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Peer Research Consultants

Training and information for PRCs


RUSA is the Reference and User Services Association, under ALA.

  1. Approachability
    1. Physical
      1. Immediately stop any other task
      2. Eye contact
      3. Smile or stand up
    2. Verbal
      1. "Can I help you?"
      2. "Are you finding what you need?"
  2. Interest
    1. Tell them the question in interesting - it can also buy you time while you determine how to proceed in the search
  3. Listening / Inquiring
    1. Let them speak without interrupting
    2. Ask clarifying, open-ended questions afterwards
      1. "Can you tell me more about that?"
      2. What have they already retrieved?
      3. What types of materials do they need?
      4. How far into the research are they?
      5. Where have they searched?
  4. Searching
    1. Show Research Guides
    2. Show essential databases
  5. Follow up
    1. "Does that make sense?"
    2. "Will this be enough to get you started on your paper?"
    3. Provide their subject librarian's card.

Narrowing Topics

How to Begin

Assignment 1

Think about a reference interview you have had with a librarian (public or academic).

  • Do you have an example of a time you felt you were not given the help you needed or were not listened to?
  • What did they do that was helpful that you'd like to use when working with a student?

Email Karlene Clark, Holly Gabriel, and Kristen Borysewitz before beginning the readings below.

We have a choice to "give 'em the fish" or teach them to fish. It's our job to find the line between what they need and what they can do for themselves. Check in with the patron as you go and make sure you are still addressing the question they want answered. Whenever possible, have them do the majority of the work with only guidance from you. This is like showing them how to use our Reserve system - show them once, show them twice if you like, but then encourage them to try searching on their own with the tools you have introduced to them!

Be aware that the question they are asking may not, indeed, be the question they mean.

For example, asking for "something about tree frogs" may mean

  1. "I don't know. Frogs are just cool."
  2. "I'm actually looking to compare species of tree frogs for my biology class."
  3. "I'm looking to find out how many types of poisonous frogs live in the South American jungles."
  4. "I really don't care about frogs - I actually need to find out about the ecology of tree dwelling animals in the Australian Outback."

In each example, they are looking for different types of answers and resources! It's up to you to help them get to the heart of their true question!

Assignment 2 - Writing Reflection

After reading each of the following articles, please write a (minimum) two paragraph reflection on what you read. Please send responses to Karlene Clark, Holly Gabriel, and Kristen Borysewicz


  1. What you agreed with
  2. What you may have disagreed with
  3. Something you learned
    1. What are some things to consider when assessing the patron's information needs?
    2. There is often a disconnect between what the student is asking for and what their information need really is. What are some open-ended questions you could use to help learn more about what they are looking for?
  4. Was there something you would like to learn more about?
  5. Anything you'd like to share or that really stood out for you.

Assignment 3 - Reference Interview #1

We are looking specifically to see

  • That you understand the RUSA ethics and how to use them during the interview
  • That you use the correct verbiage needed for a successful interview
  • That you ask questions, but do not automatically offer them keywords - do you provide wait time for them to respond

Assignment 4 - Reference Interview #2

After meeting with the team, and reviewing Assignment 3, choose a topic that might come from an upper class student (perhaps Psych 300). Do a more complete interview and fill in the Organizing Your Topic Sheet. Submit that with the interview and search plan.

Assignment 5 - Reference Interview #3, Polished

Now that you've visited with the team about how to properly do ethics, verbiage, and narrowing the topic, give us a final, complete interview that incorporates everything above.

Assignment 6 - Reference Interview Role Play

You're ready to try it! Working with a Lead PRC, go to the One Button Studio and have your Lead ask you a question. Record the interview and then submit to PRC supervision team. This will be the first time an evaluation checklist will be used.

  • 100 or 200 level assignments, start in Academic Search Premier
  • 300 or 400 level assignments, start in more advanced databases like PsychInfo or ERIC
  • Use Suggest Subject Terms box
  • Use Advanced Search
  • Note the recommended search terms that appear as you start to fill in the boxes


Use this starting with Interview 3 - you will be shown how it works. <videos forthcoming>


  • A Graduate Student comes in on the weekend and asks for help?
    • "PRCs are trained to assist undergraduates, and our librarians are off duty right now. What I can do, though, is get you started with a few subject terms. Here's a few of the best Research Guides to look in. I'd also like to show you our Ask A Librarian chat service. This is 24/7, even when we are closed. Before you go, hand over librarian card I know <Joe> would love to visit with your about your research. Please reach out to him; he'll respond as soon as he's back in the office."
  • An Undergraduate is working on a thesis project?
    • During a weekday.
      • "Due to the nature of the research, I'm going to refer you to your subject librarian. Hang on while I call him. make the call While we wait, I can show you a few Research Guides that might help you."
    • Weekend
      • See Graduate Student script above.

One of the tasks you will be asked to assist librarians with is the creation of Research Guides.

Over the last six assignments, you have learned how to use them for searching and research assistance. Now, please see Karlene about having your own account created. She will let you know when it is ready, and either she or Holly will provide basic training. All training accounts will be labeled as <(your name)’s Sandbox>. This is your personal guide during your time as a PRC and will stay until you leave the program.

You may use it to practice creating and deleting pages, learning how to work with tabs and boxes, and so much more. Maybe you want to have a page within it just for your own notes about what you are learning, as well as tips and tricks you discover!

This will not be a public page for others to see, but when you do have something basic set up, please email the team with the link and for a time to review and ask questions. They may have more tips to help you out before you start creating live guides for UND students!


Now that you've "got a handle" on how this works, we're going to have you look at a few other areas.

Using what you learned with Holly's Business Question assignment from earlier, along with the reference interview practice you did above, look at the questions under each of the tabs in this area. Some of them have transcripts or suggested answers, but in all cases, you'll go through each question as you have above. Only work on one tab at a time. A meeting will be scheduled with the team and the subject librarian to review everything when you complete a section. You may be asked to focus on these in different orders, based on the availability of each librarian.

It's important to remember as you meet with each librarian that everyone has their own way of doing these tasks! Keep track of the things you think will work for you. Add those tools to your "Sandbox!"

The Business Questions were first done under the Training Projects tab.

  • Find information about Coca-Cola including company profile, SWOT analysis, company financials, and related industry information
  • Find peer-reviewed articles on leadership theories
  • Find industry financial ratios for the food and beverage industry
  • How to do a marketing analysis for an outdoor recreation business in Grand Forks County, North Dakota
  • Find labor data and economic statistics, such as job outlook, unemployment trends, and GDP Projections
  1. How to find information on education in North Dakota.
  2. How to find peer-reviewed articles on early childhood special education.
  3. How to find systematic reviews on the topic of aerobic fitness and elementary school students.
  4. How to find articles on school counseling and mindfulness.
  5. How to find articles on speech sound disorders.
  1. I'm looking for an article published by N. N. Bogoliudov and B. I. Sadovnikov in 1962. Not sure of the title or journal?
  2. Do we have access to Physical Chemistry Chemical Physics or Chemical Physics Letters?
  3. Where are the physics books?


  1. How would you find articles on unmanned aircrafts and safety? Can I see trade journals as well as peer-reviewed articles?
  2. What are some of the topics involved with pilot studies? How would you avoid finding irrelevant articles on this topic?
  3. Find documents about airport construction. How to limit to documents authored by the FAA, Federal Aviation Administration?

Political Science & Public Administration

  1. I need articles to support a Eurobarometer or other type of survey dealing with immigrants in Europe that I found in the ICPSR. 
  2. I need government materials related to the Supreme Court, such as which cases they are currently reviewing.
  3. I want to know if North Dakota has a law protecting housing renters? How would I begin?

Space Studies / Earth System Science & Policy

  1. How do I find articles about the moon landing?  How to find resources from NASA?
  2. How would I find resources about potential technologies for clean drinking water?

Atmospheric Sciences

  1. I want to find articles about weather conditions, such as trends in Pacific Coast hurricanes.

Women & Gender Studies

  1. Find articles on Thailand and sex trafficking of females for a Women & Gender studies class. 

S = Student


Communication (Public Speaking) – Basic Level

S: Hi, I need some books on Costa Rica.

PRC: Ok, is this for a class assignment?

S: Yes, for Public Speaking.

PRC: Is it for a speech, then?

S: Yes

PRC: Ok, and you can only use books? Can you use online materials, like online books?

S: No, the instructor wants print books only.

PRC: OK, so what do you want to know about Costa Rica?

S: I want to know about the flora and fauna.

PRC: Ok, so you want to know about plants and animals native to Costa Rica? (Note: always feel free to do a quick Google search if you don’t know what a term means, like “fauna”).

S: Yes. Or I could look at their art. I don’t know. What do you have books on? (Note: often the student is not particularly passionate about this topic – the instructor assigns a country to them. Try to stick with one topic to start and then try another topic if you don’t find enough resources.)

PRC: Well, Ok, let’s see what kind of print materials we have on Costa Rica. Let’s go to the library homepage ( and click on the Books tab.

S: OK.

PRC: Let’s just type in Costa Rica and see how many books come up in the library. Ok, we have 273 results, but some of them are still online items. Let’s click on Books under Resource Type on the left hand column to get only print items in the library. Online Books are a separate category—you can see that if you click on More Options.

S: I don’t see any books about plants and animals.

PRC: Well, some of the books are general books about Costa Rica. For example, the travel book, Fodor’s 2016 Costa Rica, will contain information on plants and animals in chapters, or sections of the book. Often you actually have to go look at the book on the shelf to find out. Sometimes you can see the Table of Contents of a book by clicking Details and then going to Table of Contents or This item in Google Books under the Links box. You can also read the Description. In the Description of this book it mentions “biodiversity” and “varied flora and fauna,” so it does cover these topics to some degree. But some of these books are really old, so let’s sort by date. Let’s do from 1990 as the native plants and animals don’t change. Type in 1990 under Publication Date on the left side column and hit enter. Now we have fewer books to look through.

I don’t think there are many other books in this list that are useful to us, however. Let’s try another search. Let’s try Costa Rica plants (sometimes you get more results using the common name “plants” over “flora”. “Costa Rica” is a more broad term than “Costa Rican” – your search doesn’t need to be grammatically correct. Go with root words). There are some books in this list that look interesting.

S: Yes! I want the “Vegetation of the life zones in Costa Rica” book and “The short-tailed fruit bat: a study in plant-animal interactions.”

PRC: Ok, let’s make sure that second one is specific to Costa Rica by checking the Details tab. It is! Great. We can also do a search for Costa Rica animals.

S: No, that’s enough. I’ll take the Fodor’s travel book and those two. How do I find them?

PRC: I’ll write the call numbers down for you and direct you. Do you know how to find books in the library or do you need help finding them on the shelf?

S: I need help, I’ve never done that before.

PRC: Ok, I’ll go up with you and show you how to find the books using the call numbers on the book spines.

S: Ok, thanks!

Psychology (This is the basic assignment in almost every Psyc111 class) – Intermediate Level

S: I need to find a scholarly, peer-reviewed article that is a study on self-harm like cutting.

PRC: Is this for a school assignment?

S: It’s for a report in my psychology (PSYC111) class.

PRC: Have you tried the database PsycINFO yet?

S: No

PRC: Ok, let me show you how to use it. What is the population you want to look at? Teenagers or adults?

S: Yeah, like teenagers. Oh, and it has to have some data.

PRC: Ok, so does it need to be an original research study?

S: Yes. The instructor said we don’t have to understand all the statistics, just make sure it is a research study, and we understand the Results section for the most part.

PRC: Ok. We’ll search PsycINFO and limit to peer-reviewed articles on self-harm or cutting in an adolescent or teenage population. And you want one in the US?

S: Yes.

PRC: OK, once we get our results we can see if we need to filter for that, or if enough will come up that are in the U.S. How old can the articles be? Did your instructor give a limit, like last 10 years, 5 years, or 2 years?

S: Oh, yes, not older than 3 years.

PRC: Ok, we will filter our results to be from 2016 (It’s now 2019). Now, let’s take a look at what keywords we should use. First let’s open PsycINFO. Go to > Research Guides > Psychology > Psychology > Find An Article. You will see that the first database suggested is PsycINFO. If you don’t find what you want there, you can try other databases listed here. This guide is a great starting point for any of your psychological research, and we have guides on all subjects for your other classes.

S: Oh, I didn’t know that.

PRC: It’s good to know, right?

S: Yes

PRC: Ok, so let’s open PsycINFO. You see there are 3 boxes for keywords, but if you need more, you can add them with the plus sign. You are looking at self-harm or cutting, or only cutting specifically?

S: Yeah, cutting specifically.

PRC: Ok, we can start with that, and if it is too narrow of a topic, we can broaden it to “self-harm” and see what we find, ok?


PRC: Let’s put cutting in the first box. You see some suggestions come up, like cutting and self harm. You don’t have to use that suggestion, but I think you should, otherwise we might find articles on cutting something else that has nothing to do with self harm. And you will notice this database spells self harm without a dash, as two words, so follow that spelling for this database. Combining cutting and self harm with the and means that every result has to mention both concepts, not only one. So, let’s put cutting and self harm in the first box. Self harm needs to have quotation marks around it, like “self harm” to keep the two words together, otherwise the database separates them into two different concepts, self and harm and not the compound word/concept self harm. We need to add those quotation marks in ourselves.

Now, scroll down and put 2016 in the first box under Publication Year. We want until the present so you can leave the second box blank. Also check the box under Peer Reviewed for only peer reviewed article results. You can also choose Human under Population group if you like, though I doubt there has been many studies with animals and self harm as that is a particularly human trait. (Note: that’s a little over the top/advanced info but it might make students start to think critically).

Ok, the easiest way to ensure most of your results are original research studies is to select items under the Methodology section. There are several options, but the most relevant would be Clinical Case Study, Clinical Trial, and Empirical Study. You can choose multiple options by holding down the CTRL key and clicking on each selection. Now click the Search button.

S: Oh, do you always have to do that?

PRC: No, you don’t. It will really limit your search to a few results. If you don’t want to do that you don’t have to, but you will have more results to weed through to see if they are original studies. When you choose the Methodology options, however, it will weed out some studies that are still relevant for your assignment as the function doesn’t work perfectly, so if you don’t want to miss anything, and want to see more results, then don’t do it.

I can see several interesting options, like the first result. If you want to limit by age, scroll down, and click on Age on the left side column and choose adolescence, or young adulthood, or both.

We did not limit our results to EBSCO full text, which means some of our results will not have the full text of the article in this database, so we will have to click on Find it @ UND to find the full text. If we don’t have access in any database, then you will need to order it through interlibrary loan (instructions are on the library website). Alternatively, if your assignment is due soon, choose another article!

Now we must ensure that the article you have chosen is an original study with data. Click on the full text and scan the article. There should be a Methods and Results section. You should see information about the Participants in the Study. This information should also be in the Abstract, giving you a clue. You should see data, oftentimes presented in tables.

We did not limit to only a U.S. population. You see we only have 16 results (results will vary depending on when you do the search), so to do that would be too limiting in this case. We could open up the results (broaden them, and get more results) by removing some of the Methodology options – this just means we have to scan more items to see if they are original studies and then put “united states” in the second search box.

Is that enough information to get you started?

S: Yes! I think I found an article in those results I would want to use. Thank you so much!

PRC: One more thing, do you see the Subjects attached to each article? You can click one of them, like “Self-Injurious Behavior” to run a search with that as a main subject, then you can add the keyword of cutting as well, and limit the years of publication, peer-reviewed articles, age, and so on. This would likely broaden your search and give you more results.

S: Thank you! Where do I go to get help writing up the report?

PRC: (Direct to Writing Center Staff)

Criminal Justice (CJ 440 – Evidence-Based Practices and Programs in Criminal Justice) – Intermediate to Advanced Level

S: Hi, I need some articles on a criminal justice program.

PRC: Is this for a class assignment?

S: Yes, it’s a literature review.

PRC: Ok, what do you mean by a program?

S: Like an intervention program. I want to look at programs for juvenile delinquents.

PRC: Ok, do you have any specific program in mind yet?

S: No

PRC: Ok, what did your assignment or instructor say about the articles. Do they have to be peer-reviewed, or not too old?

S: Oh, yeah… wait, here’s the assignment, it says: “, identify a practice or program and provide a tentative reference list with complete APA (American Psychological Association) citations on a Word document and upload to Blackboard (worth 10 points). The references should include articles that are, ideally, no more than 10 years old, peer-reviewed, as well as the full-text/PDF retrievable (online or through Interlibrary Loan).”

PRC: Ok, did your instructor say how many references you need?

S: No.

PRC: Ok, I’m guessing 5-7 would be enough, but you might want to clarify that with your instructor.

S: Ok.

PRC: Ok, there are a couple of different ways we can search for information and articles on an intervention program like this, through a government website, and through our library’s article databases. Since you are not sure which program you want to look at yet, I would start with the government website. We can search for a program there, and then search for articles on that specific program once we have identified it. Let me show you how to get there.

S: Ok

PRC: The government website we are going to look at is ( It is also linked from the Criminal Justice Research Guide ( > Research Guides > Criminal Justice > Criminal Justice > Online Resources – show the student how to get there). (Note: it is also linked from the course syllabus in the instructions for the assignment). Be sure to check this research guide in the future for other resources on criminal justice topics for your classes (it is linked from this course’s syllabus, and student may already know about the Research Guide, but also they might not).

Ok, once we are on the website, click on Crime & Crime Prevention on the left side navigation menu, and Community Crime Prevention Strategies.

All programs are listed on this page. You can search them by clicking on the Filter Results tab in the Programs table. You can limit by age or topic, gender, and so on. Since you are interested in juvenile delinquents, you could click on By Targeted Population and choose Truants/Dropouts and Young Offenders, for example. Should we try that?

S: Yes! That sounds good.

PRC: Ok, we selected them both, and now we choose Filter. WE have 11 entries, or program results. You can read about the program in the Program Summary, and then click on the one you want to find more information about.

S: Oh, that Operation Ceasefire one looks interesting – I’m really interested in gang violence with youth (notice here is when we finally find out what the student is actually interested in researching).

PRC: Ok, let’s click on the title. See, you can read about the program, and if you decide to use this one for your literature review, you can click on Evidence-Base (Studies Reviewed) to find articles that were used to develop the program. You can search for them through Google Scholar. Do you know how to connect Google Scholar to UND resources?

S: No.

PRC: OK, I’ll show you that.

S: But what about studies on the program? These were made to create the program, right?

PRC: Good question! We can search some of our Criminal Justice databases to find articles on the program. Let’s just look at Google Scholar quick, is that ok?

S: Yes

PRC: Ok, go to > QuickLinks > Google Scholar. Now you are connected to Google Scholar as a UND student. When you search for the article, you will get links on the right side of the title to full text free online or in one of our databases, if we have it, or a Find it @ UND button.

S: Oh, cool. I didn’t know that.

PRC: Yeah, it’s the easiest way to find a citation when you have the article information, and see if the full text is either free online, or available through UND library databases. Now, let’s look at some Criminal Justice Databases. We can either go back to the research guide or go directly to the subject database list here: ( > Research Guides > A-Z Databases on right side of page).

In the All Subjects dropdown, choose Criminal Justice. There are 28 databases suggested, but only a few Best Bets! listed at the top. Academic Search Complete and Criminal Justice Abstracts are both a good place to start. You can see descriptions under the database names so you can read about what kind of content they cover before you search them. Let’s try that Academic Search Complete and put in the program name. Look! You can see when you start to type operation ceasefire, the database already knows it, suggestion both operation ceasefire, and operation ceasefire boston. Let’s click on the latter  (boston) and click Search. There are 9 results.

S: Wow! That’s great. I don’t think I even need that many references.

PRC: Well, some will be more relevant than others, so there are some in this search you might not want to use. When you find an article you like, remember to check the reference list of that article for other potentially relevant articles for your topic. You can also add a database here, in the EBSCOhost platform and search more than one database at once to get more results. Do you want me to show you that?

S: Yes!

PRC: Ok, above the search box at the top, click on Choose Databases. You can see Academic Search Complete is selected. Now choose Criminal Justice Abstracts and SocINDEX as well. If you want to know the content of each database click on the yellow box to the right of the title and it will give you a description. Now click OK, and run the same search.

S: Oh! Now there are 33 results!

PRC: Yes! More options for you. Is that enough to get you started or do you have any more questions today?

S: No, thank you so much. I’ll get started with that and come back if I have any more questions.

PRC: OK, good luck with your research! (Note: identify what students are doing as research so that they start to look at themselves as researchers).


S: I need a dataset for my Sociology class.

PRC: Ok, what assignment is this for?

S: It’s a Capstone project. The instructor showed one resource in class, GSS?

PRC: Ok, let’s look at the Sociology research guide. It has a section on Data Sets & Archives: (show student how to get to research guide). You can see the General Social Survey here, linked about halfway down on the page. Do you think this is what she was showing (open link)?

S: Yes, I think so.

PRC: Do you have to use the GSS only? There is also the ICPSR (next link) that is quite popular for sociology datasets (open ICPSR link).

S: Oh! She showed that one in class too.

PRC: Oh, good, ok, let’s look at those. What is your topic? What kind of data set are you looking for?

S: One that has SPSS.

PRC: Ok, so you want to be able to download the dataset in SPSS format? (Note: SPSS is statistical software)

S: Yes

PRC: Ok, if you click on Get the Data on the GSS website, you can download the survey data in SPSS format.

S: Ok, great!

PRC: Do you know if this survey had what you want to look at? Like, what topic? It says it is a survey about what “Americans think and feel about such issues as national spending priorities, crime and punishment, intergroup relations, and confidence in institutions.”

S: Well, I don’t know, I want to look at crime.

PRC: Do you want to know how Americans think and feel about crime, or actual crime statistics and prevalence rates?

S: Crime statistics.

PRC: Ok, let’s try ICPSR. On the homepage we can try a search – we don’t really know what we are looking for, so let’s just type in crime SPSS and see what results we get. Ok, if you scan the list, there are various surveys from different years. The National Crime Victimization Survey, and so on. If we click on that one, then Data & Documentation, we can Download the SPSS file.

S: What about hate crimes?

PRC: ok, well I see one Hate Crime survey on this list, let’s go back to the search box and type in hate crime SPSS and see what comes up.

S: Oh, I want to see the one that is Hate Crime Data from 1992-2017, number 26.

PRC: Ok, let’s click on the title. Here you get more information about the dataset

S: I don’t see where the SPSS download is.

PRC: I don’t either; let’s read the description. In the description it says “All the data was downloaded from NACJD as ASCII+SPSS Setup files and read into R using the package asciiSetupReader” but I am honestly not sure if the downloaded files will work in SPSS, you may need to test it, or use a different dataset like the first one we found with an SPSS download.

S: Ok, I understand. Where do I get a copy of SPSS?

PRC: I think through Citrix apps online. We have that information on our Data Sets/Statistics research guide here:

S: Ok, so how do I access it?

PRC: You log into the Citrix apps using your UND credentials and there will be many apps to choose from, including SPSS.

S: Ok, thank you!

Social Science Interdisciplinary (Intermediate)

S: Hi. I need to write a paper for my class and I need to find some research articles.

PRC: Ok, what is your topic?

S: How social media use reflects, or changes, a person’s identity.

PRC: That is an interesting topic. Have you tried searching yet?

S: I did try on the library website, but I didn’t find much.

PRC: That’s ok, sometimes it can be better, for a specific research topic, to go directly to our online databases. Can you use any kind of article, like newspaper articles? Or do they need to be from scholarly journals, or peer-reviewed?

S: We can use magazine, newspaper, and journal articles. That’s what is says in the assignment.

PRC: Ok, how many references do you need?

S: Seven to ten.

PRC: Ok. Your topic is very interdisciplinary – it sort of touches on communication, technology and media, psychology, and sociology. So, for that reason it would be best to try a big interdisciplinary database like Academic Search Complete or Web of Science. Let’s try Web of Science first.

S: Ok, where do you find it?

PRC: In our A-Z Databases link from the homepage or under the Quicklinks button.

S: ok

PRC: So let’s open Web of Science, and now we need to work on your keywords. Your main concepts in your research question are what?

S: Social media and identity and change?

PRC: Yes, but I would leave out “change” and just search the concrete topics, social media and identity, as an article discussing this is likely talking about how identity is changed by social media. If we put in change at first we might not get enough results. Let’s click on the Advanced Search under the search box. Now type “social media” with the quotation marks around it to keep the two words together, AND identity in the first box. Ok, let’s just scan through the first page of results and see if you like any of these articles. How about no. 3 – “Growing as social beings: How social media use for college sports is associated with college students’ group identity and collective self-esteem”?

S: No…. I’m not really interested in that. How about no. 8?

PRC: “Exploring social change through social media: The case of the Facebook group Indignant Citizens?”

S: Yes.

PRC: Ok, that is looking at social change and maybe not individual identity – many of these articles are looking at social identify and group identity—is that ok?

S: Yes, I think that’s ok. Like how social media changes their social identity or group identity is ok.

PRC: Ok, let’s click on that article and you can read the abstract. You’ll notice the keywords in the article include “identity” and “social media” as well.

S: Yes, I like this article. I like the idea of social change too. Can we search for that?

PRC: Yes. Let’s try another way. I am going to click on “social media” under the keywords. Look, it ran a new search. Now I am going to put “social change” in the search box on the left side where it says Refine Results.

S: Hmmm…

PRC: Yes, it looks like there are not very relevant results here – let’s scan through a couple pages, are there any that you are interested in?

S: (after some time) Not really.

PRC: That’s ok. Sometimes the first database you try doesn’t work. Let’s try another database. Let’s go to Academic Search Complete and then let’s add some more databases and search them all at once. Let’s click on Choose Databases at the top and select/add Business Source Complete, PsycINFO, and SocINDEX and click OK. Now let’s put in “social media” in the first page, and “Social change” or identity in the second box and see what we come up with. Oh, look! That first article is the same one we saw in the Web of Science database.

S: Some of these results are interesting. Can we limit to studies in the U.S.?

PRC: Sure. Under Geography on the left hand column, select united states.

S: Hmmm… these results don’t seem as relevant.

PRC: True. You could define your topic a bit more and choose a population you want to look at. Here we have populations that include immigrants, refugees, queer individuals, and so on, in this result list. OR you could remove the united states Geography selection and limit by a group, like teenagers or young adults.

S: Ok, let’s try that.

PRC: Ok, so let’s run our original search again (click on Search up top near the boxes), and then go to Age on the left side and choose…

S: Young adulthood?

PRC: Ok, done

S: Oh, some of these look good. I like number 6.

PRC: Ok let’s click on it: “Understanding social media and identity work in young people transitioning to university.” You can see the subjects listed are Adjustment, Identity Formation, and Social Media. You can look at the reference list of this article to see if any other articles from the list will work for your search, and also use the terms “identity formation” and “social media” in a search. You can also use university, college, or “high school” as search terms to keep within this topic.

S: Ok, I’ll do that. How do I send this article to myself?

PRC: Using the icons on the right, you can click on Permalink and get a permanent url and copy and paste that into a Google doc or email, or click on the email button to send it to yourself. You can also create an EBSCOhost database profile by clicking the Sign In button at the top and then you can save items to folders and they will be there next time you login. You could also export it to a citation manager. Have you used one of those before?

S: No.

PRC: Ok, we have a Citation Managers guide ( which gives you options as far as different software you can use to save your articles and then use it to add in-text citations and reference lists into your paper automatically. If you need help with Citation Managers you can set up an appointment with a Subject Librarian to help you (give card or information depending upon subject area – or give Ask A Librarian link-

S: Ok, thank you, I’ll do that.


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