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Research and Writing

Welcome to the Research Guide for Research and Writing.

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The suggested electronic resources are available linked from here and from the Electronic Resources section of the library home page. Print resources are available in the PHC on-campus collection. You may check out the location and availability of an item in the on-campus collection through the online catalog, Voyager, accessed here or through the library home page.  Students enrolled in Distance Learning (DL) courses will find the online journals and ebooks helpful. If you are accessing electronic resources from off-campus and are required to log in, use your student portal user name and password to gain access. If you have difficulty with the website or accessing any resources, please let library staff know  by email at askalibrarian@phc.edu or library@phc.edu 

Professional librarians are cheerfully available by email at askalibrarian@phc.edu, in the library, or by phone at 540-441-8400.


  • OED - The Oxford English Dictionary is the definitive work on the English language and a great place to start for general information if you are unfamiliar with an author or term. OED includes the first use of the word and changes in meaning over time.
  • Literary Reference Center is a full-text literary reference database with information combined from literary reference works, journals, and books.

  • Masterplots provides fundamental reference data, plot synopses where applicable, and critical evaluations of a comprehensive selection of English-language and world literature that has been translated into English.

  • JSTOR contains hundreds of scholarly journal articles in a wide range of disciplines. Issues from the most recent two to five years for each title are not included in this collection.

  • ProQuest Research Libary and Academic Search Premier provide access to 1,000's of articles in the broad areas of social sciences and law, many with full-text, images and graphics. If you are new to database searching, you will find these two easy to navigate.

  • eBooks provides access to over 65,000+ academic, full-text, electronic books that can be accessed immediately on your computer. On first use, patrons are prompted to create a userID and password for future access. Books can be checked out for download for a 2-week period.

Internet Resources

Various websites have as their goal to provide access to sholarly information regarding specific authors.  Given the individual nature of potential topics chosen for writing projects in this course, it is impossible to provide suggested authoritative websites for all of them. However, it is particularly important to vet all Internet sources for scholarship / authority. To ensure the authority of your source, consider the following:

  • Authoritative: Is the author a recognized expert in this field? What are his credentials to speak to this subject?  Is the publisher a recognized academic publishing organization, such as a university or government department? A blog or Wikipedia is never an authoritative source. 
  • Current: Is this the most recent information available on this subject? This may be more important in some disciplines than in others. Current sources in history would not possibly be as helpful as primary source documents, while current sources in medical research or international policy would be essential.
  • Accurate: Does the source show evidence of bias? Does it fail to support assumptions or cite its sources? Do other experts agree with this author? Is there a financial incentive? 

Reference Works

PHC Writer's Manual, Rules of Thumb: Writing in the Core, provides specific guidelines and helpful suggestions for developing excellence in writing.

Research Tips

  • Search by Subject: Click on a subject term in the record of a book to search for other books on the same subject.

  • Once you locate a helpful book or article, you may find other helpful resources listed in the item’s bibliography.

  • Citation help needed? Try  OWL (Online Writing Lab).

Created: Thornhill, 2011. Updated: Prof. Brown-Conroy/Thornhill, 2012. Dr. Les Sillars/Thornhill, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017. 

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