WRT106, 107 (also ACF, ESL) Information Literacy 2018 (Total time: 1 Hour)

Instructor: Associate Prof. Mark Jackson, Reference and Online Resources Librarian 


Learning Outcomes:
  • You will be able to use Google Scholar to find academic scholarly articles
  • You will be able to use databases to find academic scholarly articles
Appropriate Sources of Information

It is important that you choose appropriate sources of information for your research project. What is the difference? 

Narrowing the Topic

You essentially narrow your topic moving from the general to more specific. For example, you want to write about college students and grades or academic achievement. What are all of things that can influence college students and grades? Study habits, sleep and rest, motivation, work schedules, utilizing academic support, preparation, class attendance, health issues, gender, etc. These are termed variables. We can state our question: Does the number of hours worked affect college student academic achievement? 
Keep in mind that maye be variables within the variable, for example, what type of work is the student performing? One may suspect that a student working in the college library may actually do better academically than a college student working at Walmart.
Let's do a brief exercise. The research topic is: immigration.  Identify some of the variables.  A possible argumentative essay might address merit based immigration, for example, skills, education etc. to be allowed to enter the United States. 

Google Scholar Books and the Internet are only one part of your research project. Often you will need to find a scholarly article, an article written by a scholar or professional addressing a specific topic, usually written for other scholars (or potential scholars), professionals and Higher Education students. Because of economic and copyright considerations you usually will NOT find these types of articles on the Web. You will need to use a database to find the article. Journals contain research articles or literary criticism that is usually more up-to-date than books.

Let's suppose our topic is the use of Internet pornography (what are the variables? Type of pornography? Length of time viewing? Drug or alcohol use concurrent?) and the dating (Variables? Committed or casual? behavior (variables? Type of behavior? of college students (variables? What types of college students?). For example, is there any correlation between a male college student viewing online porn and their dating behavior? What might the hypothesis be? What research has been conducted on this topic? We can use Google Scholar to search across hundreds of academic, scholarly publications!

  • General scholar searching (type words into the box) (Internet pornography dating behavior: 29K results)
  • Searching for a phrase or a name (using quotes) ("internet pornogrpahy" dating behavior: 5K results)
  • Limiting date ranges (since 2012: 2K results) (What may change over time?)
  • Searching specific journals (college: 21 results) (Why would you look in a specific journal?)
  • Full text availability (look for the PDF or HTML document to the right of the results, note that it may not be full text) (What does "full text" mean?)
  • Always click the Cited By link for additional relevant results (Citation as an indicator or importance and relevance)
  • Always click the Related Articles link for additional relevant results (Double the money double the fun!)
  • Always click on an Author Link for additional results (How does one become an expert or a scholar?)
What is the difference between a "search engine" and a database? Understanding the difference determines which source you may decide to use. Here is fact sheet to use.

Databases Some databases are very specialized. For example PsycARTICLES is a database specifically for the discipline of psychology. CINAHL is a specialized database for nursing and allied health. The Literature Resource Center is a database for literature. Other databases, such as ProQuest and Academic Search are general multidisciplinary databases.

  • Searching by topic (subject term search)
  • Advanced searching
  • and / or operators in advanced search
  • Using database fields for your search (search in abstract, title, etc.)
  • Finding a specific article in the database using advanced search and fields (author and title) 
1. Does early childhood education affect learning outcomes?
2. Does the use of technology decrease medication errors?
3. Does television use affect the reading skills of children?
4. Does sleep deprivation affect academic performance?
5. Does multitasking affect learning outcomes?
6. Does texting affect accident rates and driving performance?
7. Does watching football affect family violence and aggressive behavior?
8. Does alcohol advertising promote adolescent drinking?
9. Does watching Internet porn affect dating behavior?
10. Do vaccines cause autism?
11. Does media-induced task-switching while studying affect learning?
12. Are violence and sex as advertising strategies effective?
13. How does media portrayal of african americans affect perceptions?
14. Is there a correlation between alcohol use by college students and the occurrence of date or acquaintance rape?
15. Does the number of hours worked by college students affect academic achievement?
16. Does portrayal of alcohol and drug use in the media affect adolescent behavior?
17. Does media influence eating disorders?
18. Is broken windows policing effective?
19. Does effective time management by college students lead to better academic performance?
20. How does gender (race, age, etc.) bias affect student evaluations of teaching?

If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact Librarians mark_jackson@bloomfield.edu

Information Overload?