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Cinema: Research Skills


Library Research Skills Workshops

Learning to do library and web-based information research is an important part of information competency. These abilities are increasingly important in our networked, information-rich society and can be applied in college work, as well as in one’s personal and professional life.  The library offers several Library Research Skills workshops that can help students meet the information competency learning outcomes required by their courses and as part of the CCSF Information Competency graduation requirement.

Evaluating Information

Remember that anyone can publish anything on the Web, so you are responsible for evaluating the quality of the Web pages you use for your papers and assignments. Here are some questions to use to evaluate Web pages.  

More about evaluating information.

Citing Sources

Any words, ideas or images that you do not create yourself must be properly credited to avoid plagiarism.  

Citing information sources acknowledges the origin of your information and it provides support and credibility to your work by showing evidence of your research.

A citation is a reference to the source of an idea, information or image.  It typically includes enough identifying information, such as the author, title, date,  publication format, etc.

More about citing sources.

Research Process

Research Process

 Step 1: Choosing & Narrowing a Topic

1. State your topic as a question. 

What effect does genetically engineered food have on the health of consumers?

2. Identify the main concepts.

genetically engineered foods AND health AND consumers

3. Select alternative keywords for main concepts.

cut montage / editing / cross-cuting / continuity cuts
film motion picture / cinema / movie
shot medium shot / follow shot / master shot / exterme long shot

4. Test your topic.
 Search for your keywords in the Library Catalog or in background sources like encyclopedias.


Step 2: Find Background Information

Background and introductory information places a research topic into a greater context. Lecture notes, textbooks, and reference books such as encyclopedias and almanacs make up important background information.

1. Look up keywords in the index of an encyclopedia, find the entry, and don't forget to take note of the bibliography at the end of the article for further readings.

2. Browse the Library's reference collection in the corresponding call number area. Read articles in the sources you find to set the context of your research. Pay close attention to the vocabulary the authors use.

3. Search for bibliographies on your topic in the Library Catalog by conducting a subject search on your topic followed by Bibliography. Example: Human Rights -- Bibiolgraphy

Step 3: Find Books in the Library Catalog

Books provide broader, more extensive information on a given topic. The Library Catalog allows you to search for books in any of the City College Libraries/Learning Resource Centers. The materials located in the library where you are working appear in bold text on the screen. You will notice many ways to search, such as Title, Author, Subject, Subject Keyword, etc. 

  • Use KEYWORD searching for narrowly defined or complex topics.
  • Use SUBJECT searching for broader or more standard subjects.
  • Write down the CALL NUMBER to locate a book on the shelf in the library.

The Library at City College of San Francisco uses the Library of Congress classification system. This system classifies the materials in the collection by subject. For a more detailed look at the system, browse the Library of Congress Classification Outline.

To find books in other libraries around the Bay Area, follow the link Other Libraries on the CCSF Library Homepage.

 Step 4: Find Periodical Articles

Current and specific information is found in articles in periodicals (magazines, journals, or newspapers). Articles are often used to update and support the information in books.

The most effective way to find articles on a given topic is to use an index. In the past, researchers would have to use print indexes to find articles on a topic, write down the citation, then go to the shelves to find the article in the print issue of the periodical. This method is still used for retrospective or historical research. However, today we have article databases which index articles by subject and often provide the full text of the article.

  • Select one of the article databases available from the CCSF Library website.
  • Search the database using the keywords from your research question.
  • Both scholarly and popular periodicals are available. Decide what level of scholarship you need by consulting Scholarly Journals v. Popular Magazines.
  • If the full text of the article is available through the database, print or email the article to yourself.
  • If only the citation is available, you can:

Check the library catalog to see whether the print version is available at one of the CCSF libraries.

Search Other Libraries' catalogs in the Bay Area to see whether they carry the periodical containing your article.


MLA Citation

Cover Art
MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers - Joseph Gibaldi; Modern Language Association of America Staff
Call Number: LB2369 .G53 2009
Publication Date: 2009
Location: Rosenberg / 5th Floor Circulating; Rosenberg, Alice Statler, Chinatown/NB, Downton, John Adams, Mission and Southeast Reference
Library & Learning Resources, City College of San Francisco
50 Phelan Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94112 (415) 452-5541