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Library Resources for Online Students: Research Basics

A guide to library resources for distance learners.

Where to Begin?

You may find it helpful to begin with an overview of your topic before delving into in-depth research.

  • Your textbook or other class readings may have summaries and bibliographies of recommended readings.
  • Review reference sources such as encyclopedias for background information.
  • Browse our collection of subject guides for links to relevant websites and library databases.
  • Meet with a librarian to discuss possible research strategies.

Library vs. Web Research: What's the Difference?

  Library Research  Web Searching
Search Tools

Online Catalog (e.g. BobCat)

Databases (e.g. Science Direct)

Search engines (e.g. Google)

Directories (e.g. Librarians’ Internet Index)

What You’ll Find  Books, articles, and other published materials Mostly web sites
What it Costs  

The library covers the high costs of database subscriptions so you don’t have to pay for articles you find.

Information on web sites is generally free. If you do find books and articles, you may have to pay for them.
Quality Control Materials are subject to various degrees of editorial review to check information for accuracy and credibility. Web sites are often not reviewed. Extra caution is needed when evaluating information on the web.

How Can I Improve my Research Skills?

If you need to build or brush up your academic research skills: