Need Help Writing a Research Paper?

Freshmen, you will finish one-third of your first semester at Penn State on Friday. While you may think that this college stuff is pretty simple, your courses are going to become more difficult for the next three years. You see, all of these take-home tests and short answer problems will fade into the distance, and your professors will assign more comprehensive work for you to complete. Enter the world of college research papers.

College research papers are nothing like the research papers you may have written in high school. While you could scoot away with eight pages of fluff with your high school teachers, most professors require students to write at least ten, concise pages. You may find that your textbook or the readings on ANGEL don’t provide enough information to let you reach the minimum. Fortunately, there are two scholarly search engines that will be useful to you during your time at Penn State.


LionSearch is the new search engine from the University Libraries to find scholarly articles. Onward State covered LionSearch last year when it was still being tested. Now that it is out of beta and released on time, you should be able to use LionSearch without difficulty. On your results page, you will see some options that will refine your search. Since the University Libraries frown upon highlighting and marking original texts, it is probably best to check “Items With Full Text Online.” Your professor most likely doesn’t want the ramblings of celebrities and political pundits to be included in your work, so you can exclude them by limiting the search to articles in scholarly publications.

Google Scholar

If you don’t find what you’re looking for in LionSearch, Google Scholar is at your service. Google Scholar works the same way as LionSearch does, but there are some caveats. Not all of the articles that Google Scholar finds are accessible, unless you subscribe to the journal. Therefore, it may take a while until you find something that is free. The easiest way to tell if something is available or not is if it has a “[PDF] from X” link next to it. In addition, if you are on any computer linked to the campus’s Internet connection, you will notice the “Get It! @ Penn State” button. Clicking this will lead you back to LionSearch and you can access the article from there.


If you take my advice and use these services, you will download a multitude of articles. As time goes by, the “Downloads” pop-up will annoy you, you will hate jumping from Adobe Reader to your browser and back, and the collective weight of these files will slow down your computer. My last recommendation is to use LionSearch and Google Scholar through Google’s Chrome browser. Chrome will upload the documents in a new tab, which makes it easier to switch between the article and the search engine.

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About the Author

Doug Dooling, Jr.

I am a staff writer for Onward State. I graduated as a Nittany Lion with Honors in 2013. Now, I am back in Happy Valley to earn a degree at the Penn State Law. Outside of politics and government, my interests include college football, soccer, Irish history, and astronomy.

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