University Library & Learning Resources Center

ENG 131: English Composition

Identify: Topic Development & Background Information Access: Books, Periodicals & More In-Depth Information Evaluate: C.R.A.A.P. Create: Research Papers, Annotated Bibilographies & Other Research Assignments Tips

The purpose of this course research guide is to acquaint you with some of the resources in the University Library and online useful for doing research on your paper topic. Should you have questions, stop by the Reference Desk on the first floor. You may also call the Reference Desk at (334) 229-4110 during the hours the Library is open.

THE RESEARCH PROCESS

IDENTIFY your topic.

ACCESS information from various resources.

EVALUATE sources.  Is it CRAAP?

CREATE your project (research paper, research assignment or essay).

 


Identify: Topic Development & Background Information

Brainstorm topics that you find interesting.  Gather background to gain working knowledge of topic (databases, Wikipedia, encyclopedias, instructor).

Reference sources (i.e. encyclopedias and statistical reports) provide you with background information to give you an understanding of a topic. They can help also you develop a topic.  Ask at the Main Reference Desk for assistance with finding other resources specific to your topic.
EXAMPLES of reference books available at the library:

  • Encyclopedia Britannica Online
  • Merriam Webster Dictionary & Thesaurus
  • Oxford English Dictionary
    Main Reference: PE 1625 .O87 1989
  • Current Issues: Macmillan Social Science Library
    Main Reference: HN 59.2.C87 2003
  • Encyclopedia of Environmental Science
    Main Reference: GE 10.M66  2000
  • MacMillan Encyclopedia of the Environment
    Main Reference: GE 10.M33 1997  

Databases allow you to find reference articles and background information on or off campus. Some of these databases include:

  • CQ ResearcherThis database features weekly reports that provide in-depth, unbiased coverage issues in the news, including health, social trends, criminal justice, international affairs, education, the environment, technology, and the economy. Coverage begins from 1991 to the present and contains in-depth reports on a single topic cover a range of social, economic, political, and environmental issues.
  • Gale Virtual Reference Library. This database contains reference articles from dozens of encyclopedias across all major disciplines. An advantage of using the GVRL is that it can provide you with background information from several different sources that provide a variety of perspectives.
  • Opposing Viewpoints Resource Center. This database features reference and pro/con viewpoint articles on a variety of popular political and social issues. It also contains useful links to statistics and multimedia (mostly news reports from NPR); you can also find links to articles from newspapers and periodicals.

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Access: Books, Periodicals & More In-Depth Information

Once you've found general, background information on your topic and developed a research question it's time to find more in-depth information. One way is to find circulating books (books that you can check out). You can search the library catalog for books by doing a keyword search.

The best method for finding magazine, journal, and newspaper articles is to use one of the Library's online article databases. These are easily accessible in the residence halls and off- campus by clicking on the database name and typing in the information requested. If you need additional assistance with accessing the databases contact Cedric Davis (334) 229-6998 or Randy Curtis (334) 229-5604.

Try searching in these databases for your articles. To focus on scholarly articles, you can choose the Scholarly Journal checkbox in each database before you click search. Limit your search to full text only if you’re interested in finding articles that are immediately available.

  • Academic Search Complete (ASU) – magazines, newspapers and scholarly journals
  • Newspaper Source (AVL) - Full-text for over 160 newspapers and other sources

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Evaluate: C.R.A.A.P.

Check your resources to ensure the currency, relevancy, authority, accuracy and purpose of the information.

CurrencyWhat is the timeliness of the information? Are the links current?

Relevance:  How does the information relate to your research question?
When searching a database, the first results are not always the most relevant.  Make sure to browse several
pages of results. You may change the sort to relevance to change the order for your results; however, relevance is a relative term and does not always yield the results you would expect.

Authority:  Who is the author/source/publisher/sponsor of the information?

Accuracy:  How factual, reliable and correct is the content?

Purpose: What is the purpose of the information: to inform, to teach, to sell, to entertain, or to persuade?

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Create: Research Papers, Annotated Bibilographies & Other Research Assignments

Complete a draft of your research paper, project or research assignment.  Seek feedback from your instructor, writing center etc.  Revise, proofread and submit your work.

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Tips

To focus on scholarly articles, you can choose the Scholarly/Peer-Reviewed Journal checkbox in each database before you hit search, or sort your results by Scholarly Journals once you have your list of results.

Limit your search to full text only if you’re interested in finding articles that are immediately available.

You can check out 15 circulating books for 4 weeks (28 days).

For further assistance, contact the ASU Library using any of the following information:
Web address - www.lib.alasu.edu    Telephone - (334) 229-4110
Temporary Address - 1549 Hall Street (next to the Life Sciences Building)
Fall/Spring Hours: Monday-Thursday: 8am-11pm  Friday: 8am-5pm

Saturday: 10am-4pm   Sunday: 2pm-10pm

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Course Research Guides | Information Literacy Program

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