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PAS 250 -- African History: Research Process

Research Process

Find Books on Your Topic

  • Searching for Books Using Library Catalog Basic Search

    • From the library web homepage, click on Books
    • In Basic Search, enter your keywords,  and click Go button
    • Once you find a good book, make sure you click a subject heading at the bottom of the record page to find all books on that subject in the library

  • Searching for Primary Sources Books Using Library Catalog Advanced Search
    • Search Strategy: topic (in most cases, names of events) and add the appropriate type of primary source. Use AND to link the topic and the source type
    • Formula: material type + keyword(s) of topic (event or person)
    • Examples: diaries and dust bowl; Leopold and case
    • For more primary source research strategies, go to Primary Sources guide

  • Searching All Libraries
    • From the Library Web homepage (, click Multi-Search (Articles + Books)
    • Enter your book title or keywords
    • At the result page, click either “CSULA”, “CSUs and local libraries” or “Other libraries worldwide” tab
    • If you find the book you are looking for is not available at our Library, click Findit! button to request a book to be sent over for you from another institution via Interlibrary Loan
  • Searching Open WorldCat to Find Which Local Library Owns by Zip code
    Access from this address, or from the library web homepage, click Multi-Search and then Open WorldCat
    • Enter a book title or keywords
    • At the results display page, enter your zip code , and you will get a list of libraries near you that own this book
    • Click on the book link by the library name where you plan to go and find out the book status (whether it is in the library)
  • Searching Google Books to Find Whether the Book Is Full-Text Online
    Access from
    • Enter a book title or keywords, e.g. Lives of the Nuns
    • At the search result page, click the book title to see whether the book is full-text online on Google Books

Find Journal and Newspaper Articles

·         Main Databases for Your Assignments/Reports

o    ProjectMuse

o    JSTOR

o    America: History and Life

o    Historical New York Times (1851-2006)

o    Historical Los Angeles Times (1881-1987)

o    Lexis/Nexis Academic

o    Reader’s Guide Retro

  • How to Access Articles Databases
    • From the library web homepage, click Articles
    • Select the database(s) you want to search from either the Databases A-Z list or the Subject History list from the menu
    • You need to have your NIS account to access database(s) remotely.

o    You always need to click the “Findit!” button if the article is not full-text.

Find Book Reviews
Book reviews can help you write your annotated bibliographies as well as find more books on your topics.

  • Sources for Finding History Book Reviews
    • Project Muse
    • JSTOR
    • America: History & Life
    • Historical Abstracts
    • Academic Search Premier
    • H-Net (Web site,
    • American Historical Review (journal)
  • Methods for Finding Book Reviews
    • For Known Book Titles
      • Search using ProjectMuse or JSTOR
      • Enter Keywords: author’s last name and a word from the book title

e.g. Search for reviews for The Red Brush by Wilt Idema and Beata Grant, enter: Red Brush and Idema

    • For Unknown Book Titles
      • This is a good way for you to discover more books on your topic
      • Search using ProjectMuse or JSTOR
      • Enter Keywords

e.g. If you are searching for review articles on the topic of Buddhist nuns simply enter Buddhist nuns and select book review

Request Books via Interlibrary Loan (ILL) Service

·         Once you have identified a list of books via either CSU or WorldCat search, or via the book review search,

o   You need to check each title using Multi-Search to determine if the book is available in our library. 

o   If the book is not available in our library, you can request the book to be sent over for you via ILL service by clicking on “Findit!” button.

o   In order to use the ILL service, you need to create your ILL account from either the ILL login page (click “please register before login” link, or directly from the registration page (

o   Books may take 4 to 10 days to arrive.  If you need the book sooner, you can try to use the Open WorldCat ( to find out if any of your local library owns the book, so you can pick it up in your local library.  Alternatively, you can try Google Books (( to see if the book is available full-text online.     

Generate Bibliographies

  • From your search results
    • Export your books or articles to RefWorks
    • Login using your RefWorks ID and password after you have created an account for yourself
    • Go to the Folders tab and create folders for your different courses or topics
    • Move all your records in the “Last Imported Folder” to your designated folders
    • Click on Create Bibliography tab and select a folder under Format a Bibliography from a List of References and select File Type: Word, HTML or RTF
    • Select Output Style – Chicago 15th Edition
    • Click on Create Bibliography tab
    • You can then email or download the list of bibliographies
    • Check for errors

Write Annotated Bibliography

    • Using catalogs or database, search for citations to books, journal articles may contain useful information and ideas on your topic and export your citations to RefWorks
    • Briefly examine and review the actual items. Then choose those works that provide a variety of perspectives on your topic
    • Finalize your list of sources in Refworks. Then choose Chicago Manual Style and have Refworks prepare your bibliography
    • Open your bibliography/list onto Microsoft Word
    • Write an annotation for each entry
    • Use the “Hanging Indentation” Feature in Microsoft Word to follow the Annotated Bibliography Format.
John F. Kennedy Memorial Library
California State University, Los Angeles
5151 State University Drive
Los Angeles, CA 90032-8300