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Resources for Online & Distance Students

So, you're not on campus for this class! What can you do?

While you certainly have the Internet at your fingertips, grabbing a few likely webpages from your first page of Google search results isn't really what your professors mean when they ask you to do research.

How To Think About a Research Prompt

First, you need to get a clear idea of your topic: you don't want to be too broad (impossible to do in a relatively short paper or presentation) or too narrow (making it hard to find supporting evidence).

Then, when you're actually looking for sources, you want to be gathering the right type of info at the right stage of your research. There's a lot of factors here: getting credible, reliable info; making sure you're meeting your assignment guidelines; and finding info of the appropriate level of complexity for what you need it to do.


Related Guides:

A Few Starter Databases

Related Guide:

Requesting Books & Articles

Interlibrary Loan (ILL)

Maybe you found an article through Google that's behind a paywall. Maybe you forgot to filter your database results to "full text only." Either way, you want something that isn't apparently available from Lone Star College.

Fortunately, you can an interlibrary loan (or ILL) request for that article online. The person who handles those requests finds another school that has access they can share with us, and then you'll get an email with a download link in it for the article you wanted. (The link expires, so make sure you're regularly checking your school email!) This typically only takes a couple of business days (i.e. excluding weekends) to happen.

(You can also borrow books or other physical media this way, though obviously they take longer to get to you, and you'll have to physically go to a library to pick them up once they arrive.)

Requesting Books

This bit is only helpful if you're a distance student still in Harris County with a Lone Star College campus or public library branch somewhere nearby. (If you're very remote -- taking classes from another city or state -- check out your own local public library offerings.)

If there's a book or DVD or other physical media that Lone Star (or Harris County Public Library or Montgomery County Memorial Library System) has, but it's not at a locating convenient to you, just click "place hold" in the library catalog. At no cost to you, the item will be put in transit to whichever library location is most convenient to you. If you come to campus for some classes but not others, stick with your campus. If you're solely online, it may be a public library branch that's closest.


Citations

There's nothing special or different about citations for online students! Just remember that all those sources you got information and ideas from have to be documented in your paper or presentation. There are three main style guides your professor might ask you to follow: MLA (most common), APA (most likely in psychology, sociology, or speech classes), or Chicago (probably only history class).

If you're not sure which style to follow, double-check both your assignment instructions and your professor's syllabus (which will be posted in your course. If it doesn't say, send your professor an email to confirm what they want you to use!

 

Online Citation Guides:

Each of these guides contains a pre-formatted Word doc for you to download, as well as instructions and examples for how to document your sources in each style.


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.