Research Help

The librarians and staff of the Arthur A. Wishart Library are here to help you with your research. We offer a number of in-person and onlines services to assist you.

Below you'll find answers to your most frequently asked questions. Have a question that isn't here? You can chat with us in real-time, or submit your questions and feedback through our Feedback Survey.

Finding your book - how do call numbers work?

1170 views   |   0   0   |   Last updated on Nov 11, 2015    Books

Call numbers work like addresses. They tell you where your resource is located in the library. Call numbers are listed in the Library Catalogue, and are written horizontally.

Call Number example in the catalogue

You'll need to note the Call Number and Shelving Location to locate your book.

On the book spine, Call Numbers appear vertically. Every book or resource has a unique call number that is taped to the bottom of the book's spine.

Call numbers on book example photo

To help you find your books, there are posters on the end of each book stack letting you know the Call Number ranges and subjects found in each stack.

LC Classification Subjects

A - General Works
B - Philosophy, Psychology, Religion
C – History - Civilization
D - History – General (not U.S.)
E - U.S. History
F - U.S. Local History and Latin American History
G - Geography, Anthropology, Recreation
H - Social Sciences
J - Political Science
K - Law
L - Education
M - Music
N - Fine Arts
P - Language & Literature
Q - Science
R - Medicine
S - Agriculture
T - Technology
U - Military Science
V - Naval Science
Z - Information Science

This page was adapted from the University of Toronto Library's "What is a call number?" page.

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Where can I find the best library resources for my topic?

935 views   |   1   0   |   Last updated on Nov 09, 2015    Articles Website E-resources Databases Research Help

There are two spots to check for subject-specific resources on the library website. 

Subject Guides

The library has prepared subject guides that list relevant resources for your topic and disciplines, including databases, reference titles, ebooks and websites you can use for your research. The guides can be found under Research menu on the library homepage.

Subject guides link from the Research drop down list

Not finding your topic? Fill out our Feedback Survey and tell us what subject guide you'd like to see!



For a full list of databases we subscribe to, visit our Databases page. This is found under the Research heading on the library homepage. 

Where to find the database link under the research drop down list

Choose what program your assignment is for from the drop down list to see relevant databases in your field. You can also search for databases by title.

Our Database search page. You can look up databases by title or subject.

Just starting our your research? Try an interdisciplinary database like Scholars Portal Ejournals or Academic Search Complete, or use the OneSearch bar on the main library homepage.

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How do I request materials through inter-library loan?

843 views   |   0   0   |   Last updated on Oct 29, 2015    RACER Inter-Library Loan

You can request an item for inter-library loan by using the Scholars Portal RACER system

If you cannot find the title you are looking for, please submit a paper copy of the ILL request at the Library Circulation Desk or send the ILL staff a message using our contact form, selecting "Inter-Library Loan" as the Category.

Library users should provide the following bibliographic information in their ILL requests:


♦ The title and author of the article.
♦ The title of the periodical.
♦ The volume and issue numbers of the periodical.
♦ The pages on which the article appears.

This bibliographic information can be found using Algoma's extensive list of Journals Databases, or by searching for the article citation in Google Scholar

For Books:

♦ The title and author of the book.
♦ Optional: the publication information (e.g. publisher, edition, publication date).  If you do not provide publication information, we will try to get the latest edition of the book for you.

This bibliographic information for books can be found using library catalogues, such as Algoma University's at: . 

If you cannot find it there try: WorldCat OCLC's catalogue of over 1.5 billion items in libraries worldwide.

If you have any difficulties with your search, please contact Library staff.

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How do I find the full-text of an article?

841 views   |   0   0   |   Last updated on Nov 23, 2015    Books Articles Sources E-resources Research Help

Sometimes a database search will return the citation and abstract of an article, but will not include the full text of the article. 

In order to avoid retrieving only citations, databases will sometimes allow you to select "Full-text only" for your search. You can check this option if available to ensure you only receive full-text results. 

Ebsco Full Text selection

If you find a resource you're interest in and there is no full-text article provided in that database, select the "Full Text Finder" or "Get It At Algoma" option (title will vary depending on the database you are using). This will show you whether or not we subscribe to that journal, and what database it can be found in.

Find Full-Text @ My Library imageGet it at Algoma imageFull Text Finder image

Be sure to check the availability information for the journal. The journal could appear in more than one database, with different years of availability. You will need to know what year your article was published in. This information can be found by checking the citation information you retrieved in your initial database search.

Still haven't found the full-text article? You can also try our A-Z Journal Title search to check whether we subscribe to the journal. 

If we don't subscribe to this particular journal, you can submit an ILL Request for the article.

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How do I find a specific book?

792 views   |   0   0   |   Last updated on Nov 19, 2015    Books

If you know the title or author of the book you're looking for, you'll want to search the library catalogue

  • Enter the title or author into the search bar.
  • Select the corresponding type from the drop down list (Author or Title)

Catalogue search demonstration

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What is a journal?

752 views   |   0   0   |   Last updated on Nov 11, 2015    Books Articles Sources E-resources Research Help

In the academic context, journals are scholarly publications containing articles that are written by researchers, professors or other experts. Journals typically focus on a specific discipline or field of study. They are intended for academic or technical audiences, not general readers, and therefore differ from magazines and newspapers.

A few facts about journal articles:

  • Usually peer reviewed
  • Written by experts for experts
  • Contain original research or new theories, analysis or interpretations
  • Reference other works 
  • May be published in print, online or both formats

Journals are published regularly (monthly, quarterly, bi-annually) and are numbered sequentially. 

Each copy is called an issue, and a set of issues make a volume. Usually each year is considered a separate volume. For example, the fictitious Journal of Algoma History is a quarterly journal in its 3rd year of publication. The spring volume of the journal would be volume 3, issue 2. Journals may also be called periodicals or serials.

Adapted from the University of Victoria's "What's a journal?" page.

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What counts as a scholarly source?

722 views   |   0   0   |   Last updated on Nov 04, 2015    E-resources Research Help Articles

Scholarly sources are written by academics or experts in their field of study. These sources share new research findings, theories, analyses, or summaries of current knowledge, with the intent of keeping others in the field updated on research, findings and news. 

Scholarly sources can be either primary or secondary research, and come in a variety of formats including books, articles and websites. There is a difference between scholarly and peer-reviewed articles: all peer-reviewed sources are considered scholarly, but not all scholarly sources are peer-reviewed. If you've been asked to find "scholarly" articles, make sure you clarify with your professor whether peer-reviewed articles are required.

How do you determine if your source is scholarly? If you've found a source and it is not clear whether it's peer-reviewed, consider the following criteria:


  • Does the source include the author's name?
  • Are their credentials provided?
  • Are these credentials relevant to the information provided in the article? Is there any potential bias?


  • Who published the source?
  • Is the publisher a scholarly or professional organization? An academic institution or press?
  • What is their purpose for publishing the source?


  • Who would be the intended audience of the source? If the answer is other experts or individuals interested in the field, it may be a scholarly source.
  • Is the language geared toward the general public, or towards those with knowledge of that discipline? Scholarly sources use technical language specific to their disciplines and are not written for general audiences.


  • Does the source have a stated purpose? Why is the information provided or written?
  • Does the source include citations or references to other sources on the topic?
  • Do they include charts, graphs, tables or bibliographies to support their writing?
  • Are the research claims and findings documented? Scholarly sources are typically structured with an abstract, literature review, methodology, results, conclusion and references.
  • Are the conclusions based on evidence?
  • How long is the source? 


  • When was the source published?
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How can I find library resources through Google Scholar?

720 views   |   0   0   |   Last updated on Dec 07, 2015   

Google Scholar can be a useful tool for finding scholarly resources on your topic. To ensure that you get access to all of the resources you're entitled to as a student or faculty member at Algoma University, make sure you connect Google Scholar to Wishart Library's electronic resources. 

To link Google Scholar to our library resources, visit the following link.This should let Google Scholar know that you are an authenticated AlgomaU user. 

We've also created the following video tutorial to help you with this process: Google Scholar and Library Resources.

If you have user privileges at other libraries, you can add these libraries to your profile using the directions in the video.

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What citation management program should I use?

711 views   |   1   0   |   Last updated on Oct 29, 2015    Citation styles Research Help

The Arthur A. Wishart Library doesn't recommend any specific system, but we can help you get started using some of the common, freely available tools.

Building on the work done by the Citation Management Working Group at Western University Libraries, we've developed quick start guides that can lead you through the process of setting up a citation management system, starting to add references from a database, and using it with MS Word to format your bibliography.

Some questions to ask yourself when deciding on a citation manager:

  • Do you want to store PDFs in the program? If so, how much space do you expect to need?
  • How much do you plan to share and collaborate with others?
  • Do you want to work offline? Or does a web-based program suit your needs?
  • Will you use it on a mobile device?

Check out our overview of three most popular citation management systems and compare your options.


Creative Commons Licence

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What is an annotated bibliography?

709 views   |   0   0   |   Last updated on Nov 19, 2015    Writing

Like any bibliography, an annotated bibliography is an alphabetical list of research sources. In addition to bibliographic data, an annotated bibliography provides a concise summary of each source and some assessment of its value or relevance. 

Depending on your assignment, an annotated bibliography may be one stage in a larger project, or it may be an independent project standing on its own.

Annotated Bibliography = Bibliographic Citation (in appropriate citation style) + Annotation (summary and assessment of the source)

Components of an Annotation

  • Focus or scope of the work
  • Thesis or main argument
  • Intended audience
  • Author's methodology: sources used, methodological process, theoretical perspective
  • Relevance to your topic: how it fits into the literature, source's scholarly contribution to the field


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What is the difference between an in-text citation and a reference list?

698 views   |   1   0   |   Last updated on Nov 11, 2015    Citation styles

This is the language used in APA reference style. An in-text citation refers to the work of others in your writing. In APA format, you use the author-date method of in-text citation (ie. Smith, 1998). A complete reference to this source must then appear in the reference list at the end of the paper. All sources that are cited in the text must appear in the reference list at the end of the paper.

A reference list differs from a bibliography, since bibliographies may include other works that an author consults regardless of whether they are mentioned in your essay. In APA Style, each entry in the reference list must be cited in the text. Therefore if you only cite two sources in your paper, your reference list will be very short. This doesn't take into account any other research or sources you consulted.

Other citation styles like MLA and Chicago Style use bibliographies. MLA uses in-text citations, referred to as parenthetical citations. The Chicago Style notes system is preferred by humanists, but those in the physical, natural and social sciences may use the author-date system where sources are briefly cited in text by author's last name and date of publication. 


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How can I keep track of my search strategies?

697 views   |   0   0   |   Last updated on Nov 20, 2015    Research Help

Sometimes it is necessary to document your search steps - whether it be for a research assignment or to remember your successful searches. Snipping tools provide an easy way to document your search process. These program allow you to capture screenshots and annotate them. These tools are typically specific to your operating system, but below we've listed a few options for you to try.


The Snipping Tool is a handy way to keep track of your search process, and it is freely available on Windows Vista, Windows 7 and Windows 8. This means it is available on the library computers! To find the Snipping Tool program, click on your "Start" menu. Enter "Snipp" into the Search programs and files bar, and click on the Snipping Tool icon. 

Mac OS X

There are a couple of free snipping programs available on Mac OS X, including Grab, Skitch and Apowersoft Mac Screenshot. Grab is a built-in utility tool that is already included on OS X, but downloadable programs like Skitch and Apowersoft Mac Screenshot offer more robust annotation capabilities.

OS X also has many keyboard shortcuts to take screenshots, which can be helpful if you take a lot of them.  For instance, ⌘-Shift-3 takes a shot of the entire screen and saves it as a file on your Desktop.


Under Linux, you can use GIMP to acquire a screenshot: from the File menu, select "Create ⇒ From screenshot".  If you are running GNOME, it comes with screenshot tools built in.


Most Android phones have a button combination that takes a screenshot.  It varies from device to device, but the most common is Power + Volume Down.

iOS (iPhone/iPad/iPod Touch)

Power + Home takes a screenshot and saves it to your Photos app.


Firefox has the ability to "screenshot" a web page built in!  First, open the "Developer Toolbar" by pressing Shift-F2, or by selecting "Developer ⇒ Developer Toolbar" from the Firefox menu.  At the prompt that appears in the bottom of your browser window, type screenshot and hit Enter to take a screenshot of the visible part of the current webpage.  Use screenshot --fullpage instead to capture the entire page.


Need more help with snipping tools? Stop by the Reference Desk on the main floor of the library! 

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What materials are held in the Algoma University Archives and how can I access them?

678 views   |   1   0   |   Last updated on Nov 10, 2015    Archives

The Algoma University Archives and Special Collections holds material related directly to Algoma University and the Algoma region. This includes records created by faculty, staff, alumni, as well as persons in the Algoma community, local organizations, and associations. Additionally, the Shingwauk Residential Schools Centre has many archival resources relating to residential schools, reconciliation, and Indigenous communities. 

For access to our online archival collection, please visit

Need more information? Contact Krista McCracken at or 705-949-2301 ext 1015. 

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How do I find something on reserve?

666 views   |   0   0   |   Last updated on Nov 10, 2015    Course Reserves

If your instructor said that they left something for your course in the library, it is likely on course reserve. 

Reserve readings are materials selected by instructors to be set aside for use by students taking their courses. As a result, these materials circulate only to Algoma University students and faculty.

Reserve readings are listed and shelved by course number at the Circulation Desk and are identified in the library catalogue as on reserve. Please visit the Circulation Desk of the library for more information!

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How do I know if a journal is peer-reviewed?

654 views   |   0   0   |   Last updated on Nov 11, 2015    Books Articles Sources E-resources Research Help

If you are searching for articles, certain databases will allow you to limit your search to peer-reviewed sources by checking a box or selecting a tab on the search screen.

Some interfaces that provide this option are Scholars Portal, EBSCO (ie. OneSearch, Academic Search Complete, Business Source Complete, Historical Abstracts) and ProQuest databases (ie. ProQuest Central, Political Science, Social Science and PsycArticles). 

The second option is to look at the journal itself. Do a web search on the journal to find their home page. Look for the journal's editorial statement or instructions to authors on the submission process. These sections will typically reference the peer-review process. 

Need help determining whether a journal is peer-reviewed? Chat or email us using the navigation to your right. We're here to help!



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How do I find primary sources for my History assignment?

634 views   |   0   0   |   Last updated on Nov 11, 2015    Archives

Primary sources are documents that contain first-hand information or original data on a topic. They are works created at the time of the event, by a person who directly experienced or reported on it at that time. They can come in many formats including: letters, diaries, journals, hand-written notes, newspaper articles, government documents, ephemera, or magazines. 

A great place to start your search for primary sources is the History Subject Guide which lists databases and resources relevant to your discipline. The Library subscribes to a number of primary source databases, including:

Early Canadiana Online (ECO):  first large-scale online collection of early Canadian print heritage. ECO contains a digitized selection of the content from the microfiche held by the Canadian Institute for Historical Microreproductions. The collections include material published from the time of the first European settlers to the first two decades of the 20th Century.

Artemis Primary Sources: Artemis Primary Sources combines major archives of eighteenth and nineteenth century monographs, manuscripts, newspapers, maps, and early photographs. 

The Times Digital Archive:  delivers every page as published from 200 years of The Times (London) (1785-1985). The Times is the "world's newspaper of record" and covers all major international historical events from the French Revolution to the Falkland War. Users are able to search the full-text of the entire newspaper, including articles, editorials, and advertising.

Eighteenth Century Collections Online: access to the digital images of every page of books published during the 18th Century. With full-text searching of millions of pages, this database allows researchers new methods of access to critical information in the fields of history, literature, religion, law, fine arts, science and more.

Early English Books Online (EEBO): contains digital facsimile page images of virtually every work printed in England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales and British North America and works in English printed elsewhere from 1473-1700 - from the first book printed in English by William Caxton, through the age of Spenser and Shakespeare and the tumult of the English Civil War.

English Historical Documents Online: an authoritative collection of documents on British history, including access to over 5,000 historical documents


Local Archives

Algoma University has also developed an important collection of archival resource materials that may be of interest for your history assignment. Archives are those records, in any format, created, received and retained by individuals, families and organizations as evidence of their activities and transactions. As such they serve as their "memory" and thus provide important information about the functions, activities, and decisions of record creators over time. 

Search the Archives & Special Collections - Quick Search

To learn more about the unique archival materials at Algoma University select one of the following archival areas:


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Where should I look for news or media articles?

628 views   |   0   0   |   Last updated on Nov 19, 2015    Books Sources Research Help

A great resource for finding news and media sources is Proquest's News and Newspapers.This platform gives you access to current Canadian and international news as well as historical coverage of the The Globe & Mail and The New York Times. It's a one-stop shop for news and media, and searching here ensures you don't encounter paywalls when trying to access the news information you need. 
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Who can use the Archives and Special Collections? 

582 views   |   1   0   |   Last updated on Nov 19, 2015    Archives

The Archives and Special Collections at Algoma University are open to all students, staff, faculty, researchers, and the general public. 

Students may consult the Archives for course-related projects, assignments and papers. History students, for example, regularly research local history, institutional history, and news articles relating to the University. Social Work or CESD students may seek information on the Aboriginal Healing Foundation or community healing initiatives. Students from Fine Arts might research historical photography methods or use archival material as inspiration.

The Archives is also used by Algoma University staff, faculty and administrators in the course of carrying out the University’s academic and administrative business. The Archives might be consulted for the creation of presentations and displays, to consult past institutional reports, for anniversary planning or communications campaigns, and many other internal projects.

The Archives offers a wide range of opportunities for advanced scholarly research. For more information on how to access the Archives or how to get started with your research contact our staff or visit our website.

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What are primary and secondary sources?

581 views   |   0   0   |   Last updated on Nov 10, 2015    Books Sources Research Help

Primary sources are documents that contain first-hand information or original data on a topic. They are works created at the time of the event, by a person who directly experienced or reported on it at that time. They can come in many formats including: letters, diaries, journals, hand-written notes, newspaper articles, government documents, ephemera, or magazines. 

Secondary sources are documents that are one step removed from the original source, event or experience. These works may describe, analyze, evaluate, or be derived from or based on a primary source. Secondary sources may critique or interpret a primary source. Examples of secondary sources include literature reviews, biographies, textbooks, or articles that explore documents from the past. 


Examples by Subject

Subject Primary Source Secondary Source
English A poem A journal article or book that analyzes the poem
History A diary written by a historical figure An article that discusses the significance of the diary, or analyzes the historical context in which the diary was written
Sociology A study that interviews youth on their use of social media and experiences with bullying A news report about the study and its findings
Psychology An empirical study on the impact of clothing bias on mugshot identification accuracy A blog post that discusses the results
Biology An empirical study on species size and coexistence A systematic review article about species coexistence that mentions the empirical study

Adapted from University of Toronto Libraries "What is a secondary source?" 
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Where can I get help with my writing?

538 views   |   0   0   |   Last updated on Nov 10, 2015    Writing

The Writing Lab is a free service available to all Algoma University registered students in any discipline of study, including those studying at our satellite programming locations in Brampton and Timmins.

The Writing Lab is staffed by a qualified writing instructor who helps students with individual writing consultations by appointment. The goal of the Writing Lab is to help students improve the writing skills they need to be successful at the university level. The Writing Lab works closely with the Learning Centre to provide a range of academic support services.

The Writing Lab runs for 14 weeks during the fall and winter semesters, and for a limited time during the spring and summer semesters. The Writing Lab is available for appointments during the following office hours.

Office hours for Fall 2015 (by appointment only):

Mondays and Wednesdays: 10am - 4pm
Tuesdays and Thursdays: 10am - 3pm

Please book your appointment at

For free resources and handouts on academic writing skills, you can enroll in the Writing Lab on the CMS with the key: writing.

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