Academic Support

Research Guidelines

Research in the library can be done in any number of ways. Most students start with the Athena library catalog, which catalogs all of the media in the library. The library also has subscriptions to many fine online resources, including encyclopedias, dictionaries, and databases of information, such as Infotrac and Lexis Nexis. Research can also be done with online newspapers and other websites.

Always remember, if you cannot find what you are looking for, if you are becoming frustrated, see a librarian who can help you. We are always willing to lend a hand.


List of 5 items.

Frequently Asked Questions

List of 5 frequently asked questions.

  • Q. How can I find a book?

    A. Searching the catalog will tell you if we own specific books, periodicals, CDs and videos. Searching the catalog will not tell you if we have articles about a subject. If the online catalog reports that we have an item and you cannot locate on the shelves, please see a librarian. Access the catalog.
  • Q. How can I find an article?

    A. Searching periodical databases (e.g. Infotrac/Academic ASAP) will give you citations, abstracts, and full-text articles from various types of periodicals. Encyclopedia Britannica and Grove Dictionary of Art are online encyclopedias that have placed their print articles online; they also offer recommended websites, images, and links to articles from reputable publications.
  • Q. How do I know which database to use?

    A. Periodical Databases
    • Infotrac/Academic ASAP can be used for ALL subjects and is highly recommended for ALL subjects.
    • LexisNexis is a collection of articles from hundreds of daily newspapers from around the U.S. and the world.
    • ProQuest Historical Newspaper Archives contains the full-text of nearly every issue of the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Wall St. journal and the Christian Science Monitor from the late 1800’s to 2000.
    • Scientific American is an online collection of all of the articles from this magazine dating from 1993.
    Encyclopedia and Dictionaries
    • Daily Life Online is a collection of reference material about daily life from many different historical eras and cultures.
    • Encyclopedia Britannica is a recommended source that you may use to begin research, access background information, and explore a subject.
    • Grove Dictionary of Art is an online version of the print resource where you can search for articles, browse subjects, or search for art images.
    Literary Database
    Literature resource Center contains tens of thousands of articles and essays from respected literary publications such as Contemporary Authors and The Dictionary of Literary Biography. There is information here on authors, literary genres, time periods, and more.
  • Q. What is a citation, an abstract, full-text?

    A. Citation: merely a mention that the article exists; includes title, author, journal name and page numbers.

    Abstract: a summary of the article, but just that. This does not constitute reading the article; please ask a librarian about accessing the full-text article for use in a project/paper.

    Full-text: the article in its entirety; may or may not come with images (depends on the database and the periodical). If you would like to see the images, you should check with a librarian to see if we have it in print or on film/fiche.
  • Q. What if I find an article that is not full-text (just an abstract or citation)?

    1. Check the library catalog to see if we have the journal that contains the article. For example, if you are searching Infotrac and find an article about your subject, but the full text of the article is not available, search our catalog for the title of the journal.
    2. Check a search engine like Google ( to see if the journal can be located in full-text online. If the article is an older one (not in the current or previous issue) search the website for an archive of older issues. 
    3. If you are still unable to locate the article, you may use the interlibrary loan procedure. Be aware that you may have to wait seven to ten days for the material.

Proper Citing

Throughout your life as a writer, you will write to various prescribed specifications. Journalists often use Associated Press style, and most major organizations or corporations have set editorial guidelines that establish consistency. As a student, you are also required to present your prose according to a set of rules, as determined by your teacher and one of several style guides.

Whenever you write a paper, you are also under obligation to give credit to others when you take their ideas--whether you directly cite them (e.g.) or if you paraphrase what they said in your own words (e.g.) Failing to credit others for their ideas is plagiarism, a violation of Mercersburg’s Honor Code. There are many styles of citation; two of the most popular are explained here. Each department at Mercersburg chooses a particular style of citation. Since citation style is integral to the validity of your paper, always check with your teacher about the style to use.
Founded in 1893 in the heart of Pennsylvania and the Mid-Atlantic, Mercersburg is a private, coed, college preparatory boarding school with approximately 435 students (15 percent are day), grades 9-12 and postgraduate.
We offer 170 courses, including AP and Honors, more than $7 million in financial aid, 26 varsity sports, and a state-of-the-art performing and visual arts center.
Located 90 minutes from Washington, D.C., and Baltimore, and within easy driving distance of New York City, Philadelphia, and Pittsburgh.
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