The Top Five Things You Need to Know About the NOVA Online Library

Whether you are looking for a scholarly journal article, a clip to spice up your presentation or an e-book for leisure reading, the NOVA Online Librarians are here to help you! There is no longer a need to try and sift through the maze of resources clicking here and there to try and get started. You are not alone; the NOVA Online Librarians are here for you.

Before you begin your next paper, presentation or research, learn how a NOVA Online Librarian can come to your rescue by viewing their YouTube video

You will gain valuable information as you learn to access and navigate the library website with confidence and ease. In four short minutes, you will learn how to use your personal computer, phone or tablet to:

  • Access books and e-books online
  • Request a book be sent to the campus closest to your home for check-out
  • Research library databases by title or subject
  • Search journals
  • Access the 24/7 ask a librarian chat feature staffed by NOVA librarians and the cooperative network of member libraries
  • Reach out to the NOVA – NOVA Online Librarians for personal one on one assistance getting started on your next research paper or presentation
  • Gain valuable research assistance, subject guides, and useful resources on your topic.

Once you finish the video, you can take a journey through the NOVA Online Library website to explore the plethora of additional resources offered through the library to support your success. Not only will the librarians guide you through the research process, they can also assist with research & writing skills, understanding & avoiding plagiarism, and finding all of the sources you need to be successful in your courses!library post‘Knowledge is Power’ – contact your NOVA Online Librarian today!

Written by Adrienne, NOVA Online Student Success Coach

Research Series: Refining Your Topic

Sometimes when we choose a topic to research, our topic is too broad. For instance, you’re assigned a 5 page research paper. This might seem like a lot, but once you start researching you will need to  narrow your topic to fill those 5 pages. With  a topic that is too broad, you could write an entire book with the amount of research you can find!

To begin, start with your broad topic and add extra elements to it. For example, the ‘Civil Rights Movement’ can be narrowed to the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960’s. To focus it even further you might look at the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960’s in Washington, D.C.

Picture demonstrating narrowing a topic

See how I’m adding these extra elements to focus my topic? First I add a time period and then I add a place. The extra elements are not limited to time frames and locations; sometimes they are specific people or themes.

Starting with a good topic will make researching a lot easier!  As always, if you need more help with your topic or research please contact the NOVA Online library at NOVA

Research Series: Finding Articles in Library Databases

Did you know that NOVA Libraries gives you access to thousands of journal, newspaper, and magazine articles that are housed in over 100 databases? The good news is it’s pretty likely that we have information on the subject you are researching. The bad news? It could be a little overwhelming.

This short 5 minute video will introduce you to library databases and give you some search tips.

NOVA Online-Searching Library Databases

And, as always, if you need help finding information or using any library resources, we’re here to help. E-mail your NOVA Online Library staff at NOVA

Research Series: The 5Ws of Good Web Resources

image of a Checklist

The 5 W’s to Determine Good Information:

Although this is simplified, asking the following 5 questions will help you determine whether the information you are using is good information or bad information. If someone is providing good information you should be able to answer all 5 questions. If you can’t answer one of the questions or the answer you get isn’t satisfactory, it might not be good information to use.

1. WHO – Who wrote or published the information? Is it someone you have heard of? Is it an organization that you are familiar with?

2. WHAT – What are the author’s credentials? Are they clear about their experience in the subject and how they relates to the topic they are writing on?

3. WHEN – When was the information published? Is it the type of information that changes overtime (Think: Medical Information)? Or is it the type of information that stays the same (Think: History)?

4. WHERE – Where did the author get their information? Are they properly citing their sources? Are they clear on where their facts, statistics, graphs, etc. are coming from?

5. WHY – Why are they publishing this information? What is the author’s motivation? Are they showing a bias?

Need more help deciding if the information you’ve found on the web is appropriate for academic work? Contact the library at NOVA Happy Searching!

Research Series: Citation Basics

picture of person holding a [citation needed] signphotograph by Dan4th Nicholas shared via the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License

In a previous post we learned about plagiarism and the importance of citing your work. So, how do you properly cite a resource? There are several citation style guides that provide a standard format for referencing your sources. Most of your instructors will require you to use one of these popular guides: American Psychological Association (APA), Modern Language Association (MLA), or the Chicago/Turabian.

Need help getting started? NOVA offers tutorials for each of these style guides!




If you need more help, please contact your NOVA Online library staff at NOVA Happy Searching!



What do the pictures above have in common? Here’s a hint: each one can be found in Britannica’s ImageQuest database.

If you’ve ever needed to add an image to an assignment and you weren’t sure where to look, ImageQuest is a great place to start. All the images are free to use for personal, non-commercial use.

All you need to access ImageQuest is your myNOVA username and password. If you need help using this database, please contact the library at NOVA  Happy searching!

Research Series: Plagiarism

image of thief stealing form a safe with a red x superimposed on top; caption underneath reads: "Don't steal someone's work!"Everyone knows that directly copying another author’s work is plagiarism, but there are also less obvious forms . Plagiarism takes many forms and the consequences can be severe, so it pays to be well informed.


What is plagiarism?

Plagiarism is copying an author’s work and passing it off as your own.

This definition may seem simple, but plagiarism can be much more complicated.  Did you know that you could be held responsible for plagiarism if you paraphrase (i.e., to put in your own words) an author’s work without providing a citation?  Even if you cite your source, if paraphrasing is not done correctly, you could still be plagiarizing.

Why bother citing?

The purpose of college-level research is to locate and analyze literature created by experts in your field, then process all of the information that you found to create your own new ideas or conclusions. Citations are important, because they give credit to the authors who helped you develop your ideas.  Citations also give your paper authority, because they show that you have read literature on the topic and that your conclusions build upon work of other authors. When you provide proper citations, your professors will see that you understand the purpose of college-level research.

When in doubt, cite!

When in doubt, cite it!  There are some cases where you may not need to cite (e.g., common knowledge [explained later]), but plagiarism is a “better safe than sorry” situation.  If you are not sure whether a source needs to be cited, go ahead and cite it!

If you aren’t sure how to cite, ask a librarian! Your NOVA Online librarians are citation/plagiarism experts and we are happy to help you. Please contact us at NOVA for more help.

Resource Review: Business Source Complete

image of two business women greeting

Business Source Complete offers great information from thousands of scholarly business journals. Whether you are doing research for a class assignment or getting background information on a potential investment, Business Source Complete can help.

Business Source Complete provides case studies, SWOT (Strength, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) analyses, market research reports, industry profiles and more. To log in to Business Source Complete, use your myNOVA username and password.

Below you will find a brief video introduction to Business Source Complete:

If you need more help, please contact the library at NOVA Happy Searching!

Resource Review: Opposing Viewpoints

image of an umpire referring betwen two menDuring your time at NOVA, you may be asked to write about a controversial issue. For example, a teacher assigns an argumentative essay assignment on global warming. To begin your research, start with the Opposing Viewpoints in Context database.

The Opposing Viewpoints in Context database offers opinion/editorial articles on each topic as well as academic, reference, magazine, and website articles. Use this database to understand different perspectives on debated topics in both your academic and personal life.

If you need help using this database, contact the library at NOVA Happy searching!

screen caption of the Opposing VIewpoints database

Research Series: Identifying Keywords

image of a word cloud

What is a keyword?

A keyword is the main idea of your topic.

Why do we use keywords?

When doing research it is important to focus your search. Keywords can help you do this. Once you identify keywords for your topic, you can also identify synonyms or related terms to help you find more information. Finally, library resources produce better results when you use keywords.


Let’s say that your research question is this:

“What is the connection between running and weight loss among teenagers?”

Using this example, we might decide that our keywords are:

running, weight loss, teenagers

Some similar terms to use include:

jogging, aerobic exercise, cardiovascular exercise, fat loss, weight change, teens, adolescents, youth, high school students, college students

Need Help?

If you need help identifying keywords for your topic, please contact the NOVA Online Library (NOVA Happy searching!