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MCC 101: Starting the Research Process

Information literacy session for MCC 101


Below are the general instructions for the activity. The remainder of this page will walk through what the research process will look like in the different tools. Also, make sure you ask the librarian any questions you have as you work. That's what we're here for!

1) Choose a topic from the list of issues in Opposing Viewpoints

2) Review a few articles to identify a narrower or related topic you are interested in

3) Search for your topic on Google

4) Search for your topic in the Library Catalog to locate an eBook

5) Complete the Reflection (Pro Tip: take a look at the assignment now so you know what to pay attention to as you work)

Helpful Definitions

Below are a few definitions that you might find helpful as you work through this activity.

Database: a collection of records or data. In the library, a database usually refers to a collection of books or articles that can be searched.

Search Engine: a tool for searching the internet that identifies websites based on keywords or other factors

Searching Opposing Viewpoints

Research: Using the link above, access Opposing Viewpoints. This is a database that covers a lot of controversial and social issues and it is a great place to start your research.

Go to the Issues list and select one of the broad topics that you would like to do more research on. Don't worry. You won't actually have to write a paper on this topic, but for the rest of this class session you'll approach your research as if you were going to be writing a research paper on the topic you choose.

Click on the "Browse Issues" button shown in the image below.

Opposing Viewpoints database with the Browse Issues options circled

Write: Once you have chosen a topic, write the broad topic on your notes handout and fill out question two by brainstorming some questions or additional aspects of the topic that you might want to consider.

Research: Click on your topic and go to the topic overview page. The page below is for the topic of esports, but your topic will look similar. Make sure you look at the different formats of information, including viewpoints, academic journals, magazines, newspapers, etc. by clicking on those categories and exploring some of the articles. One of the benefits of Opposing Viewpoints is that it puts the articles into these categories for you so you don't have to figure out what type of source you are looking at.


Write: Complete questions three and four on your notes handout. At this point your research question might not be fully developed, but you'll want to consider a specific piece of the broader topic you'll want to investigate further. For example, for the topic of esports, your research question might be something like "Should gamers be considered professional athletes?" or "Do esports have a place in the Olympics?"

Continue your research in the next step...

Searching Google

Research: Open a new tab and do a Google search for your research topic that you identified in question four.

Tips for searching effective Google searching:

  • Use Google advanced search to create the most precise search and for options such as limiting by date, language, and usage rights.
  • Leave out small, non-descript words such as a, and, the. Google ignores most of these words anyway.
  • Use clear, precise, descriptive search terms. Do not type your search as a question or statement.\

Example: instead of searching: What are the possible long-term health effects of Covid?, use precise keywords like: long-term health effects Covid

  • Put exact phrases in quotes

Example: "Yellowstone National Park"

  • Put a minus symbol before a word to exclude it from your search results.

Example: electric vehicles -Tesla

  • Use OR between words that can be used interchangeably or to search more then one idea at a time.

Example: junior high or middle school

  • Use the appropriate subset of Google depending on what you need.

Example: Google Scholar, Books, News, Images, Translate, Videos.

  • MCC Library resources (books and articles) are findable in Google Scholar. Go into the settings and add McHenry County College Library, save it, and then search. Items that the library owns will be indicated to the right with a Find it @MCC link.
  • Search within a specific domain or site. Remember that .org doesn't mean it's a good site and .com doesn't mean it's a bad site. The domain is just a part of the equation. Commercial websites are normally .com. But this includes many news sources (newspapers, television stations, and social media) as well as our subscription databases. Organizations generally have .org, but that doesn't indicate anything about the bias or reliability of the content. It just means that they selected a .org domain when they created their website.


Example:   *Do not leave any spaces after the colon.*

Write: Complete question five on your notes handout

Continue your research in the next step...

Searching the Library Catalog

Research: Go to the Library Catalog and search for an ebook on your topic

Type your topic into the search box and hit enter or click on the magnifying glass. (Pro Tip: less is more in the catalog so just search for a single keyword or your broad topic -- like "esports" rather than our specific research question)

Search box in the library catalog


Next, limit your results to ebooks by using the limiters "available online" and "books." Then click "apply filters."

Limiters in the catalog. Select the check box next to "available online" and "books"

Your search results will now just show ebooks that you can access through the databases.

Click on one of the titles in your search results to view the record. From the record you can access the information about the book, the link to the full-text book (which will require you to log in with your MyMCC login if you are off-campus), as well as options including "citation."

Catalog record for the ebook Korea's online gaming empire

To find the MLA citation, click on "citation" and then make sure to select "MLA 8th edition"

citation option in the library catalog

Write: Complete questions 6 and 7 on your notes handout. If your citation includes a URL or doi, don't worry about copying that down. Just remember that when you make a works cited page or a bibliography that you'll need to include all of the citation information.

Continue to the reflection. Click on the tab in the left navigation or click next below.