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Library Research Guides

Interpreter Preparation Program: The Research Process

An introduction to finding resources in the library and online to assist with IPP research.

The Research Process

Research is a process of locating, reading, evaluating, and synthesizing multiple pieces of information. The library provides students with access to a variety of high-quality resources for their research. Use the following information to learn how to find and evaluate resources for your assignments. 

See the following guides for more in-depth information:

Finding a Good Research Question

Comparing Library Databases and Web Information

OneSearch - Library Databases  
  Web Search Engines
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Types of Information Retrieved
  • Scholarly journal articles
  • Magazine / Newspaper articles
  • Conference papers, Ph.D. dissertations
  • Books and Ebooks
  • Everything published on the open and indexed web
  •  Commercial sites (.com or .net); educational sites (.edu); governmental sites  (.gov); organizations’ sites (.org)
  • Few free scholarly journal articles and books
 When to Use
  • Best for college level research
  • Best for academic research
  • When you need to find credible information quickly
  • When you are writing a research paper
  • Best for non-academic and general searches
  • A good place to start when you are doing research: get a main idea of your topic, and related terms
  • Information needs to be evaluated
Authorship
  • Scholars / Researches / Professionals
  • Anyone
 Reliability/Creditability
  • Content is evaluated for accuracy and credibility by subject experts, researchers and publishers
  • Content is reviewed and recommended by faculty and librarians
  • No review/editorial process with regard to content.  
  • Must evaluate each source by yourself
Accessibility
  • Full text articles free to LRCCD students, faculty, and staff
  • Library databases subscriptions are paid by the library
  • Information is often free, but some sites do charge
Usability
  • More control over your results: user can specify advanced search criteria; full text, date, scholarly, format, etc.
  • Databases usually include a citation tool to automatically create a citation for the article
  • Millions of search results: not organized 
  • Lack of subject focus results in irrelevant
  • No citation tool available.

Adapted from the  Illinois Institute of Technology, Paul V. Galvin Library.

Search Tips

Most search engines, including OneSearch and our databases, have advanced searching and filtering/limiting options. It is recommended that you always take advantage of these, in particular:

Keywords/Concepts:

  • Number: using between two and five keywords/concepts usually produces good results. 
  • Field type: searching your keywords/concepts as an authorsubject, or title will narrow your results. If your results are too broad, try adding a field type to see if your results improve. 
  • Synonyms: different terms may be used to discuss the same topic. Separate synonyms using OR to search for results that contain either keyword/concept. For example, "climate change" is frequently referred to as "global warming," so try searching for "climate change" OR "global warming."
  • Quotation marks: can be placed around keywords/concepts to search for an exact phrase. For example, climate change will produce results where both words show up in the same resource, but "climate change" will produce results where those two words are next to each other in that exact order. 
  • Asterisk: add at the end of a word to search for all possible endings. For example, searching child* will search for resources containing child, children, childhood, etc. 
  • Boolean Operators: use to link ideas and narrow/broaden your search.
    • “climate change” AND politics: results must include both
    • “climate change” OR “global warming”: results will contain either
    • “United States” NOT Europe: results will not include Europe
  • Search bars: most advanced searches allow you to enter keywords/concepts into additional search bars. By doing this, you can search more precisely by changing the field type and boolean operators for your keywords/concepts. 

Filters/Limiters:

  • Date range: unless you are doing an historical survey, start with the last two years; if you don't find what you need, keep going back.
  • Peer reviewed: this means that an article has been reviewed for accuracy and value by experts, "peers," in that field. When doing scholarly research, you are usually using peer reviewed articles. The easiest way to exclude non-peer reviewed results is to check the "peer reviewed" (a.k.a. "scholarly") checkbox that most databases have. 
  • Full text: selecting this option will eliminate results for which the full text is not available in the database you are currently using. However, many databases provide links to other databases that contain the full text. If you cannot access the full text through any of our databases, you can request it for no cost using the library's Interlibrary Loan service (usually takes up to 3 business days). 
  • Subject: narrow your results to a specific subject. This is also a good way to see what subjects your keywords are found in. 

Evaluating Sources

Most of the books and articles you find through the library undergo a lengthy review and publishing process. Contrast this to the World Wide Web where ANYONE can publish ANYTHING they want and you see why evaluating your sources is an important part of online research.

Evaluating Sources for Credibility

Scholarly vs. Popular Sources

Most of your college writing and research assignments will require you to use academic or scholarly sources instead of popular sources you may be used to. 

Academic Sources:

  • Are written by an expert on the subject
  • Are written for scholars and researchers
  • Use language specific to the field
  • Include a list of references 
  • Contain verifiable facts

Popular Sources:

  • Are often written by a journalist or writer, not an expert
  • Are written for a general audience
  • Use everyday language
  • May not include references 
  • May rely more on opinions vs. facts

CRAAP Test Quick Guide

Currency: The timeliness of the information.

clock

  • When was the information published or posted?
  • Has the information been revised or updated?
  • Does your topic require current information, or will older sources work as well?
  • Are the links functional?

Relevance: The importance of the information for your needs.

puzzle piece

  • Does the information relate to your topic or answer your question?
  • Who is the intended audience?
  • Is the information at an appropriate level (i.e. not too elementary or advanced for your needs)?
  • Have you looked at a variety of sources before determining this is the one you will use?
  • Would you be comfortable citing this source in your research paper?

Authority: The source of the information.

People

  • Who is the author / publisher / source / sponsor?
  • What are the author's credentials or organizational affiliations?
  • Is the author qualified to write on the topic?
  • Is there contact information, such as a publisher or email address?
  • Does the URL reveal anything about the author or source (examples: .com .edu .gov .org .net)?

Accuracy: The reliability, truthfulness and correctness of the content.

target

  • Where does the information come from?
  • Is the information supported by evidence?
  • Has the information been reviewed or refereed?
  • Can you verify any of the information in another source or from personal knowledge?
  • Does the language or tone seem unbiased and free of emotion?
  • Are there spelling, grammar or typographical errors?

Purpose: The reason the information exists.

Money

  • What is the purpose of the information? Is it to inform, teach, sell, entertain or persuade?
  • Do the authors / sponsors make their intentions or purpose clear?
  • Is the information fact, opinion or propaganda?
  • Does the point of view appear objective and impartial?
  • Are there political, ideological, cultural, religious, institutional or personal biases?

+Plus: How is the information impacted by the dominant culture? 

infinity

  • Who benefits from the story that is being told?
  • Whose voices, concerns, and experiences are included? Whose are excluded?
  • What assumptions are made? What unexamined beliefs does the author appear to have? What is the author unconscious/unaware of? 
  • What power dynamics are at work?

Original CRAAP Test created by Chico State Librarians. Plus questions inspired by the work of Angela Pashia.