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LBST 100 / 300 - An Introduction to Critical Education (Resendiz)

LBST 100 / 300: Research Paper

LBST 100 / 300: Research Paper

Professor Resendiz would like you to write a research paper on a theme covered in the course. The purpose of this paper is to assess critical thinking skills and make connections across readings that support your research topic. 

The paper is used to measure your understanding of the following course objectives:

• Have acquired critical thinking skills relevant to understanding education policy and practice;

• Understand and be able to apply a foundational interdisciplinary methodological approach to the study of education policy and practice;

• Have a general understanding of the complexities of public education in the United States;

• Have a specific understanding of the recent history of public education in both the United States and in California;

• Understand the multiple constituencies served by the public education system;

• Be able to describe some of the challenges faced by the public education system in the United States generally and California specifically.

In your research analysis, you must incorporate 3 outside academic sources and 2-3 in-class readings.

For complete assignment information, please refer to Professor Resendiz's prompt in Cougar Courses.


LBST 100/300: How to identify credible sources

LBST 100 / 300: Identifying Credible Sources

Determining Credibility of your Sources

Determining credibility of your sources is critical to selecting appropriate information sources for your research assignments. Scholarly journals are regarded as the most credible types of sources because of the rigorous peer review process they undergo.

However, for Liberal Studies 100 / 300, you will also need to consult non-scholarly sources including newspaper articles and websites for general background information on your chosen topic; thus, you will also need to determine credibility of these sources.

Here are some ways to identify credibility:

  • Can you identify the author(s)? If the source is anonymous, why?
  • Can you identify author credentials (education, job expertise)? Can these be verified elsewhere?
  • Is the author affiliated with an academic institution or credible organization?
  • Is there an "About Us" page that describes the organization?
  • Do a Google search for the author's name (enclose in quotation marks) and see what kind of sites come up. Do they seem credible?
  • Does the information have grammatical/spelling errors? 
  • Does it list sources or links to factual information? Are the links updated or do they lead to 404 error pages?
  • Is there a bibliography?
  • Can this information be verified elsewhere?
  • What kind of editorial vetting did the information undergo?
  • Is the research methodology adequately explained?
  • Who is the intended audience for the information? Academics? General public?
  • Is the information appropriate for your research assignment?
  • Does the author present objective arguments or make it clear when they're expressing opinions?
  • Is the website personal or institutional?
  • What other views are expressed?
  • Are there advertisements? If so, how are they differentiated from the content?
  • What is the purpose of the information? To inform? To persuade? To market?
  • What does the URL say about the website? .com=Commercial, .edu=Educational, .gov=Government, .mil=Military, .org=Non-Profit
  • Is the information outdated or up to date?
  • Can you ascertain content's date of creation?
  • Are the links working?
  • Credible websites will display "last updated" dates; working links indicate the website is being maintained regularly.

Source: University of South Carolina, Upstate Library


Additional resources for identifying credibility of news sources:

Fake News, Propaganda, and Misinformation: Learning to Critically Evaluate Media Sources (Cornell University)

Credible Sources (SUNY Empire State College)


Databases to use in Critical Education Research

Education Databases

Database Full Text Coverage Scholarly

A national database of education literature, including reports and journal articles.

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ALERT! Within ERIC search results: IF the "Link to ERIC full text" does not work, try the "Get It!" link.
Links to full-text via Get-It 1966 to current Some

Available via EbscoHost: A comprehensive international database of psychology, covering the academic, research, and practice literature in psychology from over 45 countries in more than 30 languages.

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Some full-text; plus links to full-text via Get-It 1887 to current All
Sociological Abstracts

Provides access to the latest international findings in theoretical and applied sociology, social science, and political science.

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Links to full-text via Get-It 1963 to current All

Contains (EXCEPT for the latest five years) core scholarly journals in sociology, history, economics, political science, mathematics, African-American & Asian studies, literature, humanities, music, and biological, health & general sciences.

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Full-text 1838 to most recent five years Most
Database Full Text Coverage Scholarly
Academic Search Premier

This scholarly collection offers information in nearly every area of academic study including: computer sciences, engineering, physics, chemistry, language and linguistics, arts & literature, medical sciences, ethnic studies, and many more.

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Some full-text; plus links to full-text via Get-It 1975 to current Most
Google Scholar CSUSM

Link to citations and full-text from your CSUSM Library databases and beyond!

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Some full-text; plus links to full-text via Get-It current to current All
Dissertations and Theses Database: The Humanities and Social Sciences Collection

Dissertations and Theses Database includes digitized dissertations in a variety of subject areas including Art, Communications, Education, History, Linguistics, Literature, and Social Sciences.

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Some full-text 1979 to current All
Linguistics and Language Behavior Abstracts (LLBA)

Provides abstracts of articles from about 2,000 journals (published worldwide), coverage of recent books, book review citations and dissertation listings.

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Links to full-text via Get-It 1973 to current All

LBST 100 / 300 How do I structure a keyword search?

LBST 100 / 300 How do I structure my keyword search?

Before you embark on your database search, take a few moments to identify keywords, which will be a timesaver for you. Some things to try:

  • Write down any research questions you have about your topic; these should be open-ended (starting with How...? or Why...?)
  • Identify the key concepts from your research question (look at the nouns)
  • Write down synonyms for those key concepts

Taking a few minutes to think about and identify some keywords before starting your search will help you search more efficiently, which will save you time (and frustration).

  • Identify important concepts from your research question (look for nouns)
  • Brainstorm some synonyms (to help you find more information)
  • Keep track of useful terms you discover during research and add those to your set of keywords

Ex. research question: How are nutrition programs in California public schools impacting academic performance?

(Identify the keywords in this research question)

How are nutrition programs in California public schools impacting academic performance?

nutrition programs California

public schools

academic performance
healthy eating Los Angeles

elementary school

food insecurity San Diego

middle school 

student achievement
hunger Oakland high school educational outcomes

Tips on searching the databases

Here are some general tips on searching for articles for your report:

Tip Examples
Use keywords, not long search phrases

Instead of searching for "How are nutrition programs in California public schools impacting academic performance?" break down your search into the main keywords:

California, nutrition, public school, academic performance

Use quotation marks (" ") to keep phrases together

Use AND to combine different keywords

"food insecurity" AND "public school"
Use OR to combine similar/associated keywords "food insecurity" or hunger
Look for ways to limit your search in the database You can often limit by type of article (scholarly and peer-reviewed), year of publicationsubject 


Citing Your Sources

APA (General)

What is APA style?

APA stands for the American Psychological Association. It is the citation style used in most of the social sciences as well as some of the natural sciences.

Official APA Style Manual at CSUSM Library

This is the official APA manual published by the American Psychological Association. It is the most recent and up-to-date edition available, currently the 6th edition.

  • Library copies (BF76.7 P83 2010) 
    The CSUSM Library owns several copies of the official APA manual that you can consult in person. Click on the link above to see where they are located.
  • The official APA website 
    Need access to the official APA guidelines right now but can't get to a copy of the book? Try out their website. It has helpful FAQs and basic guidelines.

Helpful Online Guides

What is a DOI? 

APA style requires that you include a Digital Object Identifier (DOI) whenever you cite the online version of an article.  A DOI is a special number that identifies each unique article in a database.  Please note- some articles may not have a DOI.  

To find the DOI, Ask a Librarian or check out the follwing tools:

Using APA for Special Cases 

More FAQs at the official APA website...

Sample Paper in APA Style

MLA Style (General)

What is MLA style?

MLA stands for the Modern Language Association. It is the citation style most commonly used by literature and language scholars, but is also often used in other humanities subjects.

MLA Handbook at CSUSM Libraries

MLA Handbook Library copies (LB2369 .G53)

Helpful Online Guides

CiteSource MLA (Trinity College) - examples,  screenshots and pictures showing you how to locate the information you need to include in your citation

Purdue University's Online Writing Lab (OWL) - examples of MLA-style citations and paper formats 

Also check out FAQs at the official MLA website...

Sample Papers in MLA Style

Sample paper from Purdue University's Online Writing Lab (OWL)