A good starting point for academic work is one or more of the many databases available through the library's website. Databases provide access and content to sources that are generally not available on the open web through a general search engine like Google.
Every database contains only certain types and amounts of information. Which one you choose depends almost entirely on the context of your research project. There is no single database or web search interface that will work for every research context; instead, you'll need to match your specific research needs to a variety of options.
Library catalog searches (i.e., Primo) can be the better choice when you are seeking in-depth, book-length treatments of a topic.
Multidisciplinary databases cover a wide variety of subject areas and may include a mix of popular and scholarly sources. They are good resources when you begin your research. Academic Search Premier is an example of a multidisciplinary database.
Subject databases cover a specific discipline and provide the widest range of access to scholarly sources. They are used for in-depth research. America: History & Life, a history database, is an example of a subject database. Which subject databases you search will be determined by who may be writing about your topic. Looking for articles about lesbian political activity in the United States? In addition to the America: History & Life, search the Gender Studies database.
Choose a broad topic (no more than 2-3 concepts) and conduct a preliminary investigation into the topic using three different search tools: Google Scholar, a multidisciplinary database, and a subject database. Use the same terms for each search tool.
Write your search terms on the worksheet linked below.
Respond to the following questions:
Don't forget to prepare a list of related terms and concepts BEFORE you begin searching! This will save you time and give you a sense of direction as you search.
Number 1 Search Tip
Use Advanced Search and limit features whenever possible. Subset limits, date limits, citation searches, subject searches, etc. -- are all useful timesavers.
More Search Tips:
Too MUCH Information?
Too LITTLE Information?
During the preview phase, you'll want to concentrate on these key elements:
Once you've selected the article, you can actively read for content, argument, analysis and evaluation.
Tip: Read the article more than once! It may help to print out a copy so that you can make notes.
When reading a citation, break it down into parts. Check out the color-coded example below:
Gilmore, S. & Kaminski, E. (2007). A Part and Apart: Lesbian and Straight Feminist Activists Negotiate Identity in a Second-Wave Organization. Journal of the History of Sexuality, 16(1), 95-113.
Author(s). (Year of Publication). Article Title. Journal Title, Volume(Issue), page numbers.
Tip: The most common pitfall of reading citations is mixing up the article and journal titles. Remember when searching Primo to find out if we have access to an article: it will be most efficient to search for the journal title.
These subject databases may be especially useful for your research projects for this class. Depending on your topic and your angle, you may wish to search additional subject databases.
The databases listed below are examples of multidisciplinary finding aids.
Note: If you need discipline-specific resources, it is better to use the recommended subject databases under the "articles" tab in the library subject guides.
Google Scholar searches open access materials as well as items from many publishers, including some of the resources to which Collins Library subscribes. However, Google Scholar only searches a fraction of the published scholarly literature. Use the databases listed on the page as well as others found on the database A-Z list.Tips:
Tipasa is linked to your library account so you'll need to log in to use it.
Once you are logged in, either go directly to Tipasa and manually enter the information, or, if you're using a database, look for a shortcut link to automatically fill out the form, like this:
Allow at least a week for the article to come. If your article is delivered in electronic format, you'll receive an email with a link to follow as soon as it's arrived. If it's delivered in paper, you'll receive it right in your campus mailbox.
This subject guide highlights only a small portion of the many resources available to you. If you're not finding what you need, don't hesitate to contact Katy!