How Online Learning Works
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Prior to Enrollment
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Orientation for Online Learners
WKU Libraries is committed to helping you find the materials you need to conduct research. They have created a list of resources from WKU and other institutions that have proven helpful to students. In addition, you have access to Library Liaisons that are here to help you find information in specific subject areas.
WKU Libraries provide students access to a wide range of digital information. Web–Accessible Databases are a perfect example of such information. To access these databases, you must indicate whether you are on campus or off campus. If you are accessing the databases off campus, click on the ‘Off Campus Login’ box. To access the databases off campus you must login via a proxy server by entering your WKU email username and password.
Once you have logged in, you will have access to a listing of databases provided by WKU Libraries. These databases can be viewed alphabetically or by subject. Among the many databases provided are Ebscohost, JSTOR, LexisNexis, FirstSearch, WilsonWeb and many others. You will retrieve mostly journal articles from WKU Libraries Web–Accessible Databases and most of these will be full–text.
How do I start?
To find journal articles start with a DATABASE.
- What is a database?
- DATABASES are collections of citations to articles from many different journals. View a list of WKU’s online databases
- Can I get access to databases from home?
- Yes. WKU students can access library databases off campus by logging in with their WKU Net ID and password. Login the same way you log into the WKU Portal. Visit http://www.wku.edu/library to see a complete list of resources.
There are two types of databases
- General databases
- These are interdisciplinary and will work for finding just a few articles on a topic or beginning research on a more in-depth project. Academic Search Premier is the general database at WKU Libraries.
- Subject Specific Databases
- These are better for finding articles from journals in a specific discipline. You will turn to these when you have exhausted your findings in Academic Search Premier, or when you're doing an in-depth project in a specific discipline. Use Research Guides and Subject Guides to help with the selection of appropriate databases.
One of the most comprehensive searches you can do in one place is through WorldCat Local. WorldCat provides access to more that 30,000 articles, and will allow you to search locally and world wide. Access WorldCat here.
As a WKU student you also have access to the Kentucky Virtual Library: The Kentucky Virtual Library provides access to quality library and information resources online at www.kyvl.org.
Using Google Scholar
WKU subscribes to a number of electronic journals ("e-journals"). The best way to find information on your topic is through the research databases provided by WKU Libraries. You should always start by using the appropriate library databases (such as ERIC, PsycInfo, Academic Search Premier, etc.).
However, Google Scholar provides a supplemental method of searching e-journals which can be helpful in finding information. Google Scholar searches across many e-journal packages and ranks results differently than the databases, which may help you to find more information.
Many of the e-journals WKU subscribes to are included in Google Scholar. More information about Google Scholar is available by clicking here.
Using Wikipedia - is it acceptable?
It depends on how you use it! Strictly speaking, no, it is not an acceptable source for academic research. Wikipedia is an online encyclopedia compiled by volunteers, not experts. Anyone can contribute, and anyone can update the information, which means that it’s prone to error. For this reason it should NOT be used in academic research. Wikipedia’s founder, Jimmy Wales, has stated that the purpose of Wikipedia is not for class projects or serious research and the online encyclopedia should not be used in that way.
Using resources provided through WKU Libraries removes any doubt about reliability, and it is easier to search/find information you feel confident using.
Wikipedia can be an excellent place to start, since each entry contains a collection of citations. If you use Wikipedia in this way, it can be an excellent source of information, and can set you on the track to finding the information you need. Just refer to citations at the end of the article you believe fits your research needs. The citations usually contain live links, so it's easy to move from Wikipedia to a more scholarly source of information.
How do I know if the journal I selected is a scholarly journal?
A scholarly journal (sometimes called a peer-reviewed journal) is a collection of articles usually written by scholars in an academic or professional field. An editorial board reviews articles to decide whether they should be accepted. Articles in journals can cover very specific topics or narrow fields of research. Since journals are published on a regular or periodic basis they are grouped in the category called "periodicals." Electronic journals, called e-journals, are published on the Web by some scholarly organizations and are made available to you from your library.
When should I use Scholarly Journals?
- when doing scholarly research
- to find out what has been studied on your topic
- to find bibliographies that point to other relevant research
Examples of Journals
- Journal of Communication
- The Historian
- Journal of the American Medical Association
Below are a few tips to assist you in your search process.
- Work with your WKU Library Liaison to access information, and find journals related to your topic.
- Use boolean operators such as "or" and "and" to broaden or limit your search. More tips related to searching effectively are available.
- Use the Research Guides and Subject Guides available to you. They will help you identify journals related to your research!
There are a number of tutorials available to help you along the way! Visit http://libguides.wku.edu/tutorials for the most up-to-date library tutorials.
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