Lace UNIV 100

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Background Information

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, almanacs, and other reference sources.

Opposing Viewpoints in Context: Features viewpoint articles, and topic overviews on controversial topics.

Keyword Brainstorming

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.

Example topic: How first-year students manage anxiety and mental health as they adjust to college life.

Main Keyword 1 Main Keyword 2 Focus Keyword
first-year anxiety sleep
students mental health mental health services
freshmen depression peer pressure
young adults eating disorders counseling
college students   mentoring
university students    

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:

 First search line is a keyword search for freshmen or "first-year"; second line is separated by And in a drop down menu and is a keyword search for "mental health" or anxiety or depression; third line is separated by And in a drop down menu and is a keyword search for college or university; fourth line is separated by And in a drop down menu and is a keyword search for peer or "peer pressure"

Using quotation marks will keep multiple words together- for example "mental health" will only search for those two words next to each other.

Remember- AND narrows your search while OR broadens it. Think of it like a Venn Diagram:

Venn diagram showing two overlapping circles with overlap highlighted Venn diagram showing two ovelapping circles where both circles are entirely highlighted
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

General OneFile
Academic Search Premier

Subject Databases: These will bring back results from a specific discipline:

Sociological Abstracts: Articles and book chapters in the field of sociology

PsycINFO: Articles and book chapters in the field of psychology

Business Source Premier: Scholarly articles on business topics, including marketing and advertising

Art Full Text: Full text articles from the art field from 1997-present

Find more databases on the Databases 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.

Accessing Library Resources through Google Scholar

Google Scholar

Click on Settings

A screenshot of the home page of the Google Scholar website, with the Google logo and search box. A red arrow is pointed to the link for Settings in the upper right hand corner.

Select Library Links

A screenshot of the upper-left hand corner of the Google Scholar Settings page. There is a list of links for Scholar settings for "search results", "language" and "library links". A red arrow is pointed at "library links"

Search for CSUN, check the box and Save

Screenshot of Google Settings, Library Links page with a search box in the middle showing a search for "CSUN" and the results listing "Open WorldCat- Library Search" and "CSU, Northridge- SFX Find It at CSUN". Both results show a checkmark in the box to their left, with the "CSU Northridge" checkbox circled in red. A red arrow is pointed at the "CSU, Northridge" result and another red arrow is pointed at the Save box at the bottom-right of the results.

If an article is available through a library database, you'll be able to access it by clicking on SFX Find It at CSUN

A screenshot of a Google Scholar Results page, zoomed in on the options to the left of two articles. Links that say "SFX Find It at CSUN" are circled in red.

Get Help

Your instructors:
Anna Fidgeon

Jamie Johnson

First-Year Experience Librarian:
Susanna Eng-Ziskin

Ask A Librarian: Get help by text, e-mail, phone or in-person
Online How-To Guides and Tutorials

Writing Sources

Citing Your Sources: Get help with MLA Style Citations

Annotated Bibliography: Learn what one is and how to do one:

The Writing Center: Make an appointment with a writing consultant to help with all stages of writing your paper.

Plagiarism Explained


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:

Online Government Resources

These government sites have a good amount of raw data & charts to use as evidence. Find government information, research and statistics.

American Factfinder: American Census data.

PubMed: Articles & general health and medical 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.

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:

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.

Avoiding Bad Presentations

Think about the worst presentation you've been to. Why did you hate it? Was it too long, too detailed, too boring, too fast? Think about how you can avoid these things in your presentation. This video takes a funny look at bad PowerPoint presentations:

On a more serious note, the ComCoachVideo Tutorial from Rice University includes tutorials for different aspects of presentations- with live examples of good skills & bad habits.