Locating Information Using the Subscription DatabasesA. From the "Jr./Sr. High School Library" main page, click on “Subscription Databases.”
1. Scroll down the list and read the descriptions of the different databases. Choose one that looks as though it would contain information about your topic. At this point, AVOID the encyclopedia sites such as Britannica and World Book—you already have used those. You may need usernames and passwords to access the information on these sites. They are available in the high school library or in the MLA packet.
2. Search for your topic.
a. Use your keyword chart to create appropriate searches.
i. Start by searching for JUST your topic to see how many articles are returned. These may be very general articles, like the ones you got earlier from the encyclopedia sites, they maybe more specific, or they may be a combination of both. If you find articles that provide more than just an overview of your topic, use them!
ii. Next, combine two or more words from your keyword chart. Connect the terms using the word “and.” Doing so tells the database to search for articles that contain BOTH terms, not just one or the other. As a result, you should get articles that contain information specific to what you are looking for as well as articles that do not simple repeat the same information that you already have from the encyclopedia sources.
· Below is a review of the Keyword Chart and the resulting search terms that were created in the sample from Step One. Use these examples to help you create your own.
Key Concept #1
Key Concept #2
Key Concept #3
Possible searches include:
o Railroads and Industrial Revolution
o Trains and Industrial Revolution
o Railroads and Unites States
o Trains and United States
o Railroads and Industrialization and United States
o Railroads and Industrial Revolution and United States
o Railroads and 1800s and United States
o Trains and 1800s and America
Remember that the combinations could be endless. It is a bit of a trial and error process. Keep trying different combinations of terms until you find the information that you are looking for! In the example above, you might also want to locate articles that provide information on just industrialization in the United States in order to gather more background information and avoid repetition of the same information over and over.
· If you are not having any luck finding articles by using keywords. Search these terms in the Subject Guides in the databases. All of the databases are set up differently,but if you look around the site, you should see a link for “Subject Guide” or“Subjected Guided Search.” This functions as sort of an electronic index of the topics available in the database. Try typing terms from your keyword chart. Start general, with just your topic. This is often an effective way to find the information that you are looking for quickly.
B. Scan the articles and print relevant ones. When printing articles, be sure to:o Find out how long your article is. You do NOT need to print long articles in their entirety.
o Use the Print button within the database. Doing so ensures that you will get a printer-friendly version of the article without cutting off parts of the text.
o You should see a preview of what is to be printed. Make sure that it has an MLA 7th edition works cited entry included. If it does, print the article with no worries. If it does not, print the article, then look around the site and locate a “Citation” button. (Remember that different databases may call it something different. Some may display the word “Citation” or “Cite,” while others will have an icon that may look like a square with a check mark in it. You have to look around). Once you have found the citation button, copy the MLA 7th edition on to the printout.
IMPORTANT NOTE ABOUT CITATIONS: Unfortunately, the databases often make errors in creating the MLA citations. Before you put them on note cards, you will need to double check their accuracy with the MLA packet. The good news is that the citations generally provided all of the necessary information. Errors generally occur in the formatting of the entry or the organization of the information within the entry. You will be expected to have a correct entry, however, so it is IMPERATIVE that you compare what is given to you with what is in your MLA packet. That is the reason for writing it on the printout of the article rather than on a note card (if it doesn’t print out automatically).
C. Read and mark up the articles. Use a highlighter and a pen/pencil to take notes directly on the printouts.
o Use your highlighter judiciously to highlight relevant pieces of text including definitions, examples,
etc. Don’t simply color the page!
o Use tabbing (Write a keyword or two that summarizes each paragraph in the margin beside the paragraph).
Before you move on from the Step 2/Step 3 cycle, be sure that you have:
o Printed relevant articles from MORE database sources than you are required to use in the paper.
o Printed or copied the MLA 7th Edition citations on all of your articles.
o Read and taken notes directly on the printouts.