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American Studies 1301 - Andy Miller: Home

Individual Databases

Citation Guides

MLA Style

Research Techniques

What if I can't find the material I need from the Lee College Library?  You can always access the resources of other Libraries via Interlibrary Loan.  The Library can borrow library resources for you from other libraries.  Please note, it can take up to 2 weeks for books and articles to arrive, so it's best to start your literature search early in the semester.

What if I think the Interlibrary loan process is too slow?  Use a TexShare card which allows you to go to the following libraries and check out their material as well as many other libraries across Texas. You must obtain a card from the Lee College Library though, so plan ahead.

These libraries are part of the TexShare Database program, but not part of the TexShare card program.


What if I can't find any resources in the Houston Area?  

  • Digital Public Library of America (NEW) DPLA connects people to the riches held within America’s libraries, archives, museums, and other cultural heritage institutions. All of the materials found through DPLA—photographs, books, maps, news footage, oral histories, personal letters, museum objects, artwork, government documents, and so much more—are free and immediately available in digital format. 
  • Google Scholar provides a simple way to broadly search for scholarly literature. From one place, you can search across many disciplines and sources: articles, theses, books, abstracts and court opinions, from academic publishers, professional societies, online repositories, universities and other web sites.
  • Wikipedia if well written and monitored can be useful by tracking it's citations. 
  • WorldCat is a Catalog of library catalogs from around the world.  However, you will not be able to find articles using this catalog. 

Before you begin searching for information, you must identify keywords related to your topic. Find keywords:

  • within your research question or thesis
  • in encyclopedias used in background research
  • in bibliographies found at the end of books and articles
  • in a thesaurus
  • by asking a librarian

When brainstorming keywords remember to ask yourself the who, what, when, where, and why of your topic.

Who is involved?

A specific age group, occupation, ethnic group, gender, etc.

What is the problem?

What is the issue facing the "who" in your topic? Health concerns, job and economic trends, contaminated drinking water? 

Where is it happening?

A specific country, region, city, physical environment, rural vs. urban, etc.

When is this happening?

Is this a current issue or an historical event? Will you discuss the historical development of a current problem?

Why is it happening / Why is this a problem?

You may want to focus on causes or argue the importance of this problem by outlining historical or current ramifications. Or you may decide to persuade your instructor and class why they should care about the issue.

The following publications can be found in the library databases with the exception of Internet Sites.  They each have strengths and weaknesses depending on the type of information you are seeking.

  • Internet Sites:
    • Most current information available
    • Least reliable
  • Newspapers:
    • Provide current information
    • Not always accurate
  • Popular Magazines:
    • Geared to the popular reader at an 8th grade level
    • Published weekly
    • Have lots of pictures
  • Trade publications:
    • Professional Association information in them
    • Continuing Education resources
    • Job Ads in the back of them
    • Published every other week or monthly
  • Scholarly publications:
    • Go through a peer review process
    • More reliable
    • Much slower publication rate

Searching for a phrase?

Putting it in quotation marks tells the search that you want that exact phrase, not just any of the words contained within it.

Ex: "film adaptation" 

What is the difference between a journal and an article?

  • In a research context when a professor asks for a journal they are usually referring to a scholarly periodical. For a definition of a scholarly periodical see below.
  • An article is a piece of writing included with others in a newspaper, magazine, or journal. Articles are what make up journals, magazines, and newspapers.

Scholarly Periodicals – Journals

  • written by and for researchers and scholars
  • includes full citations
  • peer-reviewed(articles are viewed by specialists before published)
  • authors are not paid
  • sometimes called academic articles or peer-reviewed articles

Popular Periodicals – Magazines

  • written by journalists or professional writers
  • rarely give citations
  • written for the general public
  • generally shorter articles
  • advertisements


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