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Library Research: A Quick Guide for Writing Assignments

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

Research Sources - Overview

Reference Sources vs. Academic Sources

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  • 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

Choose the Right Source 

  • Notice the title of the article and the name of the book it comes from:
  • As you scroll through the list of results, be mindful of the context for an article.

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

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Notice the Key concepts list beneath the description of the 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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Notice the Key concepts list beneath the description of the article. Click the title of the article to open it.

Good choice of article - encyclopedia of public health

Reading for Research

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While you are reading, think about 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

Citation Tools

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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. ALL CAPS for the Author or Title is INCORRECT. Make the correction (Cooper, Catherine) before you turn in your assignment.

Screenshot Incorrect capitlaization author's last name ALL CAPS

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.

Your. instructor will tell you which citation style they expect to see for the assignment. If,not, use the citation style that matches the field of study.

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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