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Science Research: Research Workshop for Science

A basic guide for doing research in SPC Science courses

Science Magazine

Getting Started

Start with your topic: Choose Your Topic

  • What do I know?
  • What do I want to know?
  • What do I need to know?
  • Ask a question
  • Find evidence
    Library Databases 
  • Write your thesis

Collect your research materials with the tools all around you in this guide and start your paper.

In-depth research? Try the F.I.N.D.S model.

Using the Library Databases

How to get there...
From this guide-use this link

Library Databases 
From the
Library Homepage
Click on databases by subject

Login Required:

Borrower ID:  Your SPC Student/Faculty ID Number

PIN: the month and year (MMYY) of your birth date

SCIENCE DATABASES to start with are:              
Academic Search Complete (EBSCO) (General)
Springer eJournal Collection 
ScienceDirect (Elsevier)
Science ( 
Applied Science & Technology Source (EBSCO) 
eBook Collection (EBSCO)
Nature (NPG)  

Conducting a Powerful Search

Boolean Operators:
words used to combine search terms

AND – limits the number of hits
OR – expands the number of hits
NOT – removes irrelevant hits
Truncation: *
Searches for all different endings such as: s, ed, ing
(ex. nurs*)

Phrase searching: “      ”
Put quotes around the words and all words will be search as one.

Search Terms:

Use Key Words:

Use one or two precise words instead of a string of words or a sentence as you would in Google. Avoid prepositions and abbreviations.

Define your topic:
What are you asking for?

Put what you think is your topic into a search box in one of the library's databases and then look on the left for all the subject headings. This will help you narrow down your topic. Opposing Viewpoints in Context (Gale) is a great place to do this because the main page is all topics with sub-headings listed below them.

Refine your topic:
Try alternative word forms, spellings and synonyms
Try a thesaurus. MS Word has a great thesaurus when you highlight a word and right hand click or any web thesaurus will do.
Research a smaller sub-division of your topic.
An example would be: you are interested in the Environment but narrow it down to "green cities" or "air pollution".


This Guide Covers:

  • Finding the library online, single sign-on through MyCourses 
  • Using online Science Databases
  • Library subject guides for self-help
  • Conducting a Powerful Search: Keywords and Boolean searching
  • Evaluating sources, both library and web based
    (including scholarly vs popular journal articles)
  • Citation basics (OWL, tools and self-help)
  • Plagiarism

Single Sign on through MyCourses

Login to Library Resources and Services
from your SPC Student Login Page.


To access the databases, without using the single sign-in, you will need your borrower ID and PIN.  Your borrower ID is your SPC student ID number and your PIN is your birth month and year. For example, if you were born March 1980, then your new PIN will be 0380.

Evaluating Sources

Identifying Scholarly Articles Online

2013 scholarly article
Topographic Representation of Numerosity in the Human Parietal Cortex

Google link to popular buzz in the media about the article above.


Click on the picture to help from a Florida Librarian

Finding Great Information on the WEB

What's after the DOT?
Good sources are found at
.gov and .edu

What's wrong with .org?
Organizations have an agenda so they cannot be counted on to be objective.
With that in your mind, use the information cautiously.

What about .com and .net?
This is where you have to verify everything you find.

Who wrote/posted it?
Does the author have expertise on the subject?

Currency and Relevancy:
When did they write it?
When was it last updated?

What were their sources?
Can you verify the information several other places?
Is the author objective or is there an agenda?

Cite Your Sources


"to steal and pass off (the ideas or words of another) as one's own without crediting the source."

To Avoid Plagiarism:

Take detailed notes on where you got all of your information.
Write down direct quotes as they appear in the text, with pages numbers and author name.
Clearly identify where the information came from when you are writing your papers
Use your own words as much as possible
When in doubt cite the source!