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 research. Here are some databases you can use to search encyclopedias and other reference sources to get a basic understanding of your topic.
Gale Virtual Reference Library: Over 100 encyclopedias, almanacs, and specialized reference sources.
Opposing Viewpoints in Context: Features viewpoint articles, and topic overviews on controversial topics.
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.
My argument: CSUN administration should support a campus smoking ban.
|Main Keyword 1||Main Keyword 2||Focus Keyword|
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 General OneFile database:
Using an asterisk (*) will truncate your keyword. For example, searching for universit* will search for: universities, university, 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:
Business Source Elite: Scholarly articles and business profiles
America: History & Life: Articles as well as dissertations on the history and culture of the United States and Canada
Mergent Online: U.S. and international company data and annual reports
CINAHL Plus: Nursing and health articles
PubMed: Health, biology and chemistry articles
If you need an article or book that we don't have, we can order it from another library through Interlibrary Loan.
College Newspapers: To search for college newspapers, use the LexisNexis database, select News, then Colleges & Universities:
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.
If you are using a website as a source for your paper, make sure it is a reliable source. Don't know what that means? Ask yourself these questions to determine if the website is authoritative, unbiased, current, and accurate:
This video will explain more:
Ask A Librarian: Get help by text, e-mail, phone or in-person
Citing Your Sources: Get help with APA/MLA Style Citations
The Writing Center: Make an appointment with a writing consultant to help with all stages of writing your paper.
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:
What is a Scholarly Article?
Unsure about what it means when an article is scholarly? This video will explain:
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
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