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Philadelphia Research Guide: Research Help

Scope: This finding aid acts as a pathfinder for researchers studying Philadelphians, their relationships, and their physical surroundings since the consolidation of the city and the county in 1854.


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Photo credit: micholitzii

This research guide was created to assist researchers in finding information on Philadelphia.  We will be adding content on a regular basis to this guide so please keep checking in for the latest resources.  

Credit for this Guide

This guide was created by Jon Drucker, Librarian, and is currently maintained by Jalyn Warren, Electronic Resources/Web Librarian.

A Basic Guide to Research

Step 1: Thesis: What are your questions?

All research begins with a need for answers.  So what are the questions?

Step 2: Where are the answers? 


For more help on finding books see the Books tab


Searching Summon will help you find find books and other materials that the library owns that you can use.

Book shelves

Once you've used the catalog to find a few promising books, you can also discover more books by browsing the same section of the book shelves. 

Magazines/journals/newspapers (periodicals)

1) See if we own a hard copy of the periodical or an electronic copy

2) If we don't have either, we can request a copy from a library that does with Interlibrary Loan. Ask at the information desk at any campus library.


Our Databases allow you to search for articles on a topic and, if we have a subscription to the journals the articles were published in, access the full-text digital version of these articles. 

Step 3: Do you trust what you found?

Is this information accurate?  Who said what and why did they say it?  Are they being fair?  It's OK if they aren't but you have to know when something seems biased.  When does this information come from, and is important whether it's old news or if it's too soon to have the proper perspective?  What's the audience?  Is this piece a bunch of professors talking to other professors?  Is it a reporter talking to the public?  Is it a passionate amateur talking to other fans and aficianados?  Or is it just some weirdo mouthing off?

Step 4: Is this information going to work for what I'm doing?

If it doesn't do you need to change your original question?  Can you fit this new info into a bigger picture? 

Step 5: Can you give credit where credit is due?

There's no way around it.  You have to show respect for other people's hard work and good ideas.  Different communities have different rules for how this respect gets shown.  But for college students, professors, and other scholars this respect is shown by citing sources in foot notes, endnotes, bibliographies or other lists of "works cited".  For help following the rules you can use the sources listed under the Citing Sources tab.

Subject Guide

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Jalyn Warren
Community College of Philadelphia
1700 Spring Garden Street, L1-16D
Philadelphia, PA 19130
Subjects: Education, Psychology
Main Campus Library & Learning Commons: 215-751-8394 | NERC Learning Commons: 215-972-6270 | WERC Learning Commons: 267-299-5848