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How to do Research: Session 2: Authority Is Contextual

Use this guide to begin research on a new topic and to learn more about Ryan Library's research tools.

Read about the Academic Publishing Model and Open Access Movement

Read more about it in St. Martin's Handbook

PLNU's College Composition courses use the 8th Edition of the St. Martin's Handbook as a guide to research.

Pg. 200-201: Scholarly vs. popular sources

Pg. 203-204: Advanced search options

Pg. 215-216: Evaluating usefulness and credibility of sources

Pg. 218-219: Source Map: Evaluating web sources

Request an Article

InterLibrary Loan allows members of the PLNU community to request articles from another library.

Before you request an article, complete the following steps to verify that the article is not available at PLNU:

  1. Find out if the journal is full text in one of our databases. 
  2. Find out if the journal (hard copy) is located in Ryan Library. 
  3. Use InterLibrary Loan to request the article. 

Ask a Librarian

Chat with a librarian here! 

You can also connect via text message at 619-592-8884 or by email.

Find Articles

Ryan Library subscribes to over 90 Databases that offer online access to journal and magazine articles or citations. Search selected databases using the Articles tab in the Quick Search Tools box on the Library's homepage.

For general research, we recommend starting with one of these two databases:

For research within a specific discipline, try starting with one of our Research Guides.

Scholarly Journals and Peer Review

Evaluating Websites

Consider Quality...

These principles of web source evalution are drawn from The St. Martin's Handbook8th edition (p. 218-219):


Does the site/document have an author? What are the author's credentials? Why should you trust this author as an expert? 


Who sponsors or publishes the source? What evidence demonstrates that the sponsor/publisher is credible? What purpose/perspective does the sponsor seem to promote?


How recently was the information posted or modified? Could it be outdated or obsolete?


How do you know that the information itself is trustworthy? Are there links to other sites/sources to support factual claims?


Smart Searching Using Google





 Find information from a certain site


 Find definitions for a word



 Find only one kind of file



 Eliminate results with particular words

 college protests -vietnam


 Find an exact word (no plurals/synonyms)

 “generation exploit

 “multiple words

 Find a group of words in exact order

 “No Child Left Behind

 Navigating Your Results


 Find a certain word on the page

Hold down Control/Command and letter F. Enter the word you’re searching for in the box that appears.

Not finding what you need?

Try one of these options: