Library Guides

Useful Web Sites:

  • Critical Evaluation of Information Sources, from the University of Oregon Libraries.  It provides guidelines for evaluating any source, whether found in print, online, or in any other format.
  • The OWL (Online Writing Lab) at Purdue.  A wealth of information about the writing process, covering from Starting the writing process to Creating a thesis statement to Evaluating sources of information to APA formatting and style guide for citations and references.
  • The Writer’s Handbook from the University of Wisconsin/Madison.  Includes links to several style manuals.

Tips for Searching the Web

Q. Which search engine should I use?
A. We all use Google and Yahoo.  However, there are other search engines.  A good guide can be found at the University of Oregon.  The guide also contains some useful search tips.

Q. What’s the difference between bibliographic databases, bibliographic databases with abstracts, and full-text databases?
A. Most databases will contain all three types of results.  They will also include ways to limit results in some way.

  1. Bibliographic database: contains only a citation of an article or book.
    Example: Library of Congress Online Catalog, database of books published
  2. Bibliographic database with abstracts: contains a citation and an abstract
    Example:  PubMed, the database of the National Library of Medicine
  3. Full-text database:  includes the full text of some articles or books, and citations for others.
    Example:    both EBSCOhost and OVID, and NCJRS, the National Criminal Justice Reference Service.

Q. How do I find full-text articles or books?
A. Your best bet for articles is to use Library databases that include full-text items.  The Library provides access to two listed above; there are others that are freely available.  Example:  Google Books and Google Scholar.

Q. What does it mean to ‘limit’ a search?
A. By limiting a search, you include only those results that fit within certain guidelines.  Limiting options include by date, by full-text, by peer-reviewed, etc.  Each database will have its own set of limiters.

Q. What’s the difference between a keyword search and a subject search?  What difference does it make?
A. When using a keyword to search, you are using any word that you think describes your topic.  A subject search uses a controlled vocabulary, which brings results together even if they don’t include the specific keyword you are using to search.  (Note:  a good description of controlled vocabulary can also be found on the APA website.)
Example:  A search for ‘abandoned vehicles,’ a keyword search, would include only those documents that included those specific words in that order in EBSCOhost.  The subject in EBSCOhost is ‘abandonment of vehicles.’