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Writing 120B: Art & Beauty

If You Need Assistance

Welcome to the online research guide for Writing 120B

Hello!  My name is Ken Johnson and I am the librarian working with your First Year Writing course this fall.

What is a Research/Instruction Librarian (my job description)?
Research/Instruction Librarians visit your class to teach you about the resources available to you in the St. Olaf Libraries and beyond, and teach you how to go about doing research.  We also assist you once you are working on your projects and can help you find materials, help you brainstorm your topic, and help you with citations.  Our primary goal is to help you succeed!

You can use the "Request research consultation" link in my profile on the left side of this page.  Just pick a date and time you can meet with me and fill out the form.  You will be able to see if it is a day that I will be on campus in which case you can meet with me in person if you wish.  Otherwise, if I am working from home or if you prefer meeting virtually, you will get a calendar invitation with a Google Meet link in it.  The form allows you to upload any work that you would like me to see before our appointment.

Writing/Research tutors are available in the Rolvaag Lobby 8-10 pm Sunday - Thursday.

Also check out the Welcome Guide.  It will answer many of your questions about the libraries and IT.

Different Kinds of Sources

Primary Sources: these are original sources of information and include letters, diaries, interviews, artifacts, autobiographies, manuscripts, documents, recordings, etc.

How to Find Them: In Catalyst use  the terms mentioned above in your search or use the filter to the left of your search results entitled "Genre/Form" and select the subheading "Sources".  Primary sources can be published or unpublished. Published primary sources may appear in book form or as digital resources.  Unpublished primary sources (if they are available) are most likely found in an archive where researchers can visit and look at them.  Some archives do publish primary sources online.

Secondary Sources: these are one step removed from primary sources such as books written about a particular subject or a newspaper or magazine article that informs you about something.  The writer of a secondary source may have consulted primary sources in preparing their work.

Typical examples of secondary sources: monographs, magazine articles, journalistic essays, newspaper articles, scholarly articles.

How to Find Them: Most of the books and articles you find in Catalyst or the article databases are secondary sources.  They are written about a particular topic but the writer was not a first hand witness of what they are writing about.

Tertiary Sources: compilations of primary and secondary sources such as encyclopedias, biographical dictionaries, companions, guide books, etc.

Where to Find Them: These are normally found in the reference room but sometimes there are older copies or second copies in the regular book collection.

Some things to remember about research

Some things to remember about research:

  • Research takes time!
  • Research is reading.
  • Research is not necessarily linear.
  • In the early stages of research, keep an open mind!
  • Research builds on other research.
  • Research looks different in different disciplines.