The Research Basics guide is intended to give you an overview of the research process. It will outline the use of books, articles and websites plus give you some general research information. If you have questions at any time during your research, please ask a librarian. If you need an item the library does not own, you may request the material on Interlibrary Loan.
Books are useful for broad, in-depth analysis of a subject but are usually not as current as periodicals or newspapers. They often have bibliographies which will lead to other sources for research. Books in the UNCSA library are located through the online catalog which will tell you if we have the book, if it’s available to be checked out, where it’s located and the call number. The online catalog can be searched by title, keyword, author or subject.
A note about subject searching — since our library uses the Library of Congress classification system to organize materials, you must use Library of Congress subject headings for subject searches in the online catalog. The subject headings are contained in the large red volumes in the reference area.
These subject areas are used to assign call numbers. The call numbers begin with a series of letters followed by numbers and allow you to locate the book on the shelf. You must write down the entire call number in order to find the material. If you’re unsure about using the call number to find your item, follow the instructions below.
How to read a call number
For a book with the call number PR235 E916:
The first set of numbers and letters are read alphabetically then numerically; you’ll look for PR after PQ then 235 in numerical order within the PRs. The circulating book collection is split between two floors; books with call numbers beginning with A through PN are on the main floor with PQ through Z located in the lower stacks.
The next set of letters is again alphabetical but the numbers are in decimal order; in other words look for the Es then 916 will come after 91 but before 92.
Newspaper and journal articles are useful for more current treatment of a subject because they come out monthly, weekly or even daily. You can find a specific article on a particular subject by using an index. The index will list citations which contain information such as the title of the article, the name of the journal, page numbers and publication dates. Write down the complete citation since it is necessary for finding the article as well as for your bibliography. An example of a citation is listed below.
Example of a journal citation:
Everest’s shadow [experience of J. Krakauer]. W. Plummer. il pors People Weekly v47 p 52-7 Je 2′97.
Parts of a citation:
Everest’s shadow – title of the article, W. Plummer – author of the article
il - illustrated, pors – portraits
People Weekly – title of the journal; italicized in many print indexes
v47 – volume 47, p52-7 – page numbers of the article
Je 2, ‘97 – June 2, 1997 – date of the issue in which the article appears
Newspaper citations will include the same types of information.
Indexes and Databases
Indexes are available in print in the reference department of the library, online by using the links for Browse Databases by Subject/Title on the library home page or through the Databases link in the online catalog. Databases are collections of online indexes as well as other types of materials such as encyclopedias and books. Many of the databases have full-text articles but only index journals published in the last 20-30 years; for material older than that, use the print indexes. The databases can be accessed from off-campus using your campus email username and password or your campus ID number.
The library does not subscribe to all the journals in any index so check the online catalog to see if the library has the journal you need. Current periodicals are shelved in alphabetical order in the periodicals reading area and back issues are bound and shelved in call number order in the lower stacks. The online catalog will provide the call number for the journal as well as a listing of the volumes of the journal in the library.