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English 101/102: Home

Research Tips

  1. Start with a research question about your topic, and break out the key words to use for your searches.

Sample topic: What are the possible consequences associated with cloning animals?

Keywords for search may include: cloning, animals, social, biological, implications/risks/consequences

  1. While searching, save titles of interest in a folder so that you can email, print or save for later use.  Remember to save your citations also!
  2. Use information from your search results to construct your thesis statements.

E.g., “The implications associated with cloning animals include (information from article 1, information from article 2, information from book 1)”

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

Search the library catalog here.

  1. ​Remember, call numbers are in alphanumerical order (for example: HD57.7 .M3937 2007)

  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.

  4. You can request books from other CCC libraries - it's FREE and usually arrives within 3-5 business days.

  5. Ask a Reference Librarian if you can’t find something on the shelf.

Searching for Academic, Scholarly Articles in Academic Search Complete

Tips for Using the Library Databases

  1. Use the “Subject List of Library Databases” on the main library page to access databases sorted by topic.
  2. When using a new database, orient yourself by finding the search box. Databases may look different from one another, but most have common features that you will recognize with repeated use.
  3. You will find “limiters” on the left-hand side of every database.  Use these to limit your search results if you need to find only academic journals or newspapers, or anything published within a certain date.  Don’t forget to select “full text” when searching too!
  4. Ask a Reference Librarian if you need assistance using the databases.
  5. Doing research from home? Link from the library webpage to use the databases and log in with your CCC ID and password.

Evaluating Sources

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?

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


  • 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?
  • What are their credentials or qualifications? Is contact information provided for the authors?
  • Is the author or agency’s mission or background provided?

More Information

Contact Us: 

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

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