your keywords in the Library
Catalog or in background sources like encyclopedias.
II: FIND BACKGROUND INFORMATION
Background and introductory information places a
research topic into a greater context. Lecture notes, textbooks,
and reference books such as encyclopedias and almanacs make up important
- Look up
keywords in the index of an encyclopedia, find the entry,
and don't forget to take note of the bibliography at the end
of the article for further readings.
the Library's reference collection in the corresponding
number area. Read articles in the sources you find to set
the context of your research. Pay close attention to the vocabulary
the authors use.
for bibliographies on your topic in the Library
Catalog by conducting a subject search on your topic followed
by Bibliography. Example: Human Rights -- Bibiolgraphy
III: FIND BOOKS IN THE LIBRARY CATALOG
broader, more extensive information on a given topic. The
allows you to search for books in any of the City College Libraries/Learning
Resource Centers. The materials located in the library where you
are working appear in bold text on the screen. You will
notice many ways to search, such as Title, Author, Subject, Subject
- Use KEYWORD
searching for narrowly defined or complex topics.
- Use SUBJECT
searching for broader or more standard subjects.
- Write down
the CALL NUMBER to locate a book on the shelf in the
at City College of San Francisco uses the Library of Congress
classification system. This system classifies the materials
in the collection by subject. For a more detailed look at the
system, browse the Library
of Congress Classification Outline.
books in other libraries around the Bay Area, follow the link
on the CCSF Library Homepage.
IV: FIND PERIODICAL ARTICLES
and specific information is found in articles in periodicals
(magazines, journals, or newspapers). Articles are often used
to update and support the information in books.
The most effective way to find articles on a given topic is to
use an index. In the past, a researcher would have to rely
on a print index to find articles on a given topic, write down
the citation, then go to the stacks to find the article in the
print version of the given periodical. This method is still used
for retrospective or historical research. However, today we have
periodical databases which index articles by subject and oftentimes
provide the full text of the article online.
one of the periodical
databases available from the CCSF Library Homepage.
the database using the keywords from your research question.
- Both scholarly
and popular periodicals are available. Decide what level of
scholarship you must have for research by consulting Scholarly
Journals v. Popular Magazines.
- If the
full text of the article is available through the database,
print or email the article to yourself.
- If only
the citation is available, you can:
Periodicals Holdings List to see whether the print version
is available at one of the CCSF libraries.
Libraries catalogs in the Bay Area to see whether they
carry the periodical containing your article.
V: FIND INFORMATION ON THE INTERNET
A wealth of information exists on the Internet.
Because anyone can publish anything on the Internet, it is important
to critically evaluate what you find.
VI: EVALUATE WHAT YOU FIND
the information you find is a critical step in the research process,
regardless of whether you find the information in a book, an article
or on a webpage. Each source must be looked at in terms of authority,
usefulness, and reliability. You must gain a general
understanding for the purpose and quality of the
information as well as the value it has in the context of your
research topic. The following webpages can assist you in determining
how to critically analyze what you find.
VII: CITE WHAT YOU FIND
is important to give credit to the ideas of others. The reader
can then verify the materials you used to reach your conclusions.
Documentation also places your written work within the context
of a given body of knowledge.
- It is important
to cite what you find when you find it! You may need to find
- Use a standard
citation format, such as style guides from Modern Language Association
(MLA), American Psychological Association (APA), or Turabian/Chicago
summarizing some of the basic citation formats for APA and MLA
are available at the Reference Desk or online.
- Other more
extensive citation guides are available online also!
Manuals available at the library include:
Joseph. MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers.
4th ed. New York: MLA, 1998. (PN 147 G444 1998, Rosenberg,
John Adams, Statler REFERENCE).
Manual of the American Psychological Association. 5th
ed. Washington: APA, 2001. (BF 76.7 B83 2001, Rosenberg,
John Adams REFERENCE).
help you may contact the Reference Desk by phone at (415)
452-5543 or stop by the East and West reference desks at the Rosenberg
and Citing Information Sources
Electronic Reference Service to CCSF students, faculty, staff
and registered community users. Use this service when you are
NOT in a CCSF library.
and Web Research Workshops
FIfty minute workshops are given throughout the semester on effective
methods in searching for books, articles and information on the
Several useful sources for evaluating the quality of web pages,
how to prepare citations for a "Bibliography" or "Works Cited" list,
and how to avoid plagiarism.
Purdue's Online Writing
One of the most thorough and easy to navigate writing labs online!
A+ Research and Writing
Hosted by the Internet Public Library.
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College of San Francisco
Last updated September 10, 2003