The Research Process

What is your first response to a research project?  Do you turn to “Google Scholar” and find pretty good sources in the first two pages?  Do you turn to other places for academic sources?  Isn’t Google better than library databases? And, what are library databases?

Let me just say that Google Scholar is a powerful search engine and I use it too. But it should always just be a part of your research repertoire and never the first and only stop you make. For the purposes of our research on human rights, which intersects several academic fields (humanities, law, and social sciences) I have made some suggestions of search engines you can use that are available at our library.  If you are off campus, just use the off campus login to get access to all digital content you may find.  Also, from off campus you can use ILL (inter-library loan) and ArticleExpress to order book chapters and articles that are not accessible from the OSU collections. This is an amazing resource!


Google Scholar is a database and should be treated that way. The algorithm used to create it was not made by a subject librarian, so there may be some disadvantages and shortcomings to using it. To use Google Scholar effectively, take a look at this OSU guide and short video.  You should also turn to the list of databases below, which are created and maintained to ensure quality, consistency, and completeness of the database.

To see what is accessible via the Ohio State University library, you can search from the home page or go the OhioLink search option.  I often start with one of the following databases that can be found on the databases link of the library (you can search these by name):


You will be using a variety of sources for your research and so it will be important to consider the value and limitations of those different sources.  In the context of human rights , governmental and non-governmental bodies play a signifiant role.  Some of the most important regarding human trafficking include:

Evaluating Sources

Every source should be evaluated for its purpose, merits and limitations.  Ask yourself what information you learn from that source and what perspectives on that information the source provides. This is very important for our class, as the facts or information of human trafficking are understood and interpreted differently, and the facts or information we depend on are gathered from particular perspectives. This class will deepen your understandings of different perspectives and strengthen your capacity to decipher those perspectives.

The Ohio State University library has an online resource on Choosing & Using Sources. I highly recommend it, especially chapter six.

The UC Berkeley library site has a great resource on evaluating sources. I also highly recommend it!