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. JSTOR 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. The MLA International Bibliography is an example of a subject database. Which subject databases you search will be determined by who may be writing about your topic.
Always use the advanced search interface and some combination of the following techniques to increase the effectiveness of your searches:
|Search Technique||What It Does|
|quotation marks||Searches for exact phrase|
|Truncation (usually an *)||Searches for all forms of a word|
|Boolean operators (AND, OR, NOT)||Lets you broaden or narrow your search|
|Database thesaurus or index||Allows you to pinpoint the exact indexing terms the database uses|
Here's an example in action:
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:
Tyreman, Stephen. "The Happy Genius Of My Household: Phenomenological And Poetic Journeys Into Health And Illness." Medicine, Health Care And Philosophy: A European Journal, vol. 14, no. 3, 2011, pp. 301-311.
Author Last Name, First Name. "Article Title." Journal Title, Volume No., Issue No., Year of Publication, pp. 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 this page as well as others found on the database A-Z list.
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.
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!