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English Writing 300 & 302 (McNeal)

Accessing Credible Resources

Most instructors assign some type of analysis work to you each semester, in which you research a topic and then create a paper or project that analyzes that topic. The most effective way to build your own knowledge base to achieve high grades on such assignments is to consult the writings of the people who work in or study the topic. The analysis of these experts, professionals & scholars is a commodity, it is worth money. That is why you don't find a lot of lengthy analysis out on the Web for free.

The Los Rios Library System (ARC, CRC, EDC, FLC & SCC) pays for your access to that important analysis when we buy books and videos and when we subscribe yearly to dozens of databases.



When doing research, it is useful to understand the different types of periodicals and the kind of information they contain.

Journals (Scholarly/Professional)

  • Contain original research articles written by the scholars themselves.
  • Also contain news articles related to the field.
  • Are published by professional societies for those working in that discipline.
  • Are the most scholarly source available as most articles are reviewed by experts in the subject. (See the next tab - Peer Review for more information)
  • Articles are usually longer and contain citations.

Magazines (not Scholarly/Professional)

  • Shorter articles written for more general audience.
  • Typically written by journalists.

Newspapers (not Scholarly/Professional)

  • Newspaper articles contain the most current news about a topic.
  • Not usually scholarly or professional, but may be only source of information on newer topics.


Books typically provide extensive coverage on one topic or theme. Subject-specific reference books (encyclopedias & dictionaries) can provide you with background information as well as the historical context of your topic.

  • Circulating Books (print books) may be checked out for use outside the library. 
  • Electronic Books (eBooks) are always available and may be viewed on any computer with an internet connection, on or off campus.   
  • Reference Books (encyclopedias & dictionaries) are available for use in the library, but not for checkout. Don't worry, we also have electronic encyclopedias and dictionaries too.

Write down the call number ‚Äčof the print books in your search results to help you locate the books on the shelf, and to give you an idea of where to browse for similar titles. In this library, we use the Library of Congress Classification System to organize books on the shelves. The LC SYSTEM organizes material in libraries according to 21 subjects called classes. The system uses letters to represent the 21 broad branches of knowledge. The letters I, O, W, X AND Y are not used. 


Websites can be valuable sources for supplementing information you have gathered from books and periodicals. However, it is very important that you evaluate the information you find to determine if it is reliable and useful.

When using websites, the evaluation process is more important than ever since anyone who has an account on a computer linked to the Internet can put up a website. They don't have to be intelligent or knowledgeable, scholarly or authoritative, and in most cases, the "information" they put on these pages does not have to pass any kind of scrutiny or editing process.

Many institutional and organizational websites include statements about the types and sources of information that is provided on their sites, as well as the purpose of the organization itself. If this information is not offered