articles are usually indexed just like the original article. Search keywords from the article title and/or author name using a relevant Library database or ask a librarian to recommend an appropriate database.
  • Can you find the same information in another source?

Objectivity

Determine whether the information is fact, opinion, or propaganda.

  • Does it present a fair and balanced view of an issue?
  • Are there footnotes to show the source of the facts or quotes?
  • Does the author or publisher have a particular bias?
  • Are opinions or propaganda easy to recognize?
  • Do the words and phrases play to your emotions or bias the content?
  • Are there advertisements that suggest the information might be biased toward selling a product rather than providing objective information?