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.
Let's say I'm thinking about doing my PSA on consumer behaviors to help conserve energy.
|Main Keyword 1||Main Keyword 2||Main Keyword 3|
Brainstorming keywords will also help you narrow your topic as you come up with specific concepts to focus on. As you start researching, you may find other terms to add to your Keyword Toolbox. Don't hesitate to add or eliminate keywords to find relevant results.
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:
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 "climate change".
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:
Sociological Abstracts: Articles and book chapters in the field of sociology
GreenFILE: Scholarly, government and general interest information on all aspects of human impact on the environment.
CINAHL Plus: Nursing and allied health journals
Business Source Elite: Scholarly articles on business topics, including marketing and advertising
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.
First-Year Experience Librarian:
Ask A Librarian: Get help by text, e-mail, phone or in-person
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.
What is a Scholarly Article?
Unsure about what it means when an article is scholarly? This video will explain:
It is important to evaluate your sources- even if they're scholarly. Use the CRAAP test as a guideline. This video will explain:
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.
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