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Fullerton College Library

A Very General Research Guide

Research @ FC Library

Come up with a Plan

Image text: Your questions will direct the information you seek. Before you dive into searching for information, take a minute to determine what types of information will have the information you need, and what search terms will help you get to that information. 


Reference Sources 
Discipline-specific definitions, topic overviews, and background information. Pull important terms or keywords to search for more in-depth information.

Gale Virtual Reference Library | Science Reference Center | Library Catalog

Broad and in-depth examinations of a topic.

Library Catalog | eBook Collection

Academic Journals
Original research that contributes new knowledge to a field of study.

How to Read and Understand a Scientific Paper 


Trade, Industry, and Professional Publications
Industry news, trends, and forecasts.


Popular Magazines and Newspapers
General interest, news, and opinion.

EBSCOhost | NexisUni | America's Historical Newspapers

Statistical Data
Coverage on topics related to media, business, finance, politics, and more.





  Scholarly Periodicals

Look at the...

Popular Magazines and Newspapers

Professional, Trade, and Industry or Special-Interest Periodicals

Scholarly, Academic, Peer-Reviewed, or Refereed Journals


Frequency or publication Issued frequently: weekly, biweekly, or monthly Issued frequently: weekly, biweekly, or monthly Issued less frequently: monthly, quarterly, or semiannually
Authors of articles Often on author. Written by staff writers, freelance authors, or guest contributors. Often one author. Written by staff writers, freelance authors, guest contributors, or professionals in the field. Frequently multiple coauthors. Scholars and researchers in the field, discipline, or specialty. Authors with university affiliations or professional titles.
Article titles Popular or catchy article titles. Straightforward article titles, sometimes popular and catchy. Titles related to the research question or results; often long, not catchy.

Whole Periodical

Audience Educated but non-expert readers; uses simple language in order to meet minimum education levels. Practitioners of a particular profession, members of a trade, or workers in an industry; language appropriate for an education readership; assumes a certain level of specialized knowledge. Scholars and researchers in the field, discipline, or specialty; language contains terminology and jargon of the discipline; reader is assumed to have a scholarly background.
Purpose Designed to entertain or persuade readers with a variety of general interest topics in broad subject fields; also geared to sell products and services through advertising. Examines problems or concerns in a particular profession or industry; provides specialized information to a wide interested audience. To inform, report, or make available original research or experimentation in a specific field or discipline to the rest of the scholarly world: where new knowledge is reported.
Paper, illustrations, layout Eye-catching covers, glossy paper, photos, illustrations, cartoons, sidebars. Eye-catching covers, glossy paper, photos, illustrations, cartoons, sidebars. Plain covers, usually plain matte paper; mostly text inside, with tables, figures, charts, graphs; little to no color or illustrations.
Advertising Many ads for general consumers products and services. Many ads for products and services related to a particular profession, trade, or industry. Few to no ads; if any, tend to be for other journals or specific services or specific services and products.


Abstracts No abstract No abstract Articles usually have an abstract at the beginning that summarizes the findings of the article. If there is no abstract, the article may be a review, editorial, or letter to the editor.
References Sources are not cited; no references or bibliography at the end of the article. Sources are not cited; no references or bibliography at the end of the article. Scholarly references in the form of bibliographies, reference lists, and footnotes appear in each article.


  Glamour, People, Reader's Digest, Newsweek Beverage World, Restaurant News, Advertising Age, Scientific American Science, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, American Historical Review





Secondary Sources




Firsthand accounts of a time period or event, original documents, and creative works.

Works created at the time of an event.


Publications that analyze, interpret, review, or evaluate primary sources.

Works created well after an event.

Art Painting, drawing, or sculpture Article critiquing artwork
Film Movie Movie review
History Diary, letter, speech, interview, photo, or advertisement

History book, biography or historical figure

Literature Novel, short story, or poem Literary criticism
Science or Social Science Original research  Literature review, discussion, and conclusion sections of a peer-reviewed article. Review article of original research study.
Theater Performance taping Review of performance
Other Examples

Magazine or newspaper article from a specific time period

Autobiography or memoir

Opinion poll or survey

Encyclopedia, dictionary, or atlas


Interpretation of survey results


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Identifying Search Terms

Name What You Want

1) What type of information are you seeking? I am looking for information on the problems and solutions with food waste.

2) Pull out the key concepts from your answer. 1. food waste, 2. problems, 3. solutions

3) Where possible, list similar terms or examples of the identified concepts. 

Main Concept connect with 2nd Concept connect with 3rd Concept

food waste













consumer education


expiration dates



Use these key concepts and their synonyms to search for the information you need.

Start broad:

Then click Advanced Search and add the 2nd or 3rd concept, connecting similar terms with the or command:

Instead of using the or connector, you can also replace concepts with similar terms:

Then re-search, replacing "consumer education" with composting, another solution: