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Getting Started

Finding Books

You'll find most of your books by searching IUCAT, the library's online catalog, but it can also be helpful to browse the shelves. Books are shelved in the Stacks by their Library of Congress call number (Example: PS490 .G36 2004).

Call numbers starting with A through N are on the 3rd Level of the library and those starting with P through Z are on the 4th Level. Reference books are on the 2nd Level in the Reference Room.

University Library also subscribes to databases that provide books online. Individual titles can be searched in IUCAT, but you can also go directly to the e-book databases.

Finding Articles

Most of University Library's article databases are available on- or off-campus to IUPUI students, faculty, and staff by logging in with your IUPUI Network ID and password. If you can't access our resources, go to Can't Connect? for do-it-yourself help, or contact the Reference Desk.

Tip: Think about your search terms before going online. Use vocabulary used in class or suggested by your instructor and brainstorm some synonyms. For example, if you need information on high school students, you may need to try "adolescents" or "teenagers" as alternate terms.

Many article databases provide access to full-text articles that aren't available for free on the Internet. If one database doesn't have the entire article, use the Find It button to locate it in another library database. The button pops up a menu with a list of links--the full-text options appear at the top.

General or multidisciplinary databases are a good place to begin, particularly Academic OneFile or Academic Search Premier. Also, try MetaSearch and search multiple article databases simultaneously. Use the Find It button to find the full-text of your article.

You'll probably need some scholarly, peer-reviewed, academic journal articles for your assignements. Journal articles often have:

  • More than one author
  • Footnotes or a bibliography/list of references
  • Tables, graphs, or charts of data
  • A specific format with paragraph headings: Abstract, Introduction, Methods/Methodology, Results, Discussion, Conclusions
  • Several pages, not just a few paragraphs
Some periodicals (journals, magazines, newspapers) still aren't available online, so sometimes you'll need to find a paper copy. "Current Periodicals" (usually the current year) are shelved alphabetically by title in the Reference Room on the 2nd Level. Older issues of periodicals are bound into books and shelved in the Stacks by call number.

If IUPUI's libraries don't have a copy of an article you need, request a copy from another library through Interlibrary Loan.

Internet Searching

University Library's computers provide fast Internet access, but much of what you need for your research is not freely available on the World Wide Web. That's why the library pays to subscribe to all these article databases and online journals.

There's a lot of useful stuff on the Internet (e.g. professional organizations' websites, news and current events, etc.) if you know how to search and to separate the quality information from the garbage.

Tip: Use quotation marks (" ") to form phrases and narrow your search results.

General Evaluation Criteria for Any Source

  • Accuracy

    • Are there noticeable errors?
    • Is data clearly labeled?
    • If information is provided from other sources, are those sources cited so that you could look for them?
    • If the author makes conclusions, are they based on evidence? 
  • Authority

    • Can you identify the author?
    • Are their levels of education, experience or expertise clearly presented?
    • How was the information obtained? Is it based on experience and observation, opinion, or research?  
  • Coverage

    • Who is the intended audience?
    • How can you tell?
    • How does that influence this source?
    • Is this source comprehensive? If not, what information does it lack?
    • Is there supporting evidence provided, such as charts, maps, graphs, photos, documents? Would this be a better source if there were? 
  • Currency

    • Can you determine how old (or new) the information is?
    • Does the age of the information affect its usefulness?
    • Is there a difference between the age of your source and the age of the information your source contains?  
  • Objectivity

    • Why was this information produced? Is there a "hidden agenda" or motive?
    • Does the author deal with both positive and negative evidence? Do they seriously consider more than one side of an issue?
    • Does the author justify their conclusions or ask you to accept them on faith? 

Citing Sources

Complete your assignments by correctly citing your sources (and avoid plagiarism issues, as outlined in Part II, G.3 of the IUPUI Student Code of Conduct) by referring to style guides. You can also visit the IUPUI University Writing Centers.

Tips for Research

• Take clear, accurate notes about where and how you found specific information.
• Write down the complete citation information for each item or make a printout.
• Always credit original authors for their information and ideas.

Five Tips for Avoiding Plagiarism

  1. First, use your own ideas. It should be your paper and your ideas that should be the focus.
  2. Use the ideas of others sparingly--only to support or reinforce your own argument.
  3. When taking notes, include complete citation information for each item you use.
  4. Use quotation marks when directly stating another person's words.
  5. Take 30 minutes and write a short draft of your paper without using any notes. It will help you think through what you want to say and help prevent being too dependent upon your sources.

Need more help?

  • Visit the Reference Desk
  • See Research Guides by Subject (pulldown menu in the left navbar on this page)
  • Make an appointment with your school's subject librarian for a personal consultation.
Last updated by andjsmit on 02/06/2009