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Library research resources for English Comp. Intro to Psychology, and Intro to Sociology

Getting Started with Research

why do people research  (curiosity, need-to-know, assignment) graphic

The Research Process - Quick Guide

I have no idea how to do research. Where do I start?

  • Choosing a topic icon Start with your assignment. If you don't understand something, ask for help right away! 

How do I know what topic to choose?

  • You may be assigned a topic or can choose your own. Choose something you enjoy or are interested in or curious about. For example:
    • Personal interest -  arts/crafts, sports, cars, cooking, gardening, genealogy, etc,
    • Career interest -  related to your program at Western or future job goal
    • The world around you - current events, news, social issues, politics, etc.

Magnifying glass icon find informationHow do I find information about my topic?

  • Head for Western Library's databases first.

What are databases?

  • Basically an online library with e-versions of newspapers, magazines, scholarly journals, encyclopedias, ebooks, data, statistics, business reports, and streaming video. 
  • Link to Western Library databases from the library website.
  • Available 24/7

How do databases work?e-document icon

  • Choose a database. Login with your Western ID.
  • Type your search term into the search box to bring up a list of articles, eBooks, etc.
  • Cool database features
    • Email/share tools to send an article to yourself
    • Citation tools to copy/paste your citation at the end of a paper, but...
      • Sometimes a database citation will mess up the capitalization
      • Also double-check that the italics in the source title and database name pasted. Fix it if not.

funnel icon filter information sourcesHow do I know what database or article to choose?

  •  Great question! Different sources of information have different purposes.
    • Are you preparing for a speech or presentation or short essay?
      • Information that provides some basic facts or details will work. Find 2-3 articles on the same topic and combine what you learn from them.
      • You probably don't need peer-reviewed articles (they are too long and too- in-depth for short projects, but ask your instructor.
      • Use databases like Credo Reference or MasterFile COMPLETE.
    • Do you have to write a research paper or a paper that requires a lot depth and detail?
      • Start with Credo Reference to understand the basic facts and ideas of your topic.
      • Use Academic Search Premier, Academic OneFile, or any databases that shows it has scholarly or peer-reviewed articles. 

Pro Con icon What should I be looking for when deciding what articles to choose?

  • Look at different perspectives on your topic
    • You probably formed your own thoughts about your topic and found sources to support it.
    • Now look for sources that show another perspective.
      • Knowing and understanding other perspectives to provides the complete picture 
      • Take care to avoid bias and choose only articles that are objective
    • This shows you understand why others may have different ideas
    • Databases like Credo Reference, Opposing Viewpoints, and SIRS Researcher offer articles that are labeled Pro/Con or Viewpoint 1, Viewpoint 2, etc.
    • Soon you will be able to recognize different perspectives on your own.

list iconYikes! How do I keep track of all of this information?

  • Jot down notes of any important information or something that grabs your attention
    • Be sure to jot down the name of the database, title of the article, author's name, on the page
  • Use the database's email or share tools and email the article to yourself. When you need to refer to it again, just click the link in your email.
    • NOTE: In Credo Reference be sure to check the Full Text box on the page where you insert your email address
How do I use all this information in my assignment?

puzzle icon putting pieces together

  • Look at your assignment to see exactly what your instructor expects and follow their instructions
  • Think of your project like making a cake - each source is basically one ingredient
    • You will use more of one ingredient than another but they are all necessary to a successful cake
  • In general you will use your different sources to explain all aspects of the topic or issue beginning with explaining the big picture an provide the main facts 
  • Provide explanations of the difference perspectives and give examples to demonstrate you understand each perspective
  • Drop by the Writing Center in the Learning Commons if you need help pulling things together or want someone to look over your paper before you submit it.

Links to More LibGuides About Library Research

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