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EN-121 - Resources for Analytical Thinking, Writing, and Research: Gathering Sources and Conducting Research

This guide will help students accomplish the five Milestone goals associated with EN-121: Choosing a topic | Planning the paper | Conducting research | Organizing research | Drafting the paper.

EN-121 Research Instruction Video Playlist

Visual Learner? 

Visit the EN-121 Youtube Playlist

This frequently-updated playlist includes instructional videos on research, writing, and critical thinking from many colleges and universities.

Citation Generators

How Do Citation Generators Work?

According to Purdue Owl, Citation generators are programs that turn information about a source into a citation that the writer can use in a project.

Here is a list of recommended citation generators

Fact-Checking Websites

Reputable sources help fact-check reliability of information you find questionable.

What is a Primary Source?


Primary sources -

  1. First-person testimony: the account of a person who actually was present at or participated in an event.   Examples are oral history interviews, diaries, letters, photographs and drawings of events, and court testimony of an eyewitness; a document or object that was created by an individual or group as part of their daily lives. These documents are written or spoken using "I" statements, to indicate direct observation of or participation in an event.

  2. Primary source documents:  including birth certificates, photographs, diaries, letters, embroidered samplers, clothing, household implements, and newspapers.

Secondary sources - summaries, second-hand accounts, and analyses of events created by someone who did not witness the event, but may have read or heard about it.  Examples may include: books or articles written on a topic, artworks depicting an event, letters or diaries recounting a version of events told to the author by another source. 

Second person or hearsay testimony - an account repeated by someone who did not actually participate in the event.  Examples are newspaper accounts from interviews of observers, letters that repeat a story told to the writer, drawings based on other people’s observations, or a book written about a topic.

Mixed sources - A document that is a primary source may contain both first person testimony and second hand testimony.  An example would be a diary entry that records a person’s eyewitness observations of an event (first person testimony) but also contains additional stories told to the writer by a family member (second hand testimony).  Newspapers often contain a mixture of first and second hand accounts.

It may depend on the question you are asking – The same document can be a primary and secondary source, depending upon the question you ask.  For example, a Baltimore newspaper’s account of Lincoln’s death that includes unattributed accounts of what happened at Ford’s Theater contains second hand testimony, if your question is what exactly happened at Ford’s Theater that night.  But if your question is how people in Baltimore heard about Lincoln’s assassination and what did they hear, then the newspaper is a primary sources for answering that question.

CRAAP Website Evaluation: Is the website trustworthy?

Do You Need a Newspaper Article or a Database Article?

Do you need an article from a newspaper or website? 


Be careful to evaluate any websites for the quality of the information they offer.
Always run the CRAAP Test.

Newspaper articles:

  • are published for a general public audience (but are not "scholarly" research articles).
  • must pass editorial review (The editorial board of a news provider is not the same as a scholarly peer-review panel.)
  • are usually (but not always) subject to the journalistic code of ethics
  • at the national level, can be reasonably expected to have been fact-checked prior to publication

When you use the Internet, you should always try to find out who posted the information and how much they know about the topic.

Are they experts in their field? 

Are they giving facts or are they giving their own opinion? You might want to check their media bias score!

For more help, (and to learn about the CRAAP test) see the Website Evaluation & Citation LibGuide

Need both sides of the story? Try starting here:

Websites: (no login required) Databases: (use instructions below to gain access)

Pew Research Center

Issues and Controversies (InfoBase)

Opposing Viewpoints In Context (GALE)

Using the Databases:
1.) Login to MyMonroe.  
2.) Click on the Library Resources icon.Library Resources Icon MyMonroe 3.) Choose +Databases .

Finding Newspaper and Website Articles on the Internet

Go to the best source for the type of information that you want.

Some suggested websites:

Why and How to Search for Peer-Reviewed Articles

Don't forget:
In order to search for academic and scholarly articles, you'll need to log in to the Library Databases.

1.) Login to MyMonroe

 2.) Click on the Library Resources icon.Library Resources Icon MyMonroe

 3.) Choose +Databases .

Your professor may require that you use peer-reviewed journal articles as sources for your research.


Because these articles generally contain the best (and often the most current) information available on a given subject. 

Academic and scholarly journal articles must be: 

  • written by scholars conducting and reporting on research on their particular topic and then
  • reviewed by a panel of the author's peers (i.e. peer-reviewed by other experts ​in the field) before the article is published.

The review process means the article must meet high standards of:

  • Currency (meaning the information is current at the time of publication),
  • Relevance (meaning the article is highly relevant to the subject it addresses, without commercial subtext or other issues distracting from the topic),
  • Accuracy (meaning the article has been checked for any bias or missing/misleading information),
  • Authenticity (meaning the author's credentials have been verified and their cited sources confirmed), and 
  • Purpose (meaning the author must be free of commercial motivation for their writing; it must be informational and/or educational in its purpose).

This process is meant to ensure the integrity of the journal, as well as the quality of the article.

For best results, you should start your search in a database that specializes in academic and scholarly/peer-reviewed articles. See a list of specialized databases in the column to the right: 

Best Databases for Peer-Reviewed, Scholarly Journal Articles

Three databases that specialize in peer-reviewed articles are:

Academic OneFile (Gale)

Research Library (ProQuest) 

(Check the box marked Peer reviewed.)

Academic Search Premier (Ebsco)

Download articles that you want to use in your paper!  This way you can refer to them as you continue your research.  Choose Print. Then, when the Print dialogue box opens up, choose Save as PDF from the Destination dropdown menu.  In EBSCO, the best way to save an article is to use the PRINT feature. (DON’T click Save; clicking Save will result in an HTML formatted document, which is harder to work with.)

ALL Databases offer the ability to Download Full-Text Articles and APA Citations

Be sure to download the full text of all articles you wish to use for your paper, and be sure to download and save the APA 7 citation for all articles you download.


All Databases Offer Tools to Download Full Text of Articles and Cite in APA 7 Format


Video: Is This Article Scholarly?

Selected Primary-Source History Websites (Listed Alphabetically)

Africana Age

American Historical Association

Biographical Dictionary of the United States Congress

ProQuest Black Freedom Struggle in the United States

Digital Collections in American History - Library of Congress
Discovering American Women's History Online

Caribbean Histories Revealed

Castle Garden Immigration Center

Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers

Digital Library of the Caribbean

Digital Schomburg

Historical Documents in Foreign Relations

New-York Historical Society

New York City Municipal Archives Online Gallery

New York State Historical Literature Collection

New York State Historic Newspapers

New York State Military Museum and Veterans Research Center


Primary Source Sets from the Digital Public Library of America

The Pulitzer Prizes

Slavery in America


Transatlantic Slave Trade Database

Westchester County Archives

Yad Vashem

Information Literacy, Critical Thinking, and Website Evaluation

How to Use the Databases

The presentation below is also available as a PDF document. View or download by clicking on the icon above.