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Rutgers Riot Animated Research Tutorial

Rutgers Riot Animated Research Tutorial

Rutgers’ Riot is an animated research tutorial. It plays like a five part animated movie. Each part of the movie features characters explaining an aspect of the research process. The five parts are selecting a topic, finding sources, choosing keywords, identifying citations, and evaluating sources. There are text documents available to accompany the videos. ”

Here are their five modules:

MODULE 1: Selecting a Topic

When picking a topic, focus on a specific question by applying limiters. Limiters narrow the topic by making it more specific.


  • Time period
  • Geography/location
  • Population

Google or Wikipedia can be useful in the early stages of research, to help you learn more about the area you want to research so you can pick a specific topic. Just remember that this is only the first step in your research.

MODULE 2: Finding Sources

Primary sources are original works written, created, or produced during the particular time under study.


  • Original documents: autobiographies, letters, diaries, memoirs, speeches, interviews, official records, news film footage, photographs, research reports, research data
  • Creative Works: paintings, sculpture, poetry, novels, musical scores
  • Artifacts:  clothing, tools, buildings, weapons, fossils

Secondary sources rely on primary sources for information.


  • First-hand analysis: Interpretations, evaluations, commentaries, or discussion of primary sources

Tertiary sources are yet one more level removed from the primary source and generally refer to tools for finding primary and second sources.


  • Indexes, databases, and bibliographies
  • Library online catalogs
  • Dictionaries and encyclopedias

Here are some types of sources. Each could be a primary, secondary, or tertiary source.

Books Pros:

  • Good for in-depth information on a particular topic
  • Scholarly books contain cited sources and bibliographies/reference lists which you can use to check the information or find more sources


  • Information can be dated; need to check the publication date
Popular Magazines Pros:

  • Good for brief information on a variety of broad general-interest topics
  • Good for general entertainment or leisure reading
  • Little technical language or jargon


  • Provide little in-depth information (articles are usually brief, generally 1-7 pages)
  • Contain few or no cited sources
  • Contain no bibliographies/reference lists
Newspapers Pros:

  • Good for current events information
  • Good for overview analyses of trends or issues
  • Good primary source material


  • Do not provide in-depth information
  • Contain few or no cited sources
  • Contains no bibliographies/reference lists
Scholarly (Peer-Reviewed) Journals Pros:

  • Good for in-depth original research
  • Good for overviews and/or analyses of research
  • Good for cited sources/bibliographies/reference lists
  • Good for studying narrow and specific subjects
  • Articles are reviewed/evaluated/critiqued by other experts in the field prior to publication acceptance


  • Uses technical or discipline-specific jargon geared to scholars and students in the field
Government Publications Pros:

  • Good for research and data published by government offices, which often have access to data that other organizations do not have (such as census data or taxation data)
  • Good for research and data on controversial topics
  • Good primary source material


  • Vary in quality and currency
  • Possible political-interest biases

Some of these can be found in the library, some on free internet sites, and others through the library’s subscription databases.

Library databases contain information from multiple sources – such as scholarly (peer-reviewed) journals, newspapers, and magazines – and are available over the Internet through the library’s site. The library pays for access to these databases, so that faculty and students like us will have quality sources for their research. Databases have some features that make them more helpful and reliable than Google or Google Scholar.

(1) Databases have advanced search features, allowing you to:

      • search only for scholarly sources, newspapers, magazines, etc. or
      • search by time period, publication name, author name, article title, etc.

This flexibility makes it easier and faster to find relevant information.

(2) Databases are also more likely than Google or Google Scholar to have full-text articles.

Some databases even focus on specific subject areas, such as music or science, while others have articles on many different subjects.

Sometimes the database won’t have a full-text  version of the article. When this happens, click on  the “Search for Article” button to see if the article you need is available  somewhere else. If not, you can often get a PDF copy of the article through Rutgers’ Interlibrary Loan and Article Delivery Services.

If you’re signed in to RefWorks, you can export database results to your RefWorks account. RefWorks is a tool offered by Rutgers to help you compile your sources, track your citations, and, best of all, create a bibliography that is directly publishable to a Word file.

Finally, a lot of students also keep a research log in a notebook or on their computer. Here, they record all the sources they find, writing down each one’s citation, its contents, and where they found it. They can later  use this log to remember where they found certain pieces of information, making  it easier to cite sources in their research and to find the sources again if  they need to. This is also a way to keep track of your research  process, including your ideas, thoughts, and reflections from reading or  thinking about your research topic. Used in  conjunction with RefWorks, you’ll see that a research log really helps prevent  last-minute stress as you put together your project, making it so much easier  to re-locate and cite your sources.

MODULE 3: Selecting Keywords

Searching in a database is a lot different from searching on Google. Here’s a typical search on Google next to a typical database search.

Database Search

  • What are the major voting trends in the U.S.?
Google Search

  • United States
  • AND voting
  • AND trends

(1) In the Google search, all the keywords go into the same search field, whereas in the database search, the keywords are in separate fields, with “ANDs” between them. “AND” tells the database to look only for articles that contain all three words – not those that just have one or two of them. Sometimes you’ll want to use “OR” instead of “AND.” “OR” tells the database to look for any of the words. This should bring you more results. For example, searching for “voting” OR “voter” OR “vote” would return any article that had any of those words.

(2) The second difference between the two searches is that the Google search uses informal language, while the database search uses more formal language.

When working with databases, it’s good to have several keyword combinations to try. What works well on one database may not work as well on another. So you may need to try a few different keyword combinations before finding the one that works best.

MODULE 4: Identifying Citations

When you find a helpful source for your research, you may want to check its bibliography to see if it can lead you to any more relevant articles. This is a common method researchers use.

Whatever journal articles are listed can be  looked up on IRIS, using the title of the journal.

Whatever books are listed here may be available in the Rutgers Libraries, and students can locate them using IRIS. Even if those books aren’t in the library, they may be available from another university through the E-Z Borrow service, which allows Rutgers students to search for and request books from other universities’ libraries.

Either way, we first need to know what type of source it is so you know how to find it.

If the citation contains a publisher name and a place of publication, it’s a book.

Bellamy, Robert V., Jr. and James R. Walker. Television and the Remote Control: Grazing on a Vast Wasteland. New York: Guilford Publications, 1996.

If the citation contains volume and page numbers, it’s a journal article.

Nabi, Robin L., Erica N. Biely, Sara J. Morgan, and Carmen R. Stitt. “Reality-Based Television Programming and the Psychology of its Appeal.” Media Psychology 5, no. 4 (November  2003): 303-330.

MODULE 5: Evaluating Sources

You need to think about the sources you find and evaluate them before using them in your research. Here are three criteria to help you out.

(1) Reliability. This has two parts:

  • Is the author an expert in the field?
  • Is the publication respected?

Most works in a scholarly (peer-reviewed) journal will pass the reliability test. Most of the time, so will Internet sites from government offices or from universities; however, many popular magazines or common internet sites, like Wikipedia, will not.

(2) Timeliness. Is the source recent enough to contain the most up-to-date information?

This is important whenever recent information has affected the topic you’re researching. Science and medicine are good examples. An article written about global warming in 1991 might not contain up-to-date information and would probably not be appropriate to use in your research. However, if you’re researching “Attitudes about Global Warming in Late 20th Century America,” this could be a fine source to use.

(3) Context. Does the source really address your research question?

Remember the limiters you selected in Module 1? If the source’s time period, population, geography, etc. does not match what you’re researching, then you need to think twice before using it.”

Excellent job! Check it out.



Posted on: October 9, 2012, 11:22 am Category: Uncategorized

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