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Library Research - How to Begin

OneSearch How To's

These videos are meant to be quick and basic introductions to big ideas. They will give you information about the research process but you need the knowledge too. Please read this entire Library Guide so you understand the big picture of what you are doing when you are researching. 

If you have any problems along the way, please get in touch with the library. Either through our chat service, by phone, text, email, or best of all, come and see us in person!

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How to Find an Electronic Journal Article (simplified)


One of the key features of the college experience is writing research papers. Research papers provide to opportunity to:

·         Develop a knowledge base within your area of study

·         Develop the ability to evaluate, summarize, analyze and present information.

This guide will provide you with a frame work to begin your research. Use the navigation bar on the left to find information on:

  • How and where to begin research

  • Finding sources written by experts

  • Organizing sources

Research itself is a skill that needs to be developed, so don’t get discouraged if you do not find what you are looking for right away. Keep trying and if you get stuck, ask for help. The GPRC Library reference staff will be happy to guide you during your research process. We can help in person at the reference desk, through e-mail or chat.

Know Your Stuff

A Glossary to get you started

Call Number – books in the GPRC Library have each been given unique, alpha-numeric codes to allow for easy retrieval. These codes are based on a classification system that categorizes groups of knowledge together so that books about Music will be shelved together, Psychology books will be shelved together, and so on. This classification system is quite different from what you may be used to but don’t fret, the trick to understanding the numbers is to read the call numbers line by line.

NEOS – a lending agreement exists between GPRC and 16 other academic libraries in Alberta. This  group of libraries is called NEOS (Networking Edmonton’s Online Systems). The agreement means that GPRC students can request books from these other institutions at no charge to the student. Requests can be filled within 2-3 business days.

Interlibrary loan (ILL) – A request for a book or material from another institution. ILLs are of no cost to students and take approximately 2-3 business days to fulfill. An email will be sent to your GPRC email address when the material is ready to be picked up from the GPRC Library.

Library barcode & PIN – Your library barcode is found on the back of your student ID card. Unless you change it, your PIN will be the last four digits of the library barcode.

Database (electronic) – Electronic databases provide access to electronic journals and articles. Databases function like a portal or doorway to an area of study, since they often have a collection of thematic or discipline specific ejournals (Nursing, Education, Pyschology).

Reserves – materials for a specific class that an instructor has loaned to the library for a period of time. These may be textbooks, videos, or articles. During the introductory lesson when the syllabus is reviewed and the required textbook is discussed, be sure to ask the instructor if the textbook is on reserve at the library.

Journals – journals are similar to magazines, such as Maclean’s or National Geographic. The major and essential difference is the content you will find inside. Journals publish articles written by experts and researchers. Before the articles are published, they are peer-reviewed by other experts to ensure accuracy and legitimacy. These articles are often what the majority of research assignments are based on. The GPRC Library has printed and electronic journals.

eJournals – electronic journals provide immediate and extensive access to articles. If you are off-campus, you will need to log in using the barcode from the back of your Student ID, the PIN is the last four digits.

Cite, citing, and citation – acknowledging another’s idea or research within your paper. There are three styles of citation and each area of study has a preferred style which should be noted in your assignment. If you are not sure of what style to use, ask your instructor. If you are not sure of how to cite, please visit the Learning Support Centre located in the GPRC Library.

Keyword Searching – when using keyword searching within GPRC Library databases, the system will look for the articles and materials that have those words anywhere in the description. Keyword searching is a good way to begin research, however the results will be broad and extensive.

Subject  Searching – when using subject searching within GPRC Library databases, the system will look for materials that have been categorized with the words in your subject search. Subject searching will yield very specific results.

Libguides -  Short for library-guides, these are meant to help students begin research in a specific area. Each libguide provides links to content that will be specific to your area of study.

Boolean operators – AND, OR, NOT, and *. Using these operators in an advanced search can narrow, widen, or specify your results.

                AND – to tie ideas together in your search.  Narrows your search.

                        i.e.  alberta AND politics   

                OR – to include words that have similar meanings. Widens your search.

                       i.e. Indigenous OR Aboriginal OR First Nations OR Native

                NOT – to exclude results that are related but have distinctly different meanings. Specifies search.

                       i.e. cars NOT trucks

                * - allows you to search for words that have the same root. Widens your search.

                       i.e.      child* = child, children.

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