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How to do Research

Research is a process of inquiry: Asking questions, following the answers

Encyclopedias: Well-organized outlines of facts and basic, background information

Encyclopedia articles are short, well-organized, comprehensive, and easy to read. You can quickly and easily determine whether a topic will work for you and for the assignment, while at the same time get a solid foundation in the topic: history, background, issues, key people or events, cultural, economic, legal, social, etc. The Britannica Encyclopedia Online and the CREDO Reference (see links below) are excellent starting points for any research project.

For off-campus access or if connecting via wireless device you will be prompted to enter your WebAdvisor ID number and your eight digit birth date.

Online Encyclopedia

Search within the text of Britannica Online. Includes basic information, news and updates, other library databases, media such as video or audio files, and links to verified websites.

Database of Encyclopedias

Search within the text of many thousands of encyclopedias, handbooks, manuals, dictionaries, and other reference books.

What about Wikipedia?

Wikipedia is fine for information about your personal interests, hobbies, and is a good source for popular culture topics, and very new topics, that print encyclopedias may not cover. For example, check this comprehensive and detailed entry on the Final Fantasy game series and associated spin-offs. Academic encyclopedias like the Britannica are less likely to help your research on topics like this.

However, citing Wikipedia in college level student papers is usually not acceptable. One of the primary reasons we cite our sources, is so that the reader can track down and find those sources if they want to follow their own interest, or check if our citations are correct. You can't do that with Wikipedia, because the articles are updated so frequently.

In addition, the credibility of the author is very important to scholars, and while we are learning more about the credibility and accuracy of "crowd sourced" information collections, most scholars and professors and scientists will want to know exactly WHO is responsible for the content. They are not likely to be impressed by authors who are using anonymous handles such as "shrepkels" or "Aeronius."