5 Things You Might Not Think of When Researching:

So it’s the second half of the semester and it has finally occurred to you that you have some serious research papers to do. Be they on the process of De-Stalinization of Khrushchev or the Mating Habits of African Tree Frogs, you are realizing very quickly that you have never researched or written a paper of this magnitude; thankfully, we at the Writing Center are here to give you some tips.

1. The librarians are your friends. Even if you can’t get to the library.

Now we know that libraries and actual books have gone out of fashion in the Internet age, but the library has a number of resources to offer beyond just rows of books (thought those are perfectly excellent resources as well). The most notable of these are the librarians themselves, who are more than happy to help you find sources and plan your paper. See this button?




This button will save your life. Just click it and from the comfort of your dorm you can have a conversation with a librarian on duty; they may later suggest you come into the library, but at least the conversation will be started. You can also email or speak in person with librarians in order to set up scheduled appointments.

2. Wikipedia has its (hidden) benefits:

Now everyone knows that Wikipedia is academia’s devil of choice, and for good reason; we have all seen the hilarious changes that people have made to the site, so the info may not quite be accurate. However, there is a section on every page that can help you out. Scroll to the bottom, and look at the References section.

These are all sources that it is worth your time to look at, though it’s still recommended to take them with a grain of salt (as is standard internet protocol).

3. Books: They’re still very useful.

Now I get it. Books are old and for grandpas who still wore pleated pants and sweater vests and talk about how bread was ten cents a loaf and they punched Hitler right in the jaw during the war. But they are also one of your best sources: use the Hoover Library catalog search to look for books on your topic; you’re guaranteed to find something, and as long as it is in the local library system, you can have it in your hands within a few days.

4. Google: Still Not Doing Any Evil

Now you’ve probably already used Google to look for sources; but are you doing so correctly? Normal Google is fine for basic searches, but if you want to ensure your sources are better verified, you should be using Google Scholar. What is Google Scholar you ask? Well imagine if Google only searched for things your professor would actually want you citing; that’s basically what it does. Granted all sources are not peer-reviewed, but it’s not too difficult to find those that are.

5. The Writing Center. Yeah we’re in the library too.

So you may think that the Writing Center is just a place to plan papers. But that’s not totally true: we are here to do most things (within reason, morality, and legality) that will help you start, develop or improve your paper. That is why from 7-9 on Wednesdays the Writing Center has tutors in the library; from the library we can give you closer access to the resources housed within, including the librarians, library catalog and shelves of lovely books.

-By: Stefan Specian

Here’s How to Deal with that Twenty-Page Research Paper

from http://www.clker.com/

from http://www.clker.com/

Last week, I paged through each syllabus for my classes, looking for the page count for all of my papers. Chances are you’ve done the same. There’s always that feeling of joy when a paper that makes up big chunk of your grade is only five or so pages long. A short paper is not so bad, right? Then, on the flip side, there’s that feeling of complete helplessness when the minimum page requirement for a paper is ten pages or more. As I saw that I would be faced with more than one of those this semester, I began to panic. Here’s a list of tips I came up with that I plan on using to conquer my bajillion page papers:

  1. Start planning early. If you have an English essay about a particular book, start reading it now. If you have a research paper, start brainstorming a topic and head to the library. The beginning of the semester may feel hectic, but you have more time now than you will later on.
  2. Outline! Outline! Outline! It’s annoying, yes. BUT it will help you stay on track.
  3. Divide the paper up into smaller pieces. Your paper will feel much more manageable when you only work on a page or two at a time.
  4. Set up a schedule for working on your paper. If your paper is due in a month, commit to working on it at least two or three times a week until then.
  5. Just start writing. Remember that even if what you write at first isn’t very good, it’s better than nothing. You can always go back and make changes, but you have to start somewhere.
  6. If you have any questions about the expectations for your paper, ask your professor right away. It’s better to ask now than to realize that you’ve done something wrong and then have to start over again.
  7. Take a break if you need to. If you’re getting frustrated or overwhelmed, sometimes it’s best to walk away from the paper for a bit. Do something relaxing for a few minutes and then go back to the paper. Clearing your head will help more than you think.
  8. Make an appointment at the Writing Center. Or make several appointments with us. We’re here to help!

Photo on 9-8-14 at 3.16 PM

Rebekah, peer tutor

I have a thesis…now what??

You know that feeling. The one where you have a paper due tomorrow, the Writing Center is closed, it is way too late to email your professor with any questions, and all you have is a thesis statement. You’re not even sure if your thesis argument is well written, but at this point you just have to accept it.

Let’s first pretend your thesis statement is as follows:

“Historians have always debated the true cause of the start of the Civil War.”

It isn’t the best thing you have ever written, but it is a start! And the best thing about thesis statements is you can tweak them constantly as you write your paper.

Soo…about writing this paper… Unfortunately you cannot just turn in your argument and pray that your teacher will agree with you. The first place you can start is the most obvious! The Hoover Library–but wait, it’s three in the morning it’s past midnight so they must be closed. Well lucky for you, the library has its own website with a great place to search for books and articles that McDaniel College owns, as well as those available from other locations.

If you just click here: www.hoover.mcdaniel.edu, you can do a bunch of this research at any point of the day, from anywhere!


Click here for a more narrowed search:


Once this site has loaded the easiest option for you to click on is “Academic Search Complete.” This option allows you to search multiple databases all at once, which will widen your search and get you the best articles and journals for your paper. Be sure to check off “Scholarly Journals” and “Full Texts” to find the best articles for your research.


After you have completed all of those steps, type “causes of the American Civil War” into your search bar. Make sure you are specific in what you type into the search bar so you can narrow down the search even more. From there, the Internet does all of the work for you by finding your articles. Unfortunately, it can’t read them for you.


If your search looks like this, celebrate! You did it right.

Not let’s imagine you read a lot of useful articles. You probably read so many articles that you are overloaded with a lot of research that may not even help you. Here is where you will have to go back to the original thesis you have already decided on. As said before, your thesis may have to be changed.

As you researched the start of the Civil War, you realized that your thesis statement isn’t exactly what you want to argue anymore. Now you have to make a tough decision: keeping your body paragraphs or rewriting your thesis. Let’s be honest, the body of your paper is awesome, for a first draft, and you know it. The only thing to do now is tweak your thesis and make it fit what you’ve already got written!

Here is your thesis revision:

“Although historians have always debated the cause, the American Civil War started because of the debate on slavery and states’ rights.”

Perfect. Now you realize that this is what you have been trying to say all along. You jump up and do a weird little dance, hoping that your roommate is still passed out and that she didn’t see. You decide that you’re going to go to sleep before the sun comes up and they start cutting the grass at 6 a.m. outside of your room, and then you can proofread before you hand it in.

You, my friend, have done it. Eight perfect pages in one evening. Hopefully, you’ll never procrastinate again…but if you do, we’re always here for you!

For even more advice on this topic, check out our helpful presentation about next steps.

Cite When You Write!

Have you ever been marked down on your papers for how you cited or failed to cite your sources? Does the mention of citations or working within the MLA style make you cringe? Have you used some awesome sources in you paper but are at a loss for how to cite them?

If so, this blog post is for you!

I’m going to lay out some helpful tips for citing sources so that instead of feeling frustrated and angry…



…you can be proud of what you have accomplished!



Today I’m going to talk about how to cite a website in MLA, because MLA is potentially the most common citation style–and websites can be frustrating because they all seem so different. (If you need to cite in APA or CMS, here are some really helpful links: the Chicago Manual of Style and the Purdue Lab.)

We know that citations can seem confusing with all the different styles and rules for formatting but citation is mostly about finding information and plugging it into a formula. It can be tedious but here are some tricks that can help you finish up your stellar paper:

  • Take note of the date you access websites as you do your research.
  • Take note of the author or editor, the article title or website title, the website sponsor (who makes the website possible) and the most recent date it has been updated.

Now that we have the preliminary steps out of the way, we can put all of the information we have gathered into an MLA citation. This is how we order all of the information:

  1. the author or editor
  2. the article title or website title
  3. the website sponsor
  4. the most recent date
  5. the medium of publication (which is always Web when referring to any information found on the internet)
  6. the date of access.

For example:

Fraunheim, Ed. “Stop Reading This Headline and Get Back to Work.” CNET News.com.

CNET Networks, 11 July 2005. Web. 17 Feb. 2009.

Based on the information you have gathered, all you need to do is insert it into this formula! You have done most of the work already, so…

tumblr keep calm


Citing an Entire Website

Felluga, Dino. Guide to Literary and Critical Theory. Purdue U, 28 Nov. 2003. Web. 10 May


Citing a Page on a Website (like a blog post or a recipe)

“How to Make Vegetarian Chili.” eHow. Demand Media, n.d. Web. 24 Feb. 2009.

  • (List the author, if known, followed by the information covered above for entire Web sites.)

More handy tips:

  • If you can’t find some aspect of the information, the formula stays the same and you just insert what you do have.
  • Italicize the website title.
  • The page title or article title is in quotation marks.
  • Make sure you pay attention to the punctuation!
  • Always double space when using MLA.
  • The first line of each entry is at the left margin; extra lines are indented ½ an inch.
  • You don’t have to include the URL of the website unless your professor asks you to!
  • If no publisher name is available then use n.p. and if no publishing date is given then use n.d. (as illustrated above).

Now that you know how to better cite your information, you are on the way to even greater success with your writing!



If you have any questions about citations or formatting or just need some help brainstorming, your friendly writing center is always here to help!

-Sarah, peer tutor

How Easy IS EasyBib?

Ok, so nobody’s denying it: citations can be tricky, and students usually look for ways to make the works cited page as painless as possible. And that’s ok! But sometimes, we’re tempted to throw caution to the winds, pay a little visit to an automatic citation cite (like EasyBib or BibMe), and copy, click, paste, we’re done! Hurray!

Ok, maybe not hurray. Using an automatic citation cite can be risky.

Research: the leading cause of citation creation throughout the nation.                                         (Image from http://www.calgrip.ca.gov/?navid=28)

To be clear, there is nothing wrong with using an automatic citation site to HELP you create  your citations, but (and there’s the big but) these cites should only be a guideline. You should ALWAYS check the citations for correct information and up-to-date format before turning them in.

Don’t have a handy dandy MLA citation guide laying around? Wondering how to check your APA? Not sure how to begin with Chicago? We can help with that!

Presenting our Writing Center favorite, the Purdue Owl Research and Citation Resource!

This gem of a cite is not only an excellent tool for checking your citations, but it also can help you cite sources that are unusual or not covered on automatic citation websites. It covers MLA, APA, and Chicago citation styles, and it even shows you how to format in-text citations, footnotes, and paper headers.

Here’s the MLA guide,

Here’s the APA guide,

And here’s the Chicago guide.

Sometimes, when you do research on the Hoover Library search engines, such as Academic OneFile, the sources you access will have citations already created for you.

Check these too! 

Even these citations are not accurate 100% of the time. Basically, you should be sure to check any and every citation you did not handcraft yourself. And sometimes, it’s even good to check those too! Better safe than plagiarizing!

All this being said, you CAN still use these automatic citation sites and provided complete citations. As long as you check them, you’re in good shape! Here are some of our favorite citation sites:

Son of Citation Machine

Citation Needed
Oh, yeah, and don’t forget that most teachers won’t count Wikipedia as a legitimate source. If you find information you want to use on a Wikipedia page, look to the sources at the bottom of the page. This list will refer you to the works that the Wikipedia page cited; these are great sources to use in your paper (and, of course, check these citations too)!

So remember, its important to cite, but it also matters HOW you cite!

Encouragement Graphic #24

If this guy says it, it must be true!
(Image from http://www.commentsyard.com/you-can-do-it/)


Sammi, peer tutor