Research HelpBooth Library offers tours, classes and research guides to promote information literacy in the EIU community.
The Library Research Process Guide below will lead you through the research process from locating a single article to finding information for a term or research paper. Other links take you directly to Web-based instruction for locating books, articles in periodicals, Internet information and selecting information sources.
Faculty members can request specific services. These include: consultation with subject Librarians, library instruction for specific classes, library sponsored workshops, and Reserve services for class-related resources.
Library tours and class instruction
Class instruction can be requested by phone (581-6072) or electronically.
You may ask a question at any time
- Library Research Process Guide- a Web-based guide
- Selecting the Right Source - modified, with permission, from UCLA Libraries Web page
- How to Find Periodical Articles at Booth Library
- Course Support Services for EIU Faculty
1. Choose a topic in which you have an interest. Remember that if your topic is too recent or too narrow in scope you may have difficulty finding information on it. If your topic is too broad you will retrieve a lot of information about various aspects of the topic and it will be difficult to choose related articles. In this case you will need to narrow the focus of your topic.
2. Gather background information about your topic. General or specialized encyclopedias are useful for getting basic information. General encyclopedias can be found in reference reading room, just to the north of the Reference Desk. Specialized encyclopedias are located throughout the Reference collection. Find them by searching the Online Catalog. You can use "Quick Limits" to limit your search to items in the Reference collection. You may also be able to gather background information using electronic reference resources.
3. Plan your search strategy to find relevant information.
Choose keywords that describe your topic. These will often consist of a broad term such as "special education" and secondary terms, which describe some aspect of your topic such as "academic achievement." Other secondary terms can limit the scope and further refine your search, such as "elementary education." Each keyword represents a concept and concepts can be combined using using a Positional Operator such as AND, OR, NOT, ADJACENT, NEAR, or WITH (Boolean Logic). Now, refer to How to find periodical articles at Booth Library.
4. Evaluate sources for appropriateness or quality. Use this guide How to Critically Analyze Information Sources from Cornell University to help you with some critical questions to ask about the information you have found.
5. Learn about determining whether your source is a scholarly journal or a non-scholarly periodical such as a magazine. Use the guide Distinguishing Scholarly Journals from Other Periodicals from Cornell University Library.
Newspapers, Magazines, Journals, and BooksIt is important to think critically about possible sources of information for a paper or project. Who has written the item? Why? What would be credible to a professor or colleague?
It is easy to get confused about when to use newspapers, magazines, journal articles or books as information sources and it the boundaries blur even more when these sources are available in print and electronically on the web.
You can always consult a librarian if you need help with any of these resources.
|Coverage:||Any subject of interest; newsworthy events; local coverage|
|Written By:||Professional journalists; some articles by specialists|
|Timeliness:||up-to-date coverage (in the most recent issues)|
|Content:||Dependent upon the type of article: analysis, statistics, graphics, photographs, editorial opinion; no bibliography or list of sources|
|Slant:||Tends to be mainstream/neutral|
- Local statistical information, such as the number of children growing up in single- parent homes in Chicago, or the divorce rate in New York.
- Local coverage, such as legalized gambling on river boats, how the Congressional representatives from Chicago or Illinois voted.
- A recent story about a topic of interest, such as new drugs for Alzheimer's Disease.
- Use Lexis-Nexis, a full-text database that provides access to a large number of newspapers. (From the library homepage, go to Newspapers / Lexis-Nexis).
- Use one of the other newspaper databases listed under Newspaper Articles on the Magazine and Journal Articles page.
- Use a print index such as the New York Times Index, the Wall Street Journal Index, Chicago Tribune Index, and other print indexes which are located in the Reference Indexes section, 1000 level north.
|Audience:||General public to knowledgeable layperson|
|Coverage:||Popular topics; current affairs|
|Written By:||Professional journalists; not necessarily specialists in the field; and writers of fiction, essayists|
|Timeliness:||current coverage (one week to several months)|
|Length:||250 - 5,000 words|
|Content:||General discussion; editorial opinion; graphics; photographs; advertisements; usually no bibliography or list of sources|
|Slant:||May reflect the editorial bias / slant of the magazine|
- A cover story on the state of marriage in the US.
- An opinion essay on latchkey children.
- Profiles and rankings of Fortune 500 companies with the best childcare programs and benefits.
- Use Academic Search Premier (EBSCO) or another general-subject database. These are listed on the Databases page.
- For magazine articles older than around 1980, use the print index Readers' Guide to Periodical Literature. It's shelved in the Reference Indexes area, 1000 level north.
|Examples of Journals American Political Science Review, Journal of the American Medical Association, Psychological Review||Audience:||Scholars, specialists, and students|
|Coverage:||Research results, frequently theoretical in nature|
|Written By:||Specialists in the field; usually scholars with PhDs|
|Timeliness:||Current coverage (6 months - 3 years )|
|Length:||>2,500 - 10,000 words|
|Content:||Detailed examination; statistical analysis; graphics; bibliography usually included|
|Slant:||Supposed to present objective/neutral viewpoint; may be difficult to comprehend because of technical language or jargon; often sponsored by professional associations|
- Case studies of children growing up in single-parent homes.
- Comparison study of economic stability in single-father versus single-mother homes.
- Psychological analysis of children who experience bitter custody battles.
- General subject databases like Infotrac (Expanded Academic Index) and EBSCO Academic Search Premier provide indexing for some scholarly journals.
- Use a subject-specific database. These can be found in the Resources by Subject menu on the Magazine and Journal Articles page.
- For specialized research, you may also want to use a subject-specific print index.
|Example of Books: University Physics, Internet for Dummies, Closing of the American Mind, Introduction to Economics||Audience:||Ranges from the general public to specialists|
|Coverage:||In-depth coverage of a topic; compilation of scholarly articles on a topic|
|Timeliness:||Currency varies (usually 2 years or longer)|
|Length:||Minimum of 150 pages to multi-volume|
|Content:||varies from general discussion to detailed analysis; usually includes extensive bibliography|
|Slant:||Perspective entirely dependent on author; may be sponsored or published by professional associations|
- An introduction to the principles of economics.
- A children's book written to help them cope with death or divorce.
- Booth Library or elsewhere in Illinois - use the EIU Online Catalog and I-Share.
- The World - use WorldCat. Go to Books, Videos and more / WorldCat. This catalog includes records for over 55 million items in libraries around the world.
|Examples of WEB SOURCES: The Whitehouse; Scholarly Societies Project; Ladies Against Women||Audience:||General public; children to senior citizens; knowledgeable layperson; scholars; anyone|
|Coverage:||Popular topics; personal information; current affairs; government information; research; scholarly information; fun and games; and more...|
|Written By:||Anyone: professional journalists; children; teenagers (high school students); members of general public; scholars and researchers; poets and writers of fiction; essayists; college students; advocates and activists; and more...|
|Timeliness:||Varies wildly: may be very current coverage or very out-of-date information, or undated.|
|Length:||Can vary greatly.|
|Content:||Anything; general discussion; editorial opinion; graphics; photographs; advertisements; statistical analysis; detailed analysis; fact; fiction; fraud; and more...|
|Slant:||Depends: May reflect the editorial bias / slant of the web page creator; may be objective or neutral; may be geared for academic or professional audiences; may be unsupported personal opinion.|
- Reviewing legislation on family issues.
- Finding research or other information about single parent families.
- Locating listservs and newsgroups for single parents.