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Library Research for Writing Assignments: A Quick Guide

Learn to find, read, and use database articles for a writing assignment.

Research Sources - Overview

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Reference Sources vs. Academic Sources


  • The term sources refers to the nature, type, and scope of information need for different types of research.
  • Different sources are needed for different research purposes (databases are linked below)
    • Background Research articles are found in reference sources such as Credo Reference Database
    • Focused Research articles such as peer-reviewed articles from academic journals are found in scholarly sources such as the databases Academic Search Premier or Academic OneFile.

Example Topic - Stress

  • Reference sources will provide general information about "stress" and provide an overview of symptoms and causes
  • Academic or scholarly sources will provide very specific information about some aspect of stress, for example, "exhaustion disorder"


Background Research - Credo Reference Database

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Basic Searching - use a general search term or choose from the database list

Credit Reference Search page - Main Topic (Stress) and Subtopics

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As you scroll through the list of results, be mindful of the context for an article. The example below shows an article about stress in a linguistic context, not the physiological or psychological context you need for this assignment.

Search result - linguist meaning of stress; will not work for assignment

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Great article! Just the right context!

Click the title of the article to link to the complete article.

Good choice of article - encyclopedia of public health

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Reading for Research


While you are reading look for the answers to the questions below.  Print a copy of the article and highlight or jot down your findings.

  • WHAT?  - definitions, ideas/concepts, meanings, research studies
  • WHO? -  names of key people or organizations
  • WHY? -  significance, motivations, importance
  • HOW? - methods, strategies, techniques
  • WHERE? - places, institutions, cities, states, countries, planets
  • WHEN? - important dates and times

Credo Reference article example

toolbox iconCitation Tools

Databases provide Citation Tools you can use to copy and paste directly into your paper. Be sure to choose the approrpiate citation style from the options menu.

BE AWARE!  Sometimes databases get the capitalization wrong. You want to submit your papers with correctly formatted citations so make the corrections before you turn in your assignment.

If you are not sure if a database citation is correct, double-check it with a citation guide. Links to Western Citation LibGuides are listed below. Be sure to choose the guide that matches the format you have been assigned. The citation example below is APA 7 which is the format used in the field of psychology.

image - APA 7 citation for stress article

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