Skip to main content

The Research Process

When to Use Books

books

Use a Book:

  • when looking for lots of information or ideas on a topic
  • to put your topic in context with other important issues
  • to find historical information
  • to find summaries of research to support an argument
  • to get a broad overview on a subject, as opoosed to something very specific

Books can provide you with important background information for a research assignment. They might be popular or scholarly, and might be influenced by the author's point of view, so always use your critical thinking skills to evaluate books, just as you would any other source.

When aren't books the best choice? Bear in mind that the lengthy publication cycle of a book can take 6 months to many years, given the time it takes to research, write, edit, publish, print and deliver books, so don't expect a book to cover the most recent ideas or events. If you need very recent information, look for articles and information on the Web.

What? No time? You may not need to read the entire book! Try looking in the Table of Contents (TOC) in the front of the book or the index in the back of the book to zero in on just what you need.

For more information on using books, look at this tutorial from the Information and Research Instruction Suite.

Search the Catalog

Search the Catalog Advanced Search
Search for in

How to Use the Catalog

Use the catalog to find items in this and other C/W MARS libraries. You can search our catalog

  • by an AUTHOR, putting in the last name first;
  • by the TITLE of an item;
  • by the assigned SUBJECT of an item, if you know it,  or
  • by KEYWORD. Keywords are essential words that you want to see in an item, for example, "business ethics." Try to think of alternative ways to get at your subject, for example, using "whistleblower," or "white collar crime" as alternative keywords.

If you don't find what you need or want, your catalog can be expanded to search other libraries with whom we have borrowing privileges, by dropping down the box where STCC appears. This is a list of all the libraries in Western Massachusetts that are members of C/W MARS and that you can borrow from online.

You can search the collection of an individual library by clicking on that library, or scroll to the top and click on All C/W MARS Libraries. If you find an item that you want to order, you can click on Place Hold, and log into your library account to request it.

You will be asked WHERE you want your item delivered.

  • PLEASE make sure you have it delivered to STCC.
  • Click submit to have your request completed. You will get a call from the STCC Library when the item arrives here.
  • Delivery takes approximately 4 business days and costs you nothing.

With your library account you can also renew items (as long as you do it before the item is due), as well as check what items you have out and when they are due.

If you haven't found what you need in the catalog, you can check at the reference desk for Interlibrary Loan assistance.

Books with Argumentative Essays

It is a good writing technique to be able to articulate the opposition's point of view and argue against it in an informed manner. These two series enable you to do that:

The Opposing Viewpoints Series: The Opposing Viewpoints series examines both sides of a wide array of topics, such as the environment, censorship and obesity, among many more.

To find an Opposing Viewpoints on your topic use the STCC catalog. You can do a keyword search that includes "opposing viewpoints" and suicide, or whatever your topic is. These books can be checked out.

The Taking Sides Series: This series is similar to Opposing Viewpoints. Reputable writers look at both sides of a wide-ranging variety of issues. For example, Taking Sides, Clashing Views on Controversial Moral Issues, addresses both sides of whether drugs should be legalized; whether physician-assisted suicide be legalized by the states. and whether affirmative action is fair. The most recent Taking Sides volumes are kept in the reference area, and earlier volumes are on the second floor. These can also be found through the catalog, by doing a keyword search ("taking sides") and your topic (environment*).