Research Tools - Fall 2009

Credo Reference

The use of reference books has been steadily declining since Google has made it incredibly simple to find information. Searching for any given term or phrase on Google will return thousands of results, and often what seems to be the most relevant result is the first, second, or third link on the page. Google is fine and dandy for doing a lot of great things, but quite frankly it misses the mark when doing serious academic research.
When doing an example search for "Sophocles" the Greek playwright, the first result on the page is an article from Wikipedia. An online encyclopedia, Wikipedia has bolstered great fame as a "one stop shop" for all the information you could ever need. However, despite the in-depth information and accuracy you believe you are getting from Wikipedia, the sad truth is that Wikipedia is not widely accepted amongst the academic community. Professors, researchers, publishers, and scholars rarely use Wikipedia as a source of information to supplement their own research. It is possible that someday Wikipedia will be widely accepted and will be considered an authoritative and reliable source, but for the time being it's best just to avoid Wikipedia for all college level research.
The way to break the Google and Wikipedia addiction is to use the Library's newest electronic database, Credo Reference. Credo is a collection of approximately 400 titles from a wealth of different subject specialties. Each of the titles contained within the database are actual reference books which are contained in many academic libraries, meaning they have been authored by an expert, published by a notable company, edited by professionals, and the information they contain has been tested for accuracy over and over again.
Instead of using Google, let's turn to Credo and do the same search for "Sophocles." This time instead of Wikipedia we get full-text articles and definitions from The Columbia Encyclopedia, Encyclopedia of Classical Philosophy, The Bridgeman Art Library Archive, Chambers Biographical Dictionary, and multiple other results from various scholarly sources. Credo utilizes web 2.0 features such as "faceted searching." After your initial search page is displayed you can use the facets to further limit your results, opting to view only certain subjects, for example, Literature, Biography, Philosophy, Science, and other relevant subjects. Credo also lets you choose what type of material you are looking for so you can limit by Short Article, Long Article, Definition, Images, Sounds, etc., as well.
Credo has many other components which make research easier than ever before. Every title in this electronic database is full-text searchable, so you can search for a phrase or idea and find it in the body of an article which you otherwise may have missed if the article title didn't seem interesting to you. Credo acts as a "portal" to other library resources, meaning after you search for "Sophocles" you can then decide to import that search to the library's catalog to search for books on Sophocles or you can search some of the library's databases for journal articles on Sophocles.
For visual learners it allows users to create a concept map so ideas could be visually displayed and linked to similar ideas from various articles contained within Credo. In addition, there are images, sounds, and some video clips, as well. The best part about Credo though is that it automatically makes the citation for you in APA, Chicago, Harvard, or MLA format; so, now you no longer have to comb through those esoteric style manuals trying to figure out how to cite an encyclopedia article.
If you would like a demonstration on Credo for you or your class, then please call the reference desk (941-4000) to schedule an appointment. Students who are interested in learning more about Credo are also welcome to set-up one on one appointment with a Librarian, or you could just come to the reference desk to ask for help.
George Aulisio
Pride, Passion, Promise: Experience Our Jesuit Tradition