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Finding Books

Most research assignments should have a combination of different source types within your research. Books are a great resource for doing research. E-books and physical books both fall into this category.

Books differ from peer-reviewed journal articles because books provide general overviews of a topic, whereas articles are shorter and more specific. 

Remember: You don't have to read the entire book! If there is one chapter in the book that works for your topic, just read that chapter. 

Find Books at the VCSU Library

Using the VCSU Library Catalog

The link to the library catalog will take you to an advanced search. Use these steps to fill in the search box: 

  1. Make sure the "library catalog" option is selected at the top of the search box.
  2. Enter the keyword you want to search.
  3. Add a second keyword to the next line if you want to be more specific.
  4. Click the "material type" dropdown menu on the right side of the box, then choose "books." 
  5. The language dropdown is right below the material type. Pick English from these options unless you specifically need a book in another language.
  6. If you need a book published during a specific time period, use the start date and end date options below the language menu to set a date range.
  7. Click search to get your results! 

Your results will come up as a list of sources with the ability to save links. Along the right side of the page is a sidebar with more filtering options. 

The sidebar is labeled "Tweak your results." Use some or all of the following tips to narrow down your results further: 

  1. Your results are normally sorted by relevance, but you can sort them by date, title, or author instead if you prefer.
  2. Use the "availability: section to choose what format of book you prefer. If you want E-books, choose "available online." If you want physical books, choose "physical items." 
  3. You can use the "subject" section to make sure you are only looking at sources from the fields of study you need. For example, If I want to research space exploration, but the search term "exploration" brought information about both exploring space and historical exploration of the United States, I can check here for ways to filter out the unwanted options.
  4. If you didn't add a date to your original search or if you don't like the date range you used, you can edit the date range under the "creation date" section.


Finding Scholarly Articles

These articles are basically the "bread-and-butter" sources for scholarly research - they're used in every discipline.

What does peer-reviewed mean?

If an article is peer-reviewed that means that before the article was published it was reviewed and scrutinized by other experts in the same field. This process ensures that the sources are reliable and trustworthy. 

Why you should use them:

  • Information is based on research and expertise
  • Information is detailed and focused on a narrow topic
  • The peer-review process (mostly) insures that the information is accurate
  • They add to a growing understanding of a topic by contributing new ideas

These source types may also be referred to as peer-reviewed article, academic article, or journal article

Here are some of the best databases to use for finding scholarly articles in education

Web Resources

Teacher Resources

National Archives - Teacher Resources: Teacher resources from the National Archives. Use primary documents to teach about history. Resources for K-12 educators.

North Dakota Studies: The North Dakota Studies program is part of the Education and Communications division of the State Historical Society of North Dakota. The division provides communications and educational outreach by interpreting the collections and works of the Society for the public.

Phi Delta Kappa Gallup Poll

Awesome Stories: Story-driven, evidence-based archive for teaching and learning.

Lesson Planning

Lesson Plans

Discovery Channel School: Contains lesson plans written by teachers for teachers.

Education World: Lesson Planning Center

Educator's Reference Desk

Google Lesson Plan Search: Google offers a number of lesson plans for K-12 education, as well as a number of resources and apps in their Educator Resource section. One of many features in!

New York Times Learning Network: Highlights resources for parents, students and teachers and is designed for grades 3-12

Scholastic: Offers a number of resources, searchable by grade level

PBS Learning Media: "library of free digital media resources produced by public television, designed for classroom use and professional development." Organized by subject areas for K-12.

TED-Ed: Flipped lesson plans from the people who brought you TED Talks!

Vocabulary Builders

American Idioms: Click on an idiom for a sample paragraph providing a definition of the idiom and an illustration of how it is used.

American Slang: Provides definitions, sample sentences, etymology, and synonyms. English Vocabulary: Survival English, synonyms and antonyms, lists of useful words, figures of speech, idioms, and quotes.

Internet Picture Dictionary: Learn vocabulary by browsing through pictures arranged by subject category. Includes interactive learning activities.

Language Guide: Sound-integrated resources for 13 different languages (with a choice of 21 native language interfaces). Particularly helpful for vocabulary building and word pronunciation.

Vocabulary Lessons from The English Page: Vocabulary building for advanced English language learners.