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Assignment | iSchool English I Research: Research

Fall 2018 | English I

Before You Research

Scholarly articles are not the place to start your research. First, you need to get familiar enough with your topic that you can start to narrow it down, and for that you need more general information. This will help you develop context for your topic as well as get to know the specialized terms used by experts.

Where To Search

Library Databases

Internet Sources

No random websitesResearch means more than just Googling some likely terms and picking something easy off the first page of results. Consider:

Besides keywords, there are an estimated 200 factors that affect Google's page rankings, including:

  • sites paying to promote their pages,
  • what computer and browser you're using,
  • when the site was last updated,
  • how the site is structured,
  • what other people have clicked on or linked to,
  • and even what kind of pages you've searched for in the past.

Notice that "accuracy" or "reliability" don't make the list.

You can streamline the quality of your Google searches by focusing on government (.gov) and education (.edu) domains in your results.

  • .gov is the most strict to register -- non-government entities can't get it!
  • .edu is mostly universities
    • The big thing to watch out for is that you're not finding a student paper or project that's been posted on the university domain. Presumably their work is pretty good since it's being shown off publicly, but undergrads are not yet academic experts in their fields.
  • .org is another more limited domain (to organizations), but it's also the least reliable of the three special domains.

 

Google has some advanced search commands to make this quicker. Just add site:___ to your search! E.g. site:nasa.gov or even just site:.edu. Try it below!

Google Web Search

E-Books

The ebook collections offer several advantages: instant online-access, no need to check-out the book, and you can easily search inside to jump to your search terms.

Print Books

If you like reading on paper and have a little time to wait, you may want to search the catalog for possible books to use for your research.

 

If you see something good, you can "Place hold" to request the book be sent to a library of your choice. (This can take several business days.)

Since books are grouped together by topic, it can be a good idea to actually visit the library* and go to the shelf of that particular book. Chances are the books on either side of it are going to be helpful, too!

* Note: the library at LSC-University Park is all-digital, so come here for everything but browsing the shelves!

The library databases and Google both have advanced search options to help you narrow down your results!

Learn More

Accessing the Databases

Access 100+ databases organized by subject area from the Research Databases page. Also try our dynamic, sortable database list!

Student ID BadgeTo access the databases locked icon (same icon that displays by the LSC-limited access resources) from off-campus, you must provide the 14-digit library barcode.

Don't have one yet? Request a barcode number online.

What's a Database?

illustration of a question mark on fire (burning question)Psst -- what's a database?

In its most basic sense, a database Access only available off-campus with a 14-digit library barcode from LSCS is just a selection of information designed for you to search and retrieve stuff from it. Amazon is a database you're probably familiar with: it's limited (only contains things you can buy through them) and retrievable (you can search and filter your results to find what you're looking for).

The library databases contain reputable, reliable sources of information to support researchers like you! This means everything from digital encyclopedias (like Credo), ebooks, scholarly journal articles, magazine and newspaper articles, streaming videos, statistics, and more.

Managing Your Research

While conducting research you will need to capture the articles and associated citations. Your process will be very individual, but be consistent and choose a tool to help organize your research. Some suggested tools below:

OneDriveOneDrive - Cloud storage from Microsoft Office 365. 1 TB free for Lone Star College students.

 

EvernoteEvernote - The Basic version is free. Works across all mobile devices. Create notebooks for each course or writing assignment. Be sure to download the Web Clipper as well.

ZoteroZotero - Zotero is a free, open access extension that runs in the Firefox and Chrome browsers that's designed to gather, download, and tag your research. Helpful tutorials.

EasyBibEasyBib - Citation generator that is free for MLA.