Advanced Reference
Creating Handouts and Exercises


Annotated Readings
Creating Handouts and Exercises
Dialog project 1
Dialog project 2
DIG_LIB Listserv
EBSCO Online Lab
Evaluation of Reference Sources
Information Portals
Live Chat Reference Service
Meta vs. search engine
Public and Academic Library Websites
Reference Policy Statement
Virtual Reference Form

ILS604-70 Advanced Reference

Pamela R. Dennis

March 23, 2003

Unit 7-2 Creating Handouts and Exercises



            Assumptions:  For this assignment, it must be assumed that the 200 students in the Speech Communication 109 course make up more than one class.  The hands-on session for each class will meet in a computer lab that includes Internet connection and access to the librarys databases and online catalog.  If the lab is not in the library, the librarian will have a cart of appropriate reference books, including a thesaurus, Social Science Index, Current Biography, Newsmakers, and others.

The Reference Librarian will discuss aspects of choosing a topic and narrowing down the search.  Students will be introduced to both the online and print thesaurus and discuss with the librarian results of a simple word list.  Basic search skills will be discussed for searching the print edition of Social Science Index and online sources, specifically InfoTrac OneFile.  Boolean and truncation searching will be particularly emphasized.  Students will begin using these resources by substituting terms related to their own topics.  Once articles are found, students will be taught to differentiate betweens scholarly and popular journals.  Then the students will be taught to evaluate the source with using contemporary biographies in electronic and print resources.  Finally, the students will be provided information on citing bibliographic resources, with particular emphasis on periodicals.  Students will turn in evaluation and exercise at end of term.

Handouts include:

Library Instruction for Speech Communication 109 (objectives and tools)

Basic Principles of Database Searching

Basic Principles of Searching Social sciences Index

Searching InfoTrac OneFile

Scholarly vs. Popular Journal Articles

Evaluating Sources

Exercise Database Search Strategy Worksheet

Evaluation Form

Library Instruction for Speech Communication 109




1.                  Develop a suitable topic for research.

2.                  Identify keywords, synonyms, and related terms for the information needed.

3.                  Construct a search strategy using appropriate commands for the information.

4.                  Distinguish between popular and scholarly sources.

5.                  Read the text and select main ideas.

6.                  Determine probable accuracy by questioning the source of the data, the limitations of the information gathering tools or strategies, and the reasonableness of the conclusions.

7.                  Determine whether to incorporate or reject viewpoints encountered.  Integrate the new and prior information, including quotations and paraphrasings, in a manner that supports the purposes of the project or performance.

8.                  Quote and cite sources in a way that gives proper credit and avoids plagiarism.


Tools that will be examined (Internet helps are included in parentheses for additional study):


1.                  Thesaurus (online and print)

2.                  Basic search skills  (online and Social Sciences Index)

3.                  Searching InfoTrac OneFile (basic and advanced search)-!help_Subject_Search

4.                  Scholarly vs. popular journal -

5.                  Evaluating the source

6.                  Developing proper citations -



Basic Principles of Database Searching

The basic principles you need to master are: choosing keywords, using Boolean operators, and using truncation.

You may get too many results the first time you search on your topic.  If you retrieve too many records you may need to narrow the focus as follows: 

  • add additional keywords with AND;
  • use more specific keywords;
  • use thesaurus terms in conjunction with other keywords;
  • limit to particular fields (e.g. specific journal or publication year).

If you get too few results:

  • check your spelling;
  • use truncation;
  • use all possible synonyms, alternative terminology/spelling and combine these using OR; check the thesaurus terms

Choosing keywords

Consider all possible words or phrases (referred to as keywords) that might be used to describe a subject. These should include related terms; variations in word endings (e.g. singular, plural, adjectives); synonyms; variant terminology and alternative spellings.

Examples:  Employee satisfaction or Staff satisfaction; Clinical effectiveness or Treatment outcome; Health education or Health promotion or Patient education

Be specific to achieve the most relevant hits BUT do not use long descriptive phrases which would only find articles with that exact phrase in the title or abstract.

Using Boolean Operators (for more information

To retrieve relevant information you need to be able to link concepts/keywords together. Most databases use Boolean operators to do this. There are three:


Either one term or another is present used for synonyms or alternate spellings

child OR adolescent


More than one keyword is present

child AND adolescent


Specifies that a term is not present

child NOT adolescent

NOT should be used with caution to keep from eliminating information.


Keywords may have variant endings - singular, plural and adjectives - all of which may be relevant to your subject. If you enter a keyword in the singular form, you will only retrieve records which have the word in that form.

Type in the word stem plus the truncation symbol (* or ? or ! depending on what you are truncating) to retrieve all the variant forms of the word. Some examples:



























Based on



Basic Principles of Searching Social Sciences Index

Sample Record


Casual employment in Australia and temporary employment in Europe: developing a cross-national comparison


Campbell, I; Burgess, J


Work, Employment and Society; 15 (1) Mar 2001, p.171-84






Reviews the international data on the incidence and trends of temporary employment and summarises current research in Europe; examines the Australian case. Highlights the pattern of rapid growth in casual employment, explains what is meant by the category of casual, both in official statistics and in practice, and considers the pitfalls in using the Australian data on casual employees in cross-national comparisons of temporary employees. Concludes with comments on the differences and similarities in the comparison of trends in casual employment in Australia and trends in temporary employment in Europe. (Original abstract - amended)


refs. tbls.




Publication Year


Temporary employment; Labour market; Crossnational studies; European Union; Australia






Accession Number


Searching InFoTrac OneFile

Keyword Search

Keyword search lets you match words in the articles themselves, not just in controlled index terms.

Here's how to search:

  1. Click on the entry box
  2. Enter one or more words
  3. Click on [Search]

InfoTrac searches for your words within two words of each other in either direction (to allow for variations).

You can leave in words such as the and a even though these are stop words and are not indexed. InfoTrac knows how to search as if stop words weren't there. If you're not sure of a spelling or want to search for alternate spellings or endings, use one or more wildcards in your search. You can also use logical operators to combine words in various ways.

Desired Search Result


Match exact phrase only

civil w1 war

Match words somewhere in same article

civil and war


Use the radio buttons to switch between searching

  • Only in titles, citations, and abstracts
  • Anywhere in articles (including any text)


Limiting lets you impose specific controls on the search result to produce a smaller result set that is more precisely focused on what you want. The following are ways you can limit your search:

  • To articles with full text
  • To articles from refereed (peer-reviewed) publications
  • To articles published within a date range
  • To articles from particular journals (publications)

The History section at the bottom of the page displays search result sets:

  • To see citations, select View
  • To clear the history list, select Start over in the left-hand column

To search for articles by topic, do a Subject Guide Search.

To search for articles by matching words that occur in the articles themselves, with the best matches displayed first, do a Relevance Search.

To search for articles by using one or more indexes, do an Advanced Search.

Advanced Search

Advanced Search lets you create complex search expressions. A search expression is composed of at least one search term. It might also include index abbreviations and search operators. A search expression might also contain one or more result sets from the History list, designated R1, R2, and so on.

Hint: It's often best to perform compound searches one step at a time and then to combine the result sets. This assures you that each part of the search is working.

Here are some example of search expressions:

su recovered memor*

Searches for articles indexed under subjects in which recovered and words that begin with "memor" (memory, memories, etc.) occur


(wom?n or female!) and education

Searches using the default (Keyword) index for articles in which any or all of woman, women, female, and females occur and in which education also occurs. The wildcards stand for different numbers of letters. The nesting operators (parentheses) cause the or operation to be performed before the and (which normally would be performed first and produce a different result).



Produces a browse list of journals (publications) in which the word Review occurs.


ti book w1 reviews and au bouchard

Searches for articles in which book is immediately followed by review in the title (actually the annotation) and the author of which is named Bouchard (alone or as part of a hyphenated name). The proximity operator w1 indicates the direction (forward) and the number of words apart (one, meaning no intervening words). \


da since june 1997

Searches using the publication date index for articles published after June 1997


R3 and da 9 march 1998

Searches for articles from result set 3 (perhaps the result of a journal name search) that have a publication date of March 9, 1998


R2 not R3

Searches for articles in result set 2 that are not also in result set 3



Sometimes you might want to find more than just exact matches to a search term. Wildcards let you substitute symbols for one or more letters.

With wildcards, you can match

  • both the singular and plural forms of a word
  • words that begin with the same root
  • words that can be spelled in different ways

You can even match words that you're not sure how to spell!

There are three wildcard operators:


An asterisk (*) stands for any number of characters, including none, and is especially useful when you want to find all words that share the same root. For example, pigment* matches pigment, pigments, pigmentation, etc.

An asterisk can also be used within a word, but the other wildcards are more precise for this kind of use.


A question mark (?) stands for exactly one character and is especially useful when you're uncertain of a spelling. For example, a search like relev?nce means you can match the word relevance even if, like many of us, you can't remember whether it's spelled with ance or ence.

A question mark is also useful for finding certain words with variant spellings. For example, defen?e finds both defense (American) and defence (British and Canadian). Multiple question marks in a row stand for the same number of characters as there are question marks. For example, psych????y matches either psychology or psychiatry but not psychotherapy.


An exclamation point (!) stands for one or no characters and is especially useful when you want to match the singular and plural of a word but not other forms. For example, product! matches product and products but not productive or productivity. The exclamation point can also be used inside a word to match certain variant spellings. For example, colo!r matches both color (American) and colour (British).

If you see a message about a search being invalid, you'll need to add at least one character before one of the wildcards.



Scholarly vs. Popular Journal Articles


                                    Scholarly                                               Popular


Longer articles, providing in-depth analysis of topics

Shorter articles, providing broader overviews of topics


Author usually an expert or specialist in the field, name and credentials always provided

Author usually a staff writer or a journalist, name and credentials often not provided


Written in the jargon of the field for scholarly readers (professors, researchers or students)

Written in non-technical language for anyone to understand


Articles usually more structured, may include these sections: abstract, literature review, methodology, results, conclusion, bibliography

Articles do not necessarily follow a specific format or structure

 Special Features

Illustrations that support the text, such as tables of statistics, graphs, maps, or photographs

Illustrations with glossy or color photographs, usually for advertising purposes


Articles usually reviewed and critically evaluated by a board of experts in the field (refereed)

Articles are not evaluated by experts in the field, but by editors on staff 


A bibliography (works cited) and/or footnotes are always provided to document research thoroughly

A bibliography (works cited) is usually not provided, although names of reports or references may be mentioned in the text



Using this information, compare the following two articles.  Which would you say is from a scholarly article and which is from a popular journal?  How can you tell?


Steve Rhodes, The Luck of the Draw:  A privately funded school-voucher lottery has low-income parents hopingand critics yelping, Newsweek 133 (April 26, 1999), 41.!xrn_51_0_A54501428?sw_aep=a30sc


Mary Herring and Timothy Bledsoe, A model of lottery participation:  Demographics, context, and attitudes, Policy Studies Journal 22 (Summer 1994), 245-258.!xrn_88_0_A16423872?sw_aep=a30sc

Evaluating Sources


Basic Criteria for Evaluating Information

The following questions give you some good guidelines for recognizing what type of source (scholarly, popular, political, etc.) you are reading and for evaluating its relevance and usefulness to your topic and your research process in general.  Prior to evaluating the source, however, it is important to remain attentive to the thoughtful and creative ideas and questions that you bring to your research process and that may be fueled in a first reading of this source.  That is, scrutinizing the text for answers to the following list of questions will not necessarily give you all the "answers" you are looking for in your research; approach the text in the spirit of curiosity and creativity, guided as much by the following questions as by your own sets of questions and interests.

1.  Authorship

  • Who wrote the information? 
  • What are his or her credentials and professional affiliation? 
  • If there isn't an author listed, is the information authored by a government, corporate, or non-profit agency?  Is the agency or organization recognized in the field in which you are studying, and is it suitable to address your topic?

2.  Currency

  • Does your topic require current information?
  • Does the source include a date of publication or a "last updated" date?

3.  Publishing Body

  • Periodical articles
    • Is the article from a mass media/popular magazine, a substantive news source, or a scholarly journal? 
    • Can you tell who the intended audience of the periodical is (general readers, experts, practitioners, etc.)? 
    • Is the purpose of the periodical to inform, educate, persuade, entertain, sell, etc.? 
    • Does it have a particular editorial slant?
  • Books
    • Is the book published by an academic press or a commercial publisher? 
    • If a commercial publisher, do they publish primarily scholarly or popular books?
  • Web Sites
    • To what domain does the site belong (edu, gov, org, com, net, etc.), and is this information important for your assessment of a site?
    • Is the name of the individual or organization responsible for the overall site provided?  Is there a link to information about their mission or purpose?

In general, popular sources do not require extensive prior knowledge of a topic.  Scholarly sources assume a greater level of sophistication and knowledge on the part of the reader.  See Distinguishing Scholarly Journals from other Periodicals for more information.

4.  Point of View or Bias

  • Is the information provided as fact or opinion?
  • What kind of evidence is provided?
  • Is the information consistent with information from other sources?

5.  References to other sources

  • Does the source include a bibliography or links to other web sites?
  • What types of sources are cited (primary/secondary, popular/scholarly, current/historical, etc.)

6.  Relevance to your topic and assignment

  • Is the language and approach suitable to your level of expertise on the subject?
  • What are your biases or assumptions on this subject and your expectations for the source?
  • Does the source provide information that supports or challenges your point of view?  Does it verify information from other sources you're using? 

7.  Format, Organization, and Appearance

  • Does the individual source or overall work include:
    • Advertisements
    • Table of contents and/or index
    • Graphics - photographs, charts, tables, images


Database Search Strategy Worksheet


Name ______________________________              Date __________________   


Please fill out this form to help assist you in determining the best search strategy for your topic.  Items 1-4 will be completed and discussed during the reference session.  The remainder of the worksheet will be turned in to the Speech Communication professor with the accompanying final paper.


  1. State your research topic (in one complete sentence).

(Example:  Is the lottery effective in providing an equal education to children who

are victims of poverty?)







  1. List any limitations such as language, period of time, etc.

(Example:  English, 1990-2003)




  1. List concept terms you think might be useful in searching your topic.  (Concepts can be linked by use of Boolean operators and may need to be truncated for more results.)  Example:


Concept 1                   Concept 2                   Concept 3

lottery                           education                      poverty

gambling                       school                           poor

            chance                          learning             minority











  1. Write out your search strategies using the information in #3.  (Keep a log of all sources consulted and keywords or headings searched, noting both successes and failures.)  Example:  (lotter* or gambling) and (educat* or learn*) and (poverty or minority)






  1. Find three scholarly articles related to your topic.  List below your reasons for selecting these articles; i.e., what makes them scholarly.












  1. Do the articles present both sides of the issue?









  1. Do the articles give background information on the author or organization responsible for the article?








  1. Give the correct bibliographic citation for each article.



Evaluation Form



1.                  Did you find the library instruction session helpful in completing this assignment?


_____ Helpful        ____ Somewhat helpful            _____ Not helpful


2.                  Do you feel you can successfully select keywords?


_____ Yes             _____ No                    _____ Dont Know


3.                  Can you distinguish between a scholarly and popular journal?


_____ Yes             _____ No                    _____ Dont Know


4.                  Are you comfortable citing bibliographic sources?


_____ Yes             _____ No                    _____ Dont Know


5.                  Were the handouts helpful?


_____ Yes             _____ No


6.                  Did the librarian seem interested in the topic?


_____ Yes             _____ No                   


7.                  Was the librarian helpful to you individually?


_____ Yes             _____ No                    _____ Did not need individual help


8.                  Would you be interested in attending a library instruction session in other classes?


_____ Yes             _____ No                    _____ Dont Know


Advanced Reference