For Students: Research Tools

The University Writing Program values excellence in research and critical thinking. If you are starting on a research project, or if your project is already underway, you should refer to the following resources:

LSU Libraries: The library is always a good starting place for any research-oriented task. Middleton Library contains four floors worth of reading materials as well as computer labs, printers, scanners, copiers, quiet study rooms, and help desks. Online, you can use the libraries' online catalogue to search for manuscripts and microforms, or you can use the "Advanced Search" option to narrow your range of resources. Several manuscripts are available as eBooks; look for books that give you electronic access. You can also use your library-account to renew materials, report a lost book, or pay bills online. If you are interested, LSU libraries maintain a blog with important information for students, such as special hours and events. If you have any questions, call the Circulation Desk at 225-578-2058.

Ask a Librarian: If you are not sure exactly how to go about your research, or if you need technical assistance, you can contact a librarian in one of several ways, including phone, email, and text message.

Electronic Journals: Increasingly, scholarly journals publish their materials electronically, and LSU libraries provides students with access to many of these resources. In other words, rather than having to find a copy of a journal or purchase a subscription, you can search through journals online using LSU's subscriptions. If you are on campus, you should be able to access journals automatically. If you are off campus or on a private computer (like a laptop), you will need to enter your LSUID number and password to verify your identity. (Note: Your password is not the same as your PAWS password; contact the reference desk if you are accessing journals for the first time.)

Government Documents: This resource provides you with access to governmental documents and forms, including IRS forms, income tax forms, census data, U.S. regulations, newspapers, and more.

Indexes and Databases: If you want to conduct a more general search for stories and articles, you can use LSU's online databases to search through relevant and credible sources. Click on "Frequently-Used Databases" for the most popular search-engines; or, if you want to narrow your search, select a database by topic. As with the electronic journals, you will have to enter your LSUID and password if you are accessing these databases off-campus or on a private computer.

Interlibrary Loan: Also known as "ILLiad," Interlibrary Loan allows you to get a copy of materials that LSU does not currently own. Set up your ILLiad account online, and once you've logged in, you can submit a request for an item by providing the necessary information (title, author, date of publication, etc.). The time required to fulfill a request varies, but you can have electronic copies of articles posted to your account, which often speeds up the process.

Internet Detective: This website is a helpful introduction to using the Internet for academic research in college. Since the Internet is widely accessible and largely unedited, you must practice taking a critical approach to Internet research, investigating the quality and credibility of information you cite. This website also offers instruction in citing correctly and avoiding plagiarism.

Special Collections: Hill Memorial Library maintains an extensive collection of resources that are difficult to find anywhere else. Furthermore, Hill organizes special exhibitions, including oral histories, digitized newspapers, rare books, and even a large collection of comic books from the "Silver Age" (1950s and 60s). Many of these resources cannot leave the library, so make sure you go to Hill Memorial Library with a research plan.

MLA Format Guide: Purdue University's Online Writing Lab (OWL) is a regularly updated resource for information on research strategies, grammar, and documentation. This link will take you to the OWL's MLA-formatting section, since MLA is typical in the Humanities. However, you can also look up other frequently use formats, including APA and Chicago. Remember to keep a track record of your research so that you are able to provide all the necessary documentation when asked.