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ENGL 202; Burns, S.: Home

Welcome to Libraryland! How to begin your research in MiraCosta Library:

Pre-Search before you Research!

  1. Write your subject/topic down
  2. Circle the main terms/ideas
  3. Brainstorm additional or related terms/ideas for your main terms
  • Consider forms: music, musical, musician, . . . 

  • Consider synonyms: tune, melody, drummer, piano player, etc.

  • Consider related terms: orchestra, band, duet, quartet, etc.

Define topic--> "Brainstorm search terms"--> "Do search"--> "Record new terms"

  • The purpose for identifying keywords is the search for controlled vocabulary = using the "preferred" words are the key to a productive search!   Is it car, automobile, or vehicle?

Issue Example : Thousands of water systems nationwide, such as that in Flint, Michigan, have failed to meet federal safety standards for lead and other harmful substances.

water "water supply" "water infrastructure" "water pollution"
United States USA nation* Flint
harmful failed unsafe toxic
improve* solve change fix

Tips from the Librarian

Getting Started:

  • Consider whether you need books, images, articles from journals
  • Choose the right database(s) for your topic
  • Off-campus? Use SURF ID & SURF Password

Books, Ebooks

  • Use the library catalog to find books, e-books on your topic
  • Remember your pre-search keywords (aka "controlled vocabulary")

Remember to combine keywords using AND and put simple phrases in"double quotation marks" to help focus your search results.

  • Example: "sugar-sweetened beverages" and obesity

Library databases contain digitized articles from magazines, newspapers, academic journals, and reference books; currently MCC subscribes to 135 databases! 

  • Gale Virtual Reference Library - find background information: important names, dates, places, etc. 
  • EBSCOhost (all DATABASES) - A very large, multiple-subject full-text article database well-suited for college research papers.
  • Opposing Viewpoints -A social issues database with full-text periodical articles, viewpoint essays, reference material, statistics, topic overviews and websites, organized under popular research topic headings.
  • CQ Researcher  reports offering analysis of most current major controversial issues with summaries, pros and cons and bibliographies.
  • Global Issues in Context-Focuses on broad issues such as war, genocide, poverty, globalization as well as specific events and topics in the news that are related to these broader issues.
  • JSTORFull-text archives of 1400 scholarly journals in the arts, humanities, social sciences and sciences.

What is a scholarly journal?

Instructors may ask you to use research from scholarly or "academic" journals. Articles in these journals are written by the researchers themselves and present in-depth, original research in a specific field of study. These articles have been reviewed by other scholars to ensure their validity and quality. This is why they are also called "peer-reviewed."

Scholarly articles differ from more popular articles available in magazines and newspapers. If you are unsure whether a publication is popular or scholarly, click the link below:

Search Google Smarter!

Google's site command will narrow your search results to specific types of websites. Just type site:[domain name] after your keywords.

  1.  Government site:gov
  2.  Organization site:org
  3.  Educational site:edu

Example: "water infrastructure" and flint

Evaluate the Web

1. Who wrote the page? Are they qualified?

2. Is the info accurate?

3. Is the info biased? Are they selling something?

4. Is the info current?

5. Is the info supported? cited? bibliography?