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AHS Subject Guides: Reading: Bludnicki

This guide includes information literacy lessons created to support our Reading program.

Bludnicki: Databases and Online Resources for Controversial Issues

C. Bludnicki

Content Literacy

Databases and Online Resources for Controversial Issues

Information literacy topics:

  • Determining best sources

  • Searching strategies for information

  • Taking notes

  • Using technology tools

Objective: To learn to access appropriate online research sources, to practice effective searching strategies, and to practice summarizing information from text.

 

1. Go to this activity guide online at:

Amity website→High SchoolAHS Library Information Center

Find Online Stuff→By Subject→Reading→Class Projects →Bludnicki

 

2. Discussion:

  • Types of online databases discussed today

    • School product databases

      • Include articles from many different kinds of periodicals.

      • May include e-books, encyclopedias, etc.

      • Include lots of easy access tools, may have overviews on topics (a little like a textbook)

      • Usually divided in subject areas

      • Offer multiple ways to browse or search

      • Examples:

 

PictureABC Clio: ABC Clio Issues

 

PictureSIRS (Student Issues Researcher)

(Focus on the section called “Issues Researcher”)

 

    • Free web sites

      • May be organized many different ways.

      • You have to verify reliability.  

      • Look for sites published by a recognized institution that has collected information from recognized experts, like libraries, museums, or universities.

      • Example:

Office of National Drug Control Policy is a part of the Executive Office of the President.

 

3. School Product Database Site:

Picture

ABC Clio Issues: Understanding Controversy and Society

  • Take note of your surroundings:  Look at headings, tabs, links, etc. Decide on a starting point for a search.

  • Quick Search

    • Consider the topic: “marijuana legalization

    • Try the quick search box, look at the number of results.

    • Use the left sidebar checkboxes to filter your results

  • TOPIC tab

    • Search categories alphabetically (see that marijuana has a category under "M")

  • PERSPECTIVE tab

    • Broad categories with subcategories, but MANY fewer topics than the alphabetical search

  • LIBRARY tab

    • Decide on a search process. You can do a keyword search, and check boxes to limit it to different categories.

  • The DATABASES option is a drop down link to the other databases purchased by the school

 

4. Do your own search!

  • Go to the library page (click on Find online stuff/By name or database) and click on ABC Clio Issues: Understanding Controversy and Society

or go directly to…

  • ABC Clio Issues: Understanding Controversy and Society

  • Use tools to search for information, play around for a few minutes (you can refer back to the notes in step 3 of this guide).

  • Find an article relevant to your topic, skim it, prepare to explain why it’s important.

  • Share one observation about your searching experience.

 

5. School Product Database Site: SIRS; Student Issues Researcher

Main points:

  • Take note of your surroundings:  Look at headings, links, etc. Decide on a starting point for search.

  • Many ways to search

    • A-Z alphabetical list: your topic may not appear)

    • Groups: Find broad topic, click on + sign to see subtopics

    • Visual Browse: Click on images to narrow down.

    • Topic search

    • Search boxes

      • Simple search? or Advanced search?

      • Keywork search? or Subject search? (... what’s the difference anyway?)

 

6. Now do your own search in SIRS!

  • Go to the library page (click on Find online stuff/By name or database) and click on SIRS

or go directly to…

  • SIRS

  • Use tools to search for information, play around for a few minutes (you can refer back to the notes in step 5 of this guide).

  • Find an article relevant to your topic, skim it, prepare to explain why it’s important.

  • Share one observation about your searching experience.


7. Discussion:  Presentation of an open web source

Office of National Drug Control Policy is a part of the Executive Office of the President.

 

  • Why is this site considered reliable? What information here IS reliable?

  • Whether or not experts AGREE with these policies, or if the positions expressed here turn out to be TRUE is not important.

  • This site represents a serious side of a controversial issue.

  • This site offers the most reliable information about the government’s policies.

 

 

Additional Tips on doing research:

  • Visit the Amity Library web page

  • Practice searching on your own

    • ABC-Clio Issues

    • SIRS

    • iConn/Resources for High Schools/ (all the databases for journals)

  • Get a library card so you can use iConn databases at home.

  • You are MORE likely to find something useful for school FASTER from an authoritative paid database than from a web search.

    • Everything that ISN’T useful has NOT been included.

    • Everything you find in a full-text search is really available, as opposed to just being a summary (abstract).

    • You can avoid “pseudo-authoritative” sources written by people who confuse opinion with science, and beliefs with objective facts.

Additional Hints for Database Searching

  • Hints for full-function search like SIRS:

    • Start simple.  You can always add more words to narrow down.

      • Use checkbox ¨limiters¨to LIMIT your search by:

        • specific databases (Issues?  Humanities? Websites?)

        • types of sources

        • formats of sources

        • dates

        • and whatever else is offered

    • Too many results and not really relevant? Add more words to narrow down.

    • Too few results? Broaden your search with fewer words

    • Save good candidates to look at later

    • Sign up to save searches and results

    • Use more advanced techniques:

      • Try with synonyms or related words (drugs, “medical marijuana”, etc.)

      • Use commands (“operators”) to narrow down (and (to get both terms), or (for one OR the other), not (to filter out the word), apostrophes around several words like “marijuana legal...” or “drug legal...” to get the exact phrase

  • When you identify a good source/article:

    • Follow up on subject leads that appear in relevant articles (how about “Marijuana, Law, and Legislation?”

    • Refine results, limit to sources, dates, formats you want.

    • Save your chosen results to avoid losing stuff (use personal lists, email, notes/citation tools, etc.). Add a user name and password to recover information.

Websites and Bias

How to Evaluate a Website (can you use it for academic research?)



 

  • Who created it? Is this person qualified? Is she authoritative (reliable)?

  • What is the information like? Is it accurate, giving complete coverage, well-written, well-organized?

  • Where is the information from? Where is the site stored?

  • Why was it created? Was the goal to present information in an objective and balanced way? If it aims to convince, does it address different points of view?

  • When was it created? Is it current? (sometimes currency/recent is not important)

Research Project Guidelines

Please find the project description here.

Please find the project syllabus here.

Amity High School, Amity Region 5 School District, Woodbridge, CT 06525, 203-397-4844 Librarians: Robert F. Musco and Victoria Hulse Copyright 2017