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Library / research information for Tools for Computing, Business Information Systems and Computing Tools, and Computing Tools & Information Literacy for Educators.

Tour the Library

Let's start off with a quick tour of the library building, and then we'll talk more about conducting your research. (3:57)

How to Choose Good Sources

When someone tells you to eat your vegetables, they don't usually mean that you can't eat anything else--just that you need to be sure to include vegetables in your diet. The same is true when your professors tell you to use scholarly/peer-reviewed sources. 

You can make those vegetables (aka scholarly sources) go down easier if you're willing to add spices, sauces, and other ingredients (aka other types of resources). Here's why you might want to think about using a source like an encyclopedia in addition to those scholarly sources your professors are requiring you to use (1:00). Video credit: Portland State University Library

And here's some further clarification of what your professor is talking about in the first place when they ask you to find "scholarly" resources (1:20). Video credit: Old Dominion University Libraries

How to Find Those Sources

Now that you'll recognize useful sources when you see them, we should think about how to find them. Why might you choose to search the library databases instead of (or in addition to) Google? (2:56)

But given that Penfield has 100+ databases to choose from, how should you choose which library database to use?  And what are all those other resources the library website links to?  

Don't worry--we've got you covered! (2:00)

Running a Better Search

The words you choose to represent your search are SUPER important, regardless of whether you search Google or a library database. Word choice can make the difference between finding fabulous sources and finding nothing. (2:15)

You can also combine all those synonyms in different ways, to control whether you get more or fewer results (2:42).

Citing Your Sources

No matter what kind of sources you use, you need to cite them. Here's an intro to the basics of citation, plus a bit about why your professors insist on this in the first place (1:54). Video credit: NC State University Libraries

Citations *can* be a little tricky if you haven't worked with them before... but they're really important.

Better still, they're easily obtainable in most library databases. Most library databases include a button to cite whatever resource you're looking at. 

Example of a "Cite" button in a library database.


Also, you can link to Penfield Library's guide to citing sources from any library webpage, if you want help figuring out how to format things. 

Summing Up

Whew!  Got all that?  Here's what it all boils down to:

  1. Choosing the right kind of source can make your life a lot easier. Don't be afraid to use encyclopedias, blogs, websites, podcasts, or whatever else to help you understand the scholarly sources your professors ask you to use. 
  2. Make sure you evaluate all of your sources to make sure they're trustworthy and appropriate to your project. Pro tip: If someone is trying to sell you something, make sure you look at other sources too to make sure you're getting the whole story. 
  3. Penfield Library exists to make sure you have access to high-quality materials for your research. There are lots of tools you can use on our website--and we want you to ask a librarian for help if you're unsure.
  4. Choosing the right words to search, and combining them appropriately with Boolean operators, will help you locate high-quality sources. It will also help you avoid having to dig through 20,000,000 results. (That's way too many!)
  5. Citing your sources is important--and the library has tools to help you do it on your own, plus librarians you can ask if you're having trouble. 

Also, this: You can always ask a librarian for advice at any stage of your research. 

Have I mentioned that you can always ask a librarian for help?

Seriously, they hire us librarians so we can help you, even if all you want is someone to listen while you think out loud about topic ideas. But we don't know you need help unless you ask us. That piece is up to you.

Ask a Librarian