Research Center

"Research is formalized curiosity.
It is poking and prying with a purpose."
-Zora Neale Hurston

Evaluating Sources

When researching a topic, it’s quite likely that you will find lots of information; in fact, the amount of information available can sometimes be overwhelming, and the temptation is to use the first things you find. The world is full of information, but not all of it is valid, useful, or accurate, and you shouldn't make the mistake of thinking that just because it is readily available that it’s quality material. 

If you use information from websites, you have to be much more diligent when establishing credibility than when you use information from print resources or library databases, which are subscription services consisting of material (such as periodicals, reference books, etc.) previously published elsewhere and pulled together in one easily accessible portal (access our databases from the links above). 

Anyone can publish information on the Internet, so it's up to the user to establish if it is reliable. Knowing some of the differences between print and online information can help you understand the necessity for proper evaluation of Internet resources.

Publication Process:
 Print sources go through an extensive editing process to ensure the quality and accuracy of information, but most websites do not have editors, fact-checkers, or other types of reviewers.

Authorship: Print sources clearly indicate an author or editor, and authors almost always need to be properly qualified, while  it can be extremely difficult to determine authorship or author credibility for websites.

Bias and Special Interests: Although bias does exist in print publications, because of the high cost of printing it is either much less prevalent or publishers tend to be up front if they are catering to a particular group. Because anyone with access to a computer can publish a website, it is much easier to present information as factual that may actually be inaccurate, persuasive, and/or deceptive.

Publication Information: Publication information such as date of publication, publisher, author, and editor are always clearly listed in print publications, whereas it is often difficult to find publication information on websites. 


List of 9 items.

  • General

    Academic OneFile
    This database site includes full-text, collegiate-level articles and essays from the world's leading journals and reference sources. Students and faculty members can search by either subject or publication. With it’s search engine filter system, Academic OneFile is the best site to find scholarly (peer-reviewed) articles.  

    General One-File 
    General One-File provides periodical articles and multimedia on a wide range of topics. This is an exciting database, as students and faculty have access to (almost) every article from (almost) every periodical! If you want to search for an article from the July 2003 edition of the New Yorker, General One-File is the perfect site for this type inquiry.

    InfoTrac Newsstand
    This database is similar to General One-File; however, InfoTrac’s concentration is on the daily news, with access to newspapers from around the globe. At their fingertips, students and faculty have a searchable archive of more than 1,000 newspapers.
    Another collegiate-level, interdisciplinary archive of more than 1,000 leading academic journals across the humanities, social sciences, and sciences, as well as books and other valuable academic material.

    **JSTOR is immediately available via any computer on campus without a username and password. If you access JSTOR off-campus, the username is crusaders; the password is studyhard.

    Explore diverse perspectives, topics and trends that align with curricular areas such as English, Language Arts, Social Studies, Science, Technology, Arts, History and more to foster critical thinking skills. Features reliable, credible information from a wide variety of international, national and local sources. Also available remotely 24/7 on any device using the username and password.  No username/password needed for access on campus.

    USERNAME: crusaders
    PASSWORD:  studyhard

    Student Resources in Context
    This is an exciting database to for students who want to research an unfamiliar topic. Student Resources in Context has reliable reference content with full-text articles, primary documents, images, and multimedia on a variety of subjects: history, business/economics, literature, sports, world religion, science/health, government, and more. This database is user-friendly and provides useful links not only to scholarly articles, but radio stories, videos, and critical essays/opinion pieces by subject. For example, under the category/subgategory of Government/Imperialism, there are links to NPR stories, reference sources such as The Encyclopedia of Science, Technology and Ethics, geopolitical maps, stories from PRI, Africa News Service, videos from A&E and The New York Times, and more.   
  • Biography

    Biography in Context
    Outstanding research on individuals spanning history and cultures. Includes reference With access to reference articles, videos, images, journals, and current information, Biography in Context is similar to Student Resources Context, but with a specialized focus on--obviously--biographies. The biography categories are: American Presidents, Artists, LBGTQ figures, Notable Women, Politicians/Dignitaries, Scientists, Singers, World War II, Writers, and Young Adult Writers.
  • Controversial Issues

    Issues and Controversies
    This database presents both sides of an issue--clearly and without bias--through a straightforward presentation of key facts, arguments, history, and current context of today's most important and timely issues.  

    Opposing Viewpoints in Context 
    Similar to Student Resources in Context and Biographies in Context, through Opposing Viewpoints in Context, students can explore all of today's social issues through pro/con essays, topic overviews, full-text magazines and academic journals, news articles, primary sources, statistics, images, videos, and links to vetted websites. The categories are: business and economics, energy and environmentalism, health & medicine, law & politics, national debate topics, science, technology & ethics, society & culture, and war & diplomacy. A few examples of subcategories include: the DREAM act (immigration issues), genetically modified food, government intelligence & surveillance, and online ethics.
  • Foreign Language

    Informe Academico
    Informe Academico is a Spanish language site with a collection of full-text articles from Hispanic magazines, academic journals, and newspapers covering a variety of topics.  
  • History

    On this site, students can research the full scope of human history from the mid-15th century to present. Includes subject entries, biographies, images and videos, maps and charts, and timelines. 
    The full scope of human history from the mid-15th century to present. Includes subject entries, biographies, images and videos, maps and charts, and timelines. 

    Similar in style to the other “In Context” databases, students have access to the most-studied events, issues, and current information of American history through full-text periodicals, essays, video and audio, reference works, primary documents, and scholarly analysis. With categories such as: African American perspectives, American colonies, biographies, court cases and the supreme court, economics, events/decades/cultural trends, government documents, Hispanic Americans, Native Americans, political constructs & movements, and wars & conflict.  
    The World History in Context database includes reference works, full-text magazines, academic journals, news articles, primary source documents, images, videos, audio files, and links to vetted websites. Categories include: bios, civilizations & cultures, economics, cultural trends, human rights, political constructs & movements, religion, and wars & conflict.
  • Literature

    An extensive array of literary criticism and essays on literary topics, themes, movements, genres, and authors, and over 2,000 video clips. 
    Literature Resource Center
    Comprehensive resource for overviews, literary criticism, reviews, and biographies.

    Scribner Writers Series
    Original, scholarly-signed essays on the lives and works of authors in a historic context.

    Twayne Authors Series
    In-depth critical introductions to the lives and works of major writers within the context of the time period in which they lived, as well as the influence of literary movements.
  • Professional Educators

    A great site for the SMCA faculty, Educator Reference Complete contains more than 1,100 periodicals and 200 reports from the U.S. Department of Education. Find full-text articles from classroom management to education administration to literacy & learning disabilities in journals such as: Academy Magazine, Affilia Journal of Women and Social Work, American Historical Review,  American Journal of Family Law, and Anthropology and Education. (And that’s just a few from the A’s!!!)
  • Science

    Science in Context
    IIncludes full-text articles from magazines, academic journals, news articles, experiments, images, videos, audio files, and links to vetted websites. Categories include: biographies, biology, chemistry, earth/environmental science, health/medicine, meth/engineering/technology, and physics/astronomy.
  • World Religions

    Offers thorough coverage on the beliefs, practices, and histories of religions around the world. 

Citing Sources

List of 5 items.

  • MLA Works Cited Page

    A Works Cited page provides information for the reader regarding what resources are referenced in a paper. This is different from a bibliography, which lists all materials used during research. The only entries in a list of Works Cited are those that are directly cited in the text.

    When preparing a list of Works Cited, remember the following:

    1. Double-space within and between each citation
    2. Indent the second and all subsequent lines of a citation (if applicable) 
    3. Include the medium (Print, Web, etc.) of each source
    4. Paginate the Works Cited page (continue from the last page of text)
    5. Alpabetize entries
    6. Omit URLs of Web publications (unless requested by your instructor)
    7. Punctuation is key. Ensure proper placements of periods, commas, etc.

  • MLA Citations: Print

    The examples below include some of the most common resources used when writing research papers.  For further information, refer to the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers (7th edition).

    Book (Single Author)
    Author's last name, first name. Title. City of Publication: Publisher, Date. Print.

    Example: McVey, Danna. The Frontier. New York: Doubleday, 2005. Print.

    Book (Two Authors)
    First author (last name, first name), and second author (first name and last name). Title. City of Publication: Publisher, Date. Print.

    Example: Griffin, Jane, and Louise Fletcher. Rampage in Prague. Reading: GP Dorset Press, 2013. Print.

    Book (Three or More Authors)
    If there are more than three authors, list only the first author followed by the phrase et al. (Latin for "and others") in place of the subsequent authors' names. (Note that there is a period after “al” in “et al.” but there is never a period after the “et” in “et al.”). 

    Example: Wood, Kelley, et al. Shawnee Memories. London: Tecumseh, 2009. Print.

    Book (Editor, not Author)
    Editor's last name, first name, ed. (meaning "editor") Title. City of Publication: Publisher, Date. Print.

    Example: Ray, Thelonious, ed. Jazz in American History. Baltimore: Pembleton, 2010. Print.

    Author's last name, first name. "Article Title." Periodical Title Publication day month (abbreviated) year: section and page number(s). Print.

    Example: Armentrout, Rupret. "Visions of Symmetry." The New York Times 20 Nov. 2009: A1. Print.

    Reference Book Entries  (Encyclopedias, etc.)
    If an entry has an author, include the name, but do not include the editor of the entire work.  If an entry does not have an author, begin the citation with the title of the article.

    Author's last name, first name (if listed). "Title of article." Title of Book. Edition (not volume), if listed (do not list 1st editions). Date. Print.

    Example with an author: Ray, Mark. "Perseverance." Sociology. 2nd ed. 2012. Print.

    Example without an author: "Perseverance." Sociology. 2nd ed. 2012. Print.

    Work in an Anthology or Collection
    Works may include an essay in an edited collection or anthology, or a chapter of a book. The basic form for this sort of citation is as follows:

    Last name, First name. "Title of Essay." Title of Collection. Ed. Editor's name(s). City of Publication: Publisher, Year. Page range. Publication medium.
    Example: Coltrane, Oscar. "The Genius of Miles Davis." American Jazz. Ed. Ella Brubeck. New Orleans: Heisenberg, 2014. 28-41. Print.

    Give the name of the specific edition you are using, any editor(s) associated with if (if applicable), followed by the publication information.

    Example: The New Jerusalem Bible. Ed. James Smith. New York: Doubleday, 2005. Print. 
  • MLA Citations: Databases

    The SMCA databases are capable of generating citations for the information they provide. Simply click on the Citation Tools link within each article or search result, choose MLA style, then copy and paste the citation into your Works Cited document. (APA style is also available, but the default is MLA.)

    Or, you can often just look on the bottom of the document; citation information is usually there. If it is, it's in MLA format.

    Note: When you copy and paste the date into your Works Cited page, make sure to double-space the entry and indent the second and subsequent lines (if applicable).

  • MLA Citations: Web

    MLA citations for Web publications are similar to those for print, but differ in that they notate the medium of publication as Web (not Print) and include the user's date of access.  MLA no longer requires URLs, so provide them only if specifically instructed to do so by your instructor. If a URL is included, place it directly after the date of access and enclose it in angle brackets: <>. 

    When citing information from a Web publication, include the following:

    1. Name of author (last name, first name)
    2. "Title of Work" (in quotation marks)
    3. Title of Overall Web Site (in italics)
    4. Version or edition (if applicable)
    5. Publisher or sponsor of site (use N.p. if unavailable)
    6. Date of publication (use n.d. if unavailable)
    7. Medium of publication (Web)
    8. Date of access (day month [abbreviated] year)

    Example: Parker, Ella. "Jazz Greats." Cable News Network, 19 Mar. 2010. Web. 21. Jan 2011.  (Remember to double-space and indent multiple lines, and pay close attention to proper punctuation.)

    The easiest way to generate a Web citation is by using EasyBib, but you will still need to reference the Web site to fill in required information. For help locating this information, click here.
  • APA Overview

    The American Psychological Association (APA) style guide is used in the social and behavioral sciences. Because most students are only familiar with MLA, APA may initially be somewhat confusing. The library has an easy to use handout regarding APA content and formatting, so see Ms. Ray for more information. 

    Papers written in APA style should include four major sections:

    1. Title Page 
    2. Abstract
    3. Main Body
    4. References

    One major difference between MLA and APA is APA's inclusion of an abstract. An abstract is a concise summary of the key points of your research.  It consists of one double-spaced paragraph between 150 and 250 words that contains your research topic, research questions, participants, methods, results, data analysis, and conclusion. 

    Another difference is how works referenced in your paper are cited. APA uses the word References instead of Works Cited to denote these works; however, like Works Cited, References appear at the end of the paper and provide the information necessary for a reader to locate any source cited in the paper. However, the way these sources are formatted is different, so make sure to strictly follow APA guidelines when creating citations.

    The SMCA databases are capable of generating citations for the information they provide. Simply click on the Citation Tools link within each article or search result, choose APA style, then copy and paste the citation into your References document. Note: Make sure to double-space and indent second and subsequent lines (if applicable).

    For examples of citing sources using APA, see the 
    Purdue Online Writing Lab.  

Ebook Central Online Library

Our Research Center offers ebooks from trusted publishers in all academic subject areas along with powerful research tools. ProQuest's Ebook is an award-winning ebook database consisting of well over 100,000 titles in sixteen subject areas, including science, history, literature, technology, medicine, and more. Available at any time from any platform, so start exploring Ebook today!

List of 1 items.

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