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Honors 100 Marafioti: Library Guides

Suggestions for your Annotated Bibliography project.

Research Is Teaching Yourself Part 2

For several sections of Honors 100, the library session introduced several options for using information to teach yourself something new about your research topic.  This page gives suggestions for finding the different types of information that work best at each phase of your learning.

For more in-depth instructions on using these sources, see this version.

Teaching and Learning Librarian

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Mark Lenker
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Las Vegas, Nevada

Can't I just do all of this in the Libraries' QuickSearch database?

The QuickSearch database gives you access to almost all of the Libraries' collections in a single search tool.  In most cases, it is a very powerful and convenient way to find almost anything in the Libraries' collections.  But its power is sometimes a weakness.  Because QuickSearch connects you with so many options, sometimes the best options get buried deep within the list of search results, making them difficult to find.  If you feel like this is happening to you, or if you feel that you are not getting the results you expect for some other reason, try one of the "QuickSearch alternatives" listed on this guide.

Finding direction

These types of sources help you decide which topic you want to investigate.  They are intended for a general audience; they do not require much specialized knowledge.  You may or may not end up referring to these sources in your paper, but they are very important for (a) choosing an interesting direction for your research and (b) understanding why your question is important.

Best Search Tools:

  • Credo General Reference lets you search a lot of encyclopedias at once! Easier to use than QuickSearch.
  • Academic Search Premier lets you filter results to just look at magazines, an approachable option for building background on a new topic.
  • CQ Researcher background information on political hot topics like education, environment, criminal justice, etc., but without jargon or highly technical language.
    • Investigate Hot Topics or Browse Topics if you’re still picking a research topic.

Other possibilities:

  • YouTube often has helpful introductions to important questions, especially if you can find a TED Talk.
  • Books can be a great introduction to a topic. Some are for advanced researchers while others are for a more general audience. Skim the introduction to make sure it’s right for you. 

Engaging with experts

Once you have decided on a direction, use these sources to learn about expert knowledge in your area of research.  Use the evidence that experts present to develop your own stance on your research question.  Eventually, you will refer to the same evidence in your paper to communicate the reasoning behind your position to your audience.


Best search tool:  Quicksearch

  • This video tutorial will teach you how to use QuickSearch to find books in our collection.
  • This video tutorial will teach you how to use QuickSearch to find scholarly articles in our collection.


QuickSearch Alternatives:  

  • Academic Search Premier:  Like QuickSearch, Academic Search Premier provides information in most academic subjects.  Great for finding scholarly articles and magazine articles.

Other possibilities:



Tracking the latest developments

The expert-level research sources mentioned above take a long time to research and almost as long to review and publish.  For this reason, they are not the best way to track the latest developments on your question.  Try newspapers or magazines instead.   


Tip:  Using date limiters in our databases will be help you keep the list of results manageable.  Make sure you can tell what has happened over the last six months to a year.


Best search tools:


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