To develop and refine your search, it often helps to consult a specialized dictionary, encyclopedia, handbook, textbook, guide, or bibliography. These tools are designed to offer an overview of your topic or research problem written by an expert. They may provide an historical perspective, a chronology of events, definitions of terms or concepts, or bibliographic references leading to the literature in a particular field of study. Many useful reference works are now available online. Several of our major e-reference collections are available below:
Use Library Search to find books, periodicals (scholarly journals, popular magazines, newspapers, and other serials), or other library materials such as music CDs, electronic resources, and videos. Books, printed periodicals, and other library materials are shelved in call number order.
A-N = 3rd Floor | P-Z = 4th Floor | Reference = 1st Floor
Looking for something not in Library Search? Try Worldcat linked below.
When you do not find enough information via the library catalog, try using the WorldCat catalog. WorldCat is a worldwide library catalog containing records from most academic and larger public libraries worldwide. You can use the "Request Item through Document Delivery" button to order materials that are not available at the Purdue Fort Wayne library.
University instructors often ask students to use articles from scholarly journals rather than from popular magazines for their research assignments. The following Is Your Journal Scholarly? (PDF) summarizes major differences between scholarly journals and popular magazines. Which type of source have you located?
Full text means that the text of the article is available in PDF or HTML digital format. Graphics and tables are not automatically included unless the database producer has rights to publish them. Many of the library's licensed databases offer the full-text content of periodical articles. students, faculty, and staff now have access to more than 20,000 full-text journals. Find them in E-Journal Finder.
When an article you need is not available full text in the database you are using, choose to see all of your delivery options. You may be able to access the full-text content in another database, request the article from another library through Document Delivery Services, or make a photocopy of the article if the printed periodical is owned by Helmke Library.
You may a request any item that is not available at Helmke Library through Document Delivery Services (DDS). DDS borrows books and provides photocopies of periodical articles from other library collections. The service is free for faculty, staff, and students.
Because the World Wide Web is a massive, tangled directory of knowledge producers, research, facts, and entertaining tidbits of information, you must be critical about the material you find there. Quality and validity are not assured when anyone can publish anything, anytime, without the benefit of scholarly peer review. To help determine if a website you have located is a reliable source of information, try taking the CRAAP test, available here: Is Your Web Site Credible?
The most frequently recommended style guides in the humanities include the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers or the MLA Style Manual and Guide to Scholarly Publishing (both official Modern Language Association guides). The most recent edition of each are available at the Library's first floor Service Desk. The can be checked out for two hours for use within the Library only.
An important style guide used in the social sciences is the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (sometimes called the "APA style guide"). The most recent edition is also shelved at the first floor Service Desk.
The Purdue Online Writing Lab, also known as OWL, provide useful guides to using both MLA and APA style: