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COMS 151: Introduction to Public Speaking
Library Instruction Session
K. Dabbour
Goal: Introduce students to library and Internet resources to support speech assignments,
including informative and persuasive speeches.
Mode: Lecture/demonstration and hands-on practice. Follow-up by completing a hands-on
exercise to be turned in to the classroom instructor for credit (optional).
Learning outcomes:
At the end of the library instruction session, COMS 151 students will be able to . . .
 Distinguish between a scholarly journal and a popular magazine.
 Locate a periodical article on a topic by choosing and effectively searching an
appropriate library database.
 Locate an article in a newspaper on a topic by choosing and effectively searching an
appropriate library database; able to limit to an editorial for persuasive speeches.
 Locate a book on a topic using the keyword search feature, and browse relevant LCSHs
for additional books.
 Locate reference information, such as statistics and brief facts, from quality Web sites.
 Locate background information and help with topic choice and/or refinement by using
various electronic reference and reports tools such as reference books and reports, e.g.,
CQ Researcher, Opposing Viewpoints, Gale Reference Center Gold, etc.
 Determine the authority and accuracy of Web sites by applying appropriate evaluative
 Know where to get help with formatting citations.
 Know where to get help with avoiding plagiarism.
 Handouts: copy of and COMS 151
Information Literacy Exercise.
 Set up student workstations so they are ready to go for hands-on session.
 Assumes a 50 minute session.
 Open library home page and open second browser on and use as lecture outline.
Session Outline (50 minutes; add highlighted areas for 1.25 hour classes):
1. Introduction
 Introduce self and session:
 Goal of session: Introduce you to quality resources for speech assignments. If
you’ve had previous library instruction, you will learn how to focus on resources
for speech research. In addition, you can use these sources for your other classes.
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 Go over handouts: web page list of resources useful for this class; the information
literacy exercise will be turned in to instructor for credit, either today, or at your
next class session.
 Please follow along on your computer with the demo to practice.
 Additional help is available at the reference desk, via email, and chat services.
Show Ask a Librarian page from the Library home page.
Use for lecture outline.
 Students should use kdabbour/coms151.html to follow along and get into library
 All databases are linked to from the Library home page under Databases A-Z.
Choosing the right resource for a speech or other assignment requires being aware of the
 Click on Choosing the Right Resource(s) link
 Point out when to use different sources
 Go over the definition of a scholarly journal and why important.
In addition to knowing which resource to use, it is important to know what you are
searching for by brainstorming keywords:
 Ask students to volunteer topics and choose one that will illustrate Boolean logic
or use the following: “The effects of media violence on children.”
 Ask students to identify keywords: (Violence, media, children)
 Ask students to brainstorm synonyms and related words:
 Explain the importance of brainstorming synonyms to help focus
searches if too much and/or irrelevant results are found or expand
searches if not enough information is found.
Example (write on board):
The effects of media violence on children.
keywords down
(Add synonyms
below each
crime, murder, war Television, TV, film,
motion pictures,
video games,
internet, cartoons
Child, adolescents,
elementary, high
2. Academic Search Elite or Infotrac OneFile
 Search either one. Ask how many students are familiar with each database. (Demonstrate
the one that is not as popular; if most have experience searching either database, then add
truncation and OR to demo.)
 Used for: Articles in journals and magazines, some newspapers. Covers most subjects.
Good general database for finding articles for most of your speech assignments and
assignments in general education classes. Full-text available.
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Ask class for a topic or use this sample topic: effects of media violence on children (ask
class to identify keywords if not covered above)
o Search media violence as an exact phrase and show result number
o Search media AND violence (in separate boxes) and show results are
 Discuss using AND in between search terms unless an exact phrase
is really needed, e.g., names are good to search as exact phrases to
make results more relevant.
 Explain that library databases are not usually set up like Internet
search engines: if AND is left out, an exact phrase is searched.
o Revise search and add AND children to show smaller result number
 Explain adding keywords with AND narrows down a search.
o If time and the class seems like they are ready for it: demonstrate
truncation and ORing synonyms to increase search results:
 Truncate violen* and child* and show results are somewhat larger
 OR together synonyms and redo search to increase results
 Violen* AND media
 AND (child* or adolescen*)
Point out the elements of a couple of relevant article citations: author, article title,
periodical title, volume, pages and date, and how this information is needed for their list
of references cited.
Click on a relevant citation and explain subject headings assigned to the article
(controlled vocabulary) versus keyword searching.
o Controlled vocabulary terms tell what the article is about; keyword retrieves
words that are mentioned, either in the title, abstract, subject headings, etc., even
if they are not what the article is about.
o Click on a relevant subject heading and show how it will bring up articles with the
same subject heading assigned to it. Explain that this can be useful to broaden
search results or focus on a new or related topic.
o However, subject headings are often too broad, but can be combined with
keywords to focus search results.
Demo linked full text and Find Text for locating articles.
Refine search to limit to scholarly journals
3. ProQuest Newspapers
 Newspaper articles are good for current events, general treatment of a topic
 Sample search: media and violence and children
 Truncation and OR are also options.
 Show results.
 Editorials are good for pro/con arguments for persuasive speeches.
 Click on More Search Options and select “Document Type”: Editorial.
 Point out that citations to editorials often do not include authors.
4. Other periodical databases: Point out (but do not demo in depth):
 Ethnic Newswatch and Genderwatch for these types of topics, which often come up in
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LexisNexis is another news source, includes newspapers, foreign newspapers, transcripts
of news broadcasts, speeches. Also includes court cases and laws; business information,
5. Metasearch
 Guest logon OK; otherwise use barcode to create customized lists of favorite databases
and e journals.
 Find database: Use to identify databases in different majors/disciplines
 Metasearch lets you search more than one database at a time with the same interface
 Quick search, general/multisubject good for GE classes: searches articles, books with
common interface
 Search media and violence
 Refine and add and children
 Point out that limiting to scholarly journals is not an option.
6. CQ Researcher and CQ Weekly, Opposing Viewpoints, Newsbank Special Reports, etc.
 Full-text databases of reports on current topics in the news, and social, economic,
political issues, which are often used in speech assignments.
 Used for: Topic choice, topic overviews, background, pro and con arguments (good for
persuasive speeches), outlook, chronology of events, etc.
 Note: considered journalistic not scholarly sources, but may lead you to other sources via
bibliographies, links, etc.
7. Library Catalog
 Books, government documents, and media; also shows what periodicals we subscribe to
by title, both print and online.
 Provides location, checkout status, and if online, a link (over 13,000 online books)
 Show catalog search screen and search options.
 Use keyword and sample search: children and media and violence
 Truncation and OR are also options.
 Show location, bibliographic information; links to LCSH, call number, and author can be
used to expand the search.
8. Facts, Opinions, and Statistics via the Web
 Point out but don’t demo: online reference books and government reference sources are
also available for background info, e.g., Britannica, etc. (point out the web page only)
 Point out but don’t demo: Public opinion polls and surveys can give you useful
information for a persuasive speeches.
 Often, you need statistics for a persuasive/informative speech.
 Go to American Factfinder []
 Use for population, housing, economic, and geographic data.
 Demo: Fact sheet for your community: search your zip code and state. Can
also use to get fact sheets on ethnic groups.
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9. Evaluating Internet Resources
 We’ve been using the Internet as an interface to library databases. Google does not search
within these databases since they are password protected.
 Since no one is filtering the information on the Internet as they do for library databases,
it’s important to evaluate the quality of what you find on the Internet.
 Click on Evaluating link from /kdabbour/coms151.html page to go to
o You can often start to evaluate the quality of what you find on the Internet by
looking at the URL.
 Ask the class: what type of site and what is the purpose of a .com, .org,
.edu, .gov? (.com=sell; .org=persuade; .edu=inform; .gov=official
government information, varies)
o Authority is important—who or what organization is responsible for this
information and what are their credentials?
o Can you verify this information in another resource?
o Go to one of the following Web sites:
and answer the following questions:
 Name of the Web site:
 Who or what organization is responsible for the content of this Web
 What makes this person/organization an authority on this topic?
 When was the web site last updated?
 Does this Web site seem like a credible source? Would you cite it in
your list of references if you were giving a speech on a related topic?
Why or why not?
10. Plagiarism and Citation Styles
 Tell class: I know most of you know that you have to cite information you find in books,
articles, and on the Internet in your paper if you quote directly.
 Ask class: However, if you paraphrase or re-write words from a publication or web page
and include it in your own paper, do you have to cite it? [answer: yes] What if it’s
common knowledge, e.g., the Earth is round? [answer: no, but when in doubt, cite it]
 If you need more information on avoiding plagiarism, go to these web sites.
 Avoid plagiarism by citing your sources, follow specific style guides: FYI, MLA, APA
cheat sheets are linked to on the COMS 151 web page.
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