Getting some background information before you start researching will help you focus your topic and give you an idea of what to look for in your search. Here are some Reference Databases you can use to get a basic understanding of your topic.
Gale Virtual Reference Library: Over 100 encyclopedias, dictionaries, and specialized reference sources.
Anthropological Theories: An introduction to a number of theories, written by grad students at the University of Alabama
The Oviatt Library's print reference collection is located on the first floor and contains subject-specific encyclopedias and dictionaries.
Before you start your research, brainstorm some broader, narrower and/or related keywords to help with your research. These keywords can come from your own knowledge of your topic or from searching background information.
Let's say I am in the beginning stages of my research on queer Chicana families in Southern California:
|Main Keyword 1||Main Keyword 2||Main Keyword 3||Main Keyword 4|
|Mexican-American||lesbian||Orange County||Judith Butler|
|Hispanic||LGBT||San Diego||queer theory|
Once you have some Main Keywords, think of specific concepts to focus on: healthcare, workplace discrimination, child rearing, etc. Do some Topic Exploration to come up with these and similar concepts.
You might also take some time to think about what kinds of information you need and the resources you should be using to get that information. Here are some examples:
Historical resources: newspaper articles from the time period, census data, letters, oral histories
Critical analysis: scholarly articles, books
Definitions and Background Information: biographies, subject encyclopedias, theories (i.e. queer theory, feminist theory, etc.)
Using AND & OR in a Database
Databases search differently than most search engines. Once you've brainstormed your keywords, you can use the words AND & OR to manipulate your search. Here is an example from the Academic Search Premier database:
Librarian tips & tricks! Putting your search term in quotation marks will make sure the database only searches those two terms right next to each other, like "Mexican-American". Including an asterisk (*) will truncate your keyword, so child* will search for child, children, etc.
Remember- AND narrows your search while OR broadens it. Think of it like a Venn Diagram:
|Returns results with all of your keywords||Returns results with any of your keywords|
Find Articles in Databases
General/Multi-Subject Databases: These will bring back results from different disciplines and sources
Subject Databases: These will bring back results from a specific discipline:
Gender and Women's Studies Databases
Religious Studies Databases
America: History & Life: Articles as well as dissertations on the history and culture of the United States and Canada.
ATLA Religion Database: Over 1,700 journals, essays, and book reviews from American Theological Library Association (ATLA)'s print indexes on religion and theology.
GenderWatch: Scholarly journal articles, magazines, newspapers, and more that focus on how gender impacts a broad spectrum of subject areas.
Historical Abstracts: covering the history of the world from 1450 to the present, including world history, military history, women's history, and history of education.
Consider using databases from other disciplines by browsing the Find Articles by Subject page.
If you need an article or book that we don't have, we can order it from another library through Interlibrary Loan.
Online Government Resources
USA.gov: Find government information, research and statistics.
Women's Health Resources: A collection of health topics and research from government sites.
American Factfinder: American Census data.
Medline Plus: Easy-to-understand and ad-free medical and health information.
Bureau of Labor Statistics: Information on national and international business and labor topics, including the Consumer Price Index, Employment/Unemployment and National Compensation Data.
Citing Your Sources: Get help with APA, MLA,and Chicago Style Citations
The Writing Center: Make an appointment with a writing consultant to help with all stages of writing
Find Sources Using the Library's OneSearch Tool
Visit the OneSearch FAQ to learn all about how to use the library's new online OneSearch tool to find articles, books and more. Or, watch the How to Use OneSearch video:
It is important to evaluate your sources- even if they're scholarly. Use the CRAAP test as a guideline. This video will explain:
What is a Scholarly Article?
Unsure about what it means when an article is scholarly? This video will explain:
Find an Article From a Citation
Learn more about the components of a citation and how to find an article using one at the Research Therapy Series' Finding an Article From a Citation.
Accessing Library Resources through Google Scholar
Click on Settings
Select Library Links
Search for CSUN, check the box and Save
If an article is available through a library database, you'll be able to access it by clicking on SFX Find It at CSUN