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English 101/102: Home

Research Tips

  1. Start with a research question about your topic, and break out the keywords to use for your searches.
    Sample topic: What are the possible consequences associated with fake news on social media?
    Keywords for your search may include any combination of the following: fake news, misinformation, mass media, social media, social implications/consequences, social networking, digital media, and online ethics.
  2. While searching, you can email, print or save titles of interest.
  3. Your citations are formatted for you – look on the right hand side for the “citation tools”.​

Most importantly, when your instructor asks for "Scholarly" or "Academic" articles, they want a peer-reviewed academic journal from a database!  Check out How to Read Scholarly Articles to help you better tackle your assignments!

Tips for Using the Library Catalog (Books)

Search the library catalog here.

  1. You can search the catalog for a book by author, title or subject.

  2. Items that are in the “Stacks” and have a status of “Available” may be checked out.

  3. Limit to the location “Harold Washington College” to only view items in the HWC Library. If there is a book at another CCC college you can place it on hold and have it shipped here for free.

Tips for Using the Library Databases (Articles/Academic Journals)

Use the “Subject List of Library Databases” on the main library page to access databases.

  1. Look for the search box. Databases may look different from one another, but most have common features that you will recognize with repeated use.
  2. You will find “limiters” on the left-hand side of every database. Always select “Full Text” and use limiters to limit your search results to find only what you need, e.g. academic journals or newspapers, or anything published within a certain date.
  3. Check your spelling: Google your keywords to make sure you spelled them correctly.  Your search will not work if your keywords aren't spelled properly.
  4. Too many results?  Add keywords to focus your search results.  Check your notes or look at your current search results for more ideas on focusing your search.
  5. Too few results?  Take keywords away to broaden your search.

Doing research from home? Link from the library webpage to use the databases and log in with your CCC ID and password.

Suggested Databases for Research

Looking for...

Evaluating Sources You Find Online

Consider the following when looking at information online:


  • Is the information supported by evidence?
  • Is the information peer-reviewed?
  • Is it free from errors (spelling and typographical)?
  • Can you verify the information in another source?
  • Are sources cited for the facts presented?


  • When was the information published? Has it been updated?
  • If the information is from a website, are all of the links currently functional?
  • Does your topic require the most current information, or are older sources helpful for historical background?
  • Is the information still relevant/accurate? Think of when Pluto was once a planet…


  • What are the author’s goals or intentions? Are they to inform, or to advocate?
  • Does the information contain mostly facts or mostly opinion?
  • Does the information appear to be biased? Does the language arouse emotion? Are multiple points of view presented or addressed?
  • Is the information free of advertising? If ads are present, are they clearly separated from the content?


  • Who are the authors or creators of the site? Who writes the content? Google their names.
  • What are their credentials or qualifications? Is contact information provided for the authors? A quick Google search should tell you where they work and their credentials.
  • Is the author or agency’s mission or background provided? Go to their “About” page.

If you need to find academic, peer-reviewed journals/articles, use library databases for the most reliable information online!

More Information

Contact Us: 

Harold Washington College Library
Circulation Desk: (312) 553-5760

Reference Desk: (312) 553-5784
Fax: (312) 553-5783
Email Us!