This guide is designed to offer a self-paced orientation to resources and tactics that will help you with information research, whether for a class, senior project, or in your career.
Explore these collections of frequently asked questions for help using library resources and services. If you still have questions, use our 24/7 online chat service, or contact your CAFES librarian.
Most of the time, you can access library licensed material from your own device while off-campus as long as you are logged into the My Cal Poly Portal. Here are steps you can take if you experience any issues.
A reliable way to troubleshoot access issues is to connect to Cal Poly's Virtual Private Network (VPN), available through GlobalProtect. Installation instructions are on the campus ITS website.
Citation management software can streamline the process of creating a bibliography by allowing you to capture descriptive information about your sources in order to quickly reformat a list of works cited in the style required for your project.
Tip: It is your responsibility to double check imported/auto-generated citations for completeness and appropriate formatting.
Document your search strategy
Save time by recording the searches you've tried, so you can re-run or build on them. This note-taking template (courtesy of Carroll Community College) will get you started documenting your search process.
Tip: It's important to find a process that works for you so you actually use it. As long as you're capturing the needed information, even pasting your search strings into a blank document will do.
This example of a search strategy has been published as part of a review paper, and shows key elements of information to capture about your search.
Many of the databases you use to find articles are discovery tools only, meaning you will then need to use the records you've found to access the actual documents. The tutorials below present a variety of ways to access full text articles.
There is a growing variety of extensions you can add to your internet browser to search for legal access to free to read copies of articles with the click of a button. Some options are linked below.
Kennedy Library tutorials on finding and accessing books
Other discovery methods
You can use the Worldcat Catalog to discover items held at libraries across the country and around the world, which you can then request through Interlibrary Loan.
Each book in a library catalog is usually filed under just a few broad concepts (Food processing and manufacture, for example), which means you often need to infer from the subject and title whether a more specific concept (such as salting) is covered in one of the chapters. Catalog records for electronic books increasingly allow you to search within chapter titles or even full text. Another option is to search in the Google Books collection, which allows you to search the full text of books that have been scanned (often from library collections). Note: if you find a book in Google Books that is still under copyright, you will need to access the full volume (often in print) through your library catalog.