The Library at St. Cloud State University

FAQS: Research Help



1. How can I recognize the difference between a scholarly journal and a popular magazine?

Scholarly journals are also called academic, refereed, research-based, peer-reviewed, or scientific articles. These usually have:
  • Little or no graphics, photos, advertisements, etc.Lengthy articles
  • Citations (footnotes) and/or a bibliography (list of works used)
  • Author’s name and credentials
  • Specialized language
  • Titles with words like Journal, Bulletin, Review, Quarterly, etc.
Popular magazines (e.g., Time, Newsweek) and newspapers are not scholarly and lack most of the above characteristics (see a comparison chart).

2. How do I cite my sources and create a bibliography in APA, MLA, or other style?

The library has many copies of the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers, the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, and other style manuals in the Ready Reference collection near the Reference Desk on the first floor.

Also try our Citation Styles page or RefWorks.

You can also Ask a Librarian for assistance via phone, email or chat or get more help at the Write Place.

3. How do I find an article from a citation?

In LibSearch, use the Advanced Search function to search specifically by title, author, or journal title. You can also use Search Mode expanders, like “Find all my search terms” to limit your results.

4. How do I find scholarly articles?

Scholarly articles are peer reviewed by experts in the discipline who double check the methods and results before publication. Detailed information for finding scholarly articles can be found here.

In LibSearch, type in keywords that describe your topic (take out words like if, in, on, is, to, etc.). Use AND to combine different topics and use OR to search for synonyms. It is also helpful to think of other ways to describe your topic such as (teen or adolescent).

Limit your search results to Peer-Reviewed Journals using the “Limit to” facet in the left-hand column.



Look at your results. Are they helpful? If not, try to change your keywords. Once you find articles on your topic, look through the first few pages of results (the best article is not necessarily the first one) and pick articles that look relevant. Look for links to HTML Fulltext, PDF Fulltext, or click the  SCSU FindIt! Link to sources. button to locate the full article.

5. How do I make an appointment or schedule a library instruction session with a reference librarian?

Scheduled appointments with a reference librarian can be made between the hours of 9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m., Monday - Thursday and 9:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. on Friday. Other times are available by special arrangement.

Please make an appointment at least two days in advance.

Use the Research Consultation Form to schedule an appointment.

6. How do I pick a topic?

Try our How to Find Hot Topics page.

If you need more assistance, Ask a Librarian in person, by phone, email, or chat. Librarians are also available for research appointments.

7. How do I start researching?

Library Subject Guides are a great starting point once you have selected your topic. They provide key resources (both print and online) to help you start research in a wide variety of academic subjects (i.e. education, biology, business, etc.). Library Subject Guides are librarian-created guides with article databases, encyclopedias, web sites, and more.

If you have any questions about doing research, please Ask a Librarian in person, by phone, email, or chat. Librarians are also available for research appointments.

Another great tool is the Assignment Calculator. Just enter your due date and subject and the Assignment Calculator will break down your research and writing process into 12 easy steps to help you stay on schedule. You can get email reminders and get tips for each step.

8. How do I use RefWorks?

RefWorks is a Web-based program that can format your bibliography in seconds. You can choose from over 250 output styles including APA, MLA, and Chicago style. You must create your account using an on-campus computer and then you are able to access it from anywhere.

First, add journal articles and books to your RefWorks account as you conduct your research. Then, use RefWorks as you write your paper to automatically format the references both within your paper (in-text citations) and in your bibliography. 

See RefWorks Help and RefWorks Basics for more information.

9. How long does it take to receive a journal article or book on Interlibrary Loan from another library?

If another local public or academic library has the book or journal you need, the fastest way to get it is to go to the library. Your SCSU ID can be used to check out books at the College of St. Benedict and St. John’s University.

Articles take anywhere from two days to more than 10 days, depending on how obscure the item is and how many libraries own the journal title. Books take anywhere from three days to three weeks, for the same reasons. More information about Interlibrary Loan.

10. Where can I get help with library jargon and terminology?

There are many web pages with definitions for confusing library jargon such as abstract, citation, call number, bibliography, periodical, and more.
Search FAQs



show suggestions


Browse FAQs by Subject


Powered by SubjectsPlus

Education For Life.
St. Cloud State University is an affirmative action/equal opportunity educator and employer.
St. Cloud State University is a member of the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system.
© 2013 St. Cloud State University