Skip to main content

Communications: Researching

Selecting Sources

There are many types of information and information sources.  Usually, the nature of your project and topic will help determine what sources will be the most appropriate for your research.  Good research usually contains a variety of sources such as books, journal articles, and statistics. Understanding different types of information and information sources can help you be a more effective researcher.  Below are some common information sources and what they are used for.

Reference

Reference resources are designed to be consulted as needed rather than read cover to cover. Usually, reference sources are used to gain a firmer grasp or overview of a topic and provide references for more in-depth coverage. They also often contain things like data, statistics, and biographical information.  Reference resources can be found in both print and electronic format.

Examples: dictionaries, encyclopedias, almanacs, handbooks.

Databases

Library databases contain sets of information that are organized for the purposes of searching and retrieval. Databases can range in coverage. Some databases provide information on a wide variety of topics; others are limited to a certain subject area.  Databases are a great way to find magazine and journal articles on a particular topic. They can also contain things like eBooks, reference sources and videos.

Examples: Academic Search Complete, Credo Reference, Lexis Nexis, JSTOR

Academic Journals

Similar to magazines, journals contain articles written on a variety of topics in a subject field.  Unlike magazine articles, journal articles are authored by experts, scholars, and professionals.  Most academic journals require articles to undergo the “peer-review” process. In this process, articles are reviewed by scholars and experts to ensure they meet certain academic standards.

Examples: Journal of American History, Harvard Theological Review

Books

Books are great sources of information for research and can be found in both print and electronic format.  Books range considerably in audience and depth of topic treatment. Some books are written for a general adult audience. Others are more scholarly and are written for students, professionals, and other experts in a subject area. 

Examples: Whole: Rethinking the Science of Nutrition

News

News can come from a variety of print and electronic sources such as newspapers, magazines, television, radio, and the web. News articles are written to inform the general public of current events at either the local, national, or international level.  Usually, journalists write and produce news.  News can range from brief and informative to in-depth and investigative.

Examples: The New York Times Newspaper, National Public Radio’s “Morning Edition”, CBS “60 Minutes” TV program.

Magazines

Magazines are composed of articles written on topics of popular interest and current events. The intended audience is usually the general public. While scholars do write articles for magazines, journalists are more commonly the authors. Magazines can be good sources of information, but it is important to remember that their purpose is not scholarly or academic.

Examples:  Time, Newsweek, National Geographic

Websites:

The internet allows users to find and access information from a variety of sources. While websites may be used for research, their usefulness can be limited. For academic research, information retrieved from the internet should be used alongside other academic resources. Because anyone can put information on the internet, information found on the web should be scrutinized to make sure that it is credible and reliable. Pay attention to the individual or organization that creates or produces the content of a webpage. Websites with a .edu, .org, or .gov address are higher quality and more trustworthy. It is also a good idea to verify information through multiple sources.

Examples: Wikipedia.org, epa.gov, utexas.edu

 

Where do I start?

How Do I Know I Have a Credible Source?

Google vs. Databases

How To Access the Library's Databases

For a complete list of the Library's Databases, visit www.ctcd.edu/academics/library/databases/ 

1. Please do not use Blackboard, instructor supplied links, or other sites for access.  If possible, avoid using a military, government, or employer's computer or email address.

2. Open a new window in Firefox or Chrome to reach http://www.ctcd.edu and click the Academics link at the top of the page.  Then click the Library link.

3. From the Library's homepage, select Databases.

4. Databases are arranged alphabetically by title, or by subject categories.

5. Click on the category that will best meet your searching needs to view databases for that subject area.

6. When you click on a database you will be redirected to a log-in page.  Please follow the log-on instructions.

7.  If you require further assistance, please contact the library at 254-526-1621.

 

Tips for Searching Databases

  1. Selecting a Database

The Library’s database page is divided into categories by subject area. There are also categories for general resources and reference. Hover over any database on the library’s webpage to view a description of its contents. In selecting a database, consider what type of information you are hoping to find. Some databases contain scholarly journal articles; others contain films and videos. Some databases provide news sources and reference articles; others contain a variety of information in a variety of formats. Try searching different databases with different content types for the best results.

  1. Using and Combining Keywords

Before you begin searching, brainstorm keywords and combinations of keywords that are related to your topic. Think about which aspects of the topic interest you. For example, if your topic is Climate Change you may be interested in the science behind climate or, you may be more focused on political aspects. You can combine keywords to refine your results and make your searching more effective.

  1. Refining your Results

Most databases have options that allow you to narrow your search results. Some examples to look for include:

        Source type- This can help if you want to          limit your search to academic or peer                reviewed journals.

Publication Date- Chance are, you want the most current information on your topic. Usually, you can select a date range. This helps you weed out old information that is no longer relevant.

Language/Geographic Region-Sometimes your results list can get bogged down with articles published in another country or written in a different language.

  1. Tools and Features

Many databases have tools that can help you organize your research and save your results. Look for tools that allow you to:

  • Print
  • Download/Save
  • Cite
  • Export
  • Email

We Can Help

Library Hours

Monday-Thursday

7:30 a.m. - 10 p.m.

Friday (during semesters)

7:30 a.m. - 7:30 p.m.

Friday (during summer)

Closed

Saturday and Sunday  

12:30 - 7:30 p.m.

Call for Holiday and Between Semester Hours

Chat with a Librarian

Email a Librarian