Normandale Community College

Normandale Community College

Welcome to Normandale Library
Use this page to find research resources for your class.
Contact the Library if you need any help!
Start Here
Welcome to the library research guide for concurrently enrolled Freshman Composition students! This guide will help walk you through the research process as you work on your research assignment. Follow the steps outlined to follow the research process. Doing research can take time, so be patient with yourself and the process. As you work through the steps, contact the library if you have any questions.

Please note: some of these resources are only available to concurrently enrolled students, who have a StarID.
Step 1: Create a Manageable Topic
Before you start researching, it's important to make sure your topic isn't too big or too small. If your topic is too big and broad, you'll find too many sources. If your topic is too small or narrow it will be hard to find any sources at all. We create the right size topic by asking ourselves questions to determine the different aspects of a topic. 

Watch this video from CSUSB for more ideas on how create a manageable topic:

To create a manageable topic, ask yourself these questions (be specific with answers!):
  • WHO does this affect? WHO is interested? WHO is this about? WHO do I want to focus on? (Examples: students, children, young adults, teachers)
  • WHAT are some related topics? WHAT else is interesting to me?
  • WHERE is this topic relevant? WHERE do I want to focus? (Examples: Minnesota, Minneapolis)
  • WHEN was this topic relevant? WHEN in time was this important? (Examples: Current, 20th century, 1980s)
Step 2: Brainstorm Keywords
After you feel like you have a good handle on your topic, you need to brainstorm keywords. These are the words you will use when you start researching. You'll want to make a list of synonyms for your topic as well as related words. The answers to the questions you asked can also be keywords. For more information on keywords, watch these videos:


From Northwestern University:

Step 3: Find Sources
The Normandale Library has many databases to help you find your sources. Each database contains different articles, which are not available on Google.

Here is a video from NEIU about using databases:


Here are some of the Library's best databases for finding sources on your topics. Remember to use keywords! Also, each database contains different articles so if the first database doesn't work, try a different one. Note: these databases are only available to students who are concurrently enrolled at Normandale and have a StarID to log in.

Gale Virtual Reference Library Restricted Resource
Gale Virtual Reference Library logoGale Virtual Reference Library is a collection of full-text e-books that includes dictionaries, encyclopedias, and reference books in biography, history, literature, medicine, and more. If you need background information on a topic, this is a good place to start.

Academic Search Premier Restricted Resource
Academic Search PremierAcademic Search Premier is a multi-disciplinary database designed specifically for academic institutions. It includes articles from academic journals, popular magazines, and major newspapers.

Expanded Academic ASAP Restricted Resource
Expanded Academic ASAPExpanded Academic ASAP offers balanced coverage on a wide range of topics including social sciences, humanities, education, science and technology, current events, and international news. Over three thousand periodical titles are indexed, and over 2,000 of them include full-text articles.

ProQuest News & Newspapers Restricted Resource
Provides full text coverage of thousands of U.S. and international newspapers. Includes the former ProQuest Newsstand collection, now named Global Newsstream. This searches for newspaper articles only.
Step 4: Evaluate Your Sources
If you're unsure whether or not a source is credible, use these links to help you decide.

Evaluating Internet Resources
Criteria to use when evaluating the quality of an Internet site 

Evaluating Web Pages: Techniques to Apply & Questions to Ask
(from UC Berkeley)

Evaluating Sources Chart
from Oakland University Libraries

Remember: YOU decide if a source is credible and appropriate for your paper. The links above will guide you through questions to help you decide.
Ask a Librarian
Questions? Ask us!Ask Us

Call or e-mail a librarian if you need further research assistance. We're happy to help!

  (952) 358-8290



Chat with a Librarian 24/7

Your question may be directed to a librarian from another college when Normandale librarians are unavailable.

Use Library Resources Off Campus
Reminder: all library databases are only available to students who are currently enrolled in a Normandale class.

Access Databases from Off Campus
In order to access databases and other Library resources from off campus, login with your StarID and password when prompted.  Off-campus access to library databases is only available to current Normandale students, staff, and faculty.
Cite Your Sources (MLA)
MLA Quick Guide
See MLA citation examples for the most common types of sources (8th edition).

MLA Formatting and Style Guide (OWL at Purdue)
This website offers examples for the general format of MLA research papers, in-text citations, and the Works Cited page.

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