After choosing a topic, begin this step-by-step approach to research by using sources from each of the following categories. In each step you will find our suggestions for both print and electronic sources.
Step 1: Encyclopedias
Begin your research with a good overview article from a general encyclopedia such as Britannica or World Book. Then, look for your topic in a
specialized encyclopedia in your topic area. The encyclopedias are located in the reference section of the library.
Step 2: Current Issue Sources
Examine current issue sources such as the Opposing Viewpoints Series, CQ Researcher (online database), and SIRS Knowledge Source (online database) to help you focus on an aspect of a current event or controversial topic. See our handout listing the current issue sources (print and online) available at Mountain View.
Step 3: Periodical and Newspaper Articles
Use our online databases at http://library.dcccd.edu/screens/databases.html
to locate full-text articles on your topic. Some databases such as Master File Premier and Electric Library provide articles from popular magazines; other databases like Academic Search Premier provide articles from scholarly journals. Databases such as Business Source Premier and Health & Wellness Resource Center provide articles that are more subject specific. Newspaper databases such as EBSCO’s Newspaper Source and Infotrac Newspapers include articles from a wide variety of national papers. Some periodical and newspaper articles may also be found on the Internet.
Step 4: Books
Use the online Library Catalog at http://library.dcccd.edu/screens/opacmenu.html
to identify books on your topic by Subject. If necessary, use the Library of Congress Subject Headings (located in the Reference section) to locate specific LC subject headings and/or to narrow your search. Search by Keyword to locate additional books that may not deal exclusively with your topic, but include a discussion. (For example, a Keyword search for the term “hair loss” brings up a book on cancer, which includes a section dealing with this aspect of chemotherapy. This particular book would not have come up in a Subject search for “hair loss.”)
Step 5: Internet Sources
Use an Internet search engine like Google http://www.google.com/
, or Yahoo http://www.yahoo.com/
, and an Internet directory like Librarian’s Index to the Internet http://lii.org/
to locate additional information on your topic. NOTE: An Internet site should be carefully evaluated before being selected as a research source. (See our handout on evaluating Websites.) An Internet directory is an index of Websites that have already been evaluated and selected as useful sources of information.