The Academic Support Center
Berkeley College Online
When looking for journal articles,
monographs, factual information, or high-
quality resources, the same principles apply:
Narrow your topic
Make sure search terms are relevant/focused
Make sure topics are in alignment
Examine sources for bias/distortion
Make sure research provides
support/background for your argument
Narrow it down
Develop a solid thesis
Room to develop an
Will help determine
where to look for info
Ex. Writing a essay on an aspect of Hamlet
You think about characters and interesting
Ophelia’s speech and subsequent death
What is her psychological state?
How was she perceived by others in the play?
Does her situation illustrate something essential about
You discover her situation reinforces the overall
themes of death, madness, murder, and betrayal
These will help you discover search terms and focus
When conducting preliminary research, find
the major issues that have been in
discussions about the topic
Who started the research?
Who is for it?
Who is against it?
What are the issues?
Start researching author names, keywords,
Does it have heavy
Is it biased?
Is it reputable?
How old is it?
Are there references?
Refereed Journals Academic journals require all articles to be reviewed by
experts in the field. Require revisions and reject articles in
they don’t meet standards.
Books and Serial Depends on the publisher if they evaluate, judge, and critique
Monographs the material.
Series sponsored by an Common in the humanities.
Wikis and collaborations Variable quality. They can be extremely good and reliable,
but the quality, quantity, depth, and breadth will be variable.
There can be bias, distortion, or gaps in information.
Weblogs and Variable quality. Approach with care and extreme caution.
Summaries, overviews, PinkMonkey.com, Cliff Notes, Wikipedia is a point of
and study guides departure. Use them to gain an appreciation of your subject
and orient yourself. They can be very imprecise and
Student postings, p2p Excellent to see how students write papers. Can serve as
downloads of notes, texts, guidelines or cautionary tales.
Organize so you have a
sense of where they will go
in your paper
Keep your primary thesis in
Points you are trying to
Support with evidence from
research findings and
Keep track of references
by creating an “electronic
Use appropriate style
Write a one-sentence
overview/summary of the
How it relates to topic
9. Update your outline
Re-examine your thesis
Does each paragraph help support your thesis?
How does your research fit?
Determine where you have gaps or redundancies
10. Fill in the gaps
List where you need additional support for your
Map where you need to fill gaps
Where your argument needs additional support
Database which contains books, journal articles, magazines, and newspaper articles in the
humanities and social sciences.
Journals, magazines, and newspapers in humanities, social sciences, education, health and science.
Great database with a few free articles. The journals include business, humanities, social sciences,
health, and science.
Portal for Time, Discover, Fortune, Sunset, Parenting, People, and more. Archived articles have a
cost, but it’s a great source for current events and issues.
Databases of articles tailored to meet the needs of students/faculty. Resources are targeted and easy
EBSCO Information Services
Excellent coverage of interdisciplinary journals. Citations, keywords, and publication data can help
you obtain articles from other sources.
Vast array of databases and information products.
Best-known for its database on legal publications. Has extensive holdings in newspapers. Excellent
source for information and syndicated content.
Wilson Web Databases
Includes journals and publishers that are not always easy to find. Particularly in business and agriculture.
JSTOR: The Scholarly Journal Archive
Amazing collection of humanities and interdisciplinary journals. Older journals are being digitized and
included, resulting in less reliance on interlibrary loan.
This tends to have a business and management orientation. The journals are excellent, and the interface is
easy to use.
This database originates out of John Hopkins University. The articles are full-text, and they cover
interesting journals in the humanities.