Psst -- what's a database?
In its most basic sense, a database is just a selection of information designed for you to search and retrieve stuff from it. Amazon is a database you're probably familiar with: it's limited (only contains things you can buy through them) and retrievable (you can search and filter your results to find what you're looking for).
The library databases contain reputable, reliable sources of information to support researchers like you! This means everything from digital encyclopedias (like Credo), ebooks, scholarly journal articles, magazine and newspaper articles, streaming videos, statistics, and more.
Access 100+ databases organized by subject area from the Research Databases page. Also try our dynamic, sortable database list!
To access the databases from off-campus, you must provide the 14-digit library barcode from the back of your student ID.
While you certainly have the Internet at your fingertips, grabbing a few likely webpages from your first page of Google search results isn't really what your professors mean when they ask you to do research.
First, you need to get a clear idea of your topic: you don't want to be too broad (impossible to do in a relatively short paper or presentation) or too narrow (making it hard to find supporting evidence).
Then, when you're actually looking for sources, you want to be gathering the right type of info at the right stage of your research. There's a lot of factors here: getting credible, reliable info; making sure you're meeting your assignment guidelines; and finding info of the appropriate level of complexity for what you need it to do.
Research Databases (Main Page)
Maybe you found an article through Google that's behind a paywall. Maybe you forgot to filter your database results to "full text only." Either way, you want something that isn't apparently available from Lone Star College.
Fortunately, you can an interlibrary loan (or ILL) request for that article online. The person who handles those requests finds another school that has access they can share with us, and then you'll get an email with a download link in it for the article you wanted. (The link expires, so make sure you're regularly checking your school email!) This typically only takes a couple of business days (i.e. excluding weekends) to happen.
(You can also borrow books or other physical media this way, though obviously they take longer to get to you, and you'll have to physically go to a library to pick them up once they arrive.)
This bit is only helpful if you're a distance student still in Harris County with a Lone Star College campus or public library branch somewhere nearby. (If you're very remote -- taking classes from another city or state -- check out your own local public library offerings.)
If there's a book or DVD or other physical media that Lone Star (or Harris County Public Library or Montgomery County Memorial Library System) has, but it's not at a locating convenient to you, just click "place hold" in the library catalog. At no cost to you, the item will be put in transit to whichever library location is most convenient to you. If you come to campus for some classes but not others, stick with your campus. If you're solely online, it may be a public library branch that's closest.
There's nothing special or different about citations for online students! Just remember that all those sources you got information and ideas from have to be documented in your paper or presentation. There are three main style guides your professor might ask you to follow: MLA (most common), APA (most likely in psychology, sociology, or speech classes), or Chicago (probably only history class).
If you're not sure which style to follow, double-check both your assignment instructions and your professor's syllabus (which will be posted in your course. If it doesn't say, send your professor an email to confirm what they want you to use!
Each of these guides contains a pre-formatted Word doc for you to download, as well as instructions and examples for how to document your sources in each style.
While conducting research you will need to capture the articles and associated citations. Your process will be very individual, but be consistent and choose a tool to help organize your research. Some suggested tools below:
Evernote - The Basic version is free. Works across all mobile devices. Create notebooks for each course or writing assignment. Be sure to download the Web Clipper as well.
Zotero - Zotero is a free, open access extension that runs in the Firefox and Chrome browsers that's designed to gather, download, and tag your research. Helpful tutorials.
EasyBib - Citation generator that is free for MLA.
OneDrive - Cloud storage from Microsoft Office 365. 1 TB free for Lone Star College students.