The High Library
Elizabethtown College

Adult Learner Seminar
A Library Research Guide

Selecting a topic
Tips for effective searching
Find articles and essays
How do I find a copy of the article?
Find books and memoirs
Find background information
Writing arguments
Citing sources

These are only some of the sources that may be useful to you.  Please contact me for help with any of your research, Sylvia Morra, x1452 or email AskUs.

Selecting a current controversial topic

Choose a topic that connects to your own experiences, major or interests.
Choose a topic that engages and sustains your interest as well as the interest of your readers.
Choose a topic from current events.
Choose a topic that is controversial.

BMCC Speech & Term Paper Topics
    Borough of Manhattan Community College web site with ideas for topics as well as links to web resources.

CQ Researcher (1991 + )
    Browse this online periodical for excellent overview of current events..

Pro and con issues
    Use the tips listed on this web page to locate books in The High Library.

Tips for effective searching
Be persistent in your searching.

Try both keyword and subject searching.

Narrow a search by using subject headings. Locate subject headings by looking at the descriptors associated with pertinent articles and books. 

Try these tips to narrow your search? Search the web with Clusty to view clustered results.

Try synonyms (AIDS or Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome). Can't think of any synonyms? Try an online thesaurus. Try these tips to expand your search.

Try both singular and plural forms of words. Use an "*" in Academic Search Premier to get a variety of word endings.  Use a "+" sign in SocSciAbs to search both singular and plurals e.g. religion+.

If searching a compound word, try it as one word and as two words (e.g. rain forest or rainforest) to see which retrieves the most useful results.

If searching a term with an internal dash, search the term in each database with and without the internal dash (e.g. x-ray vs. x ray) to see which retrieves the most useful results.

Choosing databases to find articles and essays

For continuing education & distance learning students to access databases from home, go to the library home page: and click on "Database access from outside E-town network" at the top of the middle column. Enter your network ID and password. Return here to use the database links.

Get beyond Google by using some of the databases below, which contain both popular and scholarly articles. Although they deliver their content through the web, these databases are paid for through library subscriptions. Information found here would not generally be found for free on the web; articles have been written by subject experts or professional journalists and reviewed by peers and editors.

Find articles and essays

Academic Search Premier (varies)
     Continue your search in this multi-disciplinary database that indexes 4700 journals. Full text for more than 3600 scholarly journals. Indexing goes back to 1975 for some journals.

SocINDEX with Full Text. 1908+. Articles from over 700 sociological journals, covering topics such as abortion, criminal justice, gender studies, marriage and family, religion and urban sociology.

JSTOR (varies)
This full text database includes older issues of journals dealing with the social sciences topics as well as literature, math, religion, music, and art.

Criteria for Scholarly vs. Popular Journals

How do I find a copy of the article?
What is available here and now?
Search for full text articles in journals using the following link: Locate E-town Journals.
Type the name of the journal next to 'Find:' and then press 'Search'. Full text can be electronic or within the library in paper, microfiche or microfilm.
Check the publication dates of the article against the listing of years for the database or the years listed 'Within the High Library'. If the database includes those years, click on the link, add in an author's name or title of the article. The full text link should appear at the end of the citation.
    Current year paper issues of journals in the High Library are on the entrance level.
    Older print journals are on Level One, alphabetically by journal title.
    If the journal is in microfiche or microfilm, copies an be made in the library. Ask the reference librarian or circulation student assistants for help. Order copies online by using ILLiad   Click on request an article and fill out the form. You will receive an email when the article is available on ILLiad for downloading.

What if it is not here?
Order items from another library, if The High Library doesn't own that specific journal or have it for the years that you need it. Requesting the article can be done through the databases or through the following software link: ILLiad (Interlibrary Loan). Allow a minimum of 4-5 working days for the article to arrive.  

Find books
The High Library catalog will help you find books, DVDs, videos, CDs and other materials.

Pro and con issues
    Use the tips listed on this web page to locate books on controversial topics in The High Library.

Find memoirs

Do a subject search under these headings:

            Personal narratives

            Biography (encompasses autobiography)

                        Can subdivide by time period such as 18th century

Using the advanced search screen, combine the above subject searches with a keyword, such as holocaust, civil war, etc.

Do a search everything search under

         Memoirs or journals, combined with a subject such as holocaust, civil war,  women, etc.

Do an author search under the name of the person you are interested in.

For books not available at the High Library use WorldCat.

Subject Specific Encyclopedias listed below have summary articles and bibliographies. Use these sources for preliminary research to establish your topic and aid you in narrowing it.

Encyclopedia of Philosophy. 1998. 10 volumes. Ref 100 R869.
Encyclopedia of Psychology.
2000. 8 volumes. Ref 150.3 En56.
Encyclopedia of Religion. 2005. 15 volumes. Ref 203 En56 2005.
International Encyclopedia of Social and Behavioral Sciences. 2001. 26 volumes. Ref 300.3 In61.
Encyclopedia of Sociology. 2000. 5 volumes. Ref 301.03 En56 2000.
Women's Issues. 1997. 3 volumes. Ref 305.403 W872.
Countries and their Cultures.
2001. 4 volumes. Ref 327.0905 C855.
Encyclopedia of Global Change.
2002. 2 volumes. Ref 363.7 En56.
Encyclopedia of Crime and Justice.
2002. 4 volumes. Ref 364.03 En56 2002.
Encyclopedia of Criminology and Deviant Behavior. 2001. 4 volumes. Ref 364.03 En562.
Encyclopedia of Education. 2003. 8 volumes. Ref 370.3 En561 2003.
electronic updated version of McGraw Hill Encyclopedia of Science and Technology 503 M147 2002.
Dictionary of Art. 1996. 34 volumes. Ref 703 D554.
New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians. 2000. 29 volumes. Ref 780.3 N532 2000.
New Dictionary of the History of Ideas. 2005. 6 volumes. Ref 903 N532.

Nuts and Bolts of College Writing

Purdue Online Writing Lab  

Citing sources
Format references/works cited

Print citation guides (all are on permanent reserve at the Library's Circulation Desk)
Keys for Writers

MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers

Publication manual of the American Psychological Association.

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