Finding Sources Using the Library

When you search on the library’s website, what are you searching?

Librarians are always telling you to use the library website, but what exactly are you searching when you go there? Why should you take the extra time to search on the library’s website instead of going to Google?  The library website had vetted resources. The journals, books, newspapers, video, and more on the website have been specifically purchased or selected for student and faculty use and research. This helps you to skip the step of reviewing what you find yourself when you Google or use another search engine on the web (more about this later!).  It actually benefits you to start at the library website because you do not need to do the same type of evaluation you need to do if you find a resource on the web. You should always make sure any source you find will fit in with your intended research question.

When you go to the library website: https://www.lib.rowan.edu/campbell you have many different searching options.  Our library has a search box that is a Discovery tool.  That tool, Library Search, allows you to search for items our library has access to and items we don’t have access to.  It is important to note this search box does NOT search everything the library has access to, but it does search a lot of it.  You will be able to find books, ebooks, peer-reviewed articles, newspaper articles, book chapters, and more.

This box is a good place to start if you need lots of different materials (like a book, an article from a newspaper and a peer-reviewed article) or already have crafted a very specific search string after searching in different places.

If you are looking for information in a specific Subject area for a course, often it’s better for you to look at a Database.  We categorize our databases by subject to make it easier for you to find resources for any course you are in.  If you choose a subject for the course you are researching for, the databases will have more information directly related to what you are looking for.  There are also databases for different types of resources, including Newspapers, Streaming Video, Journal Articles, Encyclopedia Articles, e-Books, and more.

You will probably need to find different types of resources.  Academic, (Peer-Reviewed) articles are commonly needed for research and easily found on the using the library’s databases.  Often databases will have a box to check to make sure you are limiting to just these types of resources.  Something is peer-reviewed when it goes through a specific process. This process includes the author(s) researching extensively, writing their about their research (typically in the form of a journal article), submitting the article to a peer-reviewed journal for it to be reviewed by a group of researchers familiar with the topic (this process takes take at a minimum a few months), receiving the suggested edits and changes, making those changes, resubmitting the work, getting the article approved, and finally the publishing of the article.  This process helps to ensure the quality of the information.

If you are looking for News Articles you can look in specific databases that contains newspapers and articles or you can search in a general database like Academic Search Complete or ProQuest Central and check off the box for news sources.  Make sure to pay attention to the date an article was published.

Finding Sources Using the Web

You will use Google to find resources, but how you use Google (or another search engine) and what type of information you look for are going to help shape your research and your resources.  Some topics are too recent to have anything peer-reviewed written specifically about them, The peer-review process takes months to years, so if you just hear about something that happened today, there will NOT be anything peer-reviewed written about that direct incident.  Some topics are also written about in a general sense rather than a very specific idea. So there might be a peer-reviewed article about hip-hop culture, but there might not be a peer-reviewed article that specifically addressed a local hip-hop artist and their efforts to engage the community with their music.  You might also want to see what people are saying about a topic on social media or look up a person who started a specific movement like Black Lives Matter co-founder, Patrisse Khan-Cullors, it would be easiest and smartest in this case to go right to the source to find information. Always check out the about section of a website and look for clues about the legitimacy of the resource.

You can also use your Keywords you’ve already searched and search them in Google.  Or you can try a Google Advanced Search.  A Google Advanced Search will allow you to get more specific, including searching for specific document file types (.pdf, .ppt, etc.) or to search an entire website or domain (.org, .gov, edu, etc.).


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College Comp II Copyright © 2019 by Jude Miller is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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