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ENG 101 Composition - L. Muldoon: Find Articles

How to Research

 

Search Strategy

 

Many courses at MCC will require you to complete some type of research assignment. It is important to learn how to use the library to find information that you will need to complete that research assignment. These steps outline the library search strategy. This library search strategy can be adapted to any type of research you are doing.

Step 1.  Choose Your Topic

 

Some suggested topics for research.

A. Brainstorm

This might seem obvious but it is important to choose a topic that is interesting to you. Take some time to brainstorm about possible topics that you might want to investigate. Write down several keywords that describe your topic. Because you will spend a considerable amount of time completing a research assignment, it will be more rewarding to do research on a topic that you want to learn more about.

For example, to find information for a paper you are writing on computers, write down what interests you about computers. Your list may contain the following topics pertaining to computers:

  • Computer viruses
  • Computer software
  • Personal Computers
  • Hacking
  • The Internet
  • Computers and Censorship


When writing down keywords include related terms and synonyms. You will quickly see your research paper taking shape.

B. Consult Your Professor

Many times your professor will provide your class with a list of topics to choose from or you might be given the option to choose a topic on your own. In either case, you should always check with your professor to make sure your topic is acceptable. You should also ask your professor any questions about the assignment that you might have.

Step 2.  Find Background Information

Once you have chosen a topic to research the next step is to find some background information about the topic. Encyclopedias, dictionaries and other reference sources provide quick overviews of a topic that are useful when starting your research. These background sources provide short entries on a topic and many also provide a list (called a bibliography) of other books, articles and websites on your topic. MCC Library has many general and subject-specific encyclopedias, dictionaries and other reference sources in the reference collection.

For example, to find background information on the topic of computers, start with a general encyclopedia such as The New Encyclopaedia Britannica or the Encyclopedia Americana. Look under "Computer" and you will find a definition as well as the history of the computer. Reading through an entry in a general encyclopedia will give you ideas on how to focus your research.

Step 3.  Narrow Your Topic

A common problem finding a topic with a definite focus. Many students start out with trying to research a topic that is too broad and eventually the topic has to be narrowed down by focusing on a particular aspect of the subject. Remember that in a research assignment you will only be required to write a certain number of pages on your topic and you will never be able to cover all aspects of a topic if it is too broad. As mentioned earlier, the best way to do this is to start out by writing down some keywords that will best describe the aspects of a topic on which you want to focus.

For example, after reading the entry for "Computer" in a general encyclopedia you may decide to focus on computer security. From here, you can go on to specialized encyclopedias like the McGraw-Hill Encyclopedia of Science & Technology, or MacMillan Encyclopedia of Computers where you will find detailed entries for computer security. So far, your search looks like this:

  • Get background information on computers from general dictionaries and encyclopedias like the New Encyclopaedia Britannica, the Encyclopedia Americana or the World Book Encyclopedia.
  • Narrow your topic to Computer Security.
  • Go to specific encyclopedias like MacMillan Encyclopedia of Computers for detailed information.
  • After these steps in your search strategy, information on this specific topic can be gathered from other books, magazine and journal articles.

Step 4.  Locate Books and Audio/Visual Materials on Your Topic

MCC Library has a large collection of circulating books, audiotapes and videos. The resources that are on the shelves in the MCC Library have been chosen by faculty members and the reference librarians in order to support the curriculum here at MCC. You will find many resources in the collection that will be helpful for completing a research assignment.

To find materials housed in the MCC Library, use the library's online catalog (MCC Library Catalog).

The MCC Library Catalog is an online "card catalog" that is used to locate books, audiobooks, DVDs,  and CDs that are available in the MCC Library. If you are unable to find what you are looking for in the MCC Library, reQuest can be used to search hundreds of Connecticut libraries to find books, videos, CDs and DVDs.   The reQuest Magazine Catalog can be searched to identify Connecticut libraries that may subscribe to a particular magazine, journal or newspaper.

 

Step 5.  Locate Articles on Your Topic

The MCC Library has a collection of electronic databases that will enable you to find magazine, newspaper, and academic journal articles on your topic. Articles can be very helpful in your research because many times they provide current information on your research topic. Finding Periodical Articles on Your TopicTo find articles on a topic, you will need to use an electronic database(s) that provides citations to those articles. The MCC Library subscribes to a number of  electronic databases. Periodicals are publications (magazines, newspapers, and journals) that are issued at regular intervals. Periodical articles provide up-to-date information and are used to supplement information found in books. Because articles are so timely, it is essential for students to use them when doing research. You will find popular magazines and scholarly journals in the MCC Library.  

Article Citations

Article citations identify the article and contain the following information: author, article title, periodical title, date of publication, volume number, issue number, and page numbers. The citation may also indicate special features of the article such as illustrations, diagrams, graphs or portraits.  Print the citation and keep it with your research materials. You will need the citations to prepare your bibliography or "works cited" page. Take a look at the following citation from Gale's Academic Onefile:

Title: Social media: creating richer relationships in the workplace

Source:  People & Strategy. 33.3 (Sept. 2010): p7. From Academic OneFile.

Author: Rob Quish

Social media: creating richer relationships in the workplace is the title of the article. Rob Quish is the author. People & Strategy is the title of the periodical. 33.3 means this article is in volume 33, issue 3 of this periodical. September 2010 is the publication date, and p7 means that the article begins on page 7. Understanding the elements of a citation will enable you to use many different electronic databases.

Abstracts

A citation may contain an abstract. An abstract is a summary of the important parts of an article or text. Many articles that are listed in our electronic databases contain abstracts. Reading the abstract will allow you to determine if the information is what you are seeking. If the full text (actual article) of the article is included with the abstract you can print it out for future reference. If the full text is not available, try to locate the article in the MCC Library periodical collection.

Tips on Searching a Database

Databases by Subject

Databases by Subject Area

Current Events/Controversial Topics:

CQ Researcher  - (1991-present) An excellent full-text source for in-depth information on topics of current interest, such as nuclear proliferation, world hunger, global warming and child labor. Each full-text article may include a pro/con discussion, photos, charts, graphs, a chronology of the issue and a bibliography.

Opposing Viewpoints in Context - Opposing Viewpoints Resource Center is a one-stop source for information on today's hottest social issues. Drawing on acclaimed series published by Greenhaven Press and other Gale imprints, OVRC features viewpoint articles, topic overviews, full-text magazine, academic journal, and newspaper articles, primary source documents, statistics, images and podcasts, and links to Websites. New to the database are Lexile reading levels for periodicals and an integrated national and state curriculum standards search with content correlated to the standards.

 

General Academic:

Academic Search Premier - This multi-disciplinary database provides full text for more than 4,600 journals, including full text for nearly 3,900 peer-reviewed titles. PDF backfiles to 1975 or further are available for well over one hundred journals, and searchable cited references are provided for more than 1,000 titles.

Gale Virtual Reference Library - Gale Virtual Reference Library is a database of encyclopedias and specialized reference sources for multidisciplinary research. These reference materials once were accessible only in the library, but now you can access them online from the library or remotely 24/7. Because each library creates its own eBook collection, the content you see may vary if you use the database at different libraries (your school, your public library, or your office).

JSTOR - Used by millions for research, teaching, and learning. With more than a thousand academic journals and over 1 million images, letters, and other primary sources, JSTOR is one of the world's most trusted sources for academic content.

 

Education:

ERIC - ERIC, the Education Resource Information Center, contains more than 1,300,000 records and links to more than 317,000 full-text documents dating back to 1966.

Professional Development Collection - Designed for professional educators, this database provides a highly specialized collection of nearly 520 high quality education journals, including more than 350 peer-reviewed titles. This database also contains more than 200 educational reports. Professional Development Collection is the most comprehensive collection of full text education journals in the world.

 

Business:

Business Index ASAP - Perform in-depth research on management issues, economic indicators and business theories and practices, as well as on the activities of companies and industries worldwide. Instant access to academic and business journals with full text and images.

Business Insights: Essentials - Business Insights: Essentials combines all of the content formerly found in Business & Company Resource Center with a new interface designed around the research goals and workflows of your diverse business research community. Easily find information on companies, industries and more in the context of timely news, statistical data, and in-depth reports.

Small Business Resource Center - Search this database to learn how to start, finance or manage your small business. Resources include sample business plans, how to guides, articles and websites.

ABI/INFORM Complete - The most comprehensive ABI/INFORM™ database, this comprises ABI/INFORM Global, ABI/INFORM Trade and Industry, and ABI/INFORM Dateline. The database features thousands of full-text journals, dissertations, working papers, key business and economics periodicals such as the Economist, country-and industry-focused reports, and downloadable data. Its international coverage gives researchers a complete picture of companies and business trends around the world.

Hoover's Company Profiles - This database contains proprietary information about more than 40,000 public and non-public companies and 225,000 key executives. Hoover's, widely recognized as a leader in company data, delivers in depth industry analyses, information on a company's location, summary financials, top competitors, top officers and more.

 

Environment/Global Issues:

GreenFILE - GreenFILE offers well-researched information covering all aspects of human impact to the environment. Its collection of scholarly, government and general-interest titles includes content on global warming, green building, pollution, sustainable agriculture, renewable energy, recycling, and more. The database provides indexing and abstracts for more than 384,000 records, as well as Open Access full text for more than 4,700 records.

Science Reference Center - Science Reference Center is a comprehensive research database that provides easy access to a multitude of full text science-oriented content. This database contains full text for nearly 640 science encyclopedias, reference books, periodicals, etc. Topics covered include: biology, chemistry, earth & space science, environmental science, health & medicine, history of science, life science, physics, science & society, science as inquiry, scientists, technology and wildlife.

 

Health Sciences/Psychology:

CINAHL - CINAHL is the authoritative resource for nursing and allied health professionals, students, educators and researchers. This database provides indexing for 2,960 journals from the fields of nursing and allied health. The database contains more than 2,000,000 records dating back to 1981.

Medline - MEDLINE provides authoritative medical information on medicine, nursing, dentistry, veterinary medicine, the health care system, pre-clinical sciences, and much more. Created by the National Library of Medicine, MEDLINE uses MeSH (Medical Subject Headings) indexing with tree, tree hierarchy, subheadings and explosion capabilities to search citations from over 4,800 current biomedical journals.

PsycARTICLES - PsycARTICLES®, from the American Psychological Association (APA), is a definitive source of full text, peer-reviewed scholarly and scientific articles in psychology. It contains more than 153,000 articles from nearly 80 journals published by the American Psychological Association (APA), its imprint the Educational Publishing Foundation (EPF), and from allied organizations including the Canadian Psychological Association and the Hogrefe Publishing Group. It includes all journal articles, book reviews, letters to the editor, and errata from each journal. Coverage spans 1894 to the present and nearly all APA journals go back to Volume 1, Issue 1.

Psychology & Behavioral Sciences Collection (off-campus) - Psychology & Behavioral Sciences Collection is a comprehensive database covering information concerning topics in emotional and behavioral characteristics, psychiatry & psychology, mental processes, anthropology, and observational & experimental methods. This is the world's largest full text psychology database offering full text coverage for nearly 560 journals.

PsycINFO  - The PsycINFO , database, American Psychological Association’s (APA) renowned resource for abstracts of scholarly journal articles, book chapters, books, and dissertations, is the largest resource devoted to peer-reviewed literature in behavioral science and mental health. It contains nearly 3 million citations and summaries dating as far back as the 1600s. Journal coverage, which spans from the 1800s to the present, includes international material selected from more than 2,400 periodicals in nearly 30 languages.

Health & Wellness Resource Center & Alternative Health Module - Provides instant access to carefully compiled and trusted medical reference materials. Includes nearly 400 health/medical journals, hundreds of pamphlets, over 700 health-related videos from partner Healthology, Inc., and articles from 2,200 general interest publications in addition to a broad collection of Gale reference titles. Material contained in this Resource Center is intended for informational purposes only.

 

History:

U.S. History In Context - U.S. History in Context is an engaging online experience for those seeking contextual information on hundreds of the most significant people, events and topics in U.S. History. The new solution merges Gale's authoritative reference content with full-text magazines, academic journals, news articles, primary source documents, images, videos, audio files and links to vetted websites organized into a user-friendly portal experience.
 
World History In Context - World History in Context is an engaging online experience for those seeking contextual information on hundreds of the most significant people, events and topics in World History. The new solution merges Gale's authoritative reference content with full-text magazines, academic journals, news articles, primary source documents, images, videos, audio files and links to vetted websites organized into a user-friendly portal experience.