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A Guide to Searching for Academic Information
Last Updated: Jun 30, 2016 URL: Print Guide RSS UpdatesEmail Alerts

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This guide is intended to help you start your research - it is not a complete list of all materials available.

Please contact me if you would like further assistance (see the box with the photo on the right).

Validate Your ID

To access online resources from a computer outside the library you must register with the library. To find out if your library registration is current, follow the steps on the Distance Student Database Access tab. 

Films on Demand

Films On Demand is a state-of-the-art platform streaming educational videos in numerous subject areas, including Business, Health, Humanities, Maths, and Sciences - both Natural and Social.  Ask your instructor if you can use a film clip as a source for your paper/project.

Citation Strategy

Zotero and Mendeley are two freely-available bibliographic management programs.

Mookini Library subscribes to RefWorks, an online bibliographic management service that allows UH Hilo faculty and students to store and organize citations and can automatically create a bibliography* from the citations. {Sorry, not available for Hawai'i CC users at this time.}

RefWorks takes some getting used to, but is a valuable tool.  It has good tutorials and help pages or you can Book-a-Librarian for an introduction.

* You are still responsible for verifying the correctness of the automatically-created bibliography, but that's still easier than typing the citations yourself!

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Scan to access the mobile version of this guide.

Topics, Thesis, and Keywords

The Topic Strategy Guide shows you how to choose a topic, focus the topic, develop a thesis statement, and select search terms and strategies to find resources on your topic.

How To Do Academic Research

Some Things You MUST Accept About Academic Research

1.  Academic Research takes TIME - much more than you think.  Finding any information is easy, thanks to Google.  But finding GOOD information requires some effort.

2.  Academic Research is a trial-and-error process: you will search, see what you get, look for other keywords, subject headings, and alternative terms authors use that you hadn't thought of... and then use those to search again.

3.  Academic Research requires looking in more than one place.  The really important scholarly stuff isn't available freely on the Internet and isn't collected conveniently together - you'll have to search several databases, depending on the types of sources you need.  {You did read your assignment to find out what types of sources you're supposed to be looking for, right?}

4.  You will read much more than you will use.  You may only need 5 sources, but you will probably review 2-3 times that many to find the 5 that are best for your particular need.

5.  Ready for some good news?  Most academic sources have a list of references - just like the one you need to create - so often one source will lead you to other sources on your topic.

More Tips for Getting Started with Academic Research

Research Methods and Writing for the Profession

A Field Guide For Science Writers: The Official Guide of the National Association of Science Writers
General Collection: T 11 .F52 2006
Also available as an Online Book

Learning to Communicate in Science and Engineering
General Collection: Q 223 .P64 2010

Making Sense: A Student's Guide to Research and Writing: Engineering and the Technical Sciences
General Collection: T 11 . N675 2009

Making Sense: A Student's Guide to Research and Writing: Geography and Environmental Sciences
General Collection: G 70 .N67 2005

Making Sense: A Student's Guide to Research and Writing: Life Sciences
General Collection: QH 304 .N67 2011

Science and Technology Research: Writing Strategies for Students
General Collection: Z 710 .N47 2002

Science Research Writing for Non-native Speakers of English
Online Book

Scientific Writing and Communication: Papers, Proposals, and Presentations
General Collection: Q223 .H63 2014

Scientific Writing for Young Astronomers: A Collection of Papers on Scientific Writing
General Collection: QB14.2 .S25 2011

Scientific Writing: Thinking in Words
General Collection: T11 .L5286 2011

Writing and Presenting Scientific Papers
General Collection: T 11 .M3344 2004
Also available as an Online Book

Writing Readable Research: A Guide for Students of Social Science
Online Book

Writing Scientific Articles: Strategy and Steps 2013
Online Book


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Amy Saxton
Contact Info
Mookini Library
University of Hawaii at Hilo
Hawai'i Community College
200 W. Kawili St.
Hilo, HI 96720
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Additional Information:
I am a Public Services Librarian, serving both UH Hilo and Hawai'i CC. I am also the Distance Learning Librarian for both campuses, providing library support for distance learning faculty and students.


"In the Internet world, the ease of finding something obscures the difficulty of finding the right thing."

Gustavson, A., & Nall, H. C. (2011). Freshman Overconfidence and Library Research Skills: A Troubling Relationship? College & Undergraduate Libraries, 18(4), 291-306.

Government Documents

The U.S. government publishes useful material via the Government Printing Office (GPO) and as a Federal Depository Library, the Mookini Library receives a small percentage of what is published.  Documents are listed in the HawaiĘ»i Voyager catalog just like books and other materials. Print documents that have not been added to the General Collection are located on the Upper Level in the Government Documents collection.

To find online information, see our Government Documents page.


Did you know you can make an individual appointment with a librarian?  Get help with finding sources, citing sources, Laulima, computer basics, etc.

Book-a-Librarian today!


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