HIS133 Special Topics in History, Information Literacy, 2010

Instructors: Assist. Prof. Mark Jackson, Reference & Information Literacy Librarian OR Prof. John Hinchcliffe, Reference and Databases Librarian


  • Introduction to using books
  • Introduction to Google Scholar for finding scholarly information GOOGLE SCHOLAR [http://scholar.google.com/]
  • Introduction to the Bloomfield College Library Databases [http://ezproxy.bloomfield.edu/public/databases.htm]

Books are an extremely important part of a well-rounded and thorough research process. Books provide in-depth information not available on the Web. If you take the typical Wikipedia article, it will be a few pages long. Wikipedia may provide enough information to give you some background understanding of the topic, but not in sufficient depth and quality to make it suitable for an academic college research paper.  CATALOG FOR BOOKS AND OTHER MEDIA [http://sirius2.bloomfield.edu/]

How do we find a book in the Library?

To find a book in any library, one of the first places to begin is by using the online catalog. A library catalog is an organized and specialized collection of data (titles, authors, dates of publication, etc.), specifically the books and other media that the College Library owns. You may search through fields (segments of the database, such as title keywords, author, etc.) to find what you are looking for. Once you have located the item in the catalog that you think may be relevant to what you need to do (write a paper, for example), you will need to find the item. This is done by using the call number that is found in the record for the book. The call number consists of letters and numbers. Books are arranged on the shelves by call number order, the smallest to the largest, A to Z and 1 to whatever number. Here is a link to the Library of Congress Classification System. Here is a link to an explanation of the Library of Congress Classification System.

The Book Finding Test

My professors want me to find "scholarly" articles in "peer-reviewed" publications? What do they mean?

When your professor requires "scholarly" sources, what does he or she mean? Click on the attached document below for a handy guide that you can print out for reference. The document is named What are scholarly resources?

Scholarly or not? Indeed, that is the question. Print out this handy reference sheet Scholarly or Not to guide you in your evaluation. When you think you have mastered the content, feel free to take this simple test, click here! The test is also available through the reference sheet.

Once you understand the difference between scholarly and popular sources of information (and why and when you might use each one), you should understand the general format of a research article. This information will help you to read and understand a number of important elements: Is the title descriptive of the content of the article? What are the credentials of the author(s)? What are their professional affiliations? What was the methodology employed in the study?

GOOGLE SCHOLAR [http://scholar.google.com/]

Provides a search of scholarly literature across many disciplines and sources, including theses, books, abstracts and articles. It is a fabulous starting point for the first stage of your research.

Why use databases? Isn't everything on Google?

Databases provide authoritative, research articles that are usually NOT available on the Web. These articles are from journals. A journal is a type of periodical that contains scholarly articles written by specialists aimed at other specialists in a particular field. An article in a scholarly journal is usually documented with footnotes and/or a bibliography. For the most part, scholarly journals are published monthly or quarterly and contain little advertising or few, if any, color illustrations. Also referred to as "Peer Reviewed" or "Refereed," a scholarly journal features articles that usually contain original research (qualitative or quantitative) and have been reviewed and selected by other scholars in order to be published.

Books 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) or professionals. Because of economic and copyright considerations you will usually 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.

Bloomfield College Library Databases [http://ezproxy.bloomfield.edu/public/databases.htm] - Academic Search Premier - ProQuest

How can I evaluate what I find?

Finally, we find a tremendous amount of information on the Web. Unfortunately, much of it is not suitable for academic writing. Whatever our uses for the information we are trying to find (health issues, buying a car, a new car safety seat for our children, or information about education) we need to EVALUATE what we find. Opinionated, ill-informed, outdated, and erroneous and incorrect information may not only get us a lower grade on a paper, it may be injurious to our health! 

The Library of Cornell University has developed a short and concise guide to evaluating Web pages, Five Criteria for Evaluating Web Pages [http://www.library.cornell.edu/olinuris/ref/research/webcrit.html]. This guide will help you to evaluate whether or not to use information, either for academic purposes or personal life decisions.

YouTube Video

If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to your helpful librarians mark_jackson@bloomfield.edu OR john_hinchcliffe@bloomfield.edu