I sampled 3 textbooks to indicate highlights of College Level teaching about how to conduct research, to be sure one's writing includes valid information:

1. Rules for Writers, Second Edition, Diana Hacker; 1988; St. Martin Press, Inc.

2. Twenty Questions for the Writer, Third Edition, Jacqueline Berke: 1981; Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, Inc.

3. The Brief New Century Handbook, Third Edition; 2005; Christine A Hult Thomas N. Huckin, Pearson Longman

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In book 3, chapter 7 is named "The Research Project."  It's about using "information from external sources."  In section 7a the writer instructs the student to use "appropriate documentation."

Section 7d explains how a bibliography is to show what sources were consulted to find information.

Section 7f  tells of online database services such as Lexis-Nexis or EBSCOHost to find articles from magazines, newspapers, and professional journals.

Section 8c tells how to use search tools on the internet.  Web sites are listed for academic information, online journals listed by academic subject, census data, Bureau of Justice Statistics, Labor Statistics, Library of Congress, and much more.

In Chapter 9, good advice is given to "...evaluate what you read.  The tendency to believe everything one reads is dangerous, especially with respect to internet sources."

Section 9a tells us to "...choose legitimate sources."  There's a discussion of how, for some subjects, a professional journal can be more scholarly to quote from, than the popular press.  It's explained that evaluation of an author's credentials is important.

In book 1, Chapter 51 is titled, "Researching."

Because this is an older book, the physical library is indicated as the primary source of information, rather than computers.

The book lists reference works such as...

specialized encyclopedias
biographical references
almanacs and year books
unabridged dictionaries
Three types of catalogs are listed to locate books:
The chapter goes on to explain what a card catalog shows, using an actual sample card to illustrate.

Sample Library of Congress Subject headings are shown, as well as magazine and newspaper indexes and specialized periodical indexes.

Section 51d is titled, "Evaluate sources for relevance and reliability."  In that section it says, "By reading book reviews, you can learn whether a book was well received by experts..."  It also informs us that "Biographical directories in many fields list the publications of well-known scholars; checking these will help establish the credentials of an author."

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Book number 2, also an older one, has a section titled "Research: Major Reference Sources"  Again, the outdated physical card catalog is illustrated as a method to find books in the library.

The primary research tools are listed:

Biographical Works
Yearbooks and Almanacs
The author tells of the "reference librarian who's job is to guide researchers..."  The book say one can obtain an "interlibrary loan."

Then there's...

special reference books
general bibliographies
periodical indexes and abstracts
government publications


By Bruce Kettler    E-Mail      Updated November 3, 2008