Spotlight On…CQ Researcher

You’ve got a paper coming up, and you don’t have a topic yet. The paper has to be about a current issue that’s controversial, or maybe you have to debate the pros and cons of something – but there are so many issues in the world! How do you know what to choose and where to start? If you come to the UGL’s website, we have a resource that can help you solve all these problems. It’s called CQ Researcher.

What and where is CQ Researcher?

CQ Researcher is one of the many databases that the library provides for you to use. It’s a little different from other databases you may have used, because it’s designed to make it easy for you to browse articles by topic. The topics that articles in CQ Researcher cover range from education issues (like homeschooling) to disputes over international law (like the ethics of war), but all have been topics of intense discussion and debate in the recent past or present.

To get to CQ Researcher, start at the UGL homepage and click the Find Articles button that you see under the Easy Search box. That will take you to the Find Articles guide, where we list some of our databases by type. CQ Researcher is a general database, so you can find a link to it in the first section that’s labelled “Starting Points (Multi-Subject Databases).”

CQ Researcher should be the third database listed under Starting Points.

What can I find in CQ Researcher?

Every topic covered in CQ Researcher will be explained in a report – a long article that provides an overview of the topic,  including background information, current controversies or problems, and potential outcomes. An editorial piece from each side of the argument – a “pro” and a “con” position – are also provided by an expert on the topic. Other helpful features include timelines of major events, and lists of suggested sources for further research. This information could be used to help you figure out what specific aspects of a general topic you’re most interested in, where you should look for more information, or how a specific issue fits into a larger issue or trend.

You can navigate through the different kinds of information provided using the menu on the left side, or explore related issues using the Issue Tracker menu on the right.

How can I use CQ Researcher?

If you already have an idea of what you’re interested in, the main page of CQ Researcher has a search feature in the upper-right hand corner of the screen. If you don’t have an idea yet, don’t worry – it also has options to browse through information by what’s been added most recently, or by general area of interest (like the ‘education’ and ‘international law’ areas we mentioned above). As you browse or search, CQ Researcher will offer suggestions for related topic in a menu on the right-hand side of the screen.

The search box is in the top-right corner, and the Browse options are in the main navigation menu under the heading.

So, if you’re trying to find an interesting, contemporary debate to explore for an assignment, or you’ve already got one and need ideas for how to approach it, find your way to the UGL homepage and try CQ Researcher. There’s also that helpful Ask-A-Librarian chat box on the UGL page, so if you should get stuck, a librarian is only a click away! We’ll be happy to help you use this or any other library resource.

Find other posts in the Spotlight On… series here.

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Not sure where to look? Start here!

Summer is halfway over (say it isn’t so!) and we know that some of you are still busy little bees, working hard to complete your summer courses. We work hard in the summer, too, often updating programs and moving things around to better suit your needs. Sometimes, while the library is rearranging and refreshing, some systems, like the catalog or Interlibrary loan, will be offline for a day or two, making it difficult to find the materials you want. This is your guide to finding everything you need, no matter what.

Photo of book stacks in a library

The UIUC libraries have hundreds of resources available to you, right at your finger tips. So even if you can’t find what you’re looking for with one tool, we usually have another one that can get you to your books, articles, and movies. Here are some good places to search for different types of resources:

  1. Books, movies, and anything else the library physically owns. Start with our catalog. This is your gateway to all the libraries’ holdings. There are links to it on the main library page, and the UGL main page.
    • Where do you go if the catalog’s not working? Try one of our newest search tools, Primo. You can follow that link, or find it linked on the main library page under the easy search box. This tool will search for not only books, but articles, journals, and other electronic resources as well. So if you’re only interested in books, make sure to select “UIUC library catalog” from the drop-down menu next to the search box.
    • If the catalog is offline, the information in Primo will be a ‘snapshot’ of what was available when the catalog was last working. The book you’re looking for may have been checked out in the meantime, but you can find out if we own it and where we keep it!
  2. Books that are owned by other libraries. Even with millions of books available, sometimes the one you need will be already be checked out, or missing. In these cases, you can use I-share to search for your item in libraries across the state that share books with us. Use the link we just provided, or choose “All I-Share Libraries” from the drop-down menu next to the search bar in the catalog.
    Drop-down menu options include Local Catalog Only and All I-Share Libraries - choose I-Share to search widely.

    Like this!

    • If you still can’t find what you need, you can request it through Interlibrary loan. You can follow that link to the ILLiad login screen (ILLiad is the system that lets you access Interlibrary Loan), or find it on the main library page under “Borrowing and Renewing Materials.” Log in with your NetID and password, then choose “Request a Book.” Fill in the details it asks for, then click “Submit Request” to send the information whizzing along to a librarian, who will work to find your items at another library and get them to you. But note: Sometimes, this system will go down, too, so make sure you’ve searched I-Share first. If it’s really not available, ask a friendly librarian for help.
  3. Articles, journals, and other electronic resources. There are so many ways to search for articles and journals, because you have access to hundreds of databases as a UIUC student. If you know a specific database that you want, you can find a link to it using the Online Journals and Databases search. Or you can use the UGL’s Find Articles Guide to help you choose a good place to start. If, though, you are looking for a particular article or journal, and you know the title, author, publication date, etc., you can use a really nifty tool called the Journal and Article Locator to search for only the item you’re interested in. Just fill in your citation information and voila, links to the article will appear on your screen. The JAL is also available from the library main page, listed under “Article Resources.”
    • If you can’t find the article you need using any of those methods, Interlibrary Loan can also help you with that! Just log into ILLiad through the main library page like you would for a book, but select “Request a Photocopy” instead. Fill in the information you have about the articles, and librarians will request a copy of it for you from an institution that owns it.

When all else fails you can always Ask a Librarian through chat, email, phone, or in person. We’re waiting to answer your questions and help you find the resources you need to succeed.

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Summer Research Cheat Sheet

Picture of Illini pool

Rays and research, the perfect combination! (Photo courtesy of ARC website)

So, Summer I classes are almost half way over. Uh, whoa! That was super-fast! Condensed coursework is great because you get to rack up some credits a whole lot quicker. But they can also be a bummer because they tend to be much more intensive with tighter deadlines than a normal semester class. But if you’re taking a class right now, we don’t need to tell you that, huh?

If the half-way point of your Summer I class means it’s time to get your research on, never fear! The UGL has some quick-n-easy resources that will help you maximize your research capabilities (and theoretically maximize your grade), all while minimizing the time you actually need to spend in the library. In fact, the time you need to physically be inside the library could add up to a whopping zero hours. Is your mind blown? Well, it should be. Here are some trade secrets for helping you through a research paper – from conceptualizing an idea to polishing the works cited page – that are all one or two clicks away on the UGL homepage.

Meet your new best friend, the “Find” Button

screenshot of UGL homepage with easy search bar highlighted

Located in the upper left corner of the UGL homepage, hovering over the “Find” button gives you the keys to a whole bundle of helpful stuff, such as:

  • Need facts and contextual info on a topic? Click on “Background Info” to search our online encyclopedias, dictionaries, almanacs, etc. You can search by subject area, resource type, or just a plain old-fashioned keyword search—user’s choice!
  • Need to narrow down a broad topic? Click on “Subject Guides” and be privy to a whole list of custom-made research guides. These guides break down common topics such as climate change, the Iraq War, teen pregnancy or media bias with a topic overview, background info, tips on finding relevant articles and books, and helpful websites.
  • Need a couple peer-reviewed articles? Click on “Articles” and you’ll automatically land on our handy “Find Articles Guide” page. Divided by multi-topic or subject-specific, this page provides links into the most commonly used databases, where you can search for articles on everything from the effects of UV rays on college students’ appetites to the sociological impacts of taking a summer road trip with a handful of your closest buds. (Extra pro tip: try looking for the department your class is in if you’re stuck—for example, if you’re taking a psych class, PscyINFO could be a good place to start.)

A Cite For Sore Eyes

Style guides are linked to on UGL page under heading 'Learn'

Citations, I love you, but you’re bringing me down. Ever feel this way while working on the reference list for your paper? Well, there’s an app for that. Err, um, a link, anyway. Near the center of the UGL homepage, under the orange “Learn” heading is a link to the APA, MLA Guides. One click here takes you to a list of resources for perfecting your citations—both in the text and in the works cited list. Oh, your instructor is requesting Chicago Style? That’s covered, too!

Ask Us! (Online)

Ask a Librarian chat box located on main library page, UGL page, and many other places.

There’s a live help chat box embedded in the UGL homepage, and it’s staffed M-F from 9am-5:30pm and Saturday & Sunday from 1pm-4:30pm. Just one more way you can get a little extra push from a librarian without leaving the air conditioned comfort of your bedroom (or the sweltering pool deck at the ARC, if your wireless so allows).

One last tip…

Our online library resources are available to you wherever you are—you just need an internet connection and your Net ID/password to access from off campus. Your crazy-busy Summer I sched might be cramping your grill out/lay out/work out seshes, but time spent in the library (while we’d be happy to have you!) doesn’t have to get in the way of your fabulous summer.

Questions about anything you read here? Ask-A-Librarian!

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Peer (-Reviewed) Pressure! Pt. 2

 Since you read part one of this post last week (right?), you know how to get to the UGL’s list of recommended databases so that you can begin searching for articles on your research topic.

This week, we want to give you a little insight into how to tell if an article is actually peer-reviewed. Not all articles available through library databases are peer-reviewed, scholarly articles, so it is important to look carefully at the articles you find  to determine if they meet the requirements for your research. Databases include articles from popular periodicals (like Time magazine), scholarly journals, and trade periodicals (like Parks & Recreation – not the TV show!). This graphic gives you an idea of what library databases include:

The graph outlines that both scholarly and non-scholarly content is available, as well as popular and trade materials.

Note the giant star on the scholarly articles!

In many databases, you can actually limit your search so that you just retrieve articles from scholarly journals:

in EBSCO databases, search limiters are on the left-hand side of the screen.

Check the box “Scholarly (Peer-Reviewed) Journals” to limit to articles from scholarly journals in an EBSCO database. Click “Update” to apply the limit.

This limit is not foolproof! Why? Because not all works published in scholarly journals are actually “peer-reviewed articles.” Here’s the reason: scholarly journals also publish things like book reviews, editorials, and news releases. These are NOT what your professors mean when they say “peer-reviewed articles.” The scholarly articles your professor wants you to use present original research, usually in a longer format, often including graphics such as charts and tables, and always including citations for all material presented.

SO: even if you limit your search to just find articles from peer-reviewed journals, you still need to examine the article citation, abstract, and even some of the full text, to determine if it’s actually a scholarly, peer-reviewed article. Answer questions such as these for every resource you want to use: Are the authors’ credentials included? Do they cite sources? Are their conclusions based on evidence (and do they provide this evidence)?

The UGL has also created several web pages to assist you with evaluating sources!

Is it scholarly? Tips for critically evaluating your information resources: This page gives you criteria you can use to analyze the sources you find. Use the criteria found on this page when trying to determine whether or not an article you find is actually a peer-reviewed article and not simply a news release or editorial found in a scholarly journal.

Is it scholarly? Distinguishing periodical types: Here you will find criteria on how to tell the difference between scholarly articles and those from trade periodicals (written for and by people in a particular profession) and popular periodicals (such as People and GQ).

Remember: you may find articles from all types of periodicals (magazines, newspapers, journals) when you search in a database. It is important to evaluate what you see so you know if it works for your assignment!




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Peer (-Reviewed) Pressure! Pt. 1

You know this has happened to you more than once (or, if it hasn’t, you can bet that it’s coming): your professor gives you an assignment that involves finding peer-reviewed articles. Upon hearing those words you catch your breath, sink a little lower in your seat, and open your calendar to block off Saturday and Sunday with the words: “@ the LIBRARY :(“.

Fear not! Finding scholarly, peer-reviewed articles as part of your research process is actually not quite as dreadful as it might sound. At the UGL, we have created several resources to make your research process a lot easier. Last week, we featured our Subject Guides, research guides created around specific topics, and this week we want to introduce some of the basics on where to go to find peer-reviewed articles.

First: what does “peer-reviewed” mean? We often use the terms “peer-reviewed” and “scholarly” interchangeably. Peer-reviewed articles are (typically) long, research articles published in scholarly journals. They are called peer-reviewed because when they are submitted for publication, a committee of experts in the author’s field reviews the research to determine if it is worthy of publication.  The information in scholarly, peer-reviewed articles is authoritative and credible–that review process helps to make sure of it.

Make sense? OK, on to finding them. Scholarly articles come from scholarly research journals, which are easily accessible from library databases. The best place to start when looking for peer-reviewed articles from databases in most disciplines (in our humble opinion) is the UGL’s Find Articles Guide

To get there, go the UGL’s home page and look for the ‘Find Articles’ button underneath the Easy Search box (see image above). Click on it – you want to ‘find articles,’ right?

There are also links to the catalog and course reserves.

 Then you’ll arrive at the following page:

screenshot of find articles guide

Our Find Articles Guide is organized by subject area. We give you a basic list of the central databases in each field as a general starting point for most research.

Library databases come in many forms: some are general, like Academic Search Premier and Academic OneFile, which means that they include all kinds of research in all kinds of fields, from sources ranging from scholarly journals to popular magazines. These general databases are great starting points (see above!) for research on any topic.

Other databases are more subject-specific. That is why our Find Articles page is organized by discipline or subject area. Sometimes, it’s obvious which subject area to look under to find the appropriate research: if you’re searching for peer-reviewed articles for a business class, you’d probably want to turn to the databases listed under the Business heading.

Sometimes, though, it’s a little less clear. Some research topics are inter-disciplinary. For example: say you’re doing research for a communications class that involves talking about health and wellness issues. You will probably need to look for articles in databases from both the Communication and Medicine and Health disciplines–both of which are listed on the Find Articles page.

While all of these databases–except for CQ Researcher and those listed under the “Newspapers” heading–include peer-reviewed articles, that is not all they offer. You need to do some legwork to determine if the articles you find are peer-reviewed.

Be sure to check out Peer (-Reviewed) Pressure Part Two next week to learn more about how to determine if an article in a database is actually a scholarly, peer-reviewed article.

As always feel free to leave a comment or question! Or Ask-a-Librarian.

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