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ENGL 112: English Composition - McCormick

The practice of academic writing that extends one’s own thinking in response to the ideas of others.

What is a database anyway?

How many times have you watched something on YouTube today? Are Netflix and Hulu a regular part of your weekend plans? Bought something on Amazon.com lately or looked for a review on IMDB? You use databases all of the time and using library databases is really not much different. You will notice the similarities right away: some sort of menu (categories, pictures, etc.) to browse from and a search bar are standard features that help you to discover and locate things you want. Things are organized in a database and, when you use the search bar, you may have to use the keywords or tags that are attached to what you want to find. That's why getting some background on your topic can be important when you start looking for specific information and articles -- the keywords in a subject or topic are the language that helps you communicate with the database and make it work for you.

Good Places to Start

Don't have a topic idea yet? Or have a general area of interest and want to browse your way to a more specific issue or discussion within it? Need keywords to use to find  in the general Library Try these easy-to-use database resources:

Opposing Viewpoints in Context - a great database to start with when you need a place to begin the process and want to find a wide variety of sources -- from reference articles, trusted websites, images and statistics to substantive and scholarly articles -- that look at all sides of issues in almost any subject area. Easy to use; citations included!

CQ Researchera database full of substantive reports packed full of pro/con discussions, cited statistical charts, links to primary sources, references, and trusted web resources. Issues are tracked through linked reports. Great examples of researchable questions taken from general topics providing keywords for easy searching in other library resources. Hot topics; citations included!

TOPICsearcha database for the more comfortable searcher -- using the menus below the search bar, you can browse or search within current events and topic areas to find a variety of resources. Especially good for primary sources and supported opinion pieces. Hint: browse first by choosing an area from the menu without typing in the search bar to see the greatest variety of sources, discover keywords and more...then you can choose and narrow. Citations included!

Films on Demand - a database perfect for those who like to learn from videos, films on every subject from Art to Health Sciences, from English to Criminal Justice. As easy to use as YouTube, you can watch just short segments (e.g. interviews, speeches) or full length films AND there is a running transcript of each so that you can quote and paraphrase for your projects, just like you would from a book or article. Of course, citations included!

Reliable Places to find "Google-able" Facts and Background Information (with citations!)

Funk & Wagnalls New World EncyclopediaNothing like a general encyclopedia to find a way to find, verify, and cite facts you are used to "googling." Learn to recognize what trustworthy web articles look like. Find associations and connections to help you explore your topic and find keywords to search further. Citations included!

Gale Virtual Reference Library - A bookshelf of virtual reference books in a wide variety of subject areas from business to biology and history to health that you might enjoy if you liked exploring the Opposing Viewpoints database. Citations included!

Oxford Reference -  A one stop shop for your reference needs -- English and bilingual dictionaries, timelines, quotations, overviews, and  reference sources for all subjects. A great place to browse your subject area if you are looking for a topic, to get cited definitions for special terms, and to get background and language (keywords) to use when you look for your scholarly articles or primary sources. Citations included!

From General to Specific - Subject Databases

Just a few examples of databases with resources for specific subject areas, when you are ready to dig in! Find a complete list here.

Academic Search Complete - Multidisciplinary index to peer-reviewed journal and magazine articles; some full-text; constructs bibliography in five different citation styles.

History Reference Center - Everything history:   books, periodicals, documents, videos, biographies, photos, and maps; some full-text from 1917-current

Homeland Security Digital Library - Documents related to homeland security policy, strategy, and organizational management from 1776-current

Legal Information Reference Center Publications from Nolo and thousands of official legal forms; 1999-current; constructs bibliography in five different citation styles

Oxford Music Online - Full-text of Grove Music Online, The Oxford Companion to Music, and The Oxford Dictionary of Music

Project Muse - Full-text peer-reviewed journal articles in literature and criticism, visual and performing arts, history, political science, cultural studies, and more from 1990-current

Science Reference Center - Science encyclopedias, reference books, periodicals, biographies and videos from 1945-current