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Online Student Library Orientation

Resources for Online Students

Getting Started

How to start?

Use your assignment prompt to help choose a good topic and identify the kinds of resources you're going to need. Do you need books? Journal articles? Newspaper articles? All of those can be found in online databases. Most print materials also have an online version available, so they are easy to access and find.

Where to start?

Research is easiest when you know where to start and can find all the resources and tools you need in one place. The University Libraries' homepage is a one-stop shop for finding books, journal articles, newspaper articles, and primary sources. You can set up appointments with a librarian to get help researching and citing in your papers.

What is a database?

Databases are giant, searchable collections of books, eBooks, journal articles, government documents, photographs, movies, songs, and much more! Many of our databases have the full-text version of books and articles readily available.

Databases sometimes focus on one subject or area of study. For example, the database African American Communities has a collection of primary resources surrounding specific African American communities, so searching Japanese manga in that collection wouldn't show you the best results. Try a couple of different databases to find one that best matches what you need. Most databases work using the same searching methods, so once you've used one database, it is easy to figure out how to use other databases.

How do I choose a database?

To narrow down which databases will work best for your topic, you have two quick and easy choices. Choose the Search Databases link on the Libraries' homepage. You can search for the database you want by name, or use the Search Databases by Subject menu to pull up a list of subject areas. Your choice will pull up a list of all the databases that have material related to that field. 

If you're getting stuck, it can help to think outside of the box and try databases in other fields. For example, if you're researching the impact of classroom screen time on kids, you might search both education and psychology databases. And, as always, feel free to ask a UofM librarian for help!

Welcome to the Research Path

Start with Tutorial 1: Develop a Research Topic, and work your way through all six, or explore the tutorial that you're most curious about. Take each tutorial as many times as you need! Created by UofM librarians.

What's the difference?

What's the difference between websites and online resources?

All websites are online resources, but not all online resources are websites. Websites make up a small portion of everything that is available online. This Venn diagram illustrates the relationship between web resources, online resources, and print resources. There is significant overlap between Online Resources and Print Resources because many of the same resources are available in both formats.

Websites include Wikipedia, businesses' homepages, blogs, social media platforms, etc. 

Online resources include all websites, but also refers to ANYTHING that is available online, even if it is also a print resource. For example, many dictionaries, encyclopedias, and academic journals have a long history of being print resources, but are now also available online. Even though you found a journal article online, that does not necessarily mean that it is an online resource.