Doing Research

Using Library Tools

Find It!

Connecting from Off Campus

Off-Campus Access Links

Hey, where did the off-campus access links go?

Starting in August you might notice that there are no more "off-campus access" links in the Databases A-Z list and on the subject and course guides. The Libraries are implementing a new proxy service called EZProxy, which will allow the libraries to provide both on and off campus access to databases and online journals with a single link! We will be rolling out EZProxy with links in the catalog soon, so you can access resources off campus without having to go through the A-Z List or subject guides. To access subscription databases from off-campus, though, you will need to enter your campus username and password.  

Using the LibX Toolbar for off-campus access

Another option is to use the LibX Toolbar. In addition to providing off-campus access, LibX allows for speedy access to library resources in your browser's toolbar.

  1. Follow these instructions to install the LibX toolbar in your browser (available for Firefox and Chrome).
  2. Once LibX is installed, you may access Grinnell College Libraries resources by right-clicking (on Macs, ctrl+click) on a page that asks you to log in and choosing the "Reload via Off-Campus Access" option, located at the bottom of the box that appears on the screen.
  3. Log in with your Grinnell College username and password.

Previously, off-campus access was accomplished by configuring your browser's settings. This is no longer the recommended method for off-campus access.   If you have any problems accessing library resources from off campus, please contact Becky Yoose - yoosebec[at]grinnell[dot]edu, 641-269-4775, Julia Bauder - bauderj[at]grinnell[dot]edu, 641-269-4431 or Sheryl Bissen - bissen[at]grinnell[dot]edu, 641-269-3359.

Current Awareness Services

Alerting Services

You can use the following resources to receive--usually by e-mail or RSS--the tables of contents of new issues of important journals, and/or the results of searches that are run periodically across important databases or the journals of specific publishers.

Multi-Publisher Alerting Services (journals)

JournalFinder (for journals to which the Grinnell College Libraries subscribe)

  • Search for a journal whose tables of contents you wish to receive.
  • To subscribe to e-mail alerts, click the "Subscribe to e-mail alerts" link and enter your e-mail address.
  • To subscribe to RSS alerts, click on the "Subscribe to RSS alerts" link and add the feed to your preferred feed reader.
  • If you do not see links to subscribe to alerts, alerts are not available for that journal.

JournalTOCs (receive tables of contents from 18,000+ journals via RSS)

  • Search for a journal whose tables of contents you wish to receive.
  • Click on the link for the title, which will bring up information about that journal in the center pane.
  • Click on the RSS icon and add the feed to your preferred feed reader.

EBSCOhost (covers the Humanities, Social Sciences, and Sciences; offers tables of contents and searches) 

Proquest--My Research (covers the Humanities, Social Sciences, and Sciences; offers searches)

  • Register to create a personal account (in the upper right corner of the screen--Please log in to My Research).
  • Once you have created your account, you can login here --
  • Create searches (alerts) to run periodically across Proquest databases.
  • Alerts can be received via RSS or e-mail.

Individual Publishers (journals)

Cambridge University Press Journals (covers the Humanities, Social Sciences, and Sciences; offers tables of contents and searches)

Elsevier--ScienceDirect (covers the Humanities, Social Sciences, and Sciences; offers tables of contents and searches)

  • Register to create a personal account (or login; please do not use the faculty login associated with the pay-per-view service) in the upper right corner of the screen.
  • The "volume/issue alert notifies you by e-mail when a new issue of a particular journal or a new volume of a particular book series or handbook series becomes available on ScienceDirect."
  • "A Topic Alert notifies you by e-mail when new articles pertaining to a specific topic are available on ScienceDirect." Topic Alerts are searches created for you; you cannot specify your own search and receive an alert.

Oxford University Press Journals (covers the Humanities, Social Sciences, and Sciences; offers tables of contents)

Wiley Online Library (covers the Social Sciences and Sciences; offers tables of contents and searches)

  • Register to create a personal account (or login) in the upper right corner of the screen.
  • Look to the upper right of the screen for your options.
  • The Titles alert will automatically notify you by e-mail "when new content in a saved journal has been published."
  • For Search alerts, "you can retrieve, edit, and re-run your saved search(es) to find new or archived material matching your search parameters", or you can be automatically alerted via email "when an article matching your search has been published."
  • Journals covered by Wiley Online Library.


Grinnell College Libraries Catalog (covers the Humanities, Social Sciences, and Sciences; offers searches)

License Agreements

Access, use, and reproduction of the electronic journals, databases, and other resources made available through the Grinnell College Libraries are governed by contracts or license agreements between the College and publishers or third parties. In many cases, license agreements impose greater restrictions on use than does copyright law, and these terms may limit uses of non-copyrighted material. Members of the Grinnell College community are expected to make reasonable and good faith efforts to comply with the terms of these agreements.

In most cases, use of these resources outside Burling Library or the Science Library is limited to current students, faculty, and staff of the College. Others are welcome to use these resources within Burling and the Science Library.

In using licensed electronic resources, all users should:

* limit uses to non-commercial, educational, or personal research purposes;

* safeguard institutional access to resources by not sharing your network user name and password.

In general, users may:

* print, download or quote limited amounts of information (with proper attribution);

* copy an article for your personal use in teaching or research;

* create a link to a journal article on a publisher or aggregator web site.

Users may not:

* systematically download large amounts of information (e.g., download all articles in a journal issue; engage in large-scale downloading from licensed resources to create large databases);

* post a copy of a published article to another computer (e.g., a Blackboard site, a departmental web site, or an association or commercial web site);

* distribute copies of material to individuals or groups outside Grinnell College, unless the license for the resource specifically allows it;

* sell or distribute articles to individuals, institutions, or organizations for commercial purposes.

Users should be aware that publishers monitor use levels of electronic resources to verify compliance with licensing agreements. Breach of license by a single user may enable the publisher to suspend the College's access without warning.

Users are accountable for respecting these guidelines as described in the College's Academic Computer Usage Policies [] .

Research Process

Getting Help from a Librarian

Librarians are always happy to help you with your research! There are several easy ways to find us:

Question What question(s) do you want to address in your research?

Choose a research topic: how to define a manageable topic

Find background sources on your topic

Forming a research question: a short exercise to help you get started

Identify promising search terms and resources

Find books at Grinnell: YouTube videos on searching our catalog: BASIC and ADVANCED

Use library subject guides to choose book and article databases

Find statistics and data sets (step-by-step guide)

Find items at libraries beyond Grinnell

Find useful sources

Create a search statement to use in databases or the catalog

Track down a citation I've found

Evaluate sources through close, critical examination

Evaluating sources with the 5 W's

Here's an easy-to-remember method for judging sources, adapted from the disciplines of rhetoric and journalism:

  • Who wrote it? A individual or multiple persons? A corporate author?
  • What is it? A book chapter, a book, a print periodical article, a full text article obtained via an online database, a government document, proceedings from a conference, a WWW page?
  • Where was it published? Name and location of publishing company, name and domain (.edu., .org or .gov) of a WWW site or page.
  • When was it published or updated?
  • Why was this resource created? To entertain, inform, persuade? What is its thesis, its point of view, its hypothesis?
  • How is the item available? In print or electronic form?

A bit more about Web sources

Sources on the open Web may not have undergone as intensive an editing or peer-review process as those in the library catalog or databases, so it makes sense to look at Web sites with a critical eye.

  • Can you tell who the author of the site is? Is it a reputable individual or institution?
  • Does the site have a date of publication or most recent update?
  • Does the site seem to be aimed at other scholars or the general public? Is there a bibliography?

Don’t hesitate to ask your professor or talk to a librarian about what you’ve found. We can’t make decisions about your topic for you, but we can use our experience to help you think through the process.

Is this source scholarly or popular?

Create and Share your work so others may learn

Use RefWorks, Zotero or Mendeley to organize your sources and generate bibliographies

Cite Sources

Poster Making Tips

Digital Grinnell: shares scholarly and creative work created at the College with the world

Venues for Presenting Research: submit your research or MAP project to a conference or for publication

Open Access

Open Access @ Grinnell College

Digital technologies can expand access to learning and scholarship in ways not possible with a paper-based publishing system, for the benefit of learners across the world and the scholarly authors as well.

In April 2013, the Grinnell College Faculty voted to give Grinnell College permission to disseminate worldwide, through the Digital Grinnell repository. Their scholarly articles published in peer-reviewed journals after April 15. Faculty agreed to amend their publishing contract -- if necessary -- to permit this deposit. Waivers to this agreement are granted by the Dean's Office upon request (use the form below).

The resolution also encourages faculty and staff to make their curricular material and other scholarly publications freely available through Digital Grinnell. The full text of the resolution is available here.

Librarians can help you:

Learn more about scholarly communication and open access:

Contact a librarian

NIH Public Access Policy

NIH Public Access Policy

The NIH Public Access Policy requires that an electronic copy of the final, peer-reviewed version of all articles accepted for publication that arise from funding--either in part or in whole--supplied by the National Institutes of Health be submitted to the National Library of Medicine's PubMed Central database be made publicly available no later than 12 months after the official date of publication.

To comply with the Policy:

Many journals will submit your article for you: see for a list. If your article is being published in a journal not on that list:

  • Inform the journal that the final, peer-reviewed version of your paper is subject to the NIH Public Access Policy when you submit your manuscript for review.
  • Review your copyright transfer or publication agreement to retain the right to deposit the final version of your paper in PubMed Central.
  • Submit the final, peer-reviewed version when it is accepted for publication. The paper can be submitted online at  More information about the submission process can be found at

To get help:

For further information about the Policy or assistance with depositing your manuscript in PubMed Central, please contact your consulting librarian.

More information:

Full text of the policy:

Frequently asked questions:  

PubMed Central:

Open Access @ Grinnell:

Data Management Services

Why Do I Need a Data Management Plan?

Increasingly, the answer to this question is, “Because the agency that funds my research requires one.” Several grant-making agencies, including the National Science Foundation, now require that researchers have a plan for preserving data generated in the course of their research and sharing that data with other scholars. Some journals also require that the data used in published articles be made available to others who want to try to replicate or extend the results. However, even if you are not required to have a data management plan or to preserve and share your research data, we hope that you will consider doing so.

“Data sharing strengthens our collective capacity to meet scientific standards of openness by providing opportunities for further analysis, replication, verification and refinement of research findings…. In addition, the greater availability of research data will contribute to improved training for graduate and undergraduate students, and make possible significant economies of scale through the secondary analysis of extant data. Finally, researchers have a special obligation to scientific openness and accountability when the research is publicly funded.”  - Data Archiving Policy, National Science Foundation Directorate for Social, Behavioral and Economic and Sciences

Data Management Services Offered by the Libraries

If you are writing a grant that requires a data management plan, we encourage you to consult with a librarian early in the process. We can help you:

  • Select appropriate file formats so that your data files will still be readable in the future.
  • Select appropriate metadata schemas and describe your data so that other researchers will be able to find it.
  • Document your data so that other researchers will be able to interpret it.
  • Find repositories to preserve and disseminate your data, and submit your data to those repositories. Repository options include:
    • Digital Grinnell, the College's primary repository for scholarly, creative, and curricular materials created by faculty, students, and staff. Data deposited in Digital Grinnell will be searchable via Google, Google Scholar, and WorldCat.
    • The Grinnell College Libraries Dataverse, a College data repository that is part of a globally searchable data network. Dataverse is most appropriate for numeric data.
    • A repository specific to your discipline.

Other Data Management Resources

Managing and Sharing Data: A Best Practice Guide for Researchers, from the UK Data Archive

Data Management Guidelines, from the California Digital Library