EWU Libraries are here to help you in a number of ways!
Locate Quality Information
There is more to doing research than what you can find via Google. A lot more! This tutorial is focused on locating, evaluating, and citing articles and books – traditional sources of information that your professors expect you to use in your essays.
Why isn’t all of the information in the library on Google? Because, invariably, quality information costs money. Google is designed to locate what’s available freely on the web.
Can you find articles and books on Google? Yes, some articles and books are freely available, but Google doesn’t organize information by type or quality. It organizes information by keywords, and ranks according to popularity. And popularity does not automatically equal quality. So you end up fishing for jewels in the sea of data.
But if you use the library's online resources you can quickly locate articles and books, or fish for jewels in a jewelry box. They save you time and effort in your quest for quality information.
If you are like a lot of people, you start your research with Wikipedia, or you use Google and end up at Wikipedia. Encyclopedias like Wikipedia are useful places to start when you don’t know that much about your topic. They can offer a concise introduction and give you ideas for more specific aspects of an issue, as well as suggestions for important books and articles for further reading.
Issues with Wikipedia
Wikipedia is easy to access and can offer very interesting information, not to mention that it is huge, with over 1 million entries in English. But there’s one major issue with Wikipedia – anyone can write or change an entry. You never know who wrote it, and it’s a "moving target," meaning that the content is constantly changing.
Ideally, because each entry can be modified, the “wisdom of the crowd” improves the accuracy of the information. But in practice, writing by committee doesn’t lend itself to elegant prose, and the entries are better for fact-based information than for holistic, contextual information that academic experts can give you. And you have no idea of the authority of the authors.
Library Sources for Quality Background Information
Hints for Gale Virtual Reference Library & Sage Knowledge
Articles from published periodicals (magazines, journals and newspapers) are the best source for detailed information on a topic. Articles tend to be about narrower, more focused issues than books. Also, you are guaranteed that the information published in periodicals has gone through an editorial process, and someone is accountable for the information. There are several different types of articles.
What do we mean by “not scholarly”?
Not scholarly means that the articles are not research-based and usually written by journalists, not academics. You aren’t likely to find references to other sources.
Types of non-scholarly articles and publications
What do we mean by "scholarly"?
Scholarly means that the articles are written by experts in the field and will contain references or a bibliography of the sources consulted. There are two main types of scholarly articles.
See the tab Distinguising Scholarly Articles for more detailed information in determining if an article is scholarly.
There are two ways to locate the full article if you have citation information (such as one of the references in an article).
1. Try looking for the article in the EWU Library Catalog
The EWU Library Catalog knows about millions of articles, so the odds are good (but not 100%) that it will find a record for your article and tell you if we have it online, in paper, or if you'll have to do an Interlibrary Loan. Just go to the EWU Library Catalog and copy/paste the title of the article you want, and check the box in the upper right Include results with no full text.
2. If the first step doesn't work, then you need to see if we have the source (journal, magazine, newspaper) of the article. Just use the link below.
EWU Library Catalog Title Search -- Search to see if we have a particular periodical (journal, magazine or newspaper) online, in print or microfilm. Type in the name of the journal, magazine or newspaper in the box where it says "journal of". (Just erase and type in your title.)
E-Journals -- Alphabetical list of the journals, magazines and newspapers we have online in our databases. It will not show if we have it in print or microfilm in the library.
If we do not have the periodical you are looking for, you may request specific articles via Interlibrary Loan.
Why would I want to find books?
Books are the best source for comprehensive information on a topic. A good book will give you a sense of scope, historical background, and a thorough analysis of the issues. In many disciplines, the pinnacle of scholarship will be published in books.
The books purchased by the library have primarily been selected by the faculty or the librarians, based on positive reviews or reputation of the author or publisher.
But writing, editing and publishing a book takes time. If you’re looking for analysis of a current event, books won’t help as much as articles will.
Browsing the JFK Collection
The books are arranged by subject, using the Library of Congress Classification System. While you certainly may browse the shelves to find worthwhile titles, this is not as easy as it is in bookstores. Why not? Because we have too many books. If you were looking for books on classroom management and started browsing in the Ls, you would quickly become frustrated or sidetracked.
The most efficient way to find books is to use one of the catalogs above, note one or more call numbers for relevant titles, and then go browse in those areas.
The EWU Library Catalog gives you access to all the library's books, videos, CDs, government publications, as well as articles on all subjects.
What’s in the catalog?
If you don't have a particular item in mind, type in your keywords as you would in Google, as a string of words.
Know the title or author?
If you know the exact title of the item, type in the title "in quotes" and the last name of the author (if known).
Click Browse in the top bar and type in the title and/or author. (Note: The Browse function only works for EWU holdings of books or videos, not for titles held by other libraries.)
Refining Your Search
Because the EWU Library Catalog has records for all types of resources, you will very likely need to limit your search results. Note all the limiters on the left side, as well as some quick limiters at the top.
Mark Your Records
See the push pin icon on the far right (labeled "Keep this item" if you hover over it)?
Click it and it will change the push pin icon and highlight the brief record yellow. You have marked a record temporarily. Click the push pin icon in the top right corner to view your marked records.
The last line of the brief record describes where the item is located.
If the wording is green, that means it is readily available, either online or physically on our shelves at the JFK Library in Cheney or Spokane Academic Library.
If the wording is yellow, that means you'll have to request it. Click Check request options - held by Summit libraries. You must be logged in to request the item -- you'll be prompted to if you aren't already.
Once you are logged in, click the link Place Summit request (4-8 days). The form will ask you:
Click REQUEST. You will be notified via your EWU email address when the item is ready to be picked up.
If the wording is gray, that means either:
While the EWU Library Catalog has millions of records, it only will search through the holdings of the 39 Summit libraries. If you can't find a specific book, video, CD, etc., then go to the EWU WorldCat Catalog and re-do your search. WorldCat has records from thousands of libraries worldwide. You may request the item via Interlibrary Loan.
…access databases from off-campus?
…check out stuff?
…find a particular journal, magazine, or newspaper?
Go to Find a Journal, Magazine or Newspaper and type in the name of the source (not the article title).
…get help with my research?
For personalized consultations, go to Ask a Librarian.
…is the library?
…can I study?
In the JFK Library...
In the Spokane Academic Library...
…are the materials my instructor put on reserve?
…is the fiction shelved?
In the JFK Library...
The Spokane Academic Library doesn't have much in the way of fiction. But they do have a collection of literary magazines.