Research Databases

These databases can be accessed anywhere in your school or from home by asking your school librarian for the user name and password.

Database Trials

Below is the Database Trial schedule. For each month it includes a database for Elementary/Middle School and a database for High School. Prior to the trial period, Abigail will email everyone with the username and password info. If you would like to suggest other databases, extend a trial, or begin a subscription, please contact Abigail. Click on the database names below to redirect to the trial login during the trial period.


FactCite is a encyclopedia-like reference tool that consists of a few different modules for ES-MS students. This resource is very affordable but has a lot of useful content. Their Mythology module, for example, has articles on each of the gods, charts for the Greek alphabet, ancient maps, and classroom plays. They also have mythology articles about Inca, Norse, and Egyptian gods – which could make for a illuminating comparison project. Their biography module is fairly comprehensive and includes a beginner’s version useful for lower elementary students (articles are also ranked with reading level info and word count). Budding athletes will find the sports module inspiring, as each of the articles highlights a person who was a leader or persevered in some way. Also of note for older students is the Defining Moments in US History module which covers a lot of ground in an in-depth way, even relating the event to modern times (see for example the unit on the Underground Railroad which takes the reader to articles on present-day race-relations in law enforcement and primary sources like President Obama’s speech about ending “modern day slavery”- human trafficking).


ReferencePoint is a fantastic “points of view” type resource to help students engage in controversial topics from all the fact-based perspectives. The interface to explore the database is excellently designed and you will see how quickly one can get from the topic starting point and clearly written overview to various aspects of the debate, along with handy infographics, fact lists, and further sources. Articles can be saved to students’ Google Drive and content can be shared directly onto Google Classroom. For those of you who are interested in lessons on Digital Citizenship for your students, this would be a great resource to sharpen your students’ critical thinking about topics like Cyberbullying, Online Privacy, Cellphones, Video Game Violence, and Social Networking (each of these topics has its own module). This database is an incredible value at $295 per school site, with discounts available for the more participating schools who subscribe.


BrainPOP  as previously mentioned, we are running the BrainPop trial this month as well since there is so much to explore. (Trial end date is actually 1/12)
For those of you new to BrainPOP, it is both an online learning platform and extremely media-rich learning tool. Teachers will find lesson ideas, printables, and organizers. Students can watch instructional videos, take quizzes, play games, or make their own educational cartoons. Be sure to check out the different products available (BrainPOP jr. ESL, and other languages) by using the drop down on the left under the robot head. The BrainPOP educator’s site has an extensive lesson collection searchable by NJ standards a very noteworthy educator blog, and helpful teaching tips.


How to Research

Learning how to research increases critical thinking, helps prepare for higher education and the workforce, and drastically improves the overall quality of your work.


Research Guides
CRLS Research Guide Basic Steps in the Research Process
ipl2 for Teens A+ Research & Writing: Step by Step
Kentucky Virtual Library How to Do Research
Duke University Libraries Research Guide

Evaluating Your Sources

Not everything we find in print and electronic format are appropriate sources of information. Three examples that illustrate this point are:


1.) Inappropriate Types of Sources
If you were writing a paper about Mount Kilimanjaro, you would not cite an article about pitcher R. A. Dickey’s recent expedition in Sports Illustrated.
2.) Obsolete Information
A book published in 1980 about laser surgery will not provide you with sufficiently useful data on this procedure the way it is implemented today.
3.) Misleading or Amateur Authors
Some people think they are experts when in reality they are not qualified to publish certain materials. Other people purposely publish misleading and/or false information in the name of a political or other type of motivation.

How do we avoid using these improper sources? Train yourself to question everything you read, view and hear. Try exploring any of these links to see why and how you should be critical:
Purdue University Online Writing Lab Evaluating Sources: Overview
University of California Berkeley Library Critical Evaluation of Resources
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Writing Center Evaluating Print Sources
Cornell University Library Critically Analyzing Information Sources
University of Georgia Online Library Learning Center Unit 9: Evaluating Sources

Citing Your Sources

Citing your sources or references is of the utmost importance- how else can you prove that the information you are using is true?


The two main styles of citation used in schools are MLA and APA format. Typically, every school district only uses one of these two styles. Purdue University’s Online Writing Lab (OWL) provides a wealth of information about both APA and MLA formatting:

APA Formatting and Style Guide
MLA Formatting and Style Guide
MLA Citation Basics, 7th Edition (.pdf)

Still a little confused about where that comma goes or what needs to be capitalized? Enlist the aid of these free online citation generators:

Points of View

Biography Reference

Academic Research

Science Reference

Explora Primary

Explora Secondary

Primary Magazines

Middle Magazines

Business Guides

History Reference

Novelist K-8


Literary Reference

Teacher Reference

Reference Latina

These resources are provided by the State Library of New Jersey to members of the BELS Consortium