ESL 3402: Research Writing for the American University

Academic Success Centers (peer tutoring and more)

These services are designed to:

  • Boost your confidence as a student
  • Help you stay on top of your coursework
  • Offer a deeper understanding of the content
  • Connect you to peers who know tips and tricks for various courses 
  • Teach you effective study strategies and time management

Tutorial: Academic Integrity: What is a scholar?

Tutorial: Academic Integrity: The rules of the scholarly conversation

The Rules of the Scholarly Conversation tutorial video. 2 minutes.

Recognize the importance of attribution and citation when you use the ideas or works of others in your papers or projects.

Tutorial: Academic Integrity: The scholarly conversation

The Scholarly conversation tutorial video. 1 min 45 seconds.

Understanding how scholarly conversations occur is important for participating in scholarship. Join the conversation!

Getting started - planning and finding background info on topic

Finding Background Information

These online sources can help you to choose and refine your topic. They will also provide you with the background information and keywords and search terms. 

Tutorial: Exploring a scholarly research article

Exploring a scholarly research article tutorial. Self-paced.
After completing this tutorial, you will be able to:
  • Identify the components, or sections, common to scholarly research articles
  • Recognize the importance of the information within each section

Find articles from academic journals

Find newspapers and magazines

Tutorial: What is a library database and why should I use one?

What is a library database and why should I use one tutorial video. 3 minutes.
After completing this tutorial, you will be able to:
  • Identify what a library database is
  • Recognize the two main types of library databases
  • Know why you should use them
  • Understand why searching a library database is different than searching the general internet

Tutorial: Choosing a research paper topic

Choosing a research paper topic tutorial video. 4 minutes.
After completing this tutorial, you will be able to:
  • Find ideas and language on a topic using online tools and techniques
  • Use techniques like mind mapping, the 5W’s, and freeform writing to narrow a large topic

Tutorial: Creating an effective search strategy

Creating an effective search strategy tutorial video. 3 minutes 24 seconds.
After completing this tutorial, you will be able to:
  • Use meaningful keywords to find the best sources
  • Apply search strategies like AND and OR to connect keywords

Tutorial: What does it mean to be a scholarly source?

What does it mean to be a scholarly source tutorial video. 4 minutes.
After completing this tutorial, you will be able to:
  • Recognize a scholarly (versus a popular) source
  • Understand how a scholarly source differs from other types of sources

Citing your sources (e.g. MLA, APA, etc.)

Many article databases (e.g. Academic Search Premier, Google Scholar) will create a citation for you. After you found the item, look for "cite" or "quotes." Here are examples:

In Google Scholar:

Click the "quote" below the item in Google Scholar.

In Academic Search Premier: 

Click cite in Academic Search Premier.


Citation managers

Feature Zotero Mendeley (not recommended) EndNote 20 EndNote Online
Cost Free Free Price options Free
Styles Many citation styles Many citation styles Many citation styles Fewer citation styles
Plug-ins Microsoft Word, Google Docs Microsoft Word (not compatible with UMN Office 365) Microsoft Word Microsoft Word
Access Desktop/Web Desktop/Web Desktop/Web Web
Storage 300MB free 2GB free Unlimited 2GB free
PDF reader yes yes yes no
Editor integration Word, Google Docs Word Word Word
Sharing Unlimited Limited Unlimited Limited
Support Zotero support Mendeley support EndNote 20 support EndNote Online support


Zotero is a free, open-source citation manager that:

  • imports and organizes citations and PDFs;
  • recognizes and creates citations for wide range of file types;
  • formats citations in thousands of styles including APA and Chicago;
  • easily adds in-text citations to Word and Google Doc documents, and creates a bibliography from those citations;
  • allows you to add notes to your citation information for later use.

Tutorial: Evaluating sources

Evaluating sources tutorial video. 3 minutes 27 seconds.

After completing this tutorial, you will be able to:

  • Recognize how evaluating sources is an important part of the research process
  • Use evaluation techniques like timeliness and authority to find good sources
  • Use clues from library databases, abstracts, and articles to evaluate a source

Evaluating Web Resources

When searching for information on the Internet, it is important to be aware of the quality of the information being presented to you. Keep in mind that anyone can host a web site. To be sure that the information you are looking at is credible and of value keep the following criteria in mind:


1. Authority/Source
Is it clear who is responsible for the contents of the page? Try to find out who are the authors of the Web page. Is it an organization, society, governmental site? Is it sponsored by an educational institution or is it someone's personal site? Or, is it a commercial site where someone is selling something? Do the authors of the site have any qualifications to go with the information they are presenting? Does the site present any other way of contacting the site authors -- postal address, phone numbers?


2. Accuracy
Are the sources for any factual information listed so that you can verify them in another source? How well put together is the site -- does it have spelling errors, typos, etc.? Are any charts, diagrams, statistical information clearly labeled as to where the data source came from?


3. Objectivity/Content
Is this information being provided as part of a public service? How much, if any, advertising is there on the page? Is the advertising content clearly separate from the informational content? Does the author of the page state any bias for producing the page, such as an advocacy for a particular point of view or program?


4. Currency/Timeliness
When was the last time the page itself was updated? Are there any indications on how often the informational content is updated?


5. Structure/Access
How well designed or user-friendly is the site? If it contains images, are they useful, load quickly or merely take up space. Can it be viewed as text-only? Does it contain a “search the site” function?



  • .org = non-profit organization
  • .edu = us educational institution
  • .info = commercial
  • .tv = television
  • .gov = US government
  • .mil = US military
  • .biz = business
  • .museum = museums
  • .com = commercial site
  • .net = network resources
  • .name = personal sites
Last Updated: Jun 7, 2024 1:38 PM