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The Boston Public Library

The Boston Public Library serves as the college library. The resources there, combined with the other support we have available at UCB, will give students the opportunity to complete both formal and informal research projects for their classes.

To use BPL, every student will need to a Boston Public Library card. If you don’t have one, you can start by filling out the application for an electronic card here:

This electronic card will allow you to access all the books, magazines, and information available through the BPL website. It does not, however, allow you to check out physical books from a library branch. If you’d like to check out books, please visit any BPL branch and bring a picture identification and proof of your current address in the form of postmarked mail, bills, or a lease. Then you will receive a physical card as well. We strongly encourage all UCB students to have a functioning BPL card.

Tips for using databases

The following tips will help you find information for your class projects. I use one database here, but the rules generally apply for multiple platforms.

First, a rule of thumb:

The more specific the search, the better the result.

Ex. Typing in childhood would result in thousands of articles on every aspect of a very broad topic. Adding “early” and “curriculum” will ensure that what you find is what you need.

How do you make your search more specific?

  1. Use “and” to connect words related to your search
    Ex. “childhood” and “autism”
  2. Use quotation marks to search common phrases
    Ex. “early childhood”
  3. Choose the full text option when searching, which ensures that you will get results that include whole articles, not summaries or abstracts.


You might be tempted to use the Internet first when completing an assignment for class; after all, you might be more familiar with using Google than a database. We do recommend that you used databases first, because those sources are much more likely to be appropriate for a academic assignment. If you do decide to use the Internet, please take a moment to answer the following questions about the page you are considering:

Who is responsible for the site?

What to look for:

  • Professional credentials (degrees, etc.)
  • Association with a university or business?


The more you know about the author, the better your ability to make a decision about whether or not to use a site.

What type of site is it?

What to look for:

The domain type can give you important clues about the type of site you have found.

  • .edu = education
  • .org = organization
  • .gov =government
  • .com = commercial

Can you reach someone for questions about the site?

What to look for:

Contact information (email, phone)

Can you find the source of quotes or other information on the site?

What to look for:

What to look for as you try to find a site’s purpose:

  • references/citations
  • links- make sure the links are still working
  • Websites exist for many different reasons. Knowing the reason for a site’s existence can be very helpful.

How current is the site?

  • Advertisements
  • Associations with political or religious groups

Recommended Web Sites

Early Childhood Research and Practice, an electronic peer review journal, publishes all issues freely on the web. That means you can access information easily from home. It “covers topics related to the development, care, and education of children from birth to approximately age 8.”

This site takes a lot of the guess work out of choosing news sources, since it gathers and publishes links to the best of what’s out there on the internet, from local newspapers, to dictionaries, to medical advice. This site is a really good place to start any project.

If you are working on an assignment that requires current, local information, this web version of the Boston Globe is a good resource.

Harvard Education Letter: Focus on Early Childhood Education

Harvard’s School of Education on-line newsletter includes articles on diverse topics as well as links to other ECE resources. This site provides an excellent overview of current topics.

Purdue OWL (Online Writing Lab)

Purdue University’s Online Writing Lab is an excellent source for information on any part of the writing process: brainstorming, outlining, and research.


Students at Urban College must strive to uphold their responsibility to acknowledge the contribution others’ work makes to their own projects. To that end, the college has developed the following plagiarism policy. Proof of any of the following can result in disciplinary action, including a failing grade in the course, to be decided upon by the instructor and/or Academic Dean.

  • 1. Submitting papers, homework or exams written by others
  • 2. Copying a portion of another person's work word-for-word without using quotation marks and the appropriate citation.
  • 3. Paraphrasing or restating another person's ideas without acknowledging the original author
  • 4. Creating a citation that links a quote or paraphrase to the incorrect source.
  • 5. Submitting the same work for more than one course or assignment
  • 6. If you are worried about accidental plagiarism in your own writing, please get the advice of your professor, advisor, or LRC tutor. 

Steps in the Research Process

When you receive an assignment that requires you to find articles and books that research a specific topic, following these steps will help you complete the assignment accurately.

  1.  Read the assignment closely. Underline words or phrases you think are particularly important.
  2. Create a rough version of your topic. It might help to phrase your topic as a question. Ex. What are the ways music is used in toddler curriculum?
  3. Use the internet, library web sites, books, and databases to find information on your topic.
  4. At this point, it is likely that you will be able to refocus your paper topic. Ex. What music curriculums have been successful in two year old programs?
  5. Try, try again. If you realize that your earlier research has produced results that are off topic or just not exactly what you need, go back to your sources and try again. You might be surprised at how much your results will change if you use more specific key words.
  6. Make sure to make notes of the sources that you want to use for your paper, so you don't lose anything.
  7. Begin creating a works sited page for your paper. Compile quotations you'd like to use in your project.
  8. Start writing!