Research is a process that cannot (should not) be completed in one sitting. If you follow the steps outlined below, you should experience less frustration, anxiety and general dread, and be much happier with the end product. Librarians can help you at any step in the process, but specifically in topic development, background research, and the collection of evidence.
Once you get the assignment, you will choose your topic, and start brainstorming. Next, you will conduct some exploration or background research and take detailed notes about what you find. Using these notes, you will then focus your topic, and your brainstorming will then be about how you will start searching for your topic. Then, you will collect the information you need to support your topic. This is where you may go back to further refining your topic and collecting more background information. Once you feel that you have enough information to start writing, then you will work on drafting your assignment. Again, you may need to collect more information if you feel that there are gaps in your paper. Once you have completed your writing, you will write your citations and bibliography. Then you will finish by evaluating the process.
One thing that I can’t stress enough, is that this process is cyclical. If you follow this process, then you may have to revise your topic, and search for new sources a few times. Don’t be discouraged if it feels like you are going in circles with your research. You can always come meet with a librarian for help with your research.
What is a scholarly article?
A scholarly article is how researchers (scholars) communicate the findings and analysis of their research. Scholarly articles:
- Provide original research and analysis - these articles are based on studies or experiements, or analyze an artifact or event. Every scholarly article presents something new about the world we didn't know before.
- Are written by scholars - scholars tend to hold PhDs, or other advanced degrees and are professors at universities.
- Are published in peer-reviewed journals - you won't find these floating about on the internet, they have to be published in a journal. Most times you'll find them in the library databases.
- Might be hard to read - they act as the primary conversation between scholars about a field of study. Since they are written by scholars, for scholars, they contain specialized language that might be hard for the lay person to understand.
Finding scholarly articles
This short video will show you how to use Sociological Abstracts to find sociological, scholarly journal articles for your assignment.
After you watch the video, complete this tutorial for hands-on practice of finding scholarly articles.
| Sociological Abstracts
Provides access to the latest international findings in theoretical and applied sociology, social science, and political science.
|Links to full-text via Get-It||1963 to current||All|
| Social Services Abstracts
Abstracts of current research focused on social work, human services, and related areas, including social welfare, social policy, and community development.
|Links to full-text via Get-It||1980 to current||All|
Contains (EXCEPT for the latest five years) core scholarly journals in sociology, history, economics, political science, mathematics, African-American & Asian studies, literature, humanities, music, and biological, health & general sciences.
|Full-text||1838 to most recent five years||Most|
<P>A national database of education literature, including reports and journal articles.</P>
|Links to full-text via Get-It||1966 to current||Some|
| Social Work Abstracts
This database provides access to social work and human services journals from 1965 to the present. Topics include addictions, therapy, child and family welfare, civil and legal rights, mental health, education, and human services.
|Links to full-text via Get-It||1965 to current||Most|
| Academic Search Premier
This scholarly collection offers information in nearly every area of academic study including: computer sciences, engineering, physics, chemistry, language and linguistics, arts & literature, medical sciences, ethnic studies, and many more.
|Some full-text; plus links to full-text via Get-It||1975 to current||Most|
| Google Scholar CSUSM
Link to citations and full-text from your CSUSM Library databases and beyond!
|Some full-text; plus links to full-text via Get-It||current to current||All|
| Dissertations and Theses Database: The Humanities and Social Sciences Collection
Dissertations and Theses Database includes digitized dissertations in a variety of subject areas including Art, Communications, Education, History, Linguistics, Literature, and Social Sciences.
|Some full-text||1979 to current||All|
| WestlawNext Campus Research
This is a comprehensive database for news, business, and law-related information has been designed for students. It brings together news databases arranged geographically and topically; newswires as well as business, trade, and professional journals and publications; and law-related resources, including both primary law and analysis.
|Full-text||1789 to current||Some|
| Oxford University Press Journals
Provides access to the full text of approximately 168 scholarly journals in a variety of disciplines including life sciences, medicine, physical sciences, humanities, social sciences, mathematics, and law.
|Full-text||1996 to current||All|
| Sage Journals Online
Sage Journals Online includes over 460 journals in Business, Humanities, Social Sciences, and Science, Technology and Medicine.
|Full-text||current to current||All|
| Women's Studies International
Includes over 204,000 records drawn from a variety of essential women's studies databases.
|Links to full-text via Get-It||1972 to current||Most|
| Project Muse
<p>Full-text coverage for hundreds of scholarly journals in the humanities, social sciences, and mathematics</p>
|Full-text||1993 to current||All|
A literature review is not research, it is a review of the research that has been done on your topic. A literature review is NOT just a summary, but a conceptually organized synthesis of the results of your search. It must
- organize information and relate it to the thesis or research question you are developing
- synthesize and critically analyze the results comparing and contrasting their findings
- identify controversy and themes that appear in the literature
A literature review is a piece of discursive prose, not a list describing or summarizing one piece of literature after another. It's usually a bad sign to see every paragraph beginning with the name of a researcher. Instead, organize the literature review into sections that present themes or identify trends, including relevant theory. You are not trying to list all the material published, but to synthesize and evaluate it according to the guiding concept of your thesis or research question. (From Univ. of Toronto)
Check out these sites for more help understanding literature reviews
- How to ... Write a Literature Review, UC Santa Cruz Library
- The Literature Review: A few tips on conducting it, University of Toronto
- How to do a Literature Review, North Carolina A&T State University
Tips on conducting research for a literature review
- Use bibliographies and reference pages of articles to direct your research. You may start to see some trends with the people who are writing about your topic. Check the bibliography for more articles about your topic.
- Use the authors who you have found to be writing on your topic as starting points. Look for additional articles, and rebuttals, retractions or responses to their research
Use this chart to track articles you read for your literature review:
What is APA style?
APA stands for the American Psychological Association. It is the citation style used in most of
the social sciences as well as some of the natural sciences.
Official APA Style Manual at CSUSM Library
This is the official APA manual published by the American Psychological
Association. Though the 7th edition of the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association was
released in October 2019, we are currently providing information and links to the 6th edition. This is
because the American Psychological Association expects students and professors to transition to this
new edition in the spring of 2020 or thereafter. The CSUSM library is awaiting the delivery of the new
guides and the transition of other reliable sources to the 7th edition before updating its own citation
guide. If you are required to use the 7th edition prior to our updating our APA page, please go directly to
the APA's Style and Grammar
Guidelines website or contact a librarian directly for assistance.
- Library copies (BF76.7 P83 2010)
The CSUSM Library owns
several copies of the official APA manual that you can consult in person. Click on the link above to see
where they are located.
- The official APA
Need access to the official APA guidelines right now but can't get to a copy of the
book? Try out their website. It has helpful FAQs and basic guidelines.
Helpful Online Guides
- A brief overview of APA
Produced by the APA. NOTE: HTML version of the tutorial works better.
- CiteSource APA (Trinity College)
Examples accompanied by
helpful screenshots and pictures showing you how to locate the information you need to include in your
- Purdue University's Online Writing Lab (OWL)
examples of APA-style citations and paper formats from Purdue University's famous OWL website. Use the
left-hand menu to find the category of item you are trying to cite.
What is a DOI?
APA style requires that you include a
Digital Object Identifier (DOI) whenever you cite the online version of an article.
A DOI is a special number that identifies each unique article in a database.
Please note- some articles may not have a DOI.
- Guidance from the APA (read Online
Scholarly Journal Article: Citing DOIs)
- Crossref.org (tool to locate a doi
video - using PsycINFO DB
Using APA for Special Cases
- Citing Business Sources (CSUSM Library)
A guide to the most common APA
citation formats needed for business sources, compiled by the CSUSM Business Librarian and COBA faculty.
Government Sources (University of Nebraska Kearney)
Guidance on how to cite many different kinds of
government documents in APA style.
- Legal Citations in APA Style (CSU Stanislaus)
for the most commonly cited federal and California legal documents.
Sample Paper in APA Style
What is ASA style?
ASA stands for the American Sociological Association. It is the citation style used by many sociologists, and it is the style used in all ASA journals.
Official ASA Style Guide
This is the official ASA manual published by the American Sociological Society. The CSUSM Library currently offers copies of the 5th edition.
- Library copies (HM569 .A54 2014)
The CSUSM Library owns a copy of the official ASA Style Guide that you can consult in person. Click on the link to see where it is located.
- Quick Style Guide (ASA website)
Free PDF from the official ASA website, offering brief summary of ASA style and some sample citations.
Helpful Online Guides
- Purdue University's Online Writing Lab (OWL)
Examples of ASA-style citations from Purdue University's famous OWL website.
- CiteSource ASA (Trinity College)
Examples accompanied by helpful screenshots and pictures showing you how to locate the information you need to include in your citation.
- ASA Format (Cal State Los Angeles)
Guide to key components of an ASA-style paper, including example citations.