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Information Literacy: Guide for Students: 'College-Level' Research

A student launch page for traditional, hybrid, or online classes.

Other Guides to Aid Your Research

Madison College Libraries has produced many guides that aid the student research process. Consult the guides below for more detailed information on the hows and whys of college-level research.

Academic Integrity @ Madison College

Image with quote: "Is it hard? Not if you have the right attitudes."

Pirsig, R. M. (1974). Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry into Values. New York, NY: Random House.

Research is a Process.

Ways to Get Started:

Image: Ways to get started on research

What holds students back?

According to a report on how college students do research, this is what students have the most trouble with. Here's the graph:

Image: Graph of what students find most difficult in research

Head, A. J., PhD, & Eisenberg, M. B., PhD. (2010, November 1). Truth Be Told: How College Students Evaluate and Use Information in the Digital Age. Retrieved May 3, 2016, from http://projectinfolit.org/images/pdfs/pil_fall2010_survey_fullreport1.pdf

Keep an Open Mind Regarding:

Image: Showing ways to keep an open mind in research process

Write About What You Discover...

Let's say you are trying to argue against hand-held texting while driving. However, in your research you find this summary of research done by University of Utah psychologist David Strayer that found:

Image: "Talking on a handheld or hands-free phone or to a passenger were all more distracting, with handheld the worst of these. But voice-activated systems to send and receive texts and email were the worst kind of distraction."

So if the safe operation of a car is the core motivation for your argument, you might have to pivot your thesis and research to examine all the aspects of cell phones, handfree or otherwise, and the extent to which they distract the driver.

Adjust your thesis and restructure your argument when credible, current source material:

  • Suggests that solutions to your issue are more complex than you first believed
  • Offers that there are multiple solutions to the same problem
  • Reveals that there are newer, evidence-based paths to positive change
  • Provides new research that indicates your current thinking might be flawed
  • Indicates that your issue might be one part of a much larger problem that requires far greater change than you imagined

There a several models available for how to systematically evaluate the sources you use in the course of your research. Two of the more popular are:

Image: CRAAP Test for evaluating sourcesA-E evaluation for web sources

CLICK on each image for more in-depth information about the method of evaluation.


 

HOWLER Tutorial: CRAAP Test Explained: Evaluating Your Sources

 

Image: Preview of tutorial. Click through to play!

Other good web content for additional information on evaluating sources:


Howler

Help Online With Library Education & Research

 

Image: Willy Wonka asking, "Source is credible but you can't find an author or date published?"

Madison College Libraries connects you with all of the following:

Books & ebooks

Domesticated book cover

Besides tens of thousands of print titles, we also provide access to thousands of E-books. One of the best places to start your research is to use one of several hundred reference e-books in Credo Reference:

Image: Linked button for Credo Reference books

 

Articles (Print and electronic) in:

Articles are especially good for more detailed, specific research. Our databases provide online access to tens of thousands of publications.

Image: Cover of Scientific American Mind magazine

  • Magazines

  • Trade Publications

  • Scholarly Academic Journals

  • Newspapers

Audio reports (Using Opposing Viewpoints)

 

DVD videos

Image: DVD Cover: Freedom Riders from PBS Video

and Streaming videos

Image: Films on Demand Logo - links to database of films

  • The Libraries have thousands of non-fiction DVDs on many topics college students write about.

  • We also subscribe to Films on Demand, which you can access on and off campus. Films on Demand offers thousands of documentary and educational videos for every academic and many college programs.

Interviews, surveys, other communication

Why scholarly? Why peer-reviewed?

Especially when you use library databases for your research, some of articles you discover will likely be 'scholarly'. Most of the time this means that those who have conducted research in their field have published their findings in an academic journal. The most credible type of journals are those that have published articles following a rigorous 'peer-review' process. In this case the 'peers' are other experts in the field.

For example:

Journal article header with Ethical Theory & Moral Practice underlined

"Ethical Theory and Moral Practice: An International Forum is a double blind peer-reviewed journal which aims to publish the best work produced in all fields of ethics. It welcomes high quality submissions regardless of the tradition or school of thought from which they derive." (About this journal from Springer Publishing)

Ethical Theory and Moral Practice journal cover

Scholarly or peer-reviewed sources:

  • are written for and reviewed by fellow academics or researchers in the field

  • are excellent for finding out what has been studied or researched on a topic

  • contain original research or in-depth study in the field

  • provide extensive references leading to other relevant sources of information

  • use the technical language of the field

scholarly journals

"The purpose of a research paper...

is to synthesize previous research and scholarship with your ideas on the subject.  Therefore, you should feel free to use other persons' words, facts, and thoughts in your research paper, but the material you borrow must not be presented as if it were your own creation.  When you write your research paper, remember that you must document everything that you borrow--not only direct quotations and paraphrases but also information and ideas." 

MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers. 7th ed. New York: MLA, 2009. 55. Print.

Madison College Libraries' Citation Help Guide

Image: HOWLER logo

Image: Screenshot from tutorial as part of the discussion why it's important to cite information sources (linked)

 

To play video, click on the above image.

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