How To Research

A short guide to the research process (and check out the Online Writing Lab at Purdue for lots of nice hints):

  1. Pick a topic
  2. Find sources and use Zotero or EndNote Web to keep track of them.
  3. Evaluate those sources
  4. Write what you discovered
  5. Things not to do

To start your research, look at our Library Research Guides

Off-Campus Access

You do not need to come to the library in person to use many of our resources. You can use these from anywhere you can access the Internet.

Start with the Off-campus Access link from the Library web page. Log in with your La Sierra e-mail username and password. If you have not activated your La Sierra email account, or have forgotten your password, you will need to call the IT Department at (951) 785-2900.

 If you are behind a firewall (as you might be if you are working at a school) and cannot access the databases, you will need to contact your system administrator and make sure that port 2048 is open for our proxy server.


Once you have chosen a topic, you may wish to look at a brief overview of your field of study. This will help with basic understanding of topics, as well as showing you the words that professionals use when discussing a topic. This will make other searches much easier.

Starting Points


Electronic Books

La Sierra University Library provides several collections of electronic books: ebrary, EBSCO eBook Collection, and the Gale Virtual Reference Library. All are available through the library catalog (just search for the book you want, and if it is an e-book there will be a link allowing you to read it.) These can be identified by the words "electronic resource" after the title. You can also search the collections individually.

  • ebrary includes more than 50,000 books. To search the collection, click here. You may need to download ebrary's reading plugin.
  • EBSCOhost's eBook Collection is another option available through the library subscription databases.
  • The library catalog lists all the books in our library, physical as well as electronic.

Books From Other Libraries

Link+ Libraries

La Sierra University is a member of Link+, a network of over 40 libraries in California and Nevada.  This allows our students to borrow books from other Link+ libraries. You may either have the book sent to La Sierra University Library where you can pick up the book in person, or go to the other library and borrow the book yourself as a "Link+ Visiting Patron". 

You can request books from Link+  by selecting Get a book from Link + on the Library webpage, or if you don’t find the book you are looking for in our catalog you can select the Link+ button on the catalog display page.

Books By Mail

Students currently enrolled in a online class that does not have an on-campus component may have books from the Library sent to them through the mail.

Journal Articles

Journal articles, particularly from peer-reviewed journals, will be the majority of your online research.

Peer-reviewed journals, which are reviewed by other experts in the field before publication, and are usually published for experts in the field, will be extremely useful. Sometimes these are called "scholarly" articles. Most of our online databases will allow you to search only for peer-reviewed articles.

To find journal articles:

  • Search for articles (organized by topic). You will need to log in and then select a database to search in.
  • Full-text databases are identified by a FT next to the database name.
  • A list of all our full-text journals is available; this is very useful for browsing tables of contents or finding a specific article if you already have a citation. Some databases may index a journal but not provide the full text of the articles in it. This will allow you to see if another database has the same article in full text.
  • We may have the journal in print form here at the library. If you fill out this form, we'll see if we have it here.
  • Finally, you can request a copy of an article by using our interlibrary loan service. We'll track down the article, from any library, and try to get a copy. You can use this form to make your request.

If you are behind a firewall (as you might be if you are working at a school) and cannot access the databases, you will need to contact your system administrator and make sure that port 2048 is open for our proxy server.

Internet Resources

Internet resources are a popular and potentially very useful source of information for students.  Caution, however, is strongly advised when using Internet resources.  Remember that there is no quality control imposed on the Internet.  It is therefore up to you to determine whether a web site meets academic standards for scholarly, reliable information.  Following are some suggested resources for help in evaluating materials found on the internet:

Evaluating Internet Research Sources by Robert Harris of Southern California College

Evaluating Information on the Net by Eric Jennings at the McIntyre Library at the University of Wisconsin - Eau Claire

Using sources of web sites selected by librarians, instead of search engines such as Google, can help you find web sites of higher quality.  Following are some Librarian reviewed pages:

Getting Help

  • Call us at 951.785.2396 whenever the Library is open (see our hours schedule). Note that the reference desk is closed during lunch (noon-1) and dinner (5-6 p.m.), as well as after 10:00 PM. 
  • Reference assistance is also available by e-mail
  • Or use our web form to Ask Us a Question. You should receive a response within 24 hours, although requests made over the weekend or on holidays may take a bit longer.

Library Undergraduate Research Prize (LURP)

The Library Undergraduate Research Prize is a cash award ( first prize will win $500) and certificate given annually during Research Week. Click to find out more!

We may sit in our library and yet be in all quarters of the earth."

John Lubbock

Meet me at the Library!

You will come to the library for help with homework and stay for so much more!  In addition to the thousands of books waiting for your discovery, millions more are available through the rapid LINK+ loan service. The latest issues of a variety of current interest magazines and newspapers as well as research journals are shelved in a comfortably furnished area on the main floor. Computers in the LICOL area have Microsoft Office installed. Nearby reference librarians are available to assist with assignments and projects. You will find a variety of spaces in the library: quiet areas, group study rooms, patio seating in a garden atrium, couches, comfy chairs, carrels, and tables. Check out a complete description of library collections and services by clicking on the library links!