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English: 76-10X Series (First-Year Writing): Start here

This guide contains a series of guides designed to help students enrolled in the 76-10X series complete their assignment according to the BEAM framework.


This research guide is designed according to the BEAM framework.  As such, guides for each section are constructed to adhere to the following format:
Background Sources - Students are guided to materials that provide topic overviews, such as encyclopedias, handbooks, core books.  These are primarily secondary sources.  The main criteria for this category of materials is that they are used for information that is well established in a field​.
Exhibit Sources - In contrast, these materials may contain secondary or primary sources.  These materials can be a novel, an interview, data sets, scholarly articles, diaries, and more.  The main criteria for this category is that they are used to interpret or analyze a topic by giving evidence for a claim.  
Argument Sources - Materials in this category are secondary sources.  These sources support exhibit sources that a student selected and essentially constitute a literature review in a paper, or context in a presentation.   The main criteria for these sources is that they are written to argue or build upon a position; they make a claim related to student proposed topics.
Method Sources - These sources demonstrate how questions and conclusions are reached.  They can be based on prior research (replicated studies) or originally designed (surveys, for example).  They include procedures, theories, and disciplinary definitions, if they are presumed to be unfamiliar to the readers, or are used in a specific context in a student's research. The main criteria of this selection is that the sources clearly explain the method used to reach the claim given.

Thus from this point on, each section in a course guide/page will use these headings and reference the types of resources in each of the categories explained here.

NOTE: The remainder of this page provides tips for various types of research assignments.  If you feel that a specific type of assignment has not been addressed here, please contact me wit the details and I'll be happy to work on including it in this guide.

Contact Information:

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Ethan Pullman
Pronouns: Any
410A Hunt Library
Frew Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15213
412 268 5018

Citing Your Work

Tips for using the library resources, it's catalog, and more ...

Before you start researching, here are some useful things to know:

  • Make sure you authenticate using your Andrew ID after you click on My Account, on the library website.  This will help get a full experience of what the library has to offer (full-text, automatic login to databases, etc.).
  • Check that your Google Scholar is set up to recognize Carnegie Mellon Library resources.  Here are the instructions for linking Google Scholar to our libraries.
  • If you are working off-campus, check that you are set up properly.  Here are the instructions for connecting from off-campus.

Using "Advance Search" has its advantages, when you are searching for books:


The brief view of the record (before you click on the title) provides you with three key pieces of information:

  1. It's format (print, electronic, etc.)
  2. It's availability (available, checked-out, in storage, etc.)
  3. It's location (in the library or a weblink).

The long view (once you click on the title) allows you to see a map of the actual location of the book:



When you locate a record, click on the title to see the full record.  This view may provide content information (see example below - click on image to enlarge):



Once you locate a book, viewing the full record can lead you to similar items by examining the "Subject" and "Similar Items" fields as in the sample record illustrated here:



Library of Congress Call Numbers

Most of the Library uses the Library of Congress Classification System.

PS3551 The numbers following the letter(s) are read as a whole number (three thousand five hundred and fifty-one). PS3551 would come before PS3650.
.5 If there are additional numbers immediately after the whole number, you should treat them as a decimal.PS3551.5 would come between PS3551 and PS3552.
For the next part of the call number, go to the letter(s) and then treat the number(s) as a decimal. .N257 U53 would come between .N257 U450 and .N257 U6.
1999 The final number, if included, is the year of publication.This book was published in 1999.

How to read academic research

This video explains the process of reading research articles:

video credits


The quality of your search and results depend on your search strategy:

  1. keep track of your search terms (they will change based on the database)
  2. keep track of the database (so you are not using the wrong strategy)
  3. notice suggested subjects and ways to limit your searches in databases (they can save you quite a bit of work)