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Starting Library Research

a guide to the variety of resources the library offers.

Selecting a Research Topic

Pick a topic you enjoy! You want something that is broad enough that you can find information and yet narrow enough that you are not overwhelmed with sources. 

Article Search Tips

Finding the best articles on your topic requires these steps.

  • Select an appropriate database.
  • Enter and combine terms appropriate to your topic
  • Scan the best items on the results list and look for new subject terms or keywords. Then revise your search using these new terms.
  • Save the journal title, volume, date, and page numbers.  This is all part of the "citation". 
  • Explore other databases and subject terms (which vary between databases) for more information.

LionSearch Basics

For full text items, click the "full text online" link to go to the full text of the article.

  • If you see the Penn State "GetIt" menu and you need to click the word "article" to get to the full text. 
  • If there is no "article" link, click the word "journal" to get to the journal page and look for the correct year, volume, issue and pages for the article you need.
Tip: Save the relevant sources into the LionSearch temporary folder by clicking on the small folder icon to right side of the item.  When you are finished compiling your sources, click on the folder icon at the top of the screen and email or print (which allows you to copy into your clipboard) the references so you can easily add them to your project. 
 
CAVEAT: computer systems make mistakes when auto-formatting.  
Don’t lose your work!  Unless you sign up for Refworks, items are saved in LionSearch ONLY for your current session.  You won’t be able to go back later and see a list of saved items.

Basic book searching

  • Use the Browse function if you are looking for a specific title or author (type last name first).
  • Use the Keyword function and combine terms to search on a topic then use the subject headings from relevant books for additional search terms.
  • Write down the call number and location for any book you want. If the item is not at your campus use the "I Want It" button to request it. 
  • For electronic books, click the link under the words "online content" to access the full text

You can also find books via

Subject Guides

For those that might need specific help, please feel free to contact our subject guides. 

Instructors/IDs

Want a different guide? Please contact us here: