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Seven Steps to Library Research: Topic Context

Seven Steps to Library Research - A step-by-step guide to efficient research using your MSJC Library.

Reference Sources

Why use reference books? Reference books provide you with:

  • A springboard to background information on a topic
  • Important dates covering the who, what, where, when and why of a topic
    for the ‘who, what, when, and how
    for the ‘who, what, when, and how
  • Important individuals and explanation of terms surrounding a topic
    for the ‘who, what, when, and how

Reference resources can also be a good starting point in selecting a research topic. After reviewing reference resources you can develop a plan of where to concentrate your research efforts on topics you want to explore further.

Online Reference Resources (off-campus access requires signing in using your mymsjc user name and password):

Computer Mouse

  • Credo Reference - Credo Reference is an online resource that contains content from  524 reference books covering every major subject.
  • Gale eBooks - Gale eBooks is a database of academic eBooks, encyclopedias, and specialized reference sources covering a variety of subject areas.


TIP: Use the BIBLIOGRAPHIES or REFERENCES at the end of articles, chapters, and books to look for additional sources.

Remember that many, if not most, of the books and articles you find will include references or bibliographies of the sources the authors used in their research. Check these for additional useful resources you might be able to use for your own research.

You may be able to identify a number of books and articles on your topic in a relatively short time by routinely following up on sources cited in bibliographies. Just be sure to watch the dates of publication for those sources to be sure they aren't too old for the requirements in your assignment.