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Tutorials for Library Resources

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Reader-Friendly Quick Tips

Find yourself dozing, daydreaming, or just not interested? Follow these steps to "reading" a scholarly article.

NOTE: Humanities articles may be organized differently, but the concept is the same.

Be good to your brain and smart with your research - avoid cognitive overload. Start by having your thesis, topic, or question clear in your mind. 

  1. Read the title and author's names. Do the words in the title make reference to your thesis, question or topic? Are the authors credentialed (PhDs, D., etc.)? 
  2. Read the abstract. The abstract or summary provides information about the project. Often, the abstract contains the results or conclusion of the study too. Is this still related to your topic? If yes, keep reading, if not, move on to another resource. 
  3. Read the conclusion. This is where you will find the results of the study without the equations and other research jargon. Is this still working for your project? Continue on. Not working? Move on to a different resource. 
  4. Read the introduction. This is where the author's lay out the plan for the article and the steps they will take to accomplish their research goals. Is this still working for your project? Continue on... 
  5. Read the first sentence of each paragraph. The first sentence is the topic sentence. This will give you an idea if the paragraph has something useful to you. 
  6. Check out the references, too. The references in the article might lead you to other research that is useful to your project. 
  7. Read the whole article in order. Pay attention to the discussion, methods, and results to check for more useful data. 
  8. Be sure to keep track. Keep a citation for the article. This will usually include a link that will take you back to the article if you need to. Also be sure to take some notes to remind yourself which parts of the article are useful to you. 


Using "AND" and "OR' and other tricks for searching in Google and beyond. 


Using AND between 2 or more terms finds resources with all of those terms. This will narrow your search. Google will assume AND between two words, even if you don't use it. 

Software AND engineer 
Software engineer
"Customer service" AND hospitality
"Instructional design" AND "e-learning"


Using OR between 2 or more terms finds resources with only one or more of those terms. This will broaden your search. 

"customer service" OR hospitality
"help desk' OR helpdesk OR "technical support"

NOT / - 

Using NOT (or on Google using - ) will find sources without the word that immediately follows NOT. This will narrow your search. 

Director NOT executive 
"Dave Thomas" NOT Wendy's

* (asterisk)

Also known as "truncation," an * next to or inside of a word will allow for variations of that word. This will broaden your search.

Chees* = cheese, cheeses, cheesy, cheesiest
Genetic* = genetics, geneticist, genetically
Child* = childhood, children, child

Quotation marks

Putting one or more words within quotation marks will find resources with that exact word or phrase. This will narrow your search. 

"World Health Organization"
"Vice President"
"Customer service"

( ) Brackets

Using brackets with other boolean operators will help your search be even more specific. This will narrow your search.

(population AND taiwan) AND (health)
"Information technology" (sydney OR melborne) 

Putting it all together

"Project manage*" -construction -(Brisbane OR Canberra) = resources that have phrases beginning with project manage (project manager, project management, project managers), that do not mention construction and Bisbane or Canberra. 

("population growth" AND taiwan) AND health OR medicine = results that include the population growth of Taiwan as well as the health or medicine of the population growth of Taiwan. 


How Not to Plagiarize

  • Start your research early!
    • It may take time to find the best resources to support your arguments.
    • Your arguments may change as you do research and learn more about your topic
    • Understanding materials from a new field or subject area may take time to understand and summarize
  • Know what the assignment is!
    • If you have any questions about the assignment requirements, ask your instructor
  • Document your sources immediately
    • Document sources as you're doing your research. That way you'll remember where your quotes and facts came from.
  • Use direct quotes sparingly.
    • The majority of your paper should be in your own words
    • Quote directly if the exact words of the source matter
    • Paraphrase if the idea expressed in the source is what matters
  • Putting quotation marks around quotations isn't enough
    • You still have to insert an in-text citation and cite the source fully in your references list at the end of your paper
  • Paraphrasing impoperly is still plagiarism 
    • You must really, truly use your own words and sentence structure, don't just change a couple of words
    • Cite the source you're paraphrasing with an in-text citation and in your references list
  • Even if you found it online, you should still cite it
    • Information from the web is no different than using a book as a source. You still have to cite where you're getting the information.
    • If it is publicly available on the web, that doesn't mean it's in the public domain
    • Even if something is in the public domain, you still have to cite it
  • Citation Styles - know where to find help
    • If you're unsure if, when, or how to cite something, ask for help - ask a librarian, the writing center, a librarian, or your professor. 
    • Check out the Excelsior OWL, our citation guide, or this citation guide from the University of Maine. 

What is Digital Literacy? 

"Being digitally literate is not just learning about or even with technologies, but it is being able to participate fully in a digitally-enabled society" - NetSafe

  • Internet literate: know how to search the internet and research appropriate content
  • Filter information: know how to filter the material found and recognize trustworthy information
  • Critically think: know how to think critically and identify bias
  • Analyze and problem solve: know how to analyze and solve problems using digital tools
  • Avoid plagiarism: know how to reference source material
  • Intellectual property: know the concepts beyond intellectual property and copyright
  • Create and share: know how to create content, collaborate with others, and build and share knowledge

Two Types of Annotations

  1. Descriptive or informative 
    1. Describes or summarizes the source
    2. Describes why the source is useful
    3. Describes distinctive features of the source
    4. Describes the main arguments and conclusions without evaluation of those conclusions
  2. Analytical or critical
    1. Summarizes
    2. Analyzes the strengths and weaknesses of the information
    3. Analyzes the applicability to your project or paper
    4. Is the most often requested type of annotation

Getting Started with Zotero

Zotero is a citation generator that you can install in your web browser. This allows you to cite any website or library resource you use in your research. 

  1. Create a Zotero account on Zotero's website
  2. Download and install Zotero from their website. You can download for Chrome browser or Windows. 
  3. If not using Chrome, add Zotero Connector to your browser
  4. Check out the Zotero Quick Start Guide online
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